The Art of Aging Gracefully on the Homestead-Mother Earth News

We are in the current issue of Mother Earth News!

My latest contribution to the current issue of Mother Earth News has hit the news stand. This magazine for those of you who might not know it; is a guide to living wisely while being self-sufficient on the homestead or farm.

The article is titled Aging Gracefully on the Homestead. This is a piece about the challenges of senior homesteading; a topic we know a little something about.


Although I pitched an ongoing column geared to senior homesteading they opted for a one time “how-to” article. Perhaps they know more about the age of their readership than I do! My contribution was four photographs (out of the eight published) and a part of the text.

Double click on this PDF and I believe that the article will open up. aging-gracefully-1

Homesteading is hard work, and Gene and I are not getting any younger. I doubt anyone will argue with that. There are definitely multiple challenges to continuing to do the physical work required by homesteading as one gets older.

We moved to the Small House Big Sky Homestead fifteen years ago. We started out getting as much done as we could and added additional outdoor projects like the chicken complex and the water containment system each summer. And worked on the house during the winter months. This was a good thing we got a lot done in those early years since even then we weren’t spring chickens. (We were 50 and 55 years old.)

Eventually we got the major items on our to-do list knocked down. Every year we try to accomplish a project or two more outside during the nice weather and a few more small indoor project in the house during the indoor winter months.

Now that we are 65 and 72, our age and our health is beginning to be a real consideration. Fortunately, I started thinking about this several years ago. I asked myself what will I do and how will we manage when it becomes more difficult to do the work we need to do?

This past season I hired hourly help in the garden and yard. We found a local young girl of fourteen who is strong and looking to make some money for school clothes. It’s not a perfect system as Olivia is only available on Sunday afternoons because she runs cross county and runs her daily miles every school night, but we have managed to make it work. And this past winter when Gene had his hernia operation we hired a local small business in the short-term to plow our driveway and another local boy to run the snow blower to clear our paths.The total cash out of pocket during Gene’s recovery was less than $100.00.

Some homesteaders find an apprentice or a farm worker and offer room and board in exchange for work. Others turn a spare bedroom or cabin into an Air B&B for extra cash income on the homestead.

Obviously, there is more than one way to make this work but this is what is woring for us.

The moral of this story is to plan ahead about how you might make your elder years’ on the homestead work for you and how you can turn your homestead into a property that will sustain you when you are older.

I hope to convince the editors at MEN that a monthly column written by me with interviews of senior homesteaders who ARE making it work will be both inspirtional and informative.

To help support this idea please send your letters/e-mails to:Rebecca Martin>

As always, thank you for following and if you are aging homesteaders and want to share tips with me about how you have made senior homesteading work for you, please contact me. I am always looking for new ideas on how you in the hometead trenches are making it work!

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

5 thoughts on “The Art of Aging Gracefully on the Homestead-Mother Earth News

  1. I just read your article in my copy of Mother Earth News. Very well written and informative. Our plan to go off-grid, or as off-grid as we can, is a dream of mine and one I don’t want to give up as we get older. This makes me happy, to see that I won’t have to 🙂


    • Thank you so much for your kind words and post here. Just know that aging on the homestead can be challenging and this takes some extra creativity to make it work as our bodies age. Sometimes we have to give things up (like keeping large animals for example or letting the garden go) or we might have to pay for help on the more physcial tasks but with some grace and some planning we can make it work for a long, long time. Please share your thoughts with MEN in a “Letter to the editor” or via an e-mail if you would be so kind. I spoke to my editor yesterday and she mentioned that she was getting comments as well about this piece. One of my goals in writing this piece was to let senior homesteaders know that MEN has not forgotten them. I ALSO have urged MEN to write a monthly column about how to age on the homestead but have not convinced them of this need yet. A monthly column written by me using interviews of senior homesteaders who are living/working their homesteads and their strategies and tip of how they manage it; is what I see to be of the greatest benefit. Blessings! Send your letters/e-mails to:Rebecca Martin>

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, I will write to her for sure!! Reading your article actually made a significant change in how I’m going to do things. When we get our land (I’m hoping in 3-5 years), I’m going to create things in a way, from the very start, that will make things easier for us as we age. Tall and easily accessible garden beds are one major example of that. If I make them that way from the beginning then I won’t have to redesign once I’m no longer able to bend and squat down. So again, thank you thank you thank you 🙂


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