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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Homesteading Failure

For the last 10 months I have been fully engaged in extra-curricular homesteading. We purchased a new home in a new area. I had thought that with the economic difficulties ahead, and the food shortages ahead, creating a plot that generated enough food for us and others would be a service to many.

For the last 10 months, I have put in a herculean effort and a lot of money into fighting:
  • Huge amounts of snow.
  • Scant amounts of rain.
  • 80% rock soil.
  • Devastating bugs eating all my seedlings again and again.
  • About 50 deer that come through my yard daily.
  • Poor quality shipped plants.
  • Ravens that have eaten 37 baby chickens and one adult hen at a time.
  • Foxes that ate 5 laying hens in a day.

A sample of what I've spent my time and money doing:
  • Building a massive chicken enclosure to keep predators out.
  • Removing a pile of rocks and boulders (mostly by hand) about 15' square and 7 ft high.
  • Digging about 30 holes in the rocky soil for fruit trees.
  • Moving a few tons of horse manure onto the property.
  • Buying a dump trailer and building sides for it.
  • Hauling 16 dump loads of mulch from the wood mill around 20 miles away from us. (The plan was 65).
  • Hand hammering about 200 t-posts into rocky soil for the deer fence.
  • Hanging the deer fence.
  • Designing and installing removable gates to allow truck traffic onto the land through the fence.
  • Watering. Watering. Watering.
  • Raising baby chicks four times.
  • Sourcing, cutting, splitting, and stacking lots and lots of firewood.
  • Planting a lot of stuff.

I can say that I've spent 20-30 hours per week outside of my full-time job on this endeavor, bare minimum.

The good news is that my small children are getting experience with manual labor, and I appreciate that.

The bad news is that I grossly overestimated the benefit to cost and total time required on this project. For the money, it would have been wiser to just purchase wheat to store. The worst part is that I feel like a slave to this project, knowing so many things need to be done and so many things could be wiped out overnight (as I've seen already with random bug attacks, deer, predators, snow, snap freeze, etc.). I can guarantee that this isn't worth even half the effort and money I've put into it. It is very, very depressing.

Of course, I went into this prayerfully. I do believe that God allows us to make mistakes, and quite frequently, to help us learn things we would not otherwise learn. I think he tends to try to save us from the big ones if we pray about them. I fear I missed a very subtle answer to my prayer which, in typical fashion for his interactions with me, came after I was already partially committed to this project (had bought some things and installed some things). Hindsight is 20/20.

The lessons I've learned are:

10 Seek not to be cumbered. (D&C 66:10)

19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. (Mark 4:19)

16 Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. (Proverbs 15:16)

When I think of the time I could have spent relaxing with my kids and working on the book I am writing instead of wasting so much labor and money that is one bear visit or cold snap away from total loss, I am deeply saddened and very anxious.

With all the trials coming, it's probably very important to think very carefully about how we use our time and resources. It is probably a good time to be slow to act and ever vigilant to preserve discretionary time.