Welcome! It’s so fabulous that you’re here to find out more about how to start your homestead right, and I hope we can get to know each other better. I want you to know that you can homestead – it doesn’t matter where you live, really! City, town, village or completely rural? You can do this.
There are urban homesteaders, living in the heart of major cities.
There are suburban homesteaders, growing food and small livestock on small lots of land.
There are rural homesteaders who share traits of both of those – not everyone “out in the country” has a huge lot after all.
But OH, how many of us make the same mistakes on our path to sustainable and self-reliant living. We are no exceptions – in fact, this post was written in response to some huge mistakes that we have made. Let’s see how to prevent you from making the same homesteading mistakes!
There are some things that every homesteader should keep in mind before embarking on the journey towards freedom and personal responsibility that homesteading provides.
Okay, maybe not right now.
There’s work to be done first.
But don’t have it in your head that you’ll start homesteading later, when everything is right and you’re on your own acreage, etc. Because that’s the part that matters the least.
You need to start working on those skills now. It honestly does not matter if you are homesteading – that is, pursuing a sustainable and self-reliant life – in the middle of a big city, in a small town, in a tiny village or deep in the woods. How do I know? Because I’ve done it in the city, and I’ve done it in the deep woods. No matter where you are, some things are going to be more difficult and some things are going to be easier.
Are you ready to find out what you should be doing now? I knew you would be. Let’s see if we can keep you from making some of the mistakes we did!
Do your homework
If you are planning to have livestock, have you spent time at a farm? Will you know what breed of chicken you want when the breeder asks? Have you ever smelled a buck goat in rut?
I’m not saying it’s a horrible smell, but it’s definitely …. noticeable. (Okay, at times it’s kind of horrible.) And the reality of small livestock is that, even when you’re so sick that the world is spinning and you’re throwing up every five minutes … the goats still need to be milked, fed and taken to the pasture. It’s one thing to sit in your nice apartment in town and say “But I won’t mind it”. The reality is that even people who grew up with milking animals sometimes mind it!
This is not just important when raising livestock. If you plan to make soap, for example, have you looked into the safety issues and watched someone making it before trying your own hand at the craft?
Many of us have an incredibly idealistic view of what life in the country looks like.
Have A Plan In Mind But Be Flexible
This is a catch-22. Before you begin homesteading, you form a plan and it looks great on paper. But then you start actively working towards it and you realize that a lot of your plans just don’t work.
But now you’re working from a poor plan and it needs to be adjusted.
Have an idea of what you want, but adjust as necessary. There is absolutely no shame in taking a step back and saying “WOW. That didn’t work. That really, really didn’t work.” Don’t keep going forward on a bad plan.
Animal shelter comes first
After you have animal shelter built and ready for habitation, THEN you bring in food.
After that, you can go pick up your animals.
This is the only order in which to do it. Doesn’t matter if it’s a dog, a fish, or a flock of chickens.
Make sure you have their shelter and food ready before you even order your animals.
I want to stress this one because we made so many mistakes that caused us no end of headache. We scrambled to get a hen house ready when the chicks were sitting and waiting for us, and then our goats got through our first winter in a far-too-small shelter. We covered hay with a tarp because we didn’t have proper hay storage. (No waste, though – the bales that spoiled went right to the garden for mulch!)
And do not design your animal shelter for the nicest summer days, unless you live in a part of the world with wonderful weather all year long.
Plan as though every day will be either cold, windy and wet or frozen solid in a blizzard.
Livestock does not have to be goats and cows. If you’re on a smaller property, consider smaller livestock like rabbits and quail.
Don’t miss the rest. Keep reading so that you learn from our mistakes!