It’s spring! Well, I’m pretending it’s spring while I watch the snow/rain mixture beat down outside my window. Spring is a beautiful time of new beginnings. And I know there are a lot of new/beginner homesteaders out there just itching to get started on their homestead dreams.
Homesteading is a lot of work. In fact, that’s an understatement. But, it’s amazing, beautiful, and rewarding work. Working towards self-sufficiency and life homemade is an awesome undertaking and I’m thrilled that more and more people are adopting this lifestyle.
But while we’re all excited and happy about it, starting your homestead can be incredibly daunting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to quit or not do something because the undertaking is overwhelming, even scary.
I don’t tell you this to discourage you. But rather to let you know I’ve been there. Heck, I’m still there in a lot of ways. There are so many things we’re still learning and to pretend we’ve got it all together would be an absolute lie. But, we’ve been there in so many ways and I thought I’d offer up some tips when you’re just getting started.
8 Tips for Starting Your Homestead
1. Take it Slow
I know how it is. You finally feel like you’ve got the ability to take on the world and homestead it. Well, you can’t. Homesteading is a journey, not a destination. And it certainly isn’t a race. Things take time. If they’re not taking time, they’re expensive and…
You do not want to be in that position. That overwhelmed, frustrated position. It will cost you so much. Not only in money (mistakes happen when we rush, and homesteading mistakes are costly above all else), but in satisfaction.
Take your time. Do one thing this year. Do another the next. I know you want all of the animals and big huge gardens and fruit trees and the works. But all in due time. Trying to take on a mountain of work isn’t going to do anything but discourage you.
2. Lower Your Standards
Homesteading is a beautiful lifestyle. It really is. When you get down to it all the beautiful things that occur on a homestead (new life, produce, memories, knowledge) are great. But homesteading is far from pretty.
Homesteading is full of muck, sweat, and tears. You’ll spend more time being muddy and having straw in your hair than you’ll spend with clean clothes and manicured nails.
It’s also full of repurposing and making use of what you have. Chicken coops covered with tarps, recycled wood that has seen prettier days (or never did because it wasn’t meant to). Rusty fence posts and hand-me-down overalls. Chicken pluckers made from recycled materials hooked to your drill. You’re going to find ways to save money and make do with what you have, or you’re not going to homestead. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the reality of it. Homesteading is expensive and it’s far from pretty.
So, it’s time to lower your standards from that lush, green farm with white pony rail fencing and immaculate barns. Unless you’re made of money, that’s not a realistic view.
3. Do What You Can With What You Have
I know everyone wants a million acres to let cattle graze, and live a completely self-sufficient life. I get it. But most of us don’t have the ability to obtain a million acres of land. One, it’s not available. Two, it’s completely unaffordable. Land comes at a premium price and most of us are just scrimping by.
So, do you give up because you don’t have a million acres? Heck no. You improvise.
Before we moved onto our acre (which is a far cry from the twenty we dream of one day having) we lived on a third of an acre in a suburb. The absolute smallest amount of property my husband and I have ever owned (we started with 3) and I decided I wanted to homestead. Hahaha.
Was I happy? Nope, I wasn’t. We couldn’t have chickens, rabbits, goats, or any other livestock animals on that property. But… I made do with it. We made a raised garden bed. We put plants in containers all over our deck. I started cooking from scratch and learned to bake bread and preserve my produce.
There is a lot you can do on a small lot. We’re not exactly swimming in the acres where we’re at now. But, we’re making do, just like we did before. Homesteading is more than just having acres of land to be self-sufficient on. It’s about providing for yourself and your family on a completely different level. Learning skills that are all but forgotten. And you can do that, regardless of the amount of land you have available to you.
4. Get Out of Debt and Keep Costs Down
Debt… how I loathe thee. It’s crippling, y’all. It’s modern slavery. Do yourself a favor and get out of it and don’t return. Find frugal ways to build up your infrastructure and wait until you can afford something before you purchase it.
The beauty of taking things slow is it’s easier to get out of, and stay out of, debt. Find ways to cut your expenses. Buy less land than you originally planned for and know how you will pay for the property (or the mortgage note). Buy used vehicles. Grow more and more of your own food. Make do with what you have, use it up or wear it out, right?
Don’t go into debt to homestead. Get a mortgage, maybe, but don’t make yourself owe someone else money in order to buy or build things for your homestead. It’s worth it to wait.
5. Find Experienced Locals and Glean All The Info You Can
I’m not a people person. It’s not that I don’t like people, I’m just incredibly introverted. But, I can be a people person when the setting is right.
We recently bought a finished pig off of a local we found on facebook. Visiting with him we learned that they raise chickens, have solar panels, and a multitude of other information. We found out he gets his feed from a local farm for a fraction of the cost of commercial feed.
He showed my husband how to butcher a pig. He sold us rain barrels and a broken tiller for dirt cheap. He lives about 20 minutes away and is full of information.
Find your people. They exist and they’re bursting with information to share with you. There is literally nothing more important than finding your people and sharing information amongst yourselves.
6. Let Go of Stuff
Ah the modern world and all of its luxuries. Do we need all of this junk? More than likely not.
Homesteading is all about simplicity. Letting go of stuff we don’t need is an integral part of embracing that simplicity. We don’t need a million and one objects cluttering up our space. We need simple things that fulfill a purpose and very little else.
So, learn to live a little more lightly. Let go of the unessential and make the most of what you have. Wear it out if it is an essential item, gift it if it isn’t.
7. Learn to Laugh (at yourself)
You’re going to make mistakes. Things are going to go awry. Don’t sweat it. Learn to laugh at yourself, learn from it, and move on. Homesteading is full of enough seriousness without you having to constantly take yourself serious.
None of us are perfect. We don’t have it all together (regardless of how it may appear). And we have to find humor in our mistakes or we’ll all drive ourselves crazy. So, let it go, laugh about it, learn from it, and move on.
8. Calm Down
Stop whatever you’re doing and calm down. I have a tendency to be incredibly type-A. I want to get everything done. I want it done correctly and timely. Then… reality sets in.
I constantly have to remind myself that it’s okay. It’s okay that my new chicken coop is still only framed in and my half-grown flock has nowhere to stay. It’s okay that I haven’t made a loaf of bread in a month. It’s okay that I didn’t get more onions started last month.
I just have to take a deep breath and calm down. It will all get done in due time and freaking out over it isn’t going to change the situation.
It’s all gonna be okay. You just gotta learn to roll with it.
Homesteading is challenging, y’all. But it’s worth it. I hope you’re inspired to go out and get your homestead on. Grow that garden, buy those chickens. We all had to start somewhere. It’s all about the journey.
More Homesteading Posts You’ll Love:
- 15 Things to Look for When Buying Homesteading Land
- 103 Ways to Make Money Homesteading
- 12 Ways to Save Money on Your Homesteading Dream