Starting a homestead can be a bit overwhelming! It may be a whole new way of life for you, or maybe homesteading is a familiar route, but you’ve decided to take it in a whole new direction. Regardless, you’ll never reach those awesome goals that you have unless you start putting one foot in front of the other! It may be the road less traveled, but darn, it’s going to be a beautiful journey!
When we first bought our farm, my husband and I had alot of talks about our dreams for our farm, and attainable short term & long term goals. One thing I would have done differently in those beginning stages was to start a homestead binder. Doh! Well, lesson learned!
So, do as I say, and not as I do (or didn’t do)!
Tip #1- Start a homestead binder. Write down your seasonal goals, as well as 1 year & 3 year plans. What do you want to accomplish in those time periods? This is a good way to hold yourself accountable and keep you on track! But, don’t put this crazy amount of pressure on yourself if you aren’t able to reach your goals in the given timeframe. Life happens! Keep moving forward!
Why did you decide to start homesteading? No one can answer this for you. This is authentic to you & only you. Let your reasons be your mission statement & the driving force behind your homestead.
That’s a multifaceted answer for me (and probably is for you, too)!
Here are just a few simple reasons I’m so gung ho on homesteading:
-To simplify our lives & become more self sufficient & sustainable
-To eat healthier by growing our own organic produce, free of pesticides and other chemicals
-Preparedness-Through food preservation (primarily canning, freezing, & dehydrating), we are creating our own stockpile of food to last us for months. We don’t have to rely on the big food corporations to supply us with food. We’ve got it covered! And… Our food is tastier and healthier then what you can buy off a shelf!
Now that you have figured out your goals, let’s get to work!
Raise some critters
If you are new to raising farm critters, chickens are a great place to start! They are easy to raise, are a great source of meat & eggs, provide awesome compost for your garden, & hours of entertainment!
Grow, baby, grow
Start a garden. Don’t lets get crazy & plant 29 different varieties of vegetables your first year. You’ll totally overwhelm yourself that way! Been there, done it, don’t want to do it, again!
Pick 5 vegetables that you can harvest & easily preserve, and go with it! A garden is a lot of work, and I almost burned myself out the first year by getting overly mesmorized by all pretty heirloom varieties. I planted way too much! Lesson learned! Moderation is a good thing, especially early on.
An herb garden is another jewel to consider starting! Oh Lawdy, you can do so much with herbs! From natural remedies, cooking & baking, teas, cleaning, the list goes on and on.
Start with growing a handful of herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, peppermint, & cilantro that are easy to grow and have multiple uses around the house & farm.
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Planting fruit trees and/or berry bushes
These take time (sometimes, years) to grow & harvest, so getting started on these is the sooner the better! We planted a several pear & apple trees, as well as 2 blueberry bushes. A couple of our trees didn’t survive, so back to the drawing board!
If you have space constraints, there are some dwarf varities available!
Learn some skills, yo!
Holy moly, there are so many useful skills for you to choose from! Again, don’t put this tremendous amount of pressure on yourself to learn it all in the first year!
A few good skills to learn initially are:
-canning & food preservation methods
-animal husbandry & first aid
-bread and or cheese making
-the basics of how to grow a garden
Budget, barter, and learn your resources
No matter the size or location of your homestead, it more then likely will have some foreseeable (and unforeseeable) out of pocket costs. Homesteaders are notorious for making do with what they have & utilizing their resources well. These are skills you want to fine tune.
We live in a very rural mountain community, with a lot of other farmers. My husband is an amazing jack of all trades. Word got around our community pretty quickly that he can fix anything. While he would gladly do this free of charge, we’ve received all sorts of goodies and farm freebies in exchange for his services.
Bartering is a great way to network with others in your community. They become familiar with you and the goods or services you offer (eggs, meat, dairy, yarn, produce, etc.), and vice versa.
Bring in the dough!
There are so many ways that your farm can generate an income, even a small one.
For example, you can sell a variety of homegrown, homemade & baked goods, produce, eggs, and dairy products, though you will want to make sure that you in full compliance with your state laws regarding the sale of these goods before you start selling your products for consumption.
If you have a lot of pasture, you can rent your acreage out to other farmers, and sell your hay.
You can breed & sell desirable heritage breeds of poultry & livestock.
If you’re homestead is a desirable location, you can rent your place for events & meetings.
These are just a few ways your can begin to generate an income!
So, this is a great (and very doable) start to your first year! Go you!
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