I should thank the deer for alleviating my guilt. I believe this winter is going to be a cold one and I remember when it snowed a few years ago. The deer broke through the protective covering over the broccoli and ate everything. In hindsight, it saved the broccoli from being abandoned completely and it gave me an excuse to quit gardening in the cold weather, which was going to happen anyway.
A big garden is like a big house, except you can't hire someone to clean it as easily. If you want a life outside of weeding...
a small garden may be what you want. If done well, it can yield enough to get most of the benefits of a big garden. I've had big gardens most of my life. There is a lot of waste. And a lot of weeds.
I, myself (no post is complete without a complete loss of grammar) am transitioning to smaller, easier to handle plots. Essentially it is the raised beds approach except that I still have a field to tempt me in the Spring into planting things I can't possibly keep up with.
A small bed isn't intimidating. I can weed one in a day.
A small garden can be amended with compost affordably or even with household compost.
A small garden can be spoiled like a puppy with a new addition every time you go shopping!