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

 
Posts: 198
Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
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Kate Muller wrote:

Jeremy Baker wrote:?
That’s a tough situation to be in . Good luck and best wishes. I just take miniature sized bites at a time these days. And get a surprising amount done.



This is exactly what I have spent the last 2 years learning to do.  In my case I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.




I have it, too.  It's a bitch, isn't it?
 
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I have found this thread so comforting! I see now that it’s not just me! I, like a few of you, have ehlers-danlos syndrome. I hurt ALL the time and have constant fatigue. Problem is, my mind is hyper. I’m guessing a lot of you are that way as well, or you wouldn’t choose to be a homesteader... I have sooo many thing I want to do, and I try to do, but my body can’t keep up. I truly enjoy the work, but I often find myself over-doing it, and regretting it later.

I am a 33 year old, homeschooling mom of 4 (ages 2, 4, 8, & 10). Husband works out of town a lot, so I pretty much take care of things by myself. My strategy is similar to many of y’all’s.  I work in spurts and take frequent breaks.  I have also learned to fully expect not to get as much done as I’d like. I need to be a morning  person and get my priorities done early in the day, because oftentimes, by noon, I am completely spent and have to quit. So, I plan and design things accordingly. I do very little in the way of gardening, but I do have some fruit and nut trees and lots of wild blackberries. I actually find livestock to be easier and less time consuming than gardening. We have one horse, several mini donkeys we raise as a source of extra income as they are practically maintenance free, chickens of course, and a dairy jersey that I machine milk once a day. I only allow myself animals that don’t have to be fed daily. The chicken feed is in a big auto-feeding bin, so all I do on most days is top off their water and collect eggs. We have 36 acres with several ponds, so plenty of grazing and water for everyone. I only feed them as treats. It is not a daily chore. My favorite time of day is when I get to go out and milk. The cow comes when you call her name and I get to peacefully milk in the barn, BY MYSELF, because I make my kids stay in the house. That is my “me time!” I drag my milk back to the house in a wagon to avoid too much heavy lifting as she gives 2-3 gallons a day. I think depending on your setup, that livestock are actually very easy and rewarding. I would suggest getting animals only if you’re able to avoid feeding them daily. We plan to get a few beef cows this spring to butcher/sell. A food forest is a goal of mine. I’m also, slowly (VERY slowly) building a little cob house out of pallets, straw, and cob... just for fun. I’m sure it’ll take me years and years to finish it. But I love the work and I believe no matter if your ailment be physical, psychological, mental, etc., the homesteading lifestyle is the best way to live for your overall health!
 
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:How do you do it? Today I was fine in the morning and then completely useless.
...

How do I homestead with these problems? How do I design the homestead with permie principles to work for me? How do I make it work so that if I have a bad day or even a bad week, that it isn't the end of the world? I know someone is going to say I have to figure it out myself, but I'm in terra incognito here, a road map would be awfully useful for choosing a way forward. What are my options here?



First, you don't try to do it alone. Gather a community of people around you. I have come to see Permaculture and homesteading are best suited to the young. Unless a Permaculture community is incorporated into your plan from the start, it takes an extraordinary individual to overcome the "drag" of a chronic illness.

Personally, I have given up on trying to do it alone here in the desert. I have not found (or attracted) such a community in my area, and I am out of resources.

I want to sell my 3.66 acres and move to a place that already has an established community of Permaculturists. I'm open to suggestions, but I find that doing it all on my own, just ain't cutting it.
 
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I keep telling myself, "Rome wasn't built in a day."  I try to set goals but if I don't get to those goals, I don't let that be the end of a world.  Small bites. Do what you can when you can with what you have.

This is for Ryan. Cooped chickens are at the mercy of you feeding them and watering them. Unless you have automatic waterers and feeders that hold lot of feed. Free range chickens and other poultry aren't at the mercy of you taking care of them quite as much, but they do need protection from predators. If I were you I would consider investing in automatic solar powered coop doors that would let your poultry range out in the morning when the sun comes up the door opens. At night when the birds come in the door closes. They sell those doors in a lot of places like on amazon. You can buy the parts you need and make it yourself cheaper.  I make a cheap chicken/poultry waterer with a bottom of a plastic barrel cut to adult chicken height with an automatic float valve and a hose to the water hydrant. If you don't have a hydrant and are catching water in a barrel or tote, you can still hook up a float valve to a water pan or barrel bottom.  If you get ducks, you probably don't want a waterer with an automatic float valve as ducks will just keep the water flowing especially if they can jump in a swim or attempt to swim and bathe.  You can get large poultry feeders that hold 25 lbs and more of feed or you can build some that people are showing on pinterest using a tote and PVC pipe fittings. I haven't tried those yet but I might in the future.   I tried Muscovy ducks. Never had one roost on anything ever. Never had one fly into a tree. Never had one scratch through stuff like a chicken.  If you let them get over a year old they are so tuff you can't eat them in my personal experience.  I sold all of mine. Two of the drakes would gang up on any new drake and have their way with him......over and over and over.  You mileage may vary with muscovy ducks.  

