Over the last several weeks, Jared and I have been going through our budget and project list for 2023. We decided that this year, we were really going to focus on the infrastructure of the homestead. I knew we couldn’t be the only one, so I wanted to put together a post on homestead infrastructure and what it means.
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Every homestead is different, so every infrastructure plan is going to be different. But I wanted to go through our list of homestead infrastructure with you so that you can get some ideas on what you want to do with your own homestead infrastructure and why. If you have your own ideas, please list them in the comments below!
What Is Homestead Infrastructure
The first thing we need to do is define infrastructure: “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.”(Dictonary.com).
But what does that mean for a homestead? We aren’t necessarily operating as a society, community or enterprise. We are also not necessarily building roads, grids, or buildings on a large scale. But that doesn’t mean that the same idea doesn’t work.
When I talk about homestead infrastructure, I’m talking about barns, sheds, and other outbuildings. I’m also talking about fencing, pastures and gardens. It comes inside the house in the form of canning, storage, freezers, and energy efficiency. As your coming up with ideas on what your infrastructure will be, think about all the things in your local community.
Grocery stores= garden, fruit trees, canning
Milk, cheese, butter, eggs and meat= cows, pigs, goats, chickens
Roads= Trails or walk ways to barns, livestock pens, gardens, etc
Grids like water, electric, gas= wells, solar, firewood
Schools, community center, grocery store= home
By setting up your own infrastructure, you are going to prepare yourself, family and homestead for future success. Also remember, if you can’t do something like build a barn or put in an acre garden, that’s okay too. Just work on the things you can do.
Why Infrastructure Is Important
When you are setting up your homestead, it is incredibly easy to get overwhelmed with the things you want to do or think you should do. I wrote a couple blog posts about setting goals, mistakes we’ve made, and things we have learned, but the biggest take away is that you need to know what you want, and how to get there.
Infrastructure on your homestead is so easily overlooked because you think you’re doing it with every project you do. But if you really stop and think about it, are you actually setting up something that is going to last for years to come, or are you simply reacting to the things you think you should be doing?
We bought goats on an impulse. Then as we bought more goats and as winter was barreling down on us, we decided to build a goat barn. They say hindsight is 20/20, and they are right. That first barn kind of works but is also kind of a disaster. Does it keep them dry? Sorta. Does it keep them warm? Yes. Will it keep predators out? Uh, maybe?
The barn is built right in a rain run off area. When we built it, we had no idea. But now it’s becoming an issue with all the summer rains we have gotten. The entire thing has about 2 inches of muck building up the sides, there are leaks in the roof and the “ventilation” we thought was a great idea? Not so much.
That being said, the infrastructure we put in? Isn’t working. That’s okay-ish. It’s a learning experience. But it’s also expensive.
Had we planned our infrastructure better it would save us money, time and a ton of frustration. That’s why it’s so important. But the learning part? That’s important, too.
Setting Up Your Homestead Infrastructure
For the planners, this is the best step. If you’re a do-er, find yourself a planner. I say that because I am a planner and I have about a million lists floating around for different projects and plans. In fact, I have a “hard copy” of my Pinterest in a 3″ binder. Jared is a do-er. He has zero desire to plan and that is just fine.
Our list of infrastructure is five pages typed and while yours doesn’t have to be that long, it does need to be that thorough. What does it need to have on it? Check out the example below:
Project: Goat Barn
Dimensions or Specs: Current: 8×13, Increase to 12×16. Current “milking area” will turn into a weaning pen and new milk parlor and kidding space created. Door from inner barn to milking area to avoid having to haul goats outside to be milked. Inner barn area will be increase to 8×10 minimum. Storage area in kidding/milking area for milking supplies. Bedding racks to get them off the ground. Gutters to IBC’s to help with water.
Resources On Hand: current barn will be torn apart, bleached/cleaned and painted. Materials that are reusable will be reused.
Resources Needed: t1-11, studs, paint, new hardware, more roofing, plywood or similar for bedding racks, screws, concrete pavers to get wood off the ground and possibly gravel in barn and in dry lot that will be created around the barn
Plan of Action: Jared and I will build a couple new goat shacks so the girls can have a place to go for the days that their barn will be moved. Barn will be torn down, cleaned and painted. New area for barn will be cleared and leveled. Water run off trenches will be “installed” to divert water from barn. Pavers placed and walls built. Interior built and painted. Pavers for milking area. Gravel, if decided, will go into inner barn, weaning area and dry lot.
Estimated cost: $1000
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Homestead Infrastructure Ideas
Below are just a few of the things on our infrastructure list and each one has it’s own Project Planning Worksheet in my binder
- IBC’s for firewood and water
- Fencing for new livestock
- Meat animals
- Fence in Upper Garden
- Goat Barn
- Firewood/wood lot
- Energy Efficiency
- Yard hydrants
- Solar panels
- Hay Barn
- Outdoor kitchen/ butchering area
- Erosion control
- Food Storage Room
- Well Bladder
- Attic Gables
Before you get overwhelmed, remember, this is MY entire 2023 focus. Paralysis by analysis is a thing and you don’t need to get overwhelmed. Make a list and see what you can do. See what it’s going to take for you to do those things. Then get to work.