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How do you Have Both a Homestead and a Chronic Illness?

 
Posts: 22
Location: Living Energy Farm, Louisa, VA
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Thank you everyone for all the incredibly detailed, thoughtful, helpful replies. I will have to read back through this and take notes -- so much hard-won wisdom here.
I am humbled and inspired to hear all of the tremendous challenges that you all have faced and found ways to work around. Puts things in perspective.
One of the most helpful things one of my mentors once told me was "If it isn't working for the amount of time/energy/resources you are able to put into it, it's a design flaw, not a character flaw." It's so easy to pounce on ourselves with comparisons to what others are capable of or what we "should" be able to do. But really, our own unique selves are just as much a factor we must observe through the seasons and design around. Admire how so many of you have found ways to do that.
Seems the other key thing, whenever possible, is to not try to do it alone. I know for me, living in a small intentional community (currently 9 adults and 3 kids on our off-grid homestead) where I am appreciated for other aspects of who I am and ways I contribute besides how fast or hard I can work/how much I get done, our different strengths and interests can help balance each other out, and we can also support each other to an extent if someone is having an off day and make sure the essentials still happen. I honestly can't imagine trying to farm all on my own.
Blessings to all of you.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 793
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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I wish I could give you all apples.
Four years ago I labeled myself an Unstoppable Farm Machine! Today, not so much.
Ryan, I believe the hardest part of living with chronic problems is explaining them to your provider. I got an MS diagnosed last year but the truth is I’ve had it for years. So when the doctor ask how my legs are I say “Good.” Definitely not good for someone else but good for me. I’m not trying to be misleading but that’s my gut response. I have found it very helpful to have my wife join me at my visits. She knows me better than anybody and can fill in the blanks when I say I’m doing fine. I don’t feel like I’m in denial about any of this but our norms are very different from others. I don’t feel like I’m different or suffering but she tells me that I may want to reconsider.
I also know the feeling of frustration. I have big plans and want to get things done. Even though everyone else is impressed I feel like a bum.
Take care brother. This thread has been a blessing to me.
 
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"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing."- Abraham Lincoln

Homesteading or action toward a freer, simpler, cleaner, more self-sufficient life can be the remedy, too. Slow and steady ( and open to possibilities) wins the race!
 
master gardener
Posts: 2141
Location: southern Illinois.
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My wife is still asleep. It is about 2 in the afternoon. She exhausted herself canning last night.  She has multiple physical problems she faces.  It is easy for her to get too wrapped up in a project and overextend herself.  The key is to adapt and try to take baby steps.   Most projects can be put off for a day without harm. As I have read between the lines throughout this thread is that there is a great deal of frustration with people wanting their bodies to do more.  There are limits. Those limits, while not all controlling, still must be respected.
 
Scott Stiller
pollinator
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Physical stuff is difficult for sure but the mental will have you second guessing yourself. I was a born writer with a great grasp of language, punctuation and flow. Now I struggle to stay on topic when I post here on permies. It gets quite frustrating. Sometimes I’ll type out a reply then delete the whole thing, log off and not show back up here for a few days. Sometimes it’s easier to pretend it’s not happening than to continue trying. When you don’t see me here for awhile that’s usually the reason. I doubt I’m the only one that deals with that though. Sorry to be a downer.
 
pollinator
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John F Dean wrote:My wife is still asleep. It is about 2 in the afternoon. She exhausted herself canning last night.  She has multiple physical problems she faces.  It is easy for her to get too wrapped up in a project and overextend herself.  The key is to adapt and try to take baby steps.   Most projects can be put off for a day without harm. As I have read between the lines throughout this thread is that there is a great deal of frustration with people wanting their bodies to do more.  There are limits. Those limits, while not all controlling, still must be respected.



I am siting here trying not to freak out about getting behind on all the food preservation that needs to be done.  I am on day 4 of a big old symptoms flare and I can't get much done without making it worse.  My  husband has been helping but he still needs to focus on the day job.  We will manage but I still feel guilty that my body won't do what I want it too.
 
 
John F Dean
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Hi Kate,

There is always tomorrow. I have no idea what challenges you are facing. As a very general observation, I can tell you that normally your best option is look out for the health you have.  Without that, you will be in worse shape.


We have a huge advantage in that I am retired. That is a relative term. Actually i hold a part time job that has been impacted by Covid.
 
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Living with physical or mental issues, while also trying to live off your own land, sounds like a hell of a chore.

But it's a similar problem to living in todays fast paced economy, with bill after bill, with those same conditions. It just comes down to living within your means. In the city that means not getting this or that service, while out in rural areas it means not planting more than you can tend, or trying to have less intensive food production.

If you're back is ruined, try keeping bees instead of growing sugary crops. Less labor intensive, slower, but you don't have to do a ton for the bees.

There's almost always a trade off you can make. Perhaps you load chickens with more feed, or try to get a feeder that'll pop open every day for them. Small things that are more important to you, than someone younger and fitter.
 
