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Does anyone else feel like I do? We have 4 acres adjoining 4000 acres of state game lands. Last year my husband broke his foot. What should have been a 6 to8 week injury has been going on for over a year. He has had 2 surgeries and now we are looking at a possible 3rd. The tendonds in his foot are not right.In the mean time I am the sole bread winner plus responsible for all the daily chores.He cant walk far enough to push a wheelbarrow to clean stalls.We have 3 horses a cow a goat 40 chickens and 9 turkeys. I am trying to do it all. The garden is full of weeds. I havent canned one thing this year, doubt I will. I am ready to give up. Please give me words of encouragement, I need them.
-- tracy (email@example.com), August 04, 2001
keep going tracy,,,just keep going. How about a neihbor kid to help? or someone from church,, payable in fresh eggs, garden produce,,ect. Where are you located? Maybe someone here can help
-- STAN (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 04, 2001.
I am in Northwestern PA. I have 3 teenagers that wont lift a finger to help. We moved from the city 5 years ago and they want nothing to do with homesteading. I really cant expect them to clean horse stalls since they dont ride. As far as the other animals I have already told them if they dont pitch in they wont eat. My 2 daughters wont eat meat so they really dont care. I am living my dream but know one elses, apparently. I drive 32 miles every day to get to work plus 32 miles back home. There has got to be a better way.
-- tracy (email@example.com), August 04, 2001.
Boy oh boy, Tracy, you need to get those teenagers involved, regardless of whether they eat meat or not. You guys are a family and they are part of it, and as such they should be EXPECTED to contribute. When I hear a tale such as yours I am reminded of how fortunate I am. I just came from my parents' home, where my family gathered for dinner tonight. My rich attorney brother and his nurse practitioner wife have 4 girls under the age of 7. These girls have always been a little spoiled, but good kids in general. Well, I haven't spent much time with them this summer, so I was well pleased to see that my SIL has seen the light! When I got up to start clearing the table, the 3 1/2 year old jumped right up with me, without being asked. Then my nephew jumped in and the 2 of them cleared the entire table while I loaded the dishwasher. Another nephew, age 12, got the floor sweeper out and cleaned up the cake crumbs from under one of his little cousin's chairs. I commented to my SIL about her girls and she told me that she's got them doing all the laundry (except linens), and that they love folding all the towels AND sorting socks. I have asked to borrow them! Apparently the 3 older ones (6 1/2; 5; and 3 1/2) all make their own beds; clean up their bedrooms and the playroom; and clear the table after every meal, and help with other household chores. They also try to help in the yard, though my brother says they aren't much help- but at least they are willing.
Sounds like your place needs an attitude adjustment- theirs AND yours. If you have to get up and go to work every day, so should they. Don't feel as if you are dumping on them. You will be doing them a favor by insisting that they pitch in. They might not like it at first, but be persistent. In time I bet that they will develop a sense of pride in their accomplishment- I know that all of our kids have. They make a real contribution, not only in their own homes, but here at my place and at my parents' as well. Their contributions are important to the entire extended family and they are recognized for that and appreciated and they all know it. You aren't doing your kids a favor by letting them slide on chores- you are cheating them of an opportunity to be valuable, contributing members of the household. So, the sooner you get them started, the sooner they, and you, can reap the rewards. Stop feeling guilty!!!
Good luck to you all.
-- Elizabeth (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 04, 2001.
Ah Tracy - I feel your pain. It's a hard road going it alone, whether you really are or just feel like you are. I lost my soulmate husband 11 years ago and I have been managing 25 acres with 4 horses, 2 goats and numerous cats, dogs and birds and working fulltime. My children are grown and married, so I can only look for help from them when there is no other way. But your kids should really be helping you, whether or not they want to. Riding or not riding has nothing to do with it. Helping Mom has everything to do with it. It helps me to believe that everything has it's purpose and whether or not I choose to make it a positive purpose or a negative one. That's a toughie. Keep your little chin up - this too shall pass.
-- Dianne (email@example.com), August 04, 2001.
Elizabth, If I read what I posted I would have said the same thing qas you. I guess I should elaborate a little more. My oldest daughrter has bipolar disorder[manic deppressive] She had her own horse at one time but decided that she did not want to clean the stall. At that time I sold the horse.Since then she decided that all animals are not her forte`.I dont regert that decision. As you said you have to teach reasponsibility. The thing is that I have to work 40+ hours every week plus another 15 driving time to get back and forth to work[rural area]The homesteading life, as ideal as it sounds has not worked. I wish that I had children that were in to it but I will not force them to do it. My mother forced me to go to church and all that did was turn me against it. If my kids want to live the life that I want then they have too choose it. I will not force it on them.
