Merriam-Webster defines experience as “something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through…the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality.”
Why is experience necessary when searching for a homestead? Because there is no learning curve, it’s a straight vertical line pointing off into outer space. You either fail miserably or succeed in some capacity. A plant either lives or it doesn’t. An animal either lives or it produces for you and your family. Without some experience, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time researching, catching up after the fact or, more than likely, a lot of both.
After our first summer on the homestead, we realized quite quickly we were in over our heads and drowning. That winter we sat down and assessed our experiences in life.
I suggest a very analytical approach to this task. Make a grid, grab your beverage of choice and schedule some time with your team. Sit down and talk this out. Put it aside for a week and come back and rework the grid. Be brutal. Be honest. Let’s face it – lying to yourself is far too easy!
Below is an example of what we came up with which helped us plan our next steps.
With this grid, we were able to focus in on what we should and should not work on for the next year. We decided against expanding livestock and focused on improving our security against the herbivores eating our squash and greens.
Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Next Lessons Learned series post: What traditional and non-traditional resources are available?
My family had uprooted ourselves, drove 600 miles and moved into a hotel with a baby and three dogs while we were looking for a new place to live. Yes, dear reader – we were nuts. Some might argue that we are still a bit off our proverbial rockers!
Starting out, we had some general ideas what we wanted but nothing concrete. Our lack of planning made our hunt a little more difficult – we did not know what we were going to raise, how much land we needed, the type of land, etc….to say we were greenhorns would be an understatement. Our shopping list included: home with 3+ bedrooms, barn, and at least 10 acres that were preferably flat.
Lesson Learned 1: Have a plan and preferably before you buy. I often look back at our home search and shake my head at our naivety. We lucked out in what we purchased. I know me quite well (and so does my husband – but don’t tell him I said so) and realize that I did not have a clue what I was doing. If you’re like us, the best you can do is map out your knowns and figure out the unknowns along the way.
If you don’t have a homestead already, sit down and decide what you want to do with your homestead and what you can do with your homestead.
If you have a homestead today – congratulations!!! It still wouldn’t hurt to sit down and ask yourselves the question above. What other questions should those new to homestead ask before they take the leap? What question should those already on the farm ask themselves today to have a better tomorrow?
Next Lessons Learned series post: What experience do you have?
Six years ago today I bought my last pair of designer pumps. I noticed them this morning and the receipt was still in the box. Shortly after making that purchase I found out I was pregnant with my oldest son and my life started to change – one new cell at a time. We went from eating in upscale wine bars to purchasing a 26-acre homestead in northern New England.
What could possibly go wrong when two city kids buy a homestead?
A lot! I hope to provide some wisdom and lessons for those in the market for a homestead and commiserate with others who jumped in the deep in like we did. You can still swim in the deep in, just have to kick a bit harder!
Purchasing a homestead is a big step for anyone. My advice is to go slow, seek wise counsel, plan ahead, and be ready to learn on the fly – we did! I would not change our lives one bit. Each obstacle has made us wiser and added to the collective knowledge under our belts. Our boys have nearly unlimited space to explore and I cannot even imagine what adventures they will have as they grow up.
Next Blog Post: So you want to buy a homestead…