Making a homestead mess

When we first landed on this foreclosure 4 years and some change ago–it was already pretty messy. Then, we piled a new homestead mess on top. Wondering what I mean by a homestead mess? Here’s some visual examples.

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Make more sense now? Homesteaders…. hoarders…. silly semantics! Aren’t we one in the same? ;-p I’ve found we have a tendency to literally save EVERYTHING. God help you if you are riding around town with one of us and we see a curb crammed with stuff someone is tossing. We might literally squeal and grab your steering wheel. We’ll even grab your empty beer bottles, plastic jugs, and cardboard scraps. We’ll steal your paper recycling for the sake of our compost piles. Us two homesteaders, I have noticed we’ll take on just about anything folks are throwing away. We may not have any flipping clue what we are going to do with it… we REALLY might not know when we will have time to use it–but, we’ll take it anyway. Put it in a big ol’ heap of a pile and be all kinds of fired up about it.

So, what we end up with is a homestead mess. It looks insane to other people, I’m sure of it. (I’m sure, because we have been open to the public and I’ve literally gotten told that. A lot!) But, it’s the reality of our life. It’s the homestead truth, we take on just about anything–to keep it from getting tossed.


Future wood fired bathtub tank!!! Top of my homestead dream project list!

The first two years we were here, I was what was a mess about it. As someone who not only used to live a very clean and suburban sort of life, but also bordered on a little bit OCD about how my home looked–I thought I was going to lose. my. dang. mind. People coming out and looking horrified, or worse yet–saying something about it practically pushed me over the edge. I’d run around for days before and after visitors, frantically trying to straighten it up–because back then, somehow…. I thought I could….like… clean it?


This area of our homestead is called “Forager Land” – it’s like SO dang useful!

But here’s what I’ve found to be the homestead truth. I can’t! All I could do was clean up my attitude about it. By 2015, I was over trying. I was realizing I was wasting precious homestead life time. Worse yet – I was making everything harder for everyone to find by my straightening or stuffing things in a REALLY big pile in some hidey hole (a.k.a. our storage building or storage room). I was realizing that I literally had to go to town less for this behavior… because just about anytime I needed to drive to the hardware store for something for a project, I could just ask the forager. And she would give me a huge grin, scamper off, practically skipping, and forage just the part I needed from her pile of SUPER USEFUL upcycled bits. It’s been about 2 years now, since I started trying to not keep giving a flip about what other folks thought about the homestead mess. Since I stopped trying so hard to clean it or hide it. img_2764

I always wonder, do people think we drink all this beer? No! we just LOVE natural building!!  We actually don’t drink beer at all–but we need’a your cool shaped and colored bottles for cob and cordwood walls! 🙂 That is, when we have time for that–which unfortunately is rare. Hence the half finished cob wall in our house that we have been working on for two flipping years! ;-P But one day, we’ll have more time for it, I just know it. 

And I tell you what, I’M SOLD. On the not worrying about it so much. It was a hard behavior to let go of at first–like all bad habits. But, it quickly paid off in something I love…. TIME. To actually get more projects done. Finding things to get started on those projects became less frustrating. After about a year, even other folk’s comments about our “trash piles” stung a ton less. For a lot of reasons, mostly because I knew if they were saying something ugly or harsh about it… I could at least take a guess that they must not own land or have a real homestead life yet. Or good lordy… wouldn’t they have all this super useful stuff around too?!?! Anyway, if that guess is the case… Then they will SO get it one day, when they have piles of their very own!

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And of course, it helps that progress is actually getting made. Above are two pictures of what we’ve been calling “the scary room” in our house for the last couple years. The walls need gutted. The floor needs replaced. It needs a new door, windows, and could seriously use some insulation as it is usually just above freezing in there. We likely won’t have time for that anytime soon. We don’t even know what we want to use this room for yet, so it’s not been a priority. That means for now, it is for storage. It WAS “scary storage”, until last week when I finally found myself with the mere 30 minutes it took to get it organized enough to walk inside it! I’m so glad I’d bought myself that time, by not wasting it trying to clean up piles outside!

Plus, I was here in the beginning of this homestead–and good lord do I remember just how much bigger the mess used to be. Every year, it gets beat back a little more as everything finds its use and place. What we are doing is permaculture at its finest… we were producing no waste–even before we knew what the heck permaculture even was.

