So you’ve bought your property. Congratulations! You have been dreaming, scheming, planning, watching YouTube, and reading blogs like this one to try and figure out all the things you want to do on your homestead. Once you’ve moved in and the dust has settled, you look around and ask, “What now?” If you’re anything like the the rest of us mere mortals, you’re going to jump in with both feet. Now, you are overwhelmed, underprepared and stressed to the max. It’s like I know, right? Welcome to my life for the last year. So here is my list of 7 most common mistakes for new homesteaders, and how to avoid them.
Mistakes For New Homesteaders and Quick Fixes
1) Starting too big
We all want to hit the ground running when we start our homesteads. Before you know it, you’ve got chickens, ducks, turkey, rabbits, cows, and goats. Your garden is huge but not producing. The goats are sick all the time. You have no time to enjoy the life you are trying so hard to build.
Downsize– Seriously, I know you wanted all the critters when you moved in and the thought of selling or butchering them is abhorrent, but you need to think about where you are and what you are doing. If you are struggling with caring for them, you aren’t giving them their best life. So downsize the herd, cull some tomato plants, and move on.
Get Help– If you are able to, enlist the help of kids, family or neighbors. Worse case? Hire someone until you get it figured out. This can get expensive, but if you don’t want to downsize, there are plenty of 4H and FFA kids that are looking for farm work.
Pay someone– I know that this seems counterproductive to the whole homesteading thing, but consider it. Jared and I work full time, plus have part time jobs and homeschooling that take up a lot of time. The exterior of our house desperately needs a coat of paint, but we just don’t have the time to do it. So we are hiring it out. It’ll be the same when we put in our property fencing and expand the goat pens. We could absolutely do it, but paying someone else to do it frees up our time to do something else.
2) Not starting at all
Paralysis by analysis is a thing. You want to do all of these things but you get so overwhelmed with choices, decisions and options, that you do nothing. You’ve got a list that is three miles long but you’re not really sure which thing is the best to start with.
Pick one thing– When we first moved in, our list of the things we wanted to do was incredibly long. I had 3 legal pad filled with notes, lists, and more. What made it easy to start was that we prioritized a few things off that list. We got a chicken coop and chicks. We started clearing land and debris. Then we got goats. THEN we got overwhelmed.
Infrastructure– A lot of people don’t think about infrastructure when they are setting up their homesteads. They have this idea in their head about what they want but no idea how to execute. My suggestion is to come up with your Homestead Infrastructure and then start making plans based on that.
3) Not having a plan
You jumped in with both feet and no plan. You are stressed, overwhelmed and ready to throw in the towel. You ordered the chicks but don’t have a coop. The seedlings that you planted in January have no home because there is no garden. You lost your plan, your goals, and your mind
Write it down!- I talked about goal setting here. But while goals are great, if you don’t have a plan, they’re not really a goal. It’s a dream. So come up with a big picture goal/ dream and start laying out how to achieve it.
Create A Budget– Look into how much those goals, dreams, and plans are going to cost. Then start working it into your budget. This life is expensive, but no one wants to be shocked when they go to start building a barn and end up thousands of dollars in the hole.
4) Lack of Organization
I have lost two bags of chicken shrink bags. I’ve misplaced my goals list and plan. Don’t even get me started about the basement. If I don’t have a list, things don’t get done. Or I my ADD kicks in and I have cleaned the whole house, but it doesn’t look like it.
Declutter– Yes, I know. You know how to declutter but you just don’t have the time. Well, let me ask you this? How much time have you wasted looking for things? How much money have you wasted reordering things because you can’t find them? Go ahead and declutter.
Make lists– Make the lists, check it twice and then put it on your fridge!
5) No Accountability
Let’s be real for a second. We think we want accountability, but we really don’t. But we REALLY do. Most of us are self starters and are excited to work on new projects. But when we get bored, disinterested or defeated, it’s easy to just walk away from it. If we don’t have someone to say no, do not get that herd of twenty goats, you’ll never get ahead.
Respect the no– When I brought up getting pigs to Jared, he flat out told me no. Not because he doesn’t want them. He does. He said no because we don’t have fencing, a dedicated spot, or anything else. We’ve got two pregnant goats as well as all the chickens. So I respected the no.
Learn to self motivate– While I struggle with wanting everything right now and ADD. Jared struggles with motivation. He has been working on self motivation for a while and is doing better. There are days when he’s just not feeling it. That makes it hard on all of us because he is the main builder and heavy lifter on the farm. Figure out what you can do to motivate yourself and do it, all the time.
We all know that education is key to everything. If you don’t know how to do something, life is going to get hard if you’re not willing to learn.
Pick a subject– and become an expert on it. Or at least as much as an expert as you can. If you pick goats, good luck. You will never be an expert. Find someone who is an expert and learn as much as you can from them. Our neighbors have been farmers their entire lives, who better to teach us how to be farmers?
Don’t be afraid to learn as you go– Get a solid base knowledge of your topic and then put it to work. Jared was not a carpenter before this homestead, now? He has built chicken tractors, barns, and so much more. Don’t be afraid to learn.
7) Not knowing and using your resources
I am guilty of this one. Our neighbor has goats. Have I ever asked him for help? Nope. Our other neighbor raised meat chickens for years. Did I ask him for help? Nope. It’s a flaw that I’m still working on.
Social media and YouTube are all great resources, but nothing is better than having someone walk you through the process. I can watch something one time and tell you how to do it. But I don’t actually know how to do it, until I’ve done it.
Don’t Get Discouraged
There is a reason you wanted to homestead. Remember that reason at every turn. When things get hard, remember why you chose this life. When the chicken knocks over a $80 bottle of goat antibiotics because your child forgot to shut the garage door? Remember you wanted the chickens…. and the child. As you progress with your homestead and get discouraged about all the things you need to do, look back and see all of the things that you’ve already done. Even if that’s only managing to keep the children alive.
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