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i am so thrilled the universe led me to this blog and this spot. it is my dream to homestead, but with multiple chronic illnesses it feels like a distant dream sometimes. i wonder how i could do it by myself, with fibromyalgia and me/cfs. and of course the reality is that i don't want to do it by myself, i'd love to have a partner in crime (not really), someone who shares the same dream and goals we can work towards together. i cannot wait to read all the posts here, and see what gems of wisdom await me. right now, it is so good to know that i am not alone in my dreams not exactly lining up with my body.
 
John F Dean
master gardener
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Location: southern Illinois.
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Hi Teri,

You appear to have a goal. Now figure out the steps to obtaining that goal. Now break those steps down into smaller steps.  With the danger of over simplicity,  let's say you want a $10,000.00 piece of land. You will be closer to getting it if you put a $1 bill in a Mason jar than if you don't.
 
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This conversation is almost a year old, but I want to add a few words... It meant so much to me to hear from others facing challenges like mine. Finding this was perfect timing for me as I struggle with letting go of my land and my dreams.

I moved to a lovely rural area of Acadian forest in Eastern Canada two years ago, planning to build a little self-sufficient homestead / farm. I had studied for years to be ready! I have sarcoidosis including neurosarcoidosis, thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, PTSD and Complex PTSD, and not much physical power due to a very bad accident which required reconstructive surgery on my whole abdomen, which didn't heal all that well. Some pretty deep emotional problems. I have "sun allergy" so in warm weather I can only go outdoors for about 15 minutes. I'm also a single mother of teenagers. I thought: I'll get a big dog, some chickens and ducks, grow food... and I have done a great deal, considering. I also have worked with the idea that I can't progress if I compare myself to others (can't compare myself to me before being sick, because there's no such thing). And doing a little bit at a time. And not self-punishing. I was raised to think pain or disability of any kind = self-pity.

And a lot of little things didn't go in my favor here, and I had a very major personal loss this year and the shock and grief knocked me down. In a sense there are no deadlines, as one of you said, but the firewood has to be done before the winter comes, and the animals need care no matter how I'm feeling... and it doesn't feel good to put so much work into growing food and then leave it spoiling out there because I don't have the energy to drag myself out there and harvest. My house is a sweet old thing but needs some work which I can no longer do and can't pay anyone else to do... I moved here not knowing anyone in this province, and my emotional state (plus Covid-19!) has made to hard to get to know anyone, though there is a growing organic / permaculture presence on the Island. I feel too emotionally fragile to seek people out. I have no family anywhere, so there's no one to call on for moral support. When I came here I was on decent terms with my ex-husband and he promised to help with the physical stuff, so things would run smoothly enough that I could manage alone later, but in the end he never shows up. Which I REALLY should have foreseen.

I planted fruit & nut trees, berries & grapes, built 6 long hugelkultur beds, converted a shed into a poultry house, learned an incredible amount! All in small bites. It would have been nice to have someone around to say: Look how much you've accomplished! In so many ways this property is what I always dreamed of. But the fact is, I do not have what it takes physically (or financially) to build and maintain this. It will be constant struggle, not safe, and growing old in isolation. I hoped at least one of my kids would want to stay here and work with me, but they have other plans. So now I'm facing having to sell my lovely place and move on. The challenge now is, not to punish myself for "giving up" or grieve myself into an early grave. Was I crazy to try this, at almost 50 years old, by myself? It's really hard not to punish myself now for not "making it work," as though anyone was ever in complete control! Trying not to feel like a failure. I admire you all so much for the work you do, on your homesteads and in your hearts, working with chronic illness.

In spring 2021 I have to put the property on the market.  If anyone is interested in 2 acres with a little river and a 3-bedroom house in south-eastern Prince Edward Island, let me know!

I guess I wrote this partly to say, recognizing our limitations (and everyone has limitations!) might mean our dreams have to evolve. There is some beauty in knowing how much I did, knowing that someone will go out there with their children and pick my apples and elderberries. I am so familiar with the feeling of having forcing myself to continue with something that is ultimately hurting me, because I'm stubborn and in a way still trying to prove that I have value even though I was taught otherwise. Our true value is inside us, though, "shining out of our eyes," not just in what we build and prove on the outside.

My very best hopes for all of you!
 
gardener
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Susan,

I wish I knew what to say.  Many of us here at Permies have had our challenges—I have had mine—but you have had more than your fair share.  So sad that you need to leave your little slice of heaven, but really you need to do what is best for you.

I wish I could tell you not to feel sad or guilty and make the sadness and guilt just go away, but of course those feelings are pains held deep inside.  I feel some of these too.  About all I can productively say is that can’t possibly pass judgment upon you.  To the contrary, I think you accomplished quite a bit considering the obstacles and roadblocks in your path.  Hopefully, someone else can make use of the dream you started.

I know seeing/feeling an expiation date to your homestead dreams is terribly sad.  But no matter where you go, so long as you have internet access you have community here at Permies.  Normally would just welcome you to Permies, but for you, I hope you find a new home here with us.

I wish you the very best and welcome you to our community.

Eric
 
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