Homesteading. It’s the latest topic for those of us who want a simpler life. We want to get back to basics. But how do we get started and how do we make our homestead successful? How do we avoid mistakes that could kill the animals we care for? There are a few things that all homesteaders, and wanna-be homesteaders, should know.
First things first. Have a good plan. It’s that simple. Don’t jump in with both feet. I know it’s hard to wait before you purchase your livestock or start your garden, but trust me, you will want to have a good plan. That plan will not only keep you on track, but it will help you understand where you might need more help.
I know you want to start your homestead right away, but don’t. Wait. Save some money. Do your research. And draft your plan. As with any good plan, it will be fluid. You’ll make changes to it as you move forward and as you learn more, but you need one. For every aspect of your homestead.
Garden? Write it down. Draft it out.
Livestock? You will definitely need a good plan. You’re dealing with the lives of animals, so you will not want to do this without thinking it through and putting pen to paper.
Ask yourself this: How much time do you have to devote to the homesteading life? If you don’t have the time to tend to your dairy goat operation, then you might need to think it over before you dive in. Want 100 chickens and to start an egg business selling eggs to the city? Do you have the right location and set-up for that? How about the time needed to collect eggs, wash eggs, package eggs, and then drop them off to the various locations in the city? Write it down. Plan it out.
Purchasing your homestead? Don’t rush into it. Think about the location of the house, the outbuildings, where you’ll put the garden and the livestock. Do you need to do extensive work to the property? Is it turnkey and you’ll just need to unpack your bags? What about the actual location? Do you need to move a long distance? Or is it just right around the corner? Map out what all of this will look like.
I think most of us want to get started on our homesteading journey yesterday. But a good plan is a must. As I stated above, it can change, but it is so important that you really think things through.
And don’t forget that emergencies will happen. You will want a really good plan for that too. Do your research and then put your emergency kit together. For everything. Animals, humans, the garden, buildings. You name it and you’ll want to be prepared. I love being prepared but I do find myself caught unaware. A lot.
What happens when things go sideways? Because they will. Do you have a network of neighbors, friends, or other homesteaders that you can rely on? Did you do all your research before you brought home the 100 chickens? Because part of being a good steward to the land and livestock, is doing your research. Read the books. Take a class. Join a local group of homesteaders.
Here’s a warning: Don’t just rely on the internet. There’s a lot of great information out there on the internet, but nothing, and I mean nothing, beats being able to take a class or ask someone in person. Sure, you can send that “homesteading guru” a message, but will they respond? Will they actually know and understand your needs? Will they help you research the issue(s)? And that YouTube video by that guy from across the country? He’s not going to hold your hand while your animal is in pain. You know who will? The farmer down the road. The person whom you paid to take that class. Or your local homesteading expert. That’s who you need to rely on.
Don’t get me wrong. The internet is a great starting point. There are groups on Facebook for just about everything you could imagine, including all aspects of homesteading. But don’t consider those to be your only source. I have seen it time after time where someone jumps in with no plan and buys all the discount chickens at the local feed store with no way to house the chicks. They don’t even know how to brood a chicken!
When someone asks me a question about chickens, the first thing I ask is, “Did you do your research?” Invariably the answer is, “Yes, I joined a Facebook group.” Or “I watched a YouTube video.”
Friends. That is not research. And it is going to take you longer than a week or a month to research and figure things out.
Why am I going on and on about this? It’s the lives and livelihood of your animals. Being a good steward to the land and the animals. Trust me, it doesn’t take much to kill a baby chick. Or have all your well-tended seedlings die. I’ve been there, done that. But with a little patience and a lot of research, you will find yourself on a successful homesteading journey. Now go out there and make your homesteading dreams come true!