This is for Carla Burke. You are thinking you have to move a whole bag. When I was a kid of about 8 I had chickens and a horse. I had to take care of them.  So my parents took me to the feed store bought a bag of laying mash for my chickens and had the very nice guys at the local farm equity load it in the trunk of the car.  When we got home, I was told I had to move the feed and feed the chickens as it was my job since i wanted the chickens. I think my parents thought I wouldn't have the chickens much longer as there was no way I was going to be able to move that bag of feed. I am pretty sure it close to 100 lbs had to be at least 80 lbs since it was one of those big plasticy burlap bags that was longer than normal 50 lb bags.  I did manage to get the bag sitting up vertically in the trunk but I couldn't manage to lift it up out of the trunk.  So, I went and got some container/bags/ buckets and my feed scoop.  I scoop feed out of the bag into my buckets/bags and containers in amounts I could lift and move to the trash can I was going to store the feed in. I would fill a bucket or bag and then take it to the trash can and dump it in. Then I would go back and do some more until I had that bag down to weight where I could lift it and carry it to the trash can and dump it in. Over the years, I have had various injuries that have forced me to return to this way of thinking. Broken arm, hurt back, crushed knee.  My husband travels for his job so I have to do things myself.   So save your old bags. Take them to a the car. Scoop half of the new bag or a third of the new bag, what ever it takes to make it easy into a extra bags and carry them into the the feed storage area or container.  If you need help carrying even the small bags, get a dolly or a wheel barrow or a lawn cart.. This is doing things smart. Not everyone can heft a 50lb bag onto their shoulder and walk with it for tenth of a mile or a 100 yards or 50 yards. I am blessed that I can at my age of 56.  Yes, all that scooping may take longer, but you do what you have to do.

you can do it.  Yeah, you have to believe that you can do it. One small chunk at a time.

And for the person talking about freezing hoses. I live in North central Ohio have hoses everywhere from my animals. In the winter the hoses are off the hydrants so the hydrants won't freeze. I have invested in some of those light weight hoses some of them even collapse. The water drains out of the them really easy and I can carry them into the basement of the house so they stay warm and don't freeze. I have a 35 footer I can easily carry with one hand after it is drained.  Heck, I have a 75 footer that I can carry with one hand when it is drained. Makes life so much easier in the winter. I use regular hoses in the summer but I use the lightweight ones in the winter. I love them and they make life so much easier.

You Can Do It.
Bonnie
Bonnie
 
pollinator
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Location: Scioto county, Ohio, USA - Zone 6b
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I'm writing as part of my therapy. So I started this blog in hopes that it could help other people while I help myself. I have made 3 posts so far. My posts will tend to be short so that people like my mom who has ADHD can read them without much trouble.

https://myscarsareinside.health.blog
 
Mark Kissinger
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Bonnie Johnson wrote:I keep telling myself, "Rome wasn't built in a day."  I try to set goals but if I don't get to those goals, I don't let that be the end of a world.  Small bites. Do what you can when you can with what you have.

...

...

you can do it.  Yeah, you have to believe that you can do it. One small chunk at a time.

And for the person talking about freezing hoses. I live in North central Ohio have hoses everywhere from my animals. In the winter the hoses are off the hydrants so the hydrants won't freeze. I have invested in some of those light weight hoses some of them even collapse. The water drains out of the them really easy and I can carry them into the basement of the house so they stay warm and don't freeze. I have a 35 footer I can easily carry with one hand after it is drained.  Heck, I have a 75 footer that I can carry with one hand when it is drained. Makes life so much easier in the winter. I use regular hoses in the summer but I use the lightweight ones in the winter. I love them and they make life so much easier.

