When Homesteading Hurts


Taking a break
The prime summer heat was blazing outside and the garden was calling to me. Elderberry branches bent under the weight of heavy ripe berries that the birds were eyeing. Bush beans were growing larger and larger, soon to be too big to enjoy.  The table downstairs was full of garlic that had completed its drying process and was ready to trim and store for the winter.

My husband had taken the kids for a hike, so I had some alone time that I could have spent doing any one of these chores. Instead, I lay down on my bed with a book and felt my tired body sink into the mattress like it had been waiting all week to do so. Truth is, it had been waiting all week for this moment.

You see, I have a chronic disease, maybe a combination of diseases. It is not life-threatening, but will impact the rest of my life. Test results have varied, pain has come and gone, but there is always something making me tired and sore somewhere in my body. There are days when every muscle in my body aches, like I ran a marathon the day before and somehow forgot about it. There are days when migraines hit for no apparent reason, or when I am inexplicably tired.

I don’t think I’m the only homesteader driven to this lifestyle by a need to manage a chronic disease, and I know of many other homesteaders who struggle (I’m thinking of you all today). Many of us, I think, have chosen this lifestyle not despite our ailments, but because of them.

Part of the reason I choose to homestead is because I know that I need and crave movement most of the time. I fully believe that spending time doing a variety of tasks on my homestead that have me standing, bending, pulling, pushing, and lifting is a much better option than sitting at a desk all day.

Homesteading gets me outside into the fresh clean air and offers access to healthier food that we grow ourselves. It offers the chance to experiment with natural solutions to my ailments like honey, elderberry tonic, and homemade salves.

But I also know that there are going to be days when my body can’t deliver on the promises I have made on its behalf. There are going to be days when I can’t pick the elderberries, can’t carry the big harvest basket full of veggies to the house, can’t drum up the energy to make a batch of salve. Those days, I need to listen to my body and find the time to rest.

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