-- tracy (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 04, 2001.
I'm sorry about your husband's plight. I'm sure he's even more frustrated than you. As to your children, unfortunately, your teens are just being teens. Kids in general tend to worry only about their wants and needs and I'm not sure it doesn't get worse when they're teenagers. I don't know that this is encouraging beyond knowing it's not just yours.
You have my best wishes for your situation there to improve. I know it can't be easy for you. Hang in there. It will get better.
-- Gary in Indiana (email@example.com), August 04, 2001.
Gosh, Tracy, I feel bad for you. You are shouldering burden enough dealing with hurt husband and family AND JOB. I hate to suggest it, but why don't you dump some of the livestock? If it isn't fun right now, and it's killing you with work to the point you feel this bad, I don't think it would be the worst move. Maybe just keep the hens, something like that. There's no sense you thinking you have to do it all now. You have the rest of your life when things get back to normal with your husband's foot to have all of this again, and you can enjoy it. And don't feel bad about the garden/not canning, either! There are only so many hours in the day and one person cannot do everything! Ok, maybe Martha Stewart can, but she's not normal like we are! :) Hope you feel better soon.
-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 04, 2001.
Tracy, its not whether or not they're into the homesteading thing. Like somebody said, you're a family, and mom needs help, and the rest of the family needs to pitch in while dad's down and mom's over burdened. Also, as has already been suggested, you may have to at least temporarily reduce your livestock situation to ease up some of the burden. You can do it. I know how you feel - I'm entering year three of camper living because I was abandoned out here to build a house on my own, and its not done yet. BUT, its getting there. You've got three kids, between the three of them you should be able to count on enough help to tide y'all over. They can cook, do dishes, clean around the house, make a grocery list, etc. to relieve some of the burden even if they're not "into" homesteading. Those aren't "homesteading" issues. Try to offload as much as you can. They can do laundry, stuff like that. You need a break! The family needs to pull together.
-- Sojourner (email@example.com), August 04, 2001.
Tracy, I know it's difficult to give up aspects of this life, but just as your husband's foot problems are temporary, so is this situation. Find someone who could free-lease the larger animals for awhile. Butcher the poultry a little earlier than usual, or find someone who would help you out for a certain number dressed birds on butchering day. You didn't say if you are milking the goat or cow, but you could dry them off if you are. As far as getting some help from your kids, try a little give and take. What do they really want? Barter with them. Maybe one of the kids would tend the poultry if so many birds would be given to them to sell. I realize you already had plans for all of those birds, but maybe it's time for Plan B. Maybe you could get some teenage help in the garden if you would allow them to host a summer celebration party (which might consume some of those veggies, but would get them grown and harvested just the same). A dose of slightly scary reality isn't a bad thing either. A vegetarian diet is best kept via variety. If those vegetarian children of yours can't pitch in to help grow the vegetables, what do they intend to eat all winter? Finally, if they can't bring themselves to pitch in at home, then they need to start bringing in paychecks outside the home and contributing to home expenses like in the real world. Another source of help you might want to check out is 4H. There may be some 4H kid out there who would give his/her eye teeth to work on your homestead for barter and experience. I'm so sorry about your husband's foot. I'm lucky in that my children currently are interested in homesteading, but on the flip side they are still too young to be expected to do more than help me out with my chores (which sometimes makes things go more quickly and sometimes slows them down). I milk 2 goats, have a sheep, 6 laying hens and 9 meat birds, tend a large garden and work 4 days a week. While I do get some occasional help from my husband and kids, those are pretty much all my chores to do. You have much more to do than I do. If it takes so much time that you have no time for yourself, your kids or your husband then the whole reason for having this way of life is defeated.
-- Sheryl in Me (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 05, 2001.
Tracy, relax and move smoothly, you are never given a problem that does not have a solution.
-- mitch hearn (email@example.com), August 05, 2001.
Tracy, I'd scale back on animals temporarily. If your kids don't like the outside chores, there are a million things to do in the house. They can definitely take over cooking & cleaning. My brother & I learned how to cook through notes from my mother, as she was at work. She always appreciated dinner ready, table set when she arrived home from work. Some meals were not the best but always appreciated. My father would always say, "Nothing wrong with peanut butter sandwiches." I have a 13 year old son who does an entire list of chores every day!! Good Luck!!! DW
-- DW (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 05, 2001.
