Now that you’ve already figured out what experience you have, where do you start? What resources are available? Thankfully, there’s a wealth of knowledge if you know where to look for it.
As part of the exercise where my husband and I sat down and identified our experience, we also took a hard look at what resources were available. We took a bit of time figuring out what knowledge we could leverage to help our next season be more successful than the previous.
Yourself – What do you already know? Harkening back to the experience exercise. Are you physically able to build the homestead of your dreams? If not, can you become physically able? Do you have the hours in the day to do so? What are your challenges?
Family Members – Do you have a Great Uncle who’s been farming since 1902? Maybe your grandma still cans her own green beans? Can mom or dad watch the kids while you break new ground or string a fence? What about siblings – I hear little brothers will do anything for a home cooked meal.
Friends – When it’s time to move, who do you call? Your friends! For a pizza and a beer, a few sets of willing bodies trudge over to your home and help you move your stuff. Can you leverage them around the homestead? Do any of them know how to garden? Milk a goat? Perhaps they grew up in a farming family or even in a rural area. What about the friend you haven’t met yet? The family down the street with 8 pigs, 32 chickens, and 3 milk goats?
Local Extension – Your local agricultural extension may be the best resource you have. Even if your local extension isn’t much help, there are extensions all over the country attached to the county and universities with a wealth of knowledge! Where to start? Where do you live? What’s the closest university? Do they have an agriculture program? If not, expand your search and see what pops up. Here are some of my favorite extensions!
- Iowa State University: Extension and Outreach
- Purdue Extension
- UMass Amherst: The Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment
- UNH Cooperative Extension
Books – Other people’s knowledge in convenient, hand-held size! I love books almost as much as my family. Books are a labor of love and an extension of the very soul of the author. That person is choosing to spend their time and effort to impart their hard-earned knowledge onto you. Honor their time and get reading! I could go on for pages and pages on the glory of books and the wealth of knowledge they contain but alas, there are weeds to pull and fences to mend. Here are a few of my go-to books:
- Backyard Farming for Beginners: Easy Mini Farming for Self Sufficiency
- Country Wisdom and Know-How
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac
- Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests
- The Foxfire Series
- Storey’s Guide to (Everything)
- The Woodland Homestead: How to Make Your Land More Productive and Live More Self-Sufficiently in the Woods
Did I miss any books? What’s your favorite agricultural extension?
Next Lessons Learned series post: What traditional and non-traditional resources are available? (Part 2)