HOMESTEADING AND PHYSICAL DISABILITIES

Lazy Gardener

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A few SS members have mentioned that they are limited by physical disabilities. This has an impact on allowing them to follow their dreams to living a more sufficient life style. Even without severe limitations, we all have days when we pay dearly for our homesteading activities! (with joint and muscle pain at the end of the day)

This thread is dedicated to these issues. How to set up your homestead, manage your garden, tend your animals, do your daily chores with the least negative impact on your physical well being.

So, fire away. What have YOU found that makes your life easier? (don't forget to include what works with gardening, animals, in the kitchen)

I'll get things started:

1. Never carry a load when you can slide it, or roll it. I use a well balanced 2 wheeled wheelbarrow during the grass season. During the snow season, I use a plastic child sized toboggan. Tarps can be used to drag leaves, grass clippings, weeds.

Take lessons from the Egyptians. They moved massive stones over incredible distances and up steep inclines using only man and brain power. Use levers, rollers, ramps to move loads that you can't move with brute strength and ignorance.

2. Take a lesson from God. Every season, deciduous trees shed their leaf canopy to provide a luscious sheet compost over the rich, dark, friable soil underneath them. Likewise, perennial weeds die back, leaving their leaves and stems behind to nourish the soil for the next season's growth. Compost in place when ever possible. Why carry your garden debris to a distant compost bin, only to have to turn around and carry finished compost back to the garden??? Trench composting allows me to get rid of my daily kitchen debris without having to maintain a summer compost pile. Got an area you want to "tame" or keep from growing up to weeds? Consider sheet composting. Keep that soil covered!!!!

3. If you do keep a compost pile or bin, remember: Compost happens. Take the lazy man's approach and simply toss your debris into your bin or pile. No need to fuss about turning it. At the very most, you may need to wet it down if God does not supply the needed moisture.

4. In the coop/run: Deep composting litter saves money. No need to buy shavings. If you don't compost in your garden, toss all that debris into the chicken coop or run. Your birds will reward you by turning that material, while adding their own nuggets to the mix. You will be rewarded with a cleaner yard, decreased feed bill, happier chickens, and black gold. They will be rewarded with: improved gut health, improved viability, increased B vitamins, gleanings from the greens and beneficial insects. Your chicken run soil will be healthier: beneficial microbes and insects/worms will result in friable soil, decreased parasite issues, and deep healthy compost instead of the often seen fecal compacted dust bowls/mud pits seen in many chicken runs.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So, keep all areas of your yard covered with SOMETHING! Even layers of cardboard, while being a bit unsightly are of huge benefit to the soil. If you use green manure crops, consider annual rye. The plants winter kill, leaving behind a thick mat of mulch. No need to cut and till in the debris, as you would need to do if using other green manure plants.

5. Scale back. Realize you don't need to do it all. Less garden space. Less animals. Concentrate on the things that are important to you. Let the rest go. Save it for an other day. Or realize when it's too much for you to do, and get the needed help. Better to do a little and do it well, than to have a lot taking ownership of your time, mind, and energy.
 
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Marianne

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Spot on! If I could give your post ten 'likes', then I would!

My health took a fast nose dive in May of 2012. Didn't take me long to pick priorities and cultivate new interests. I think you covered everything!

Do what you can. "Never give up, never surrender" used to be my rallying cry. Now it's "Never give up, never surrender...but it's okay to ask for help".
 

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I don't have much good advice, I'm still sorting it out.

Cold intolerance is a major issue for me, and currently have been dealing with it by not doing any barn chores in winter. I don't have rabbits any more due to this. Touching the metal cage latches was intensely painful and if I splashed water that was even worse. DH doesn't mind doing barn chores for the sheep, chickens and goats, thankfully. I have been collecting better winter gear, one expensive piece per year. But I really need to insulate bucket handles, the spigot handle, etc. DH thinks that's crazy and just wear gloves, but I literally cannot wear gloves because my fingers get just as cold wearing gloves as nothing at all. If I touch anything under 60 degrees F it's very painful. I do okay with thick 2-layer polyester mittens, but then can't do much with my hands. :/

When DH is no longer able to do farm work I don't see how we could stay here. If he dies unexpectedly my first action would be to call the auctioneer and real estate agent. I'd hate to move, but there's no way I can maintain this property with or without livestock. :'( I can't even run a lawnmower. I get allergenic symptoms from the gas fumes, vibration, and sunlight, and become incapacitated. It's maddeningly frustrating.
 

