Life on the off-grid homestead isn’t squeaky clean! In fact, there are lots of dirty little secrets that most bloggers and web sites don’t talk about. I’m going to bare it all for you because I want you to know what you’re getting into if you’re thinking about living this life.
Hair doesn’t care!
There are no barber shops round our parts, and frankly, even if there were, we’re not willing to pay someone else to cut or style our hair. I cut the boys hair as it’s needed, but that’s something I’ve been doing for years. I haven’t mustered up the courage to cut my own yet, so, for now, it’s just growing, and most days it sits in a bun or pony tail at the top of my head.
Here’s the dirty part, we don’t wash our hair every day! *gasp* I know it’s shocking to many, but when you have to haul in and heat your water for every little thing you need it for, washing your hair every day becomes lower on the priority list.
So much poo!
Ok, let’s be real here, we all poo, and our animals poo too! You know what likes poo? Flies! Those pesky little creatures can become a real nuisance if you don’t take care of all that poo. From the outhouse to the chicken coop, it’s up to you to make sure it’s all kept clean. Thankfully our kids are old enough to ‘wipe their own butts’, however, the animals never will!
Maintaining the outhouse is easy and keeps it odor free. All you need is wood ash, and thankfully you’ll have plenty of it from your wood stove! Dump a scoop or two of ashes in the outhouse after each use and you’ll never smell a thing! It keeps the bugs, especially the flies, down to a minimum and on the off chance you have company, you won’t be embarrassed if they have to use it.
Cleaning up after the animals isn’t always as easy. The bedding in the chicken coop needs changing at least once a week, preferably every other day. While they like to eat the flies, they’re happier in clean quarters and lay more eggs too! If you have geese or ducks, good luck! Haha, just kidding, but if you do have or plan on getting any make sure you get a good rake as well because they poo everywhere and if you don’t clean it up you’ll be tracking it inside your home! EEW
Clean clothes will never look the same
Yes, we do laundry every day. However, our clothes don’t always look clean. I’m here to tell you that it’s nearly impossible to get all those dirt stains out of the clothes without scrubbing till your hands are numb. We wash our laundry with 2 5-gallon buckets and a plunger. The inner bucket has lots of holes drilled into it so that it can be pulled out to allow the water to drain from the clothes. The plunger has holes drilled in it as well to allow the water to flow freely through it while acting as an agitator.
Every few months, if we’re feeling generous and can afford it, we’ll take a load to the laundry mat to wash and bring it home to line dry. We do wash our bedding and towels in the bucket as well but take them along with blankets to the laundry mat every few months as well.
Listen, regardless of how much you love it, or how hard you worked to grow it, it’s going to die. You’re going to have gardens that fail and sometimes it feels like you lost more than you got to eat. Your livestock will perish and there isn’t anything you could have done to change it.
While the fact that things die isn’t dirty, what you do with it can be. You’ve likely heard the expression “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade” and that’s exactly what you’re going to have to do here. When the garden fails, learn from it and make a compost pile. If it didn’t succeed because of wild-life eating it, consider it a success, just not in the same way. The wildlife that ate it will grow fatter and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to hunt or trap it and make a meal of it.
When you lose livestock, depending on the reason, of course, eat it. Don’t let it go to waste. This year was our first year with chickens. We lost 5 out of 7 to the Eagles and Hawks around us. It was sad because we had named them, which by the way is a big no-no! But we also learned from it. We learned that they need to be bigger before they can free-range. Our son learned about predators and what eats what.
As a side note, if you’re going to name your animals, give them names that won’t make you sad when it’s time to put them on the table. We have one chicken who we call Brownie because her eggs make one of the favorite treats around here, brownies! The other is gravy because he’ll be tasty with a side of mash taters and gravy! Give them food names and it’ll make it easier, not just for yourself but for your kiddos as well.
Failure is only failure if you haven’t learned from it
There is so much ‘failure’ on the homestead that you will eventually lose count! Around here we don’t call it a failure if we learned something from it. I think that’s a life motto, but it’s true. A person can’t learn without making mistakes. Didn’t cut enough firewood for the winter months so now you’re out falling trees in 12 inches of snow? That’s not a failure so long as you don’t do it again next winter.
There are going to be times that will truly test your grit! You’re going to want to throw in the towel on a number of occasions and walk away. DON’T DO IT! You’ll be thankful you stuck it out in the long run!
Bathing is a luxury
Ok, not really, but it sure feels like it sometimes! And if you don’t have running water it’s a chore as well! Maybe it’s the chore part of the process that makes it feel like a luxury? Just like not washing your hair every day, you’re not washing yourself every day either. If this makes you go EEW, then there’s a good chance this life isn’t for you. Seriously, hauling in your water and heating it on the wood stove takes time, you can’t just walk into the bathroom and turn on the faucet any time you feel like it.
The first 8 months of life in our cabin we spent bathing with 5-gallon buckets. We were blessed to be able to build an addition and now we have an actual shower pan. I did a happy dance over this, literally! But the best part is that we have a 5-gallon solar camp shower bag that we hang from the loft so now we have a real shower experience. (what can I say, it’s the small things in life that bring us joy nowadays.)
It’s just hard
Life on a homestead is just hard. There’s no way around it. You’re working 24/7/365. Want a vacation? Too bad, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone to do all the chores for you while you’re gone. The chores never end and lots of them have to be done several times a day. Mucking stalls, cleaning the coops, feeding and watering animals and gardens all have to be done no matter how badly you want to get away.
So for the family who complains about not seeing you anymore, invite them over to vacation at your place and put them to work! Not only will they appreciate your new-found way of life, they’ll appreciate why you can’t leave.
It gets lonely
It won’t matter if you’re a husband/wife team if you have a family with kids young and old, or if you have several generations with you in this lifestyle, you’re going to get lonely. You’re going to feel like no one understands you or what you’re doing. You’ll feel like an outcast even if you aren’t.
The best way to get over this is to join a few groups on social media of like-minded people. There are many different off-grid, homestead, and prepper groups out there. We belong to many and love the interaction we get with people who understand what and why we live this way.
You’re going to fall in love
It’s the biggest secret there is. Not a lot of people talk about it. You’re going to fall in love with this way of life and you’re going to wonder why more people don’t do it. You’re going think about all the years you’ve wasted away in the grind of the materialistic life and you’re going to be so appreciative of this lifestyle that you’ll never go back!
So there you have it, the dirty little secrets that no one talks about. As you can see, it’s not all bad. Just remember the reward is greater than the struggle!
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