November 2020 on the Croft: Wrap Up

Pottering and Puttering

November 2020 on the Croft

Pottering: As in pottering around | definition – to spend time in a relaxed way doing small jobs and other things that are not very important He spent his holidays pottering around the house/garden. (From Merriam Webster)

Puttering: As in puttering about | definition: to busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner: to putter in the garden. (From Dictionary.com)

Hello!

Even though the winter solstice isn’t until December 21st, November always feels like the true start of winter in Iowa. And I have to be honest, you’ll notice that I didn’t post much this month AND I’m a week late posting this and the December goals posts. That’s because I’m struggling a bit; with the change of season and discouragement. I’ll address that a bit more in the journal below.

October Journal

So why has this been such a crappy month? It really hasn’t been in any objective sense but I’ve definitely been more than the regular share of anxious and depressed. Besides the surging pandemic and the fraught U.S. election, there are a couple of different causes for this.

I do not love winter in Iowa and always dread it and that is true this year too. It has an effect even though it’s been mild and I shouldn’t have as much foul weather travel as usual because of the pandemic. I’m a southerner and get very anxious about driving even in relatively wimpy snows.

I also tackled a couple of projects that didn’t go so well and that has spiraled into me feeling like this whole endeavor is a mistake. Mole hills meet mountains:)! I have started this journey with virtually no skills. While I can learn some skills by watching youtube videos, some issues, like electrical problems and fencing, I really need an instructor to get me started. I learn best through being talked through doing something for the first time. I don’t have a mentor for things like this. It’s made me feel helpless and frustrated and is not helped by the fact that I can’t compensate for these weaknesses by hiring someone. It’s just not often in the budget.

I also started the croft with very few tools. For example, to “make” my own firewood, I’ve had to buy a chainsaw, protective gear for using the chainsaw, chain sharpening kit, a maul, and steel-toed boots. That’s roughly $700 – $800 worth of equipment just to be able to split my own firewood! So, can you start a homestead from scratch with no previous experience? Sure! But it’s not going to be free. WOW. I am a bundle of joy and inspiration right now, ha,ha! This should not be discouraging to anyone because I do think I’m pulling out of this spiral.

SIDE NOTE: Regarding gear! I have not yet bought from this company so I can’t fully endorse it but I just stumbled across it and think it is so cool! I’ve been looking for steel-toed boots that don’t cost a fortune and found the Safety Girl Website, which has a wide selection of affordable work boots (as well as other safety equipment) especially for women!!

Coming Out of It

So what has started to help cure this funk? I needed to drop my sense of urgency. The things that cause me the most frustration and anxiety is when I realize that I’m not going to be able to accomplish something on the schedule I want.

I’m 47 and feel a sense of urgency to get everything going RIGHT NOW. It isn’t helped by seeing a lot of homesteaders on social media who are much further along than I am. Social media can be such an inspiration but, wow, can it also create some expectations that stress me out.

It’s important to realize that everyone’s situation is different. My situation is a little different than most folks and so I am going to travel a slightly different path. A slower path. And that’s not only okay, it’s awesome. I can focus and savor.

The Plan

From a practical standpoint, I sat down this morning and sketched out my reasonable priorities for the next year. For example, I am going to shoot for a 50% capacity garden – more than this year but not quite where I am going to be eventually. I’ll get some fruit trees planted but hold off on more quickly developing fruit producers like blackberries and grapes. I’m also going to try my hand at learning to crochet this winter. These are reasonable goals for the next year and will move the croft forward.

No chickens. No fence for the dogs. No permanent garden fence. No greenhouse. No dealing with dead Ash trees. That stuff can wait, it really can, and I will appreciate doing the other things because I can focus on them and appreciate them as they unfold.

Thanksgiving

There were also so many things this month to be grateful for, some of which are represented in the collage above. The skies this month have been STUNNING and being in the country makes it so much easier to appreciate them. My colleague and friend gave me a whole bunch of cleaned prairie seed to play with! A pileated woodpecker has been tearing up some of my dead trees! I cut down my first tree though I admit it was terrifying. My chimneys got cleaned and I had my first fire. And my very favorite beer, Vanilla Bourbon Imperial Porter, was released by the local brewpub.

And that’s just a small sampling of the great things that November brought!

Wrap Up

Since taking on Keeper’s Croft it has helped me to set some monthly goals. I had five main goals for the month of November!