I know that one day, our spaces will be set up so much better than they are now. It may never look perfect, and I’m so okay with it. But it will be sorted in a way that we can literally find everything without frustration. And until then magical day, I shall embrace the piles…. the ones that will one day go away and the ones that are here to stay alike. It seems good for me, to realize that I do not have control of the piles. They grow, they shrink… and I can’t control them. All I can do is dictate how I feel about them. I can let go of my old expectations that this homestead is ever going to look “clean” or “perfect” like I think my old house in the city probably did to other folks. That old life’s house might have looked clean to other folks, but the person at the center of it looked a mess. Now, I live in a place that some other folks may think looks messy… but the person in the center of it looks a heck of a lot healthier and happier for it. And to me, that is all that truly matters.

-the farmer


This homestead mess is right outside our house. It’s there, because it is a intentional stacking station with a convenient relative location. It’s where useful bits get piled until there are enough of them to make up a car or truckload. Then they get distributed to where they will go to their respective piles. I can toss stuff outside and into it with just a couple little side steps. So, it may not be pretty – but it sure works for this homestead housewife. 

I’ve been thinking about this post for a long while now, and wanted to finally write it. For a couple reasons. I have a good sized handful of new to homesteading couples in my life that I JUST LOVE to bits. And sometimes, I can see what I think is homestead mess stress on their sweet faces. I know they all read this blog, and I want them to hear what I’ve said here. That I love them so much, and I embrace their homestead messes TOO! It shows me they love permaculture and useful things as much as we do!

And also, because we are going to be sharing and posting a lot more this year. I’m so tired of trying to contort myself into crazy positions to keep the homestead mess out of the background of photographs and videos. Maybe if I do, I’ll save some time and ACTUALLY get to do the yoga I so know I need to be doing but never seem to have time for!!!! There are messy parts of our lives here, and y’all I’m super over being scared to share that part of it. I don’t want anyone that follows us to have an expectation that they won’t also have a homestead mess, especially in the beginning of setting up homestead. So, if messes and poop and uncomfortable things and seeing us do things that you would never do at your place scare you–I swear I won’t be offended if you don’t follow our real homestead life journey! I’ve got nothing but big love for one and all and every way that all sorts of folks move through their lives. Like always, I’m only talking about how I move through mine here!


4 thoughts on “Making a homestead mess

  1. I so love this story and it kind of validates my clutterbug side. My husband laughed at me when upon moving into our little log cabin we found a delapitated shed out back and rather than haul it off to the dump, I proceeded to tear it apart, saving all the good boards and nails for later use. Well the joke was on him because out of that mess I built a roofless woodbin that held all four cord of wood that I had for winter. And the materials didn’t cost me anything put a little hard work and sweat. And, a lot of swearing! LOL

    • bwahahaha, this is awesome nancy – great story, thanks so much for sharing!!! Keep saving all your useful bits, you’re doing great work not sending things to the dump my friend! <3 from our homestead to yours, 8 owls

  2. One (of many, many, many) great thing I learned in my PDC was the concept of SLA – Shit Laying Around. I felt so relieved to learn it wasn’t just me and it wasn’t necessarily hoarding. I have a lot of shit laying around. But all of it has reuse-ability. I don’t hold on to, or pick up, anything for which I don’t have at least three immediate ideas of how it can be used to complete a current or future project.

    I overcame my social shame of it by starting a product list of all my SLA and hanging it on a nail near SLA stack #3. Every time I create, find, swap for, or liberate more shit, it goes on the list. I note the stack # where I store it and the three project uses, then shove the list back inside the repurposed heavy duty plastic resealable cat food bag on which I have marked SLA with a thick blue permanent marker. When I get The Look, I go grab my list and do a quick song & dance routine about an upcoming project and point out SLA which will be used in the process. If they don’t look convinced, I look down my nose and give them a passive-aggressive eco-piety lecture on resource extraction and damage to the Woman on whose face we all walk upon. It works. I’m effective.

    • Oh my gosh liz this is flipping AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! I love it. See, even my piles have cool names I didn’t know about. <3! I'm crazy about your list of useful shit near your piles. and also, the three ideas thing, that would likely tone down our "produce no waste, pick every single thing up" mentality! Thanks so much for your comment, cool story, and feedback friend!!!

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