Our original goal upon entering the homesteading life was to find a personal balance point between modern conveniences and sustainable self-sufficiency.

Let me tell you – in case you aren’t already aware:

The self-sufficient lifestyle is physically demanding.

Rewarding, yes, and a great antidote for any tendencies toward Couch Potato-ness, but still – a lot of work.

Given the realities of changes in physical abilities – plus other commitments at any given time, our balance point in the mod-con vs. self-sufficiency mix is a not a fixed point.

For example: Originally, the vision included a self-perpetuating flock of chickens. This required collecting and hatching eggs in an incubator because not all hens make good mamas. Also, rat snakes really knock down the number of eggs that hatch, which is less of an issue in an indoor incubator.

Enter the fancy-dancy incubator with automated rocker and humidity controls. Easy peasy, right? Place the eggs, close the lid, hit the electrical switch and walk away.

That was the goal.

However –

Turns out, I can’t walk away and let baby chicks come into the world unwitnessed.

No blue screen in the world has the same powerful pull for me as the Plexiglas lid of the incubator when the babies start hatching.

Time of day makes no difference: 3 AM and I’m hovering with flashlight in hand, breathing in the warm, moist incubator air smelling of hatching babies, while fogging the plexiglass with my breath.

Or…that’s what I did for a few years.

Then that goal evolved to allow for more sleep and less hovering.

Another sub-goal as part of the original vision: We thought we would furnish our own fresh chickens for cooking, and set about hatching, growing and butchering enough birds to help fill the freezer.

And, we did for a few years. But killing is hard (as well it should be) and cleaning chickens is just plain icky.

Also, hard work: Scalding the carcasses in hot water to help with plucking the feathers? Stinks. A. Lot.

(Have you ever tried to get teeny tiny wet feathers to unstick from your clothes, skin, hair? It’s Not. Easy.)

Then I did the math.

We are small and non-commercial producers. The word, “homestead” says it all. So, we can’t buy organic feed at the bulk rates large producers do.

As a result, I can purchase organic, packaged-for-the-freezer, whole chickens from the locally owned health food store or from a local producer for less than we can DIY.

With NO “ick” involved.

So, that’s what I do these days, and the incubator now gathers dust on a shelf, because goals change as we do.

Over the past 20 years, we’ve tried everything from soap-making with lard from a wild boar (rendered outdoors in a huge cast iron kettle) to cheesemaking  from our goats’ milk. And over the years, we’ve adjusted and updated goals along the way.

It’s one thing to know we CAN; it’s another to want to do it as a full-time way of life.

There’s a reason farms and homestead traditionally had multiple generations and extended families living together. You need the labor.

Early on, we also thought of creating a self-sustaining free ranging pea fowl flock. Since almost everything in the neighborhood likes eating nesting pea hens…that idea did not (sorry for this) fly.

Our goals related to living close to the land continue to evolve as we change.

What is physically sustainable for us today is not what it was 20 years ago when we embarked on this adventure.

My primary take-away from this witnessing?

Because we are dynamic and changing, our goals need to be as well.

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?

BUT – the old Cultural narratives related to achievement and success have a dangerously limiting perspective based in the Power Over approach to Life.

Once upon a time, my “power over” a 50-pound feed sack looked very different, back when I could safely lift that weight. Today, I could make myself, my changing body, Life or feed manufacturers wrong because – in some respects – I can’t do what I could do 20 years ago.

That way lies madness. Or at least, a lot of unnecessary frustration.

While I still wish I had the strength I had decades ago, I find a different way of interacting with those large, heavy things today – both literal and metaphorical.

I find workarounds. Alternate approaches and strategies. Some things move way down the priorities list and new things move to the top. Some things I know better than to try because the self-damage is not worth it.

Success today on our homestead does not mean having a year’s supply of homegrown chickens in the freezer, with multiple hatches in the incubator. Making these adjustments – or sometimes, allowing Life to make them without going to war against what is – allows for greater peace and contentment.

Greater peace and contentment – as far as I’m concerned – is an achievement worthy of the term.

That is success redefined into something that takes “sustainable” beyond what I once could have imagined.

My wish for you: May the evolution of your goals be peaceful and may your unfolding path bring joyful redefining of success!


When you’re ready for next steps and support, here’s how I can help:

  • Whether you want to update “success” and evolve your goals OR if you dislike the notion of goals and goal-setting, it may be time for you to discover How to Avoid the Dark Side of Goal Setting. This on-demand, self-paced program gives you practical tools and techniques for crafting goals that give life instead of sucking you dry – in under 2 hours, for less than $50 USD.
  • Be on the lookout for an upcoming announcement on how you can be part of conversations that fill your heart and soul – and why this is so important for the contribution you bring to the world.