Homestead Failures: Confessions of What I Didn’t Do

Every once in a while I come across someone who describes me in the most peculiar way.  There’s a great homesteading blog that says something like “the most organized homesteader I know.”  Or, one that shocks me even more, “This woman can do it all!”  Yeah.  Not so much.

I’m a bit bothered by these statements actually.  I try to be pretty honest on my blog – not just all shiny-happy all the time.  I’m not joking when I call myself the LAZY homesteader. I’m really, really great at coming up with an idea, gathering all the materials, and not following it through to completion.  Rick often plays clean-up to my projects.

I’m not sure if I’m more bothered by the fact that I’m somehow failing to communicate the realism of my life ( I have THREE kids that sometimes drive me to drink, people), or if it’s the imagined (implied?) pedestal that someone thinks I’m on that gets to me.

There are a lot of Judgey-Judgertons out there ready to tell you you’re not doing enough, you’re doing too much, you’re doing it wrong, or what you’re doing isn’t as important as what they’re doing.  I’m so not that.  I don’t ever want to communicate that.

I’m not sure exactly what the communication break down is, but I wanted to pause a moment to illustrate for you just how imperfect my life really is.

Please, come with me into the urban homestead confessional.  Forgive me Followers, for I have sinned.  It’s been 11 months since my last confession:

  • This year I planted beets that I failed to harvest until they were good for nothing besides pig food.
  • I’ve completely lost track of my Independence Days challenge this year.  I still have an egg count going though.
  • I never made pickles this year.  And I ignored the fact that my melons and cukes didn’t germinate, I didn’t replant them.
  • I decided to take on the Riot for Austerity.  And then I didn’t.
  • Last summer, I over-bought peaches.  I feel like I still have as many peaches in the freezer this year as I did last year.
  • This spring I used not-quite-finished compost in the garden and then grew lots and lots of weeds.  I generously gave some of this same compost to the neighbor.  I send H to pull weeds for him.
  • In 2011, I gave myself a 20 week organizing challenge: twenty weeks to organize twenty things.  I stayed on track for 8 weeks, went all sporadic, took a five month break, did three more posts on it at the beginning of the year, and then completely blew the project off.  I still have four items to go.
  • I collected too many chickens.  I was like the crazy cat lady of chickens.  We had 14 and they were all stressed and dirty and it stank.  We butchered three and are holding steady at 11 right now.  They are much happier and we’re loving the eggs.  But really I need to find a home for 4 more of them; I’m putting it off because I’m all attached or something.
  • I bought a grow light to start seeds with.  I sat it on the dryer and never opened it.  After four months, I dusted it off and returned it to Lowes for store credit.
  • I drove two hours, round trip, to pick three boxes of tomatoes from my CSA.  I let the husband wash them and then left them on the counter for 19 days until all but 22 were rotten.  At that point, I divided the remainder between the chickens and the compost bin.

What are some things you had the best intentions for but didn’t pan out as planned?  Have anything to confess?

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Categories: Top 5, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “Homestead Failures: Confessions of What I Didn’t Do

  1. Let me add to the list, I bought super special organic pest control and then never sprayed it. Squash bugs are in my backyard laughing at me right now.

  2. I’m great at following through with PROJECTS but terrible at the every day stuff. I literally have an entire walk-in closet that can’t be walked into because it’s so full of outgrown baby clothes that need to be sorted. Loads of laundry that’s washed but not put away. I think the name “Lazy Homesteader” kind of implies it all. You do what you can and the things you can’t get to.. well.. no big deal. Thanks for the morning smile :)

  3. J. Southern

    I love this. Personally, I have never got any sort of an, “I’m-perfect-and-better-than” attitude ever coming from your posts (though I admit I’m pretty new). I love this because it makes me feel 110x better for all the screw-ups and unfinished projects I have laying around my house (which reminds me – I started making a blanket for my nephew when he was born… he’s now 3 and my sister has another baby and the blanket still isn’t finished). As always, thank you for sharing your life with us. =0)

  4. I bought tomatoes and never planted them. I weeded my front yard maybe once or twice. I’ve only blogged about 2x/month. I started the Charcutapalooza challenge and never finished.

    Glad I’m not the only one.

    I did, however, get pregnant and have a baby in 2011. That, at least, that I finished.

  5. A. Otis

    The fact that you attempt all of this and then sit down to blog about it so that all of us can learn from it or commiserate is extremely admirable. I also have never gotten a holier than thou attitude from your blog, it anything it is humble and refreshingly honest and has been s godsend for me, keep up the good (and not so good) work!

