A good roll in the hay!
A good roll in the hay!
We moved into our homestead in April. By early May, I ordered chicks and by the end of the month I had a half acre garden tilled and was working on fencing. I was winging it and occasionally consulting my parents for advice. It’s amazing I did not kill any of my chickens. I did kill most of my garden. You cannot just stick a plant in the ground and expect to grow well. It may very well grow; but not well.
Remember what I said about know what your resources were? What do you know? What do you not know? It’s the second that will get you…the first will too!
Start reasonable. What’s reasonable? Well that depends on your circumstances. We were two city kids, one with some very basic farm knowledge, a new baby and a lot of dreams and ideas. Did I tackle too much my first season – ABSOLUTELY! In retrospect, I might have scaled back that garden a bit – 2, 20×20 plots. The chickens were on the right track, though. They are the gateway farm animal. Chickens don’t need a lot of your time or attention. Give them food, water, and a safe place and they give you eggs! Too many roosters and you get meat! Win-Win!
In homesteading, there is no safety net….but there are a lot of fences. And that’s kind of the same thing!
Those are my 3 lessons learned. Did I learn others? Of course! Will there be more? You betcha!
Next Post: There’s always tomorrow…
The first bonfire of fall!
So you know what you want for a homestead. Hopefully, you have lists and lists and lists. Did you prioritize the lists? What are your needs versus your wants? Whatever that list is, scale it down to the basics.
Those needs that you will NOT compromise on.
That’s where you start hunting for your perfect homestead and what a hunt it will be!
Be prepared to hunt for your homestead. 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.
The first home we looked at was perfect – it was a secluded log cabin off a country dirt road. Ten beautiful acres, a good sized barn, a garage, and paddocks ready to go. It even had a generator already! We were outbid.
The second house we found was almost as good and guess what happened – we lost it again.
Finally, we found a perfect 18th century home. It had land and a HUGE barn. We placed a bid and we won. Third times a charm right! Except the barn roof was a mess and the bank would not approve the loan until the roof was fixed. Neither the current owner nor we had the funds – bye bye house.
By this time, we had moved from the hotel to a microscopic rental. It took us nearly four months to find our current homestead. Out of the blue, a newish home popped up with 26 acres. By all appearances, it was turn-key and the only issue was it didn’t have a barn, and the land had some challenges (there’s not much flat land in New England). It was ours!
Don’t be discouraged. Keep looking. Find the place that is meant to be yours and after a few years, it’ll start to be the dream you imagined.
Next Lessons Learned Post: Lesson Learned 3: There is no safety net!
The moments of time between summer and fall!
Over the past couple of months, I’ve discussed some of the ins and outs of planning a homestead. Very few of us have unlimited time and money and knowledge to throw at our projects and even if we did, how many of those throws would make it across home plate?
This is where your family comes into play. More than any government, neighbor, animal, vegetable, or mineral resource, your family will make or break your homestead. Your family may be your spouse, aunt, children, great uncle or a cousin three times removed. Don’t forget the family you aren’t related to either – the family you choose.
Sit down with a good cup of tea, coffee, rum, whatever your poison is and consider what your family means to you. Are they committed to the homestead? Are all vested members of the family, blood or not, ready to commit?
Are you and your family capable of living up to your plan? Did you take your family into account when developing your plan?
Do they have the physical ability to contribute? It is hard work and taxing on the body. At any given time I have a dozen cuts, scrapes, sore muscles or bruises from something or another. When we started down this path, hefting a 50lb bag of feed seemed like quite the accomplishment. Now I just need a bit of help getting the second bag on my shoulder. Homesteading is a workout. You and your family don’t need to be in top condition, but you need to be in good enough condition as a unit to get the job done. I’m a capable woman but I do need help from my husband and sons – little hands are great for planting potatoes and their knees don’t hurt yet!
What about mental abilities? Can they make quick decisions? Are you all on the same proverbial page? Who’s going to keep the books? Plan out the garden months in advance and remember (or better yet – document!) where the corn was planted last year?
Where does your family stand emotionally? Running a homestead is not for the weak. Hard decisions are the norm. Homesteading requires a solid constitution resting on all three – physical, mental, and emotional. Don’t believe me – I balled my eyes out the night before we butchered our first group of broiler chickens. The next morning, I put on my big girl undies and got the job done. There are mornings where you will have to pull yourself up by your boot straps, drink a cup of grit and get moving – because you won’t want to.
Homesteading is a rewarding life. There’s nothing easy or simple about it. Planning, hard work, dedication and you can make this work.
Not every person on your homestead must be fully able to contribute in each capacity but as a unit, a family, you have to be able to come together to get the job done. Leverage your family’s strengths and take account for weaknesses.
Next Lessons Learned post: Lesson Learned 2: Be prepared to hunt for your homestead.