  1. Organize my seed starting area? Mostly yes. My intention was to make a plan for this and I did. I identified a second shelving unit to empty and convert for seed starting. I bought an LED grow light to try out. And I made a plan for where I want to set things up. Now I have December and January to get it set up!
  2. Winterize the house? Mostly! I sealed up the doors and put in some outlet insulators. I also closed up things outside. I’ll probably continue to work on this as it gets colder.
  3. Change out some electrical switches? Yes! And No! I tried and failed. I watched several youtube videos and read about it in a household maintenance book I have but my switch didn’t look anything like any of the diagrams or videos. I’ve called an electrician….who hasn’t bothered to call me back. This was one of the things that really frustrated and made me feel like I was in over my head this month.
  4. No Spend? Mostly! I did okay until the last week of the month when I bought some winter gear from Columbia. It was stuff that I needed but was not accounted for in my budget.
  5. Lots of Fire? Yes but not lots! I had my first fire in the fireplace but again didn’t do any outside because it has remained pretty windy.
Moonset

Posts This Month

I had trouble writing this month so there are really only four posts. I am continuing to think about and decide what I want this blog space to be!

I’d love to hear what you all would like me to write about? Here’s this month’s posts.


November’s Best Reads

This is maybe my favorite part! Reflecting on and picking a favorite book for the month!

Not surprisingly, given my state of mind, I also didn’t read a lot this month. Lord, what a mess I was! But I had a couple of reads that I very much enjoyed.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland asks the question of what it might look like if the U.S. civil war was interrupted by a zombie apocalypse breaking out. It’s a young adult novel that is told from the perspective of Jane McKeene a black woman who has been sent away from the plantation she grew up on to learn how to be a zombie slayer. She’s a total badass and incredibly smart, and independent, which winds up landing her in a heap of trouble. A fun action packed story with great characters that doesn’t fail to examine the many forms of racism and the damage that it wreaks.

I also had a really great time reading Born in Fire by K.F. Breene this month. It’s the first in a series that, you guessed it, features a badass heroine with unique magical skills that she uses to hunt down misbehaving magical folk. She’s got a big secret to hide but when she is forced to work for the vampires on a big job, it becomes harder and harder to hide who she really is. It’s got mystery, is laugh out loud funny, a ton of action and a little bit of romance to boot. It also gave me distinct Kate Daniels (series by Ilona Andrews) vibes. Why, yes, I do really love books with strong heroines that can kick ass; why do you ask?


That’s a wrap for November! How was your month? Any notable accomplishments or things that brought you joy? Sorry my month was a bit of a downer and I hope yours was much better! Thanks so much for reading!


If you want to know more about me and Keeper’s Croft, check out the ABOUT page.

3 Comments on “November 2020 on the Croft: Wrap Up

  1. Oh man, I feel you on the “hurry up and get everything the way you want it” thing. When we first bought our Iowa homestead, my vision for how I wanted things was a 2 mile long list and it seemed almost unattainable– I want it all done NOW so I can relax and enjoy it!. But as the years ticked by and we knocked a few of the big things out, I did sort of start to “enjoy the journey”. It took a decade to get things pretty well established– windbreaks planted, a couple old buildings removed, a new pole building built, new garden site established, raised beds built, apple, fruit, and Christmas trees planted and producing, all the animal buildings and fencing redone, etc, etc. Then of course we sold it, moved to Michigan, and bought 60 acres of cutover recreational property to start all over again (and trees take so freakin’ long to grow, wahhhhh). Anyways, I totally empathize with what you’re feeling and I suspect if you can knock out one or two of your major homestead projects a year, the anxiety of “want it done now!” will ease. I probably appreciated the completion of a project more when I had to wait and work for it than if I had a magic wand to wave…though gosh that would be so nice to have sometimes 🙂

    • Thank you so much Natalie – that’s it exactly. I’ve been kicking myself that I didn’t get the fruit trees planted THIS year. Isn’t there a saying that the best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago and the second best time is today or something? I’ve always been a destination, rather than a journey person which I think is part of what makes me not great at enjoying the process when I’m in the middle of it. Even though I agree with you that a project is so much more satisfying when I’ve put some work and patience into it! Thanks for the commiserating and pep talk! You and Jesse accomplished SO MUCH and work so stinking hard! You’re definitely an inspiration!

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