You Can Do It.
Bonnie
Bonnie



Yes, I should have shut down the yard hydrant for the freezing weather. I got lazy, and believed the forecast. It was wrong, and instead of having an hour of 30 degree weather, it was 4 to 5 hours of 27 degree weather. Also, the water line supplies water (from my above ground 2500 gallon black plastic storage tank) to my RV, day and night. I had intended to freeze-proof the line before the first deep freeze, but this freeze was much earlier that usual for this area. I'll be finishing up on the newly insulated, heat-taped, and buried supply line by this time tomorrow. If need be, for longer freezes, I can switch to the internal water tank on my RV when we get that rare week-long freeze. Other garden hoses get drained after use during cold weather. The yard hydrants are self draining when they are off. When homesteading off-grid, a person really has to pay attention to what nature is handing out to you.
 
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I am deeply grateful to all who have posted in this thread. You have given me new hope. Thank you.
 
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Bonnie Johnson wrote:I keep telling myself, "Rome wasn't built in a day."  I try to set goals but if I don't get to those goals, I don't let that be the end of a world.  Small bites. Do what you can when you can with what you have.

This is for Ryan. Cooped chickens are at the mercy of you feeding them and watering them. Unless you have automatic waterers and feeders that hold lot of feed. Free range chickens and other poultry aren't at the mercy of you taking care of them quite as much, but they do need protection from predators. If I were you I would consider investing in automatic solar powered coop doors that would let your poultry range out in the morning when the sun comes up the door opens. At night when the birds come in the door closes. They sell those doors in a lot of places like on amazon. You can buy the parts you need and make it yourself cheaper.  I make a cheap chicken/poultry waterer with a bottom of a plastic barrel cut to adult chicken height with an automatic float valve and a hose to the water hydrant. If you don't have a hydrant and are catching water in a barrel or tote, you can still hook up a float valve to a water pan or barrel bottom.  If you get ducks, you probably don't want a waterer with an automatic float valve as ducks will just keep the water flowing especially if they can jump in a swim or attempt to swim and bathe.  You can get large poultry feeders that hold 25 lbs and more of feed or you can build some that people are showing on pinterest using a tote and PVC pipe fittings. I haven't tried those yet but I might in the future.   I tried Muscovy ducks. Never had one roost on anything ever. Never had one fly into a tree. Never had one scratch through stuff like a chicken.  If you let them get over a year old they are so tuff you can't eat them in my personal experience.  I sold all of mine. Two of the drakes would gang up on any new drake and have their way with him......over and over and over.  You mileage may vary with muscovy ducks.  



Agreed! We are currently keeping our girls confined to the house & run, until the predator issue we ran into is resolved, but free-ranging it's cheaper, FAR easier, and (imho) healthier!

Bonnie Johnson wrote: This is for Carla Burke. You are thinking you have to move a whole bag. When I was a kid of about 8 I had chickens and a horse. I had to take care of them.  So my parents took me to the feed store bought a bag of laying mash for my chickens and had the very nice guys at the local farm equity load it in the trunk of the car.  When we got home, I was told I had to move the feed and feed the chickens as it was my job since i wanted the chickens. I think my parents thought I wouldn't have the chickens much longer as there was no way I was going to be able to move that bag of feed. I am pretty sure it close to 100 lbs had to be at least 80 lbs since it was one of those big plasticy burlap bags that was longer than normal 50 lb bags.  I did manage to get the bag sitting up vertically in the trunk but I couldn't manage to lift it up out of the trunk.  So, I went and got some container/bags/ buckets and my feed scoop.  I scoop feed out of the bag into my buckets/bags and containers in amounts I could lift and move to the trash can I was going to store the feed in. I would fill a bucket or bag and then take it to the trash can and dump it in. Then I would go back and do some more until I had that bag down to weight where I could lift it and carry it to the trash can and dump it in. Over the years, I have had various injuries that have forced me to return to this way of thinking. Broken arm, hurt back, crushed knee.  My husband travels for his job so I have to do things myself.   So save your old bags. Take them to a the car. Scoop half of the new bag or a third of the new bag, what ever it takes to make it easy into a extra bags and carry them into the the feed storage area or container.  If you need help carrying even the small bags, get a dolly or a wheel barrow or a lawn cart.. This is doing things smart. Not everyone can heft a 50lb bag onto their shoulder and walk with it for tenth of a mile or a 100 yards or 50 yards. I am blessed that I can at my age of 56.  Yes, all that scooping may take longer, but you do what you have to do.

you can do it.  Yeah, you have to believe that you can do it. One small chunk at a time.



