Homesteading and Crofting: Truth or Nothing

There are lots of blogs and websites and online magazines about homesteading. Some of them are not very useful, unless one has a good job, a bank account with a four digit balance, and a barn full of inherited equipment. Others aren’t much more than glorified garden sites, and some are written while looking through rose-coloured glass.

I am trying to avoid that. My favourite crofting sites (the two I have found) are not rosy. One crofter, raising Berkshire pigs, is honest and forthright and includes photos of the poor little piglets that didn’t make it, as well as great shots of sunsets and misty hills in Scotland. The other is an island croft, where a writing couple are trying to make a go of raising vegetables and animals while managing their own careers and a small publishing house.

I am trying to be honest about our struggles. Maybe we will make a decent enough living here, or at least just about feed ourselves. I am still cautiously optimistic.I have a weed-bound garden, five remaining silkie chicks – and I isolated one this morning because it looked distressed – three not very productive goats who conspire to eat my bean plants and the neighbour’s grapevine, a herding dog who the goats treat with disdain, and an income that most months covers the necessities and nothing more, like truck repairs. I have to make decisions about whether to buy medication or pay the phone bill.

Like a lot of people now, we are living on the edge. We do not borrow money. We do not receive any welfare benefits. In desperate months, the church has given us a hand. That is what churches are for. I would work if I could, but the only work I am allowed in Canada right now is as clergy, and my bishop is not answering letters or returning phone calls. Without his permission, I can’t work for another church.

Well, we keep rolling along anyway. Today looks like an indoor kind of day, overcast and damp. Laundry and ironing await!

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13 thoughts on “Homesteading and Crofting: Truth or Nothing

  1. This is ONE of the things that makes your blog so helpful, enjoyable, and important. I am very thankful that you are able and willing still to be writing here.

  2. I mainly get my inspiration from a Swedish forum when it comes to crofting and homesteading. In this forum there are people who know something about everything and you can find help within half a day if needed. I think most of us see it as a virtual village and we love the company, incouragement and the friendship we get. Yes, there is one or two toxic people but for the most part the tone is positive and everyone get along. Unfortunately it is all in Swedish so it wouldn’t be of much use to most of you reading this blog.

    • I find the translation programs are hard to understand. My Swedish language studies didn’t get far enough to make me proficient. Homestead.org has online forums in the USA.

  3. Magdalena this is just what I love about your blog. It isn’t some vapid “You can make a fortune living off the land in a few hours a day” hyperbolic hogwash. You write about real life in the country, as lived by real working class humans, not idealized country life as lived by trust-fund babies.

    We’re having a mortgage or phone bill month here as well. Sigh. I finally found work with a temp agency and worked all week, but it will be another week before a paycheck arrives. nd when I am at a job in town NOTHING is getting done here.

    I suppose that’s a nice thing about farm work–it will patiently wait for you until you come home to do it, haha.

    I have confidence it will all workout, but I can’t say how. The Lord has a way of working things out in ways I had not anticipated.

  4. I recently found your blog and I love it so far. I agree that the homesteading blogs can be very hobby oriented and even seem glamorous if one person has a large income and the other is staying home trying to harvest a few tomatoes. I get disenchanted with reading about people who were gifted land from their family to use and then it doesn’t matter if they do things right or not because they don’t have to.

    • My family owned a farm not far from here, but it was sold to the government back in the 1950s when the new highway system was built. I drive over it every time we go south.

  5. Well, I might as well admit that we are having to make choices too about house payments and utilities. This has been going on for the better part of 2 and a half years since Bruce’s employer ( subsidiary of Honda) had to cut back to the reaction of the recession and then the tsunami wiped out completely the factory that provided a necessary part for his factory. Things are still not right yet. We have lost a third of our income in both cases for the year they occured in. I have had to learn how to manage on this – and I was not at all a big spender before. After 24 yrs of living here and always paying on time this has been a source of shame, though I know it was unavoidable. Then, I got really scared when I realized how far behind we fell. But I am at peace now and feeling like God will help us to do the right things and to help us see how we should use our money. To make it worse, we lost a lot of our garden to intense heat ( 22 days of over 90) and who knows what else and much of our green bean crop laid and rotted because we couldn’t get to it. Bruce’s dad had a small stroke. I cannot get out in this heat and neither can Patrick. Bruce said the green beans were done and I felt so guilty, but they are flowering again!! Praise God!! So, we will do our best, eh? I have a huge pot of tomatoes on the stove cooking down to make sauce to can. Our chickens are not laying very well and we lost half our new bunch. I usually buy eggs from nearby farms, but Bruce doesn’t want me to. I was kind of annoyed at first, but it is kind of neat to every day find that I have exactly what I need to eat for breakfast or make the odd baked good. I have a tendency to want to feel I am just a big joke at this all, but I need to remember where I came from – the city and I never knew how to do anything that I am doing now. We do our best and God knows.
    Hang in there!!
    Joanie

    • I thought nothing would grow after that disasterous storm, but we have lettuce, radishes, peas on the vine, and lots of beans coming. We have green tomatoes and lots of squash blossoms.

    • I had enough of a gift come in today that we should be able to pay everything and buy meds. Things are bare-bones here, but that is all right for now. I need to pay for our firewood for winter, and get some work done on the truck before snow.

  6. If you want to try my forum the address is alternativ.nu. I am pretty sure you can ask and get answers in English but all the questions that are already answered are in Swedish of course and it might be hard to navigate on the page itself.

  7. Dear Magdalena,
    Thank you for your willingness to trust, to simplify honestly – facing into chicks in distress, phone bills, and the messiness of life. And thank you too, for sharing my blog, the praying life here. Somehow together we find strength to live with courage and grace. Blessings from Kansas! Loretta

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