Aging and Homesteading

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Meg Z, Feb 23, 2005.

  1. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

    Jun 8, 2004
    Everything we do is geared toward making things easier to do...not just for later, but for now, too!

    No stairs in the house! At least one walk-in shower, which is easier on arthitic joints. Water and electric run to the barn. No-till, raised beds, far enough apart that a wheelchair can get between if need be. Or a scooter. Gentle chickens :) and rabbits are handleable for most folks. Milking bench that's wheel-chair usable. (I've got enough joint problems that I anticipate being wheel-chair bound when I get older...can you tell?)

    Our barn came with a raised feed room, which is easier to unload a truck into, but has stairs. We have a ramp at one door, and big wide, easy to manage stairs to the lean-to. We'll do another ramp later if needed. The gate from yard to lean-to area has a spring on it, so it can close itself.

    We're sizing down the area that used to be mowed (it was about 3 acres of mowing when we bought the place). We're planting perennials, food plants if possible. Fruits and nuts, and herbs. Flowers to fill in.

    The main firewood is behind the barn, but we have a rack under the carport, too. We don't carry it, we load the back of a pickup and drive it. If that got difficult, I'd pay a neighbor kid to keep it full for me.

    I'm sure I'll eventually have to give up canning and putting up food. My parents are in their 70's, and mom had to quit last year. But they still enjoy chickens, ducks and goats!

    I'll give up what I have to, and keep what I can. On the other hand...if you don't use it, you lose I'll keep on as long as I can.

  2. Helena

    Helena Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    north central Pennsylvania
    After 25 years of homesteading we are coming to the age of thinking of this same thing. I watch my husband as he cuts, chops and hauls the 20 tons of pole length logs we get deliverred each year to heat our home and cook with and wonder how he does it. (no central heat in this old house!). Years ago we were lucky enough to have kind people to let us cut for free old fallen trees on their property and together we would do that and haul it home. What energy we had then !! I suppose we could have it delivered ...the wood to us. But my husband at his age doesn't seem to mind. Another thought I often have is...would I be able to handle the homestead by myself if ..heaven forbid the Lord took him home before me ?? Of course I would...I might not have the huge garden or the larger animals to care for...but Homesteading gets into your blood for sure. Or is it the independence you create for yourself over the years ? Even if I was in the city (!!) I would still homestead somehow and learn to be content and happy with my life there. Who says you have to have the huge some produce locally when you are older. Carry 1/2 a bucket of water and not 1 on each arm. Slow down...and wear those snow boots and safety clothing when doing chores so you won't get injured later in life. I guess common sense is the answer. Perhaps we will have to get the central heat in the home but at todays prices...and on a pension would we really be able to afford it if we can't now !! Take us down to 1 car or truck and not the 2 or 3 that we all seem to "need". Think about what you really need and not what we think we need or want. Cutting down on "things" and clutter or junk...which is hard to do after a lifetime of keeping every nut and bolt it seems just in case someday you might need it...make life easier. A cluttered homestead leads to a cluttered mind. See if your county has a tax program that would reduce your taxes. In Pa there is a Homestead Act tax and a Green Act (?) for lower taxes. Don't know how low..but every penny counts for sure. Keep yourself healthy !! and try to avoid those doctor and hospital bills. Because if you become sick who will take care of your animals on the homestead. Not all of us have family near to us, as we are, to help out. Sometimes learning to live with less..and less work is more rewarding .

  3. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Jul 27, 2004
    This is a serious, serious, issue for a lot of us... and a serious issue for the entire farming industry as farmers age. However, there are techniques you can learn and machinery you can employ to make moving animals and materials around easier.

    Operating the chainsaw and stacking wood, however...


    So while you're making your house old age friendly and adding stuff to your inventory... add cash to your retirement accounts. Nothing says "keep on trucking" like a fat bank account which allows you to hire some willing muscle when you need it.
  4. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    May 20, 2004
    SE Missouri
    Not so much age as a bad back has made me really think about such things. This year we are in town with central heat and a gas bill. Last year I was breaking my back dealing with firewood. I've heated with wood for about 9 or 10 yrs. Usually just buy the wood, but building fires, feeding fires, cleaning up because it makes such a mess, all that is hard on the back. So I'm hoping to build a super-insulated, solar tempered home that can be easily heated with thru wall vented space heaters (no electric needed) or wood stove that is set up not to require such back breaking effort. I want to have both in my house.

    I'm planning to put in automatic waterers for the birds so I won't have to haul water. And some kind of more automated feed handling system. I cannot lift 50#bags of feed.

    I want a dry toilet, but need it set up so I am not carrying buckets around. That got real old real fast!

    The house needs to be all one level with minimal steps outside. All doors will be 3 feet wide and all halls a minimum of 4 feet. No carpet that needs vacuuming. Everything well lighted and plugs up high enough that I do not have to bend down. The shower needs to be large enough for my DD to sit down and have a hand held sprayer so I can bath her without hurting my back. The washer/dryer should be located where I do not have to carry loads of clothes back and forth.

    For gardening, raised beds, no till, well mulched with drip irrigation. My orchard will be dwarf trees, easier to care for. Pasture for the birds cross fenced and set up so it is easier for me to move them. Egg laying nests accessible from outside the coop. The coop needs to be easily raked out into a cart. I'll need either a tractor or motorized cart to move stuff around.

    I want a greenhouse attached to the south side of the house. It will help some with winter heating as well as give me fresh veggies all year round.

    The main thing to me is that I be able to continue living on my homestead dispite age and illness and need minimal outside assistance to do so and to provide for myself.
  5. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    Ah, the stair issue. When we built this house (why am I using the PAST tense?) when we PLANNED this house, I had a bad back (better now, but not good) we chose stairs. What we have is an apartment over a garage. Wonderful view. The staircase is wide enough to accomodate a lift. If one of us could not take the stairs, or had a parent move in with us, we know we could still handle it. Lifts are electric with battery backup so they still work in the event of an electric outage. With a lift, we would have enough time to build another house or consider moving into a retirement village if it was that time. The linen closet has been built to accomodate a dumb waiter in the future. 3 ft wide interior doors make a house look more expensive and more attractive, as well as being more accessible. The front porch, should it ever be finished, will be pavers/brick at almost ground level, real easy to level it to ground and make it wheelchair accessible. There will be a slight drop coming from the porch to the front garden where the porch pavers will extend into a path wide enough for two people or a wheelchair. Automatic garage door openers. All of the door handles are the lever type- more attractive and also easier access (see, some of these are real cheap fixes). I have no cabinets under the kitchen counters, which makes them chair or wheelchair accessible.