  6. I planted an entire row of chard with the intentions of dehydrating, canning and eating. Haven’t harvest one leaf yet and now the plants are starting to bolt. Nice. Started to build a chicken coop. Got side tracked. When the chickens arrived we let them live at Grandpa’s. After 6 months I’d say they’re his chickens now. My goal in May was to deep clean our two refrigerators and chest freezer. Still not done. I think I should have named my blog “the incredibly lazy homesteader”!

  7. Marcie

    Where do I start…?
    I planted beans, yellow squash and spinach that have ALL gone by the way side. I also have WAY TO MANY CHICKENS… started out with 7, 2 years ago, I now have 19 and we are expecting 8 more chicks in the mail the end of September. I am putting several of the hens on Craig’s list but how can I pick the ones I’m getting rid of, after all I’ve named them ALL and they ALL have personalities. I started building raised beds for my garden this year as my back part of my very large, yard floods every winter, which makes gardening in the back impossible. I only got one out of the 3 built and most of the stuff I planted in it went to the chickens. Happy chickens, not so happy me! I appreciate all your SINS; they make me feel like I am not the only one out there that is riding along on a bumpy road.

  8. This is my kind of post! I recently made the walk of shame down to my local nursery to purchase fall veggies starts – because most of the seeds I bought, I didn’t start in time. Of the ones I did about 1/2 of those actually germinated. Yup. Lets hope those seeds are happy in the fridge until next year.

    • Walk of shame! I love it! Yeah – I”m trying to hide the seed packets I ordered but didn’t plant. ;)

  9. Thanks for this post! I loved every word of it. I’ve thought and had my second season garden all mapped out to be planted in July. Ho Hum… here we are almost September with an October frost. Something to aspire for next year. And my blog, I somehow never seem to have the time to keep it up to date as I should.

  10. I have no shame in my late planting. I went to the nursery this weekend & bought my fall seeds because I didn’t start ANY of my seeds on time. Most of my garden went to poop cause everything I planted got scorched in our 100 degree June as they all germinated! I don’t feel bad about stuff like that ONLY under the condition that I can tell myself I did as much as I can. If I’m slacking off I’m slacking off & that’s lame. Like right now, I’ve been on a canning binge. I picked my mom’s apple tree 2 weeks ago, got about 50 pounds of apples & they’re starting to go bad sitting on my counter. But the point is, I canned an entire case of peaches, my mom’s beets, zucchini relish & pickles, all in the last week. I think you have to keep the perspective of not over scheduling yourself. I have reduced my life to one thing a day. Seriously! I pick out one thing every day I HAVE to do & as long as I do that one thing, then I can feel good about myself. I usually pick the thing that sucks & I’ve been avoiding to be my one thing. I have over-scheduled my life for so long it got to the point where I was miserable & still not getting anything done! Just running around doing a part or two of each project. Now I feel like my life is finally moving forward. My house is cleaner than it’s ever been, I’ve caught up my bills, stayed on budget, had time to do the things I enjoy, but at the same time I feel less stressed (probably because everything is on track & I don’t have those naggy undone things eating at the back of my brain all day). You sound super awesome & I’m impressed. You are a great inspiration to me on a personal level, you’ve inspired more than one of my projects this summer! Just remember, nobody can do everything. :)

  11. Cynthia in Denver

    Fix the coop door and roof.
    Mulch.
    Stir & water the compost.
    Start fall seedlings.
    Build trellises for the cukes, peas, and butternut squash.
    Weed the front yard.
    Rip up the dead grass in the front yard.
    Fertilize.

  12. I just came across this on Twitter, retweeted it and then said “oh thank God I’m not alone in this.” I too, didn’t make any pickles this year because our crop got half destroyed and then the two plants we did have left for pickling cucumbers only gave a few at a time – not enough to merit standing over a hot vat of vinegar in the summer for. Also, I’m pretty sure we used half-compost compost on the garden too and the weeds hate me for it. Next year I’ll make manure T so the seeds don’t get into the soil. Or so I say that now. I probably won’t. I didn’t make any jam. Instead I ate berries off the bush and let the dogs get their fair share too.

    And I don’t have any kids yet.

  13. Hazel

    My year has been a whole lot of good intentions and not actually seeing very much through to the end. Reading that other people do the same does make me feel a bit less guilty!

  14. Just happened upon your blog. I am currently stuck in Los Angeles, having mistakenly thought life would be better in sunny California than it was in Noblesville, Indiana. Its not. My husband and I are itching to get back to our 1/4 acre plot and I am SO encouraged that you are able to do all of this (or not do all of this as the case may be) on just 1/8. Please keep posting – this stuff is awesome!

