Misconceptions of the Homestead

Ashley is a homesteader/farmer living on a small farm in rural Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband, Daniel and their two children Ellie and Anderson.  On the farm side they breed Wagyu/Angus cattle and forest raised pigs, on the homestead side Ash has her Dairy cow, Janet and their laying hens.  She loves cooking and exploring in the kitchen and teaches online live sourdough classes for people to tune into from anywhere in the world. 

My motivation to start homesteading sprouted many years before I spent any amount of time on social media.I’d never even spent much time on a farm! Oh, how I was so naive.  I loved the idea of becoming self sustainable and growing/producing my own food. At the time I mostly wanted a garden and laying hens. I thought both would be romantic and magical.

You see, there are misconceptions about homesteading, images we make up in our minds about how it will be, and stories we create about what our days will look like. It’s no one’s fault, before you embark on this lifestyle there are very few resources that can properly prepare you for the emotional AND physical aspect of owning animals. Enter Instagram, where everything is pretty and curated and life on the farm is displayed as magical – matching all the images we have created in our mind. Most of us still talk about the hard parts of this lifestyle, we discuss the good the bad and the ugly, and yet showing it and experiencing it is an entirely different thing, and even if we are able to show it, nothing can accurately prepare your heart for losing your favourite cow, or having coyotes kill the flock of meat birds you were raising for your family, and the list goes on. When you are not living immersed in this cycle of life and death, the emotional attachment is difficult to accurately portray in an instagram post.

I have bared witness to things I never imagined I would, being someone who once refused to eat meat, to being someone who is present and participating in the active role of raising and harvesting meat we eat – there is a certain level of character that is built to sustain that type of change and lifestyle. But do we want to hear about the bad parts when we are preparing to homestead for the first time? Not really. We usually scroll past thinking to ourselves “yes but if I rotationally graze, properly prevent, and fence adequately, those things just won’t happen to me.” It’s like being the perfect parent but not yet having any kids. I get it, I’ve been there. 

I thought all these things and yet I have witnessed sows eating their brand new babies, I have found baby lambs half frozen to death in a puddle because they wandered from their mom – I’ve nursed that baby back to health unknowing that her feet were frostbitten only having to put her down weeks later after both her feet inevitably fell off. I have milked a cow that I love every day, and found out she has an incurable mastitis infection and can both never be milked again, and can pass to other cows – I have watched that cow stand in my back field not having the heart to cull her. I’ve spent two years training a livestock guardian dog and falling deeply in love with him and then decided to sell all of our sheep – I’ve watched that same dog grow aggressive from boredom and bite my child forcing us to rehome an animal who captured a large piece of my heart. I’ve woken up every two hours for days bottle feeding an orphaned piglet until grafting it to another sow, watching as she accepted the baby as her own and then came down hours later to find it dead. I have cried, and wanted to quit some days.

BUT, you know what else I have seen? I’ve walked from the barn to a hen I thought we lost, and 12 babies chirping behind her. I’ve pulled a twin calf in the caul from a mother who cast herself on a hill and watched that mother raise both twins. I’ve witnessed conventional farmers save our animals with precision and knowledge, forever changing my opinion and judgement of this industry. I’ve watched a sow birth 12 babies in the middle of the woods and keep every single one alive. I’ve sat on a stool at dusk during some of the most beautiful evenings of the summer, watching the sun set behind the field and milking my cow under a pink sky. 


I don’t share this to be gruesome, I share it to be honest. Because I am not alone in any of the stories I shared above, I know so many other homesteaders have similar stories just in a different context. These highs are real, they can light your soul on fire and you have to let them or else the ugly parts will swallow you whole. When there is life, there is death – the homestead is no exception. We are blessed to live in a time when people talk about all the parts of this so we don’t have to be in it alone – we are meant to do this as a community. Our farm is my most favourite place in the entire world, the beauty I share from it is palpable and real! But please do not mistake the beauty with perfection, because everything in life has a contrast and with immense joy and beauty there is always some pain. I have gotten to a place in this journey where I don’t fight against the painful parts of it anymore, and that is truly liberating. Because each and every time I experienced pain or loss on the homestead, I have gained knowledge and it ignites my heart to keep moving forward, I come out the other side of those experiences changed once again. I sometimes chuckle at the flip flop wearing urban gal who cried when her first rooster chased her across the backyard.  Oh the things I would tell her about how far she would come. This life is truly the biggest blessing and sometimes I cry tears of gratitude thanking God for placing it in front of me.


Please join us by sharing, continuing the conversation below, and connecting with Ashely at the following:


MORE Stories

Healing on the Homestead

“In some Native languages the term for plants translates to ‘those who take care of us’ … the land knows you, even when you are lost.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass…

Read More

Babies, Business, and Bumper Crops

Babies, Business, and Bumper Crops: How I am Learning to Homestead with Babies in Tow

Have you ever had one of those days? You know the days when you are cleaning the baby’s diaper, milking the cow, scooping poop in the barn, wiping noses, and cleaning more poop off of kids’ shoes…

Read More

Failing Bravely

One year ago, I resolved that I would learn to make all of the bread products my family needed. With an ever-shrinking bank account battling current inflation prices, I would walk the aisles of our local markets frustrated that I did not possess the skills required to make most of the things I needed to purchase…

Read More

Frontier Homesteading

Hey there, Homesteading Mama’s!
I’m Rachel from @frontier_homesteading. My husband Ryan, three children and I have been homesteading for about 10 years now, first in Wyoming and now in Alaska.
We currently have milk goats, pack goats, sheep, a pig, a cow, chickens, rabbits, bees and a dog. Seasonally, we also have more pigs, meat chickens and turkeys….

Read More

Holiday Stained Glass Windows with RuthAnn

Stained glass windows date back to the 7th century. With the earliest known reference dating
from 675 AD when workmen were imported from France to Britain to Glaze the windows of a

Read More

Returning to Nature

Homesteading and growing food is not the easy way out of this life, i would say it is the hard way as there’s nothing convenient about it. It’s a lifestyle, a life change not a trend or hobby. Well, that’s my opinion any way…

Read More

Awakino Station

Awakino Station is a child’s dream. There is the river to splash in, tussock covered hills to explore, animals to raise and a bustling kitchen with a baking tin full of something yummy to eat…

Read More

Quick-Rise Weeknight Pizza Dough

Like many in this homesteading space, this has been a completely unexpected journey for our family.
Even 10 years ago I would have laughed at the thought of getting up to milk a cow each morning and
canning endless amounts of tomatoes…

Read More

Wild Mushroom Risotto by The Hopewell Homestead

I am a Hopesteader. I haven’t always tried to look for the silver lining in most any situation. It’s a skill that has encouraged me to spur on and learn and read and do and gain experience by turning knowledge into wisdom…

Read More

Join In The Conversation

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

A Patchwork of Homestead Mamas

An inspiring & encouraging community of Homestead Mamas. For growers, hunters, foragers, & explorers; with little hands & little hearts alongside.

Join Our Community