Exactly! Right now, the speed of flipping it from the trunk to the wagon rules, lol. But, when I pull the wagon to the henhouse, to dump out into the bin, I usually do have to switch to buckets. If I am able, I'd much rather tip the bag into the bin, then pull up the emptied bag, so that's what I'm doing - for now. You're only a year ahead of me, and like you - I've a loverly collection of injuries to my name, lol. I'm torn, these days, between wanting to tough it out, like the badass I used to be, and preserving what left of me, for the next decades. You were a smart little thing - and that's obviously not changed! I hope my ridiculous need to get it done quickly is soon overcome by the wisdom in slowing down, and shifting into 'low' gear!

Bonnie Johnson wrote:And for the person talking about freezing hoses. I live in North central Ohio have hoses everywhere from my animals. In the winter the hoses are off the hydrants so the hydrants won't freeze. I have invested in some of those light weight hoses some of them even collapse. The water drains out of the them really easy and I can carry them into the basement of the house so they stay warm and don't freeze. I have a 35 footer I can easily carry with one hand after it is drained.  Heck, I have a 75 footer that I can carry with one hand when it is drained. Makes life so much easier in the winter. I use regular hoses in the summer but I use the lightweight ones in the winter. I love them and they make life so much easier.

You Can Do It.
Bonnie
Bonnie


I think some of those hoses would be incredibly handy here, too....
 
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Lori Ziemba wrote:

Kate Muller wrote:

Jeremy Baker wrote:?
That’s a tough situation to be in . Good luck and best wishes. I just take miniature sized bites at a time these days. And get a surprising amount done.



This is exactly what I have spent the last 2 years learning to do.  In my case I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.




I have it, too.  It's a bitch, isn't it?



Seriously a bitch.   I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I am not the only zebra that has found permaculture a good hack for being able to continue doing the things we want to do.

Would anyone be interested in a homesteading thread about homesteading with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome(EDS)?  It would be about what and how we do things as we maintain, expand the homestead, and slowly get the place ready for retirement and my continued physical decline.  
 
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I haven't read everything folks have written in response to the OP, but the general advice of just doing what you're able, and starting slow and just doing 1 thing at a time is good advice.

I got dx'd with Young Onset Parkinsons at 38.  For the most part it's still more of an annoyance than a disability.  But, I've discovered some limitations.  For one, if I am doing something that is a combination of physically strenuous and mentally stressful (falling trees being the prime culprit for me) I have to be careful to limit how much I do in a day.  I realized this after having my first ever (and a couple subsequent) full blown anxiety attacks.  I had cut down probably a dozen trees in one day.  I had wanted to be done for the day after maybe 6 or 8 and my wife said she really wanted those 3-4 trees cut down too.  Then just that one over there.  Then just one more.  I finally told her I was just too tired to keep going, she pouted, and we went inside.  About an hour later I was a basket case.  I just overwhelmed my brain's ability to cope, and that shut me down for the rest of the day, and really limited by ability to do much for a couple days afterwards too.  Once I started taking meds it helped a lot, but even still, I have to listen to my body.  Fortunately after that my wife also learned that it really was necessary to listen when I say I need to be done with something like tree falling.

Sometimes falling a single tree is almost too much (especially if it doesn't go quite right).  But even if it goes perfectly, 3 trees is my absolute limit.  Mind you, I can limb and buck for firewood all freaking day.

Another thing is that I HAVE to respect the time to go take meds, and the time I can eat.  The meds and protein don't mix (protein prevents absorption of the meds), but if I don't eat enough I get nauseous, and that is a bigger interference to work that taking a break to eat something.  

Some of the really fine motor skill things are getting harder as my fingers don't respond to commands like they used to, so I try to have my wife or kids help with those tasks where appropriate.  My wife is out of shape, but even when she was still really fit she couldn't do a lot of what I can do (just a fact of biology, God gave men pecs and women boobs - each have their uses and thankfully so).  That lets us both contribute in valuable ways while respecting our individual limitations/skill sets.

Main point is, learn what you can do without causing yourself more problems than it's worth.  Then stop before crossing that line.  Though, it's also like anything where you don't know what the limits are until you exceed them.  So push yourself enough to find those limits, and hopefully it's like in car racing where the driver has a lurid slide, but doesn't actually hit the wall.  
 
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