Most of us homesteaders start down this path out of a sense of necessity. Now, that doesn't mean that we homestead because our lives depend on it the way our ancestors did.
However, in my opinion, the need to know that you feed your family wholesome food, or wanting to be self-sufficient – these are necessities.
Still, there are lots of other ways of provisioning our lives that don't involve all the hard work that goes into homesteading. Also, many homesteaders choose this particular path purely because it appeals to us.
We're all searching for more meaningful ways to live well. Honestly, there is something quite empowering, wholesome, and even romantic about homesteading that draws so many of us to it.
At this time of year though, with all the garden work, food preservation, fall planning, and fatiguing heat, it's easy to lose sight of the fact homesteading is an intentional choice. Sometimes the overwhelming number of chores can make what started as a passion seem more like a prison sentence.
Yet, if we can slow down just long enough to enjoy some of the simple pleasures summer homesteading has to offer, we can bring those original sentiments and a sense of romance back into focus.
Today I want to encourage all of you hard-working homesteaders out there to remember that you are living the dream. Even when you are busy, exhausted, or exasperated, you can keep joy, beauty, and romance at the heart of what you do through simple tasks, meditations, and activities.
Here are some ideas to encourage you to slow down (if only for a moment) and savor the pleasures of summer homesteading.
Easy Homesteading Pleasures That Only Take a Moment
All of us homesteaders are busy. It can be hard to find time to appreciate our chosen way of life. However, there are some elementary things we can do to take the drudge out of our work.
1. Breathe Fresh Homestead Air
Even if you homestead in the suburbs, on a city lot, or in an apartment, your way of life enhances the air around you. The plants you grow in gardens, or in pots, release fresh oxygen into your environment. Those herbs and flowers you keep for medicinal or culinary reasons aromatize the air around you.
All those chemicals you don't use because you make your own cleaning supplies aren't polluting your lungs. If you have livestock, even if they don't always smell like roses, research has shown that all that stuff they add to and stir up in the air can improve your immune systems.
Close your eyes, inhale, exhale, and experience the improved air quality from your efforts. Feel all those healthy choices you make flowing into your lungs. Feel that beneficial air enter your bloodstream and flow out to all your body parts delivering wellness.
Know from the top of your head to the tips of your toes that you have chosen a path that makes you more connected with nature and more ready for the challenges life can throw at you.
2. Enjoy Herb Therapy
Whether you grow your own herbs or have a ready supply of dried herbs or essential oils – I know you've got them. So take a cutting, or a teaspoon of your favorite dried herb, or a drop of essential oil and inhale it.
What does it make you think of? When did you first learn about that herb? Where were you when you fell in love with that herb?
Our sense of smell is a very sensual thing. Taking a moment to enjoy your favorite herb, can take you back in time to when you first came to love that herb or even send you off to the exciting places that inspired you to grow it.
I fell in love with herbs when I bought a jar of Herbes de Provence at the airport in Paris. I've never been to Provence, but every time I smell lavender, rosemary, and thyme – the three strongest scents in that mix – it sends me on a mini-vacation. My mind calls up images of lavender fields and rustic, stone country homes.
Your herb experiences will take you to your own memorable places. They can take you away from the drudgery of chores and the routines when you slow down enough to experience them.
3. Infuse Your Water
Many years ago I went for a massage at a fancy spa. While I waited for my massage therapist, I sat on a chaise lounge, in a dimly lit room, wearing nothing but a robe, listening to creepy, new age music.
That part was so awful and contrived that it made me want to run away. However, one of the attendants offered me a refreshing glass of cucumber infused water. Suddenly, as I sipped that cooling concoction, I began to relax.
Afterward, I asked for the recipe and discovered it was nothing more than water and cucumber. That's it! They didn't even do a sun tea kind of infusion, they just put the cucumber in, poured water on them, and served it.
That simple infused water was a mood-altering elixir, upgrading my massage experience from awkward at best to life-changing. You deserve some infused water to elevate your mood too!