Tracy, Hang in girl, it will get better and you will be glad you toughed it out. Hubby will get better. I work third shift and so I leave my kids a note on the fridge everyday of what they should do. Sometimes, when they are having trouble focusing, I even put finish times down. Whatever, the whole list has to be finished before I get out of bed. If not, I am very grumpy. I just explained that I could get up and do all the chores, but if I did, I would be to tired and not have the time to let them do what they want. After a few denied trips and visitors, they got the idea. Good luck and hang in there. We are all pulling for you. Joanie
-- Joanie (email@example.com), August 05, 2001.
Tracy I agree with a lot of whats been said. But Its your homestead and your dream. I assuming its your husbands as well. IMHO Kids are your relief until they pack up and move out. my SIL had trouble with her 19 yr old until she put her foot down. Get out or help. Now he's choping wood, feeding the cows and doing the dishes. Personally I think he could do more however as SIL said He is helping. I think your teens could too.
Hang in there Dreams are what gives meaning to our existence.
-- Kenneth in N.C. (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 05, 2001.
I was raised that pitched in when family need help, like it or not. I would agree that at least they can do their laundry, cook etc. around the house or do without their essentials. A possibility would be to sell the most expensive animals as you need say 1 at a time to raise temporary funds without going completely out of business. Also cut out all unessary extras to pay for help. If the kids want the extras back offer to an extent to pay the instead of a hired hand. Dad would basically kick our butt if we would not do our part. I was made to work and I still am here. I would worry about my kids if I was killing myself and they did not care about me enough to help, teenagers or not.
-- Tom (Calfarm@msn.com), August 06, 2001.
Thanks for all the responses. My kids do their own laundry and help with the household chores. They will keep up with the inside of the house, it is the outside chores that are overwelming me. Getting rid of my horses is not an option, they bring me peace and some sanity even though I havent had time to ride latley. The chickens and turkeys have another month before they are ready to butcher. Same with the cow. I know deep down that things will be better eventually. Thanks for all the encouraging words.....Tracy
-- tracy (email@example.com), August 06, 2001.
Tracy, I can sure relate. I've been milking twelve goats by hand twice a day and between that and four wonderful little children it can get a little crazy sometimes. I haven't touched the garden for a week or two. Here's what I'd do in your shoes. When you get a minute, sit down and write down what's frustrating you the most. Just writing it all down will make you feel better. The look at the list and analyze it. What is the most work? Is there anything in the setup that could be eliminated or streamlined to make the work faster or easier? For example:
I had about 7 or 8 goat being milked a few years ago. The milking stand was in the barnyard, so I had to tie evryone up to milk and feed. Otherwise, the other goats would run up and steal the grain from the one being milked-chaos! There were ropes with swivel clips in every corner and all around the barn to tie up the goats. I'd milk one, lead her back to her clip, lead another one to the stand, etc until they were all milked. The grain was outside the goat pen, so I had to walk out the gate to get each scoop of grain. I spent more time walking and leading goats than I did milking! Further, every goat had her own post where she was clipped up, and so it was very hard to get anyone to subsitute for me, the routine was too involved and hard to learn. Now I'm milking twelve goats in the same time and it's easier and less work. Here's what we did to change and streamline the milking operation:
We made another milking stand and installed it right behind the first one. Then we got some stock panel and metal fenceposts and made a pen all around the two milking stands. There are two gates, one to come in and one for going out, each gate has a snap clip(the in gate has two). The feed barrel was moved into the milking parlor. Now two goats rush into the milking parlor when the gate is opened and leap onto their milking stands. I lock them both in and feed them and milk the one in the rear, then the one in the front. There is no standing around waiting for them to finish eating. When they're done, they go out the out gate and two more does come in. It is so much easier and faster!
This is just an example. There may be parts of your chore routine that could be improved or even eliminated. Think about it the next time you do chores, if there are any extra steps or things that could be changed to make it easier for you.
-- Rebekah (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 06, 2001.
Tracy, Sorry to hear of your plight. Maybe neighbors or friends can do the canning for you or maybe hubby can do the inside work like canning, washing dishes, preparing meals, as he feels up to it. I know what you feel like. My hubby goes on business trips for one to two weeks a couple of times a year and I am left with a full time job plus the chores of 60 sheep, chickens and mowing. Hang in there and do what you can, a little at a time. Making a priority list helps, if you have time to make one. Ha Ha. Do you have any relatives close by? When times were hard for me I explained it to my teenage daughter and asked (begged) for her help. I got her to do a little more and that really helped. My daughter always uses the excuse, "You are the one who wanted to live on a farm." Make them wash their own clothes. Just don't wash clothes for them and they will eventually wash their clothes themselves. If the housework gets behind, oh well. AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Keep your chin up.
-- JoAnn in SD (email@example.com), August 10, 2001.