Dealing with Sickness on the Homestead


| 10/31/2016 10:19:00 AM


 fresh mint

Mint. Fresh herbs make a wonderful tea for times of sickness.

Recently our entire family got through a particularly nasty stomach bug and then it dawned on me that being sick has some particularly challenging aspects for homesteaders, remote dwellers and backyard gardeners. When one is feeling weak, the usual and sensible advice is to set everything aside and rest, but if you have a garden and especially livestock to take care of, some basics still need to be done. Nothing will happen if dishes go unwashed for a day or two, but keeping animals unfed isn’t responsible or humane, and losing a whole season’s harvest because it’s getting overripe and you don’t have the strength to pull yourself out of bed and deal with it is nearly heartbreaking.

The best thing is to try and have at least one adult in the household avoid the illness. It’s incredibly helpful if someone is still up on their feet to do urgent chores or prepare a simple and nourishing meal. It is possible to avoid contagious illness by limiting contact with sick family members as much as possible, moving to a different bedroom if one is available, using separate hand towels, washing dishes with very hot water and sterilizing door handles, countertops, and other work surfaces.

However, sometimes it just so happens that a particularly nasty virus gets the whole family, like it happened for us – or maybe you are the only adult in the household — and then you just have to cope.



Call on neighbors and friends. Enlisting help from willing neighbors can be a godsend at such a time. If you have a kind neighbor who is ready to come and water your garden and take care of your animals while you are too sick to move, by all means avail yourself of this blessing (and be prepared to reciprocate the favor when needed). If you aren’t actually paying your neighbors for their help, it’s nice to offer some little gift in exchange; for example, when we thus collected eggs for our neighbors, we were offered to keep some for ourselves in return.



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