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Reynaud's disease? Would foam pipe insulation work for your bucket handles? I find that gloves do very little to protect my hands for any length of time. What I do find helpful is to wear an oversized coat, with LONG sleeves. I can then pull my gloved hand inside the sleeve, and use the sleeve as an extra layer of protection, kind of like a pot holder. I picked up a wind breaker at the Town Mall (otherwise known as the town dump). It is hugely oversized for me, has a hood, hangs down to my knees, and the sleeves go a good 6" past my hands. I find that this coat traps so much more body heat and holds it than any of my "winter jackets". It's my go-to for winter choring, but I must be selective, and not use it when it would place me at risk of getting tangled in the extra fabric.

It is wise to think ahead to the possibility of eventually living alone. While it seems morbid to harbor such thoughts, statistics state that MOST wives outlive their husbands.

Are you getting more pleasure from your farming life style than you would get comfort in living in a smaller home that entailed less maintenance? Is he tolerant of farming, or does he actually enjoy it?
 
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Mini Horses

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I've lived alone, farm wise, for 20 years. While mom lived with me for 5 yrs, I was her caregiver, she couldn't even make a sandwich -- Big A -- couldn't remember how.

Fortunately, I am blessed with excellent health. That doen't mean I haven't slowed down some. And being a small woman, not as much muscle strength as some. Means I have learned to wrestle things, use brainpower, heave smaller loads...as mentioned in the start up post. #5 is critical. "We don't have to do it ALL" Downsizing in often hard for us but, at some point, the look out there & say "I don't NEED 10 of "whatever", 5 will do". Cuts your time for the workload tremendously.

I made the decision to purchase a tractor a few years back. It was good choice for me and my farm size. The only attachment I have an issue with is the darned bushhog. So that will most likely be replaced with a belly mower, at some point. :idunno It can remain on the unit, do 95% of the field mowing and hog used only occasionally...to reach out where wheels can't go.:rolleyes:


So, while this was started as a "physical disabilities" thread -- I'm telling you that AGE qualifies :lol: It not only causes some of the infirm situations but, is in itself a problem with "ability" -- physical and mental! Age most often means less income, too. Another consideration as often adjusting to the issues means "purchasing" in some way.
 

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Reynaud's disease?
Not as bad as Reynaud's, but similar mechanism.

Are you getting more pleasure from your farming life style than you would get comfort in living in a smaller home that entailed less maintenance? Is he tolerant of farming, or does he actually enjoy it?
DH enjoys it most of the time. Sometimes we talk about cutting back and we might not continue keeping chickens. The QUIET of living out here and being surrounded by nature is very good for my health. But I think if I was going at it alone, a small low-maintenance home would be the lower-stress and healthier option. DH and I have talked about buying some small rental homes for income and so I would have a place to move. IDK. I wouldn't have much for ties holding me to this area and would probably move to my hometown which has city buses and a lot more things to do. I suppose would depend on if my kids are still living at home.
 

Lazy Gardener

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Mini, I'd love to have a tractor! Hubby borrowed a Kubota from a friend for a few weeks. (bucket and bush hog.) He had a blast with it. If we had one for long term use, we could get a lot done around the property.

Age certainly does qualify. But that doesn't mean that one must be "old" to need to make accommodations for lack of physical ability. And, even the strongest among us can benefit from time and energy saving techniques. Just b/c someone is blessed with plenty of brawn, that doesn't mean that they must use that brawn all the time, instead of thinking up easier or more efficient ways to get the job done!

