Walking the Solitary Path: Should you Take on that Farm, or Homestead Dream Alone?

Notice in the title I said "should", not "can". That's an important distinction. You certainly CAN, it is possible to buy land, a homestead, plant a garden, raise livestock, preserve your food, etc... by yourself, it's much,  much harder alone, but it is possible. But, should you? That's something to think about. 

What are the costs and what are the benefits of going it alone? The most obvious costs are financial and physical. If you don't have a partner or partners to contribute the 2 biggest resources on any small farm or homestead- money and labor- then you are sinking all of those costs in on your own, and taking all of the risk that entails. There's not another person/s to fill in with income from their off-farm job, or with the extra set of hands to help with physical jobs. 

Which means you will need to pay for extra help, and you will need to build up a community network of people you can rely on. Community will be critical to your survival, so you'll spend lots of time fostering good relationships, and keeping them!

Other costs that are less tangible are socialization, time to spend on outside interests, and time for travel. If you are going it alone, there will be no one to fill in for you so you can spend more time with friends and relatives. Socialization will come from those you network with in your farm or homestead related duties, your community. This may be why conversations at the feed store can go on and on, lol. 

Time is probably the most difficult cost when you're a solo small farmer or homesteader. There's never enough time to do the things that need doing, and it can feel like that To-Do list has taken you hostage. Travel is another sacrifice, but even with a partner in your farming or homesteading venture, travel will be difficult. Raising livestock means you simply will not be jetting off somewhere on a moments notice. Period. 

Are there benefits to going solo? One benefit is that you can make decisions without having to consult with anyone else. But....that's not really a benefit, because it can increase indecisiveness. Should I do this or that? When you only have a finite amount of resources, you want to spend your money, time, and labor on the best possible option. It helps to have someone else who has a stake in the game to weigh in on those numerous decisions. But, going solo also means that when you really want to try something, there's no one standing in your way. 

If you have a dream, but are afraid to put it into action because you're on your own, the most important thing to consider is what will the cost be if you DON'T pursue it now, and keep waiting for the right partner or right situation to come along. What is the cost to your happiness, physical health, mental health, or opportunities lost, if you DON'T go for it? Will it matter at the end of your life on earth if you never tried to fulfill that dream? Maybe...maybe not. 

But going in with eyes wide open is important. Whether you decide to jump in, or to wait. Each has consequences. 

When I was first alone here, before I started Shady Grove, I would walk on the trails at the lake or nearby nature preserves just about every day. As I walked in the woods, or through tall grasses, I often thought of my grandmother. After my Grandad died, she lived alone in the same house, on acreage in a very rural place. Her sons lived nearby and they did help her with snowplowing and home repairs, but she also did many things alone in those first years, and was very isolated. 

As I walked along the trail, the evening sun sinking low, the birds singing that twilight chorus, I'd picture my long gone grandmother taking a similar walk, along the red dirt trails behind her woodland home. I wondered if she thought about her future, anxious about being alone, worried that things wouldn't work out. I imagined her noticing signs of deer or black bear on the trail, naming the wildflowers she passed, and thinking about the next day's weather. She mowed her grass and tended her plentiful flower gardens by herself for awhile. I wondered if she found both comfort and challenge in these taks. 

As I walked on those days, I told myself over and over, that if she could do it, so could I. The more I walked in the woods, the more I pictured my grandmother walking on her property alone, years ago. I talked to her as I walked, asking for her blessing. I walked, cried, and hoped that somehow I would figure out how to be alone and how to live in a way that felt like coming home, unlike the stress, anxiety, and depression I was feeling from my job and my new solitary lifestyle. My grandmother showed me the way, that first summer that I was alone. She gave me hope and strength to not waste anymore time, and to find my way back home, back to myself, to try for my dream. Even if I failed, she said, I would learn something in the process. 

So, SHOULD you pursue that farming or homesteading dream even if you are completely on your own? Take some time to walk in the woods at dusk, and ask your grandmother. 😊