  15. Cherie

    Thanks for this–so good to know I’m not alone! Here are just a few that have been on THE LIST for ages:
    1. Build a new chicken coop so my chickens won’t have to live with my messy ducks (and get some more layers–I’m down to just one very old hen).
    2. Finish up our little greenhouse (it still needs gaps screened, a door, a real shelf instead of plywood on sawhorses)
    3. Start posting regularly on my long, long neglected blog-site.

    Terrible confession: I buy baby trees, shrubs, perennials, and sometimes they don’t make it into the ground before they die, and if they do make it into the ground they often suffer a slow, sad death from neglect.

    Thanks again!

  16. Victoria

    I loved this because I so related to it!
    I harvest tomatoes and cucumbers that sometimes go bad before we eat them.
    I thaw out meat that we don’t end up eating. Then I have to pitch it. Ugh.
    I have 4 basil plants that are as high as my waste. I’ve had “make pesto” on my to do list for 3 weeks. I’m sure I’ll get around to it any day now.

  17. Victoria

    And apparently I can’t spell. *waist

  18. This was hilarious. I let easter egg radishes get the size of softballs and then pulled them up and left them to rot in the sun. I over-watered my tomatoes and gave them blossom end rot. I have never figured out how to feed/fertilize my veggies, though I really need to. The list goes on….

  19. Lana Dolt

    Oh, this is so nice to hear! :) I never planted the french sorrel and started broccoli and brussel sprouts seedlings and just put them in the garden last week. The fennel is started and still not planted. Did I mention that I live in Wisconsin and it’s totally unlikely that any of this will produce food before winter? Hmm. . . I give away fistfuls of basil because I can’t deal any more. I thought a garden binder would be a great idea, but I’ve got all of 2 pages done. . . yup, I can relate.

  20. Um…this is awfully forward of me…but if you’re looking for a home for some of your chickens, our family is newly settling in Parker. We have 8 chickens right now – very happy chickens who wander around freely during the day and are tucked in safe at night and come running over to us when we come outside because we bring them yummy things like watermelon rinds – and if you really want another home for some of yours, we would love them! And then you could visit, if you want!
    I don’t have much of anything to offer in return, but my dad is a master beekeeper, if that would be of help. Maybe?
    Again, awfully forward of me, so please ignore if you prefer. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

  21. Christie

    I really feel like this summer was somewhat of a bucking bronco – it was all I could do to just HOLD ON! I love this entry. I think ALL of us have so many of those nagging items we’d love to confess… I try to remind myself that I’m my own worst critic, and, while I’m not actively faking it to friends and family, they just don’t see the red potatoes that never grew or the pitiful state of the brush pile.

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  23. Yes! I have a special gift of abandoning a project when it is about 95% finished. I painted all of the trim in my house about two years ago, but still have oh, about ten feet of hallway baseboards that need one more coat. They have needed one more coat for two years, and will probably still need that last coat until I decide to repaint all of the trim again. I also have a couple of sweaters that I’ve been knitting- one has been nearly finished for over a year- I need to stitch up two three-inch seams and it would be done. However, I CANNOT seem to make myself finish! Loved this post, I was cracking up! :)

  24. Natty

    Thank you for posting this! I have had make gazpacho on my to do list for two weeks now while my tomatoes are falling off the plants and rotting :(

  25. Thank you for this honest post; it feels good to know that I’m not the only one who is lazy and postpone doing things. I’m a super procrastinator :)

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  27. I’m right there with ya.

    I struggle with the same – even though I write about my terrible, horrible, very bad days, I still often find that folks’ perceptions and my expressed reality don’t jive. What can you do?

    As for my failures – this year took the cake. It took me nearly a week to get my smoked tomato sauce canned – and the fruit flies beat me to most of them before I could even start. I barely grew anything at all pending the sale of the house, and what I did grow grew wild and untended and pretty much had to fend for itself. I made lots of jam, but not much else. Our grocery bills will be huge this winter. Such is life.

    I found that article you linked to touched a nerve. Being a feminist and a formally trained artist, I have a voice in my head that sounds a lot like the writer – bitching that somehow I am letting down all of womankind by choosing to focus on home and family at this stage in my life. It makes me rile that somehow feminism has made it ok for women to look down on other women’s choices for being too traditionally feminine. What a bunch of baloney.

    Thanks for the giggle and the reality check.

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