I'm short (5'1.5" to be exact) and ever aware that my bone density is not what it was 20 years ago. This awareness alone is often enough to make me more apt to ask for help, rather than going it alone!
 

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DH enjoys it most of the time. Sometimes we talk about cutting back and we might not continue keeping chickens. The QUIET of living out here and being surrounded by nature is very good for my health. But I think if I was going at it alone, a small low-maintenance home would be the lower-stress and healthier option.
This ^^^^^^. Ditto. Bill and I have talked about one of us kicking the bucket before the other and expectations. I want him to sell this place ASAP, move to our daughter's little town, don't grieve too long and get on with living and being happy. Buying another place out in the country probably isn't in the cards for us. We need to be able to pay cash so there's no house payment or I'd be in a real pickle if he died first. I love living in the country, but the idea of driving a golf cart a mile or so to the local grocery store is appealing to me.
 

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We have also had the "if I go first" discussions multiple times. I've told hubby that if I go first, I WANT him to re-marry. If I don't pick out a good woman before then for him, I hope he will start scouting for one at my funeral. She must be loving, kind, have a good sense of humor, and be able to cook. Above all, she must love Jesus. A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken. On the property, the first things to go will be: the chicken flock, the garden, and the orchard, in that order!
 

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So, fire away. What have YOU found that makes your life easier? (don't forget to include what works with gardening, animals, in the kitchen)
GREAT thread, LG! So much to talk about in this topic, lots of tips and equipment to share and also a few revelations. My health was deteriorating quite a bit and my strength and mobility was suffering due to multiple issues, but the degenerative arthritis and an auto immune issue called pseudo gout, added to old work and auto accident injuries had me in a lot of pain and was affecting homesteading activities more than anything.

Over the years I devised more ways to streamline my chores and lifting, making it easier on me as the pain increased. Then I realized that this has a bad ending....the less effort or lifting I did, the weaker I got, the less support my joints had from toned muscles, the more pain I had.

So, biting the bullet and forcing myself through the pain, I started walking daily...brisk walking, not a friendly stroll. Working up slowly in speed and distance. I had thought I was in fair shape, what with all the chores around here, but I soon found out I wasn't at all....I had been just barely maintaining.

Then I started my first diet ever...well...more of a lifestyle change, really. Lost some wt., continued to walk, started adding more difficulty to my chores instead of less...instead of carting the water, I carried the buckets and made more trips. Instead of carting the feed or driving it up there with the car, I picked it up and walked it up.

Yes, it hurt. But, I began to notice that it started to hurt less and less as my muscles regained strength. Pretty soon I could lift heavy things without knowing I'd pay for it later and for days after.

Then I started working harder, even going to the gym twice a week to lift and swim. Now that I'm old, my body has limits...some things can't be fully restored, this I know. But, the truth of the matter is that by babying my body instead of forcing it to work beyond the pain, I only created more pain and less mobility.

Now I'm not so much into ergonomics as I once was...now I intentionally look for ways to make the work harder instead of easier. After developing easier ways to do hard things for so many years, it's hard to train yourself out of it....but the pay off is tremendous. It truly is.

As my Mama says, "A body in motion, stays in motion."

Winter was my off time, a time to rest after working all year to get in wood, grow and preserve food, maintain buildings and property. This past winter I changed all of that by making a list of things that needed to be done inside the house and outside, weather permitting...and even when it didn't. Yes, I made myself go out and work in the cold and wet, made myself walk each day anyway....so much so that I still wear my boots when I walk, even now that it's summer. They add resistance to the stride...I found that out this winter.

I got a lot done this winter and it kept me moving, kept my core toned, kept me from stiffening up from sitting too much and too long in a warm house.

So...told you all of that to tell you there's a flip side to the aging while homesteading coin. I'm all for using what you can to make things happen...but not necessarily to make it easier. I found easier is a dead end road. Working harder intentionally didn't make my pain worse in the long run...it's helped it and I don't hurt near as much as I did. The exercise, the forced exercise of working, the wt. loss...all of it helped my arthritis, chronic pain, and other health issues.
 
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