Welcome to fall, or autumn, whatever you call it. This wonderful time of the year that where the heat of summer begins to fail, and we all start experiencing the cooler winds from the north. On a small farm, farmstead, or homestead, this is our busiest season of the year. Yes, even behind the spring planting.
In spring, we put in a lot of work getting the ground ready, getting seeds started, plants planted, infrastructures such as greenhouses and irrigation systems. Then you have the birth of animals, such as goats and sheep, if you have them. They are closely related to deer and follow the same breeding schedule. They are usually rutting in the fall and birthing in the spring.
Spring is also a popular time to hatch chickens due to the ease of keeping them alive with the warmer weather. If you have never raised them, trust me on this, they still require a lot of time and infrastructure to keep healthy and grow into healthy adults. Sounds like a lot of work, right?
Summer rolls around, and then there is UV management, for me anyways, weeding, watering, pest control, cooling pools for my animals, and some early variety harvesting. In my area of the world, the hot temperatures make working outside all day dangerous. Farm work is usually reserved for early morning and late evening.
Then comes fall. Fall is a time of reaping the harvest. You get to go out and pick your crops. You get to cull your herds for your freezers. You get to take your harvest and begin the process of preserving food for the year ahead of you. Extra foods get to go to market for sale to the public.
Most homesteaders also have other income sources in the form of handmade crafts, woodworking, leatherworking, basket making, etc. For my farm, The Smith Homestead, we make soap, candles, hand-knitted items such as scarfs and beanies, do blacksmithing, etc.
Hours upon hours are spent in the kitchen, peeling, coring, deseeding, cooking, and canning. Creating inventories, recording and labeling jars for storage, and preparing the extras for the market, which is a whole other thing. The Markets and fairs alone are tremendous for the small farm stand. Every weekend, September through November, is full of county fairs, farmers markets, pumpkin pie festivals, and any other spot that the homesteader can get a booth set up at.
Monday through Wednesday is spent creating and cooking, Thursday through Sunday is spent smiling at customers, making small talk, and trying not to buy something from the vendor beside you because you like their work but need to pay some bills. The plus side is that the weather is getting cooler, and everyone seems to be in better spirits.
With winter around the corner, there comes a moment for a little rest. While I have winter gardens in my greenhouse, The risk of weeds and pests is non-existent and much less labor as most items are solely for consumption at harvest. Shorter days and longer nights are a blessing for the farmer—more time to read, write, practice a hobby, and spend time with the family.
It is a reward for all of our hard work. Time off, if you will. It is when we take our vacations. It is a moment to catch our breath. It is also something unique to the farmer and homesteader. While most people work 40 hours per week year-round, we typically work 80+ hours per week for eight months so that we can work 20 or less per week for 4.
There is a lot of discipline and organization involved with this lifestyle, planning and budgeting are beyond importance, but the payoff, if it’s your desire, is well worth all of it. But the lesson in all of this is not so much a run-down of my life, but to tell you this.
The reward is worth all the hard work. Wealth is not a measure of money but a measure of happiness. If you are doing what you love, you are never working, and most importantly, the love of life is more viable than anything you could possibly conceive.
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