The Pros and Cons of Homesteading: Dealing with Loss on the Homestead

The Bible says, “For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). These are important words to keep in mind when considering the pros and cons of homesteading.

Wow! You would think that King Solomon (the author of this book) must have been a homesteader. Although these things (and the others mentioned in further verses) are true to all of life, this is a very apt description of life on the homestead.

There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of looking over your garden that is producing abundantly, picking those vegetables, and serving them on your dinner table. Or the satisfaction of looking into your freezer full of poultry that you’ve just butchered to provide meat for your family. There’s pleasure in collecting the eggs that your chickens have laid, or picking apples from your own trees. What could be better than milking your own cow or goat and using that milk to make homemade butter, cheese, and ice cream? And probably the best feeling of all is watching as your animals bring forth new life! What a thrill farming can be.

Dealing with Loss on the Homestead

Sadly, as King Solomon tells us, there are also times of loss. My husband and I have been experiencing a time of loss on our farm recently. First, we had a weasel get into our chicken coop and kill our entire flock of laying hens. The only survivor was a rather traumatized rooster.

Next, one of the goats that we were eagerly awaiting to kid ended up miscarrying a month before she was due. A week after the miscarriage, we lost the mother goat as well. I confess to shedding some tears over that one. Often our farm animals become pets that we get quite attached to. I was grieved over her death. I also sharply felt the financial loss that went along with the death of both the kid and the doe. Shortly after this, we bought a handful of year-old hens to keep our poor lonely rooster company and to provide us with at least a few eggs to get us through the rest of the winter. These hens turned out to be egg eaters and they taught their dastardly ways to our rooster. They all ended up in the soup pot. That was more money out the window. It seemed like everything was going wrong over this period of time.

During these seasons of loss, it is easy to become discouraged. To begin to question, “What’s the point?” We began farming to produce food for our family and to possibly provide some additional income, not to just throw money out the window with no return! Was it really worth it? All of the work? All of the start-up cost? Not to mention the fact that we poured our heart into this… for what?!

These thoughts all crossed through my mind as I looked at all we had lost in such a short period of time. I was discouraged. I was filled with doubts.

The Pros and Cons of Homesteading

During these seasons on the homestead, it is important to evaluate everything. Is it worth it? What were your reasons for getting into farming and homesteading? What are your goals? Can they realistically be attained? Sometimes we may need to reevaluate some of our plans. I think during these times, though, it is important to remember the words of King Solomon. We need to remember that for everything there is a season. And we need to remember that this is just a season that we are going through. And these seasons will come and go whether we are homesteading, or we are urban-dwelling city slickers. This is life.

There are times of loss in every life. Sometimes it is financial loss, sometimes it might be the loss of a loved one. The loss of a job. The loss of property and possessions. The loss of health. In this world, we will have troubles. I say that not to be fatalistic or trite, but to be realistic. However, we must remember to everything there is a season. There is a “time to weep, and a time to laugh.”

It can be really easy to only focus on the negative at times, to only see the loss. During these seasons of loss it is all the more important to not just look at what we’ve lost, but to remember to focus on what we still have. To “count our blessings”, if you will. We need to keep things in perspective. We need to remember what the reasons were that caused us to start homesteading in the first place.

For my husband and me, there were several reasons we chose this life after weighing the pros and cons of homesteading. For one—and this is a big one—we love the lifestyle. We both grew up on hobby farms. It’s in our blood. We hate city life. We love growing our own food. We love raising animals for food. We just love what we do. Secondly, I have a lot of health problems, and clean eating it hugely important for me to manage my health. Clean eating is expensive. If we gave up farming and had to buy all of our food from someone else, that would be a huge expense. Thirdly, and this one kind of ties into number two, even if we don’t make a lot of money from our farm, growing and producing our own food saves us a lot of money. So even if we are just producing enough to cover the cost that we had to put into it, we’re still ahead.

Yes, for everything there is a season. That is the life in which we live. And just as summer turns into fall, and fall into winter, and winter into spring, the seasons of our lives are always changing. There will be times of bounty and there will be times of loss. But on the whole, if you ask my opinion, life on the homestead is good. It is a blessing… even with the losses.

Bobbi-Jo Irwin

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Bobbi-Jo Irwin

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