4. Stop and Smell the Roses
Yes, I know that's a terrible cliché. Still, that doesn't make it any less true.
Flowers are beautiful and fragrant for a reason. They are meant to attract pollinators and onlookers to stop and admire them.
Smell and study every flower on your homestead. You don't have to do this all at once. Bit by bit though, get to know the blooms of your flowering vegetables, fruits, herbs, and even just plain old flowers.
Not only will this teach you a ton about the sexual reproduction of your plants and the pollinators that visit them, but it's boundless, free entertainment for you! You can't help but be amazed by the complexity of life and the wondrous ways things work when you take time to admire the details.
Elevate Your Chores to Extraordinary
Most people's lives are so overloaded with chemicals, meaningless work, and a total lack of connection to nature that they are even willing to buy pseudo-experiences that simulate the way we homesteaders live daily. I am talking about things like laundry sprays that make your machine-dried clothes smell like they've been sundried.
Sometimes just reminding ourselves that many of our chores are beautiful, sustainable and wholesome can have a significant impact on our ability to have pleasure while doing them.
5. Line-Dried Laundry
I also fell in love with line-dried laundry in France. Everyone's clothes always looked so crisp and new. They weren't beat-up and shabby like mine. When I discovered that almost no one used a dryer and that everything was hung out on lines, even in apartments, it suddenly made sense.
Dryers are not only energy hogs, but they ruin your clothes. They shrink new outfits and wear down the threads, making new things look old after a few weeks. Yes, they make clothes soft, but at the expense of making them wear out faster.
Line-drying is not only good for your clothes; it's good for your soul (I think). It takes almost no thought to hang clothes on the line. So it's a perfect time to study your landscape, listen to the birds, observe the details of life going on around you.
I swear you can smell the summer sunshine in your line-dried clothes as well!
6. Dried Herb Mixes
That tiny container of Herbes de Provence I told you about earlier cost me about $15. It was worth it for the places it took me. Now though, I make my own mixes at home for almost free.
Drying herbs are “work.” You have to harvest, dry, and pick stems (which isn't the most fun part of the process). Still, if you focus on the sensual experience from the fragrance, to the delicate oils that are expressed when you cut the stems and handle the leaves, working with herbs is pure pleasure.
The Japanese have a practice called Ikebana which roughly translates into the art of flower arrangement. A few years ago, it was a big trend to take a class on Ikebana because it was such a beneficial meditative practice.
Handling herbs for me is very much like this. Picking the perfect herbs, treating them carefully so they are intact for drying and choosing how much of each herb to mix. This is all more art than work for me.
Plus we don't have to pay to take a class. We can do it on our own homestead!
7. Handmade Soap
Taking a refreshing shower and lathering up with a bar of homemade soap merely is one of the most pleasurable summer experiences. Handmade soaps usually contain all sorts of wholesome and nourishing homestead ingredients like goat milk, lard, honey and more.
To me, it feels like all that labor and love that goes into each bar washes over and restores me, sometimes even more than the shower itself.
Now that I get to do it in daylight, sometimes I have to remind myself of that unclaimed quote, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.” It is so true.
A garden is a sacred space that not only feeds you but nourishes your soul. Enjoy yours!
9. Animal Therapy
Have you heard of goat yoga, petting zoos, community chicken coops, comfort pets? These days people are using animals for entertainment and therapy in tons of creative ways.
Your livestock may be workers on your homestead. However, they are also the perfect remedy for whatever ails you.
Have you snuggled your llama, alpaca, chicken, goat, pig, rabbit, or dairy cow today? If not then, please do! If they're not the cuddly kind, then at least stand near and appreciate their majestic beauty and the infinite wisdom in nature's design.
10. Eat Fresh and Raw
Have you heard of the raw food diet? Everyone wants to get on that bandwagon and improve their health. All you have to do is harvest fresh, chop, mix and enjoy.
You save energy on cooking and get all the health benefits that raw, natural diets provide. Plus, your food is probably even more nutritious than what most raw-foodies enjoy because it is picked daily, is never refrigerated and sent across the country, and comes from wholesome soil that you've helped build.
