It might seem contradictory, but starting on the path to a “simpler” life can actually come with a lot of complications. In pursuit of all our hopes and visions for our homestead, we can become overwhelmed pretty quickly, or simply fail to anticipate common problems. Let me share with you a few key lessons I’ve learned over the years that will help to take the growing pains out of your homesteading journey!
- Realize that this lifestyle is “simple”, but it’s not easy.
The best things in life come about as a result of plenty of hard work. If you’ve been overly ambitious in planning your homestead, you may pile on too much work and burn out quickly, especially if you’re transitioning from a less active lifestyle. Avoid exhaustion by starting small and slowly building up your endurance. Taking care of property, livestock, a garden, and a home all in one day is definitely doable, but you would be wise to work up to that goal rather than diving right into it!
- Don’t go it alone.
Even if the nearest living soul is miles away, get to know that person. They are your lifeline when the cow wanders off or the goats jump the fence. You don’t need to be best friends, but you do need to be able to rely on each other. This is how homesteading used to be! In addition to your actual neighbors, there are plenty of online groups for nearly every topic. Find the right one and you will have an endless supply of advice, support, and inspiration.
- Don’t forget the fence!
Nothing will tick off a neighbor faster than repeat offenses of livestock escaping and damaging property. Just the thing to cause pitfalls in a homesteading life. As the saying goes, your fence should be horse high, pig tight, and bull strong. If you raise animals, consider it a given that they will try to escape from time to time. Save yourself worlds of trouble and build the right fence the first time!
- Dress for the job.
Here’s another area in which transitioning from one lifestyle to another might be a bother. Dress in breathable layers to keep your comfort level up whether you’re swinging an axe or writing up a garden plan. Choosing the wrong shoes or boots is a great invitation for a nail to go right through your foot or a heavy tool to land on your unprotected toe. Don’t worry about how you look–the plants and animals don’t care!
- Know what to save and what to toss.
I’ve built or repaired plenty of things around the homestead using salvaged materials and roadside finds. Saving and repurposing what would normally be thrown out can be a lifesaver. Whether it’s coffee cans for feed buckets, pallets for lumber, or even last year’s seeds, you can do so much with repurposed items. Still, you can quickly fall into the pitfall of hoarding on the homestead. Accumulating junk “just in case” gives quarter to rodents and other safety hazards. Keep it under control, and never stop evaluating your inventory.
This path is the one less travelled for a reason. Homesteading isn’t easy, but it’s worth every ounce of sweat you pour into it. You may learn some lessons the hard way, but that’s a good thing as long as you keep learning. In time, you’ll be the one new homesteaders turn to for this advice!
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