Keep your homestead thriving in challenging times the old-fashioned way - The Upcycled Family (2024)

How to keep thriving in challenging times. We can look to our past or old-fashioned ways as a guide we can find ways to thrive in these hards time just like those who came before us did.

You know the saying…

Desperate times call for desperate measures doing things the way those who came before us did successfully.

No matter what we will always face challenging times, at some point.

Sometimes it comes as an economic/political issue like today, or maybe weather patterns like the dirty 30s those also created many hard and challenging times.

When I look at the issues we are facing in our times I find it a tiny bit comforting to realize I am not the first one. Be it inflation, drought, crazy weather, political upheaval, you name it, it has all been done before.

And if I can look to our past I can find a way that our ancestors navigated it, and look to their success for answers.

Recommended Reading:

How to Avoid Homestead Burnout when you live this lifestyle

Keys to thriving in challenging times

As the saying goes “the writings on the wall” things are looking pretty rough maybe even all around the world. Many people are sounding the alarms about everything from food shortages to the economy. Undoubtedly the years 2020-2022 had many unfavorable conditions.

However hard times have happened before, and some people even learned to thrive in these times.

Looking to the past has led to our personal beliefs about learning “traditional skills for our modern world”. In doing this we can all find ways in which to keep our lives and homesteads thriving in challenging times.

Reuse, Save, and get frugal

Waste, trash, and unusable things are one huge way we can just leak money. They say something like 40% of food never gets eaten but gets wasted.

Did you read that? 40% that’s huge what would a 40% grocery bill cut look like? Right now I am thinking that would be big.

So one great way to thrive is to get frugal and thrifty and think of ways to save, cut expenses, DIY it, reuse it, etc.

Think garage sales instead of target, thrift stores instead of box stores. Check Pinterest for ways to save, and ask an older generation for tips from the past.


Nothing is better than bartering, you can trade something you don’t want or need for something someone else doesn’t want or need.

A few years back I had chickens just coming out of my ears, I had hens going broody and hatching more and I needed to get rid of some chickens. A neighbor was looking for already laying hens (which I had more than I could handle), so we made a trade.

I am always looking for more canning supplies and this older guy had cases of jars left over from his late wife, we made a trade and we both benefited.

Nothing goes to waste

The one thing I have really come to love about the homesteading life is that nothing goes to waste. The egg shells can go back to chickens or to garden soil. Potato, banana & carrot peels all go to goats.

Little kids don’t finish their food? Don’t put it down the garbage disposal send it to the pigs.

It can all be used one way or another. Be it raising and butchering animals, growing & weeding gardens, to feeding humans and animals alike. Nearly everything can be used again, and nothing needs to go to waste.

Look for local sources

Once upon a time, we were not reliant on our food to come from hundreds to even thousands of miles away. Today the estimate is that our food travels 1400 miles before it hits our plate.

If that is true for our food is it also true for other goods? I am sure it is.

One really good thing to do is to look for local sources. Can you buy meat from a local farmer once or twice a year instead of regularly from the grocery store? Can you find someone near you who raises chicken for eggs, goats for milk, or grows a garden for veggies?

Find what you need and make deals.

Trade labor for goods

Inflation is high. Trade labor for goods.

This is a go-to for us when my husband helps a neighboring farmer out during harvest, and he pays us in animal feed bales.

In this way, everyone wins.

Look for quality instead of convenience

Quality items will still be working long after convenient items are gone. A good example of this is the fact you can find cast iron pans in garage sales for a fraction of the cost of some “TV cook” personality pan- sets you can find for sale in big box stores.

Those “TV cook” pots & pans won’t be around in 10 years, but that garage sale cast iron pan has been around for decades and will be for decades more.

So buy glass, cast iron, real wood, etc, and save it forever. Ditch the plastic, aluminum Teflon, and veneer.

Be a neighbor find a neighbor

A big key to success in thriving in challenging times is to have people you can trust and that will help you out. I say be a neighbor and find a neighbor because where we are we have neighbors who help us out and who we help out.

When their whole flock got wiped out by coyotes we spot them on eggs, and when we need to borrow a trailer to pick up a herd of goats they help us out.

Having good neighbors (or those near you you trust) is worth its weight in gold, and can save you in a pinch.

Cut the unnecessary

We all have unnecessary spending. Finding what that is and cut it out. Can you replace that with something homemade, home-based, or otherwise more frugal?

TV and entertainment expenses can easily be cut, then fill that with learning something new.

Learn new skills

We are at a time when skills are at an all-time low.

Everyone wants a good-paying job but has very few valuable skills.

Learning a new skill for either a side gig or a main income can help you find your way from struggling to thriving in challenging times.

Valuable skills to learn

  • cooking
  • baking
  • leatherwork
  • sewing
  • canning
  • metal work
  • welding
  • animal training
  • gardening
  • animal husbandry
  • website building
  • SEO
  • soap making
  • animal butchering
  • videography
  • carpentry
  • masonry
  • herbalism

Recommended Reading:

Homesteading for beginners | My advice after 8 years

Getting Started with Homestead Goats

Everything can be DIY

As the FULL old saying goes

“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”


This is to say that everything can be a DIY thing. You can research and build the life you need or want, don’t pay someone else for something you can do or can learn to do yourself.

Most likely it will not be as fast and there might be a learning curve but it will be worth it, and this is a nice place to couple up with a few of the previous points like being frugal, reusing things, and learning new skills.

So yeah there might be a national egg shortage, but you can use that to learn a skill, reuse old materials to build a chicken coop, and raise your own backyard bug-eating, egg-laying birds.

Tough times can look scary but having a plan to navigate them can help to remove the fear. Rising food costs, national shortages, and social unrest can make the future look bleak. However, we can choose our own directions forward through this all. When we look to our past and find old-fashioned skills we will all be thriving in challenging times.

Comment, Share, and Enjoy

From our Family to yours, thanks for stopping by

P.S. Looking for more thrifty homestead living goodness? Subscribe to join The Upcycled Family community for regular DIYs, how-tos, posts, and more.

Keep your homestead thriving in challenging times the old-fashioned way - The Upcycled Family (5)

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Beth is a mother of 6 living on a handful of acres in an old farmhouse in central Kansas. Beth has a background in the military and health and fitness however her passions come from her homestead life. Beth is an enthusiastic homeschooling mom, avid organic gardener, chicken & goat wrangler, who is obsessed with herbs and natural remedies and maintaining an all-around Do-It-Yourself lifestyle. Beth loves to share all she has learned about and sustainable living. While striving for a healthy, natural life, family-centered life.


Keep your homestead thriving in challenging times the old-fashioned way - The Upcycled Family (2024)
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