I have a bookshelf full of homesteading books, resources, information, and magazines on all kinds of homesteading topics.
I have dreamed about the day when we would live on enough acreage that we could easily keep livestock, grow an expansive garden, and maybe even make a bit of income from our excesses.
I have practiced countless homesteading skills (canning, milking, seed starting, soil amending, etc.) in preparation for our Eventual Farm.
And yet, when finally faced with the opportunity to do all of the things I (we) have been longing to do, I’ve found myself completely overwhelmed by the intensity of the options that lay before us!
I mean, really! How do you start your homestead?
How do we upscale our garden production? How do we prepare for livestock? Which animals should we add first? Do we get a guard dog first or the animals first? Can we keep a few turkeys with our chickens or do they need to be completely separate?
And the list of questions goes on and on!
So, instead of getting myself all in a twist, I decided to ask for some hard won words of advice from some of my favorite homesteaders and fellow bloggers who kindly shared some words of wisdom and calmed my worried heart 🙂
Here you will find their words of wisdom, as well as links to some of the more in depth information they have shared on their blogs. I hope that, whether you’re still Homestead Dreaming or Ready to Take the Leap, the below tips will help you as much as they’ve helped me as we prepare to take this next step on our Homesteading Journey.
Teri @ Homestead Honey recently wrote a brilliant piece on how to find your ideal homestead land that features a brilliant list of questions to ask yourself before jumping in including:
- What kinds of zoning restrictions or building codes might influence what you can or cannot do on your homestead?
- What is the soil like? Is it suitable for growing food?
- How much land are you looking for?
In her post, Teri says:
Finding a piece of land on which to create your ideal homestead is a rather subjective process. Aside from a few traits that I would consider non-negotiable – a water source and some southern exposure – I’d be hard pressed to give a list of “must haves.” After all, each family’s needs will be different, and your own personal preferences and available finances will play strongly into your decision-making.
Kathie @ Homespun Seasonal Living shared this tidbit:
Once you move in, start building the soil immediately. It takes a while for good healthy garden soil to be created, especially if it was lawn before you started. Start adding compost and cover crops to add nutrition. Good garden soil will feed your family for a long time and should be the highest priority.
Leona @ My Healthy Green Family took another approach, and one very similar to our experiences on our urban farm:
We didn’t actually select a location since we bloomed where we were planted 🙂
Start with one thing but with a big vision. Keep the big picture open in your mind, just don’t try to tackle it all at once. This will keep you from having odd shaped and sized chicken coops, a variety of gardens and goat huts all over the place in a mish-mashed jumble. Pick one thing a year from your overall picture and do it right. Start by researching that particular project very well, so you know what you will need for your climate and location, where you will put it, how to protect it from predators, and how to maintain it successfully. And don’t forget to take an hour a day to relax and enjoy it!!!
Ask lots of questions and be prepared for on the job learning! But, that said, try to be as prepared as possible, BEFORE bringing the new additions home. Build suitable fencing and secure housing. Be aware of predators in your area and learn how to keep your animals safe. Make sure you have a way to get plenty of water to the animals, even in subfreezing temperatures. Having all things in place before the animals arrival, goes a long way towards the enjoyment of raising livestock.
Angi @ Scheiderpeeps offered to share a peek into her journey with these reflections:
A little over three years ago we purchased the property we now live on. In the last 21 years we have had 14 addresses and knew that unless something huge happened this was going to be our last move. At the time our oldest son was a senior in high school with the next four children graduating every other year.
For the most part our children are very willing to help around our homestead but none of them have a passion for it. They each have their own passions and dreams and it is very important to us that they have the freedom to pursue those dreams.
We knew we needed to be considerate of our children’s dreams when we purchased our homestead. So, our property is 1.5 acres just outside the city limits. This enables us to get to town for the children’s activities in just a few minutes but allows us to keep livestock without regulation from the city. We also feel like this size acreage will be manageable for us as our children leave our home and we’ll be on our own.
When we bought our property we already had chickens so that was a priority. Also, one of our sons had been wanting to try beekeeping for several years and so that also became a priority.
We are pretty avid vegetable gardeners and know that it takes time to build the soil. But we’re also impatient so that first year we had a modest size garden and bought mushroom compost to work into the soil. We had no expectations; we were just happy to harvest anything since we chose to plant that first spring instead of building our soil.
We like to add just a few new things each year; a few new fruit trees, a few more garden beds or a couple more bee hives each year helps us from feeling overwhelmed. Once we know we can care for these things, we can add a few more.
If we were starting again we would make a list of all the things we want to do. Then organize that list into a 5 year plan. While it would be nice to be able to do all that we want to do in the first year, there is always a time and money limit that makes that impossible.
It’s really important to us that we, as a family, are having fun while we’re homesteading. Whenever it’s not fun, it’s usually because we’ve tried to do too many things and are not doing any of them well.
Be realistic, ask questions, make a plan, build your soil, and do your best to do it right the first time (but know there will be mistakes and mis-steps along the way)!
I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better now!
Don’t get me wrong, I still have a ton of questions, but at least now I have a starting point from which to jump from 🙂
Now, what you add to the wisdom that was imparted above? And tips, tricks or hard won words of advice you can share with this Newbie on her homesteading journey? I’d love to hear anything you can throw at me!