Add Flavor To Your Summer
Homesteaders tend to have a lot more kitchen skills than the average home cook. So, what might take others a week of planning, you can probably figure out and do in just a few hours. Why not use your skills, or your ability to quickly learn new skills, to make your life more luxurious with these summer treats?
11. Homemade Ice Cream
You've got eggs galore from your poultry flock. If you have a dairy cow or herd, then you've probably got more milk than you know what to do with about now. I bet you've got vanilla extract or chocolate tucked away in your pantry. Add sugar to that list, and you are on your way to homemade ice cream.
If you have an electric churn, it only takes about 10 minutes to make the custard cream. Put it in a fancy glass and top with freshly picked berries. Then savor each bite even more knowing that it is made with your wonderful homestead ingredients.
12. Fruit Wine
Strawberry, peach, elderberry, blackberry, raspberry, or even everyday old grape wine are easy to make when you grow your own fruit. You don't have to be an expert to make homestead wine. You need fruit, sugar, yeast, and a five-gallon bucket with an airlock.
In hot weather, you can usually ferment a nice batch in two weeks. If you want you can bottle it and age it. Or, you can enjoy it young.
13. Fruit Smoothies
Some people pay a fortune to have someone else throw some fruit, dairy, and other ingredients in a blender for them. You can probably make fruit smoothies with your eyes closed while doing ten other things – any time you want.
Out of the Box Ideas
Let's face it. As homesteaders, we're just not like everybody else. We're a bit more adventurous. We're more inclined to do it ourselves in less than conventional ways.
Thank goodness! Put that independent spirit to good use doing things that require a little thinking outside the box to help you savor the days of summer.
14. Homemade Beauty Products
Summer conditions are tough on skin. Luckily, you've got the skills you need to make beauty products at home that you can feel good about using.
You don't have to worry what nasty cancer-causing chemicals may lurk inside. You know precisely what you put in your personal care products. So slather on your favorite hydrating remedy or press those cooling cucumber rounds on your slightly-sleep deprived eyes.
I use my solar cooker as my slow-cooker in summer. I get that thing good and hot around lunch time. Then I add my meat, veggies, herbs, and stock to a plan placed inside. I close it up and let the ingredients cook and meld all day long.
The result is a summer stew made with almost no effort, no energy costs, and zero hours spent over a hot stove. You can make your own solar oven without too much work. Or, you can buy one that will cost a whole lot less than a traditional stove and be just about as useful.
16. Outdoor Shower
I have to admit; this one is still on my wish list. I spent a few weeks in a jungle house in Costa Rico one year and showered every day in a rainwater fed, outdoor shower. I have wanted one ever since.
It does take a little work to make because you need to plan your water collection and figure out your plumbing. Still, it is one of the most invigorating, sensual experiences – like standing in your own backyard waterfall.
I am going to fast-track mine so I can start enjoying it now – even if I have to use a house hose!
17. Swing Seats
I honestly haven't met a homesteader who doesn't have some sort of swing. Whether it's the two-seater kind on the front porch or a tire hanging from a tree, defying gravity is one of the most freeing feelings you can have on the homestead.
So, sit down, push off, and feel your spirits lift.
It's hard to vacation when you homestead. Between the garden, the livestock, and all the other stuff you've got going on, getting away is often more trouble than it's worth. Luckily, you are already living the lifestyle that so many eco-vacationers pay to experience.
Tidy up your homestead in the way you would if a company was coming to stay for a few days. Line dry your sheets, set out a few bouquets, pretty up your bathroom with spa-like comforts. Then, put all your projects on hold.
Spend a few days enjoying your homesteading as an eco-vacationer would. Marvel at the antics of the chickens. Take walks with the goats in the pasture.
Plan your dinner after morning chores and spend all day preparing it. Open a bottle of wine and linger over it until bedtime. Your homestead is an idyllic paradise that you created if you permit yourself to enjoy it.
Hope these homesteading pleasures help you beat the heat and remember why you chose to homestead as a way of life!