What if DH/DW Couldn't?


Wild Hare
Nov 8, 2009
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USDA Zone 3b/4a
@Trying2keepitReal inspired this thread. It's something that's on my mind often.

My farm is very very good for my physical health. However, I currently could not maintain the property or our SS adventures without DH.

  • Lawnmowing
  • Pasture mowing / bush hogging
  • Fencing
  • Making hay
  • Sorting sheep, catching and moving them, such as for shearing and loading culls/market lambs for auction
  • Castrating lambs
  • Trimming hooves (I could probably learn this I have done goat hooves a couple times, but no guarantee my grip strength is sufficient)
  • Anything preventative health - DH is a veterinarian so I have never needed to learn anything about it.
  • Harvesting and butchering - DH does everything from grazing to primal cuts. I can manage from there. I have done rabbits (hated it) and can do chickens after DH skins them. I can't pluck chickens because of grip strength, even the scalding them part is not within my abilities (we have a mechanical plucker)
  • Cutting wood for heat, and getting it dried, and moved to the house, and moving more wood to the house in winter
  • Anything outdoors in cold weather. I have cold intolerance and touching metal items in winter (bucket handles, hydrant handle, latches) is excruciating painful. This is why I don't raise rabbits, opening cage latches for daily care was too painful in winter.
I'm stopping now because it's difficult to think about everything I can't do (yet?) Maybe we can learn from each other an solve some of these problems so we are more capable of managing when our spouses/partners/family are unable to do their typical SS tasks.
Thinking about this some more.

I could manage shearing day with a chute, or I could switch to hair sheep. I wonder if I could talk DH into switching to hair sheep in the next 5 years? If I had a chute, I could do hooves. I could try not wethering ram lambs and not tail docking. I can band tails on <7 day old lambs. I'm not convinced that blow flies are so prevalent that amputation is required, seems very odd to me.

We could investigate renting cropland for hay, and buy hay from the grower. But getting it stacked in the barn would still be a problem for me. I can only stack 2 bales tall and it I can only move a few bales in a day.

We mow pasture to control thistle and to improve DH's view for hunting. I think thistle could be controlled with a couple years of diligent work by hand or by mob grazing - need more sheep.

I would either buy split wood and pay for delivery or use propane, or some of both.

I guess I could buy a push mower - probably 2 of them. One to keep up the hill by the house and the other down the hill by the blueberries and garden.

I could/should practice trailer hitching and backing skills. No, it would be necessary - I would have to be able to back up stock trailer to be able to haul lambs to auction. I would probably sell DH's stick shift old pickup and buy an old pickup with an auto trans. A pickup can haul a lot without messing with a hitch.

This has been a hard thread to think about, but the more I think about it and read about how y'all manage your properties and animals I'm starting to think it might not be impossible to stay here.


Sustainability Master
Mar 10, 2012
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I think this thread, in so many ways, is about adapting. Thinking about the possibilities is a good thing. We can all improve our skills. Backing a trailer gets easier with practice. Stacking hay - could your 14 year old help with that? Handling equipment could make it so much easier to deal with your sheep. There are ways to make these things work.

For me, I'm already doing most of the physical work, but I know I can't do it all. I can't do housework and farm work and garden and do them all well. Either my house will be dirty or I'll be behind in the garden or the goats will need some maintenance. When I was single and working and going to school (and 20+ years younger) I did pretty well. But, both of my children were home and they helped.

It's definitely a reality check.
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Super Self-Sufficient
Oct 24, 2019
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mid-Michigan, USoA
I work in bursts. My lungs only allow so much stress at a time. Overdo it and I'll have issues for days. Better to take a chair and have 5 minute breaks regularly so I get it all done without issue.

one reason why i like gardening and having a lot of different gardens is that i can switch between heavy and more tiring tasks and the others if i need a break for a while - then i go back to it. dig for five minutes, weed for a bit, move some dirt for a bit, transplant, dig, etc... i have back issues that respond pretty well to digging so dirt therapy is very important to me. i also need regular exercise that is useful.

i'm very glad i'm in a spot where i can work at my own pace and not have someone riding me all the time to get things done.


Sustainability Master
Nov 2, 2011
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On the foot of Mt Rainier
I like grape hyacinths mixed in the lawn. Had that at one place I lived decades ago. I need to find some bulbs and see if they will survive here.