Homesteading, even on the tiny scale we practice at Half-Pint Homestead, is laden with physical demands. There is lots of slogging through mud, shoveling, moving 60 pound hay bales, and wrestling stiff hoses and reluctant animals. It can be a great workout – no gym membership required. It can also force you to face your own mortality. I woke this morning with a throbbing shoulder and stiff, swollen hands. This isn’t terribly unusual since at 47, I’m no spring chicken.
I have always lived a lifestyle that required a lot of hard work. In my youth, believing I was immortal, I threw myself into activities without the slightest thought of the future. I have been bucked off unruly horses, crushed by cows, lugged 40 pounds of milk twice a day for years, and broken rock with a steel bar to set posts. All of these things have taken a toll on my joints and I feel it, some days more than others. I have come to the point in my life where I begin to consider how much time I have left on this beautiful world and what I want to do with it.
I am finding it a challenge to grow old gracefully. There is a fine line between desperately trying to stay young (impossible), and simply giving up on living at all. We seem to need something that anchors us to our life or we sink into apathy. It can be family, church, work, or even a hobby. For me, it’s the homestead. I go out every day to care for the animals. The cycle of seasons provides a frame for the activities I choose and the way I do them. The circle of life is ever spiraling here with births, growth, and death. I smile, laugh, grit my teeth, and sometimes I even kick things. No day is like another and I revel in the depth of my experiences.
I am growing older and my body is slowing down. Silver flows in streams through my hair. The lines on my face are testament to all the joy and grief I have lived through. Everything I am bombarded with by the media tells me I am well past my “use by” date. Yet my eyes are still bright and clear, my body is strong, and I have gained hard-won adornments of patience and contentment. I still have far to go before I can claim to have aged in grace.
I am up for the journey.