Homesteading is a noble pursuit, and we obviously strongly encourage everyone to try their hand at it! Growing your own food, raising livestock, and living off-grid are a wonderful way to enrich your life, get healthier, and truly embrace self-reliant living.
But it’s not all puppies and sunshine! There are some harsh realities of homesteading that a lot of people won’t tell you. Here’s what you need to know if you want to face the music.
You Will Make a Lot of Mistakes
Homesteading is all about trial and error, and it is through these errors that you learn. It is just the reality of growing plants that are subject to the elements and raising living animals that you simply won’t always do things right. You will make poor (although most likely simply uninformed) decisions about what to plant, where to plant, how to secure your fence, how to repel pests, etc. And you won’t realize until the damage has already been done. Don’t worry though, this happens to everyone! We’re human and we make mistakes, and the good news is, you’ll learn so much the hard way, so you won’t repeat the same mistakes twice.
You Won’t Always Save Money
A lot of the appeal of homesteading is that you can save money by growing and processing your own produce, meat, and dairy. But in reality, this isn’t always the case. Depending on how your season goes, you might actually pour a lot more money into your homestead than you can reasonably expect to get out of it, especially in the first few years. Homes, land, farming, and animal husbandry all involve a lot of maintenance, and this means costs. That being said, you still can establish a homestead that will save you money in the long run, a lot of it. Just stick with it and be smart about your spending.
The Commitment is Year-Round
Your life now probably allows for travel and time off. But when you’re homesteading, no matter what your day job is, it is a 365-day-a-year job. There are many jobs on a homestead that simply don’t allow for sleeping in or taking a day off, and this includes during sickness. You will need to rely on a strong, involved community of family and friends if you want to travel or have support if you are sick or injured. Raising crops and animals is fully involved work, and just as you need to eat and be sheltered every day, so do they, so consider the extent of this commitment before you start homesteading. It’s a big one.
You Might Get Grossed Out….Often
There’s a lot of “yuck” factor involved in homesteading. Dealing with animal droppings, compost, sick and dead animals, butchering, etc., are not for the faint of heart. And a lot of the time, grossness is unanticipated. You’ll have to prepare yourself for strengthening your stomach. You definitely can get used to it though; just think how many jobs there are out there that involve a high level of nastiness. Those jobs simply require getting used to and then people can handle it. You can do the same, especially if you’re really committed to homesteading.
Death is a Reality
Speaking of grossness, another factor you must face about homesteading is that animals get sick and die, or are killed by predators. Also, if you are planning on raising them for meat, you’ll have to kill them and slaughter them yourself. It doesn’t just turn into meat when you want it to, you have to handle that yourself! Death is a very natural part of life, especially when you are a steward of living things, as a homesteader is. Again, you will get used to this, and come to accept the inevitability of death. Wow, we’re getting philosophical here…
It Can Be Isolating
Depending on where you live and what kind of community you’re a part of, this might not happen. But if you live out in the country, far away from others, and travel to town rarely, you definitely might feel lonely and isolated at times. It’s important to maintain a connection to other people, to friends and family, to other parents if you’re raising children, but it can be hard. You can grow accustomed to the solitary life, though (and maybe that’s what you’re after!) and you should prepare yourself to be content with this, because homesteading takes a lot of work and commitment and you simply might not have the capacity for regular socializing.
You Will Fall In Love With It
There’s a reason these are the things no one tells you. It’s because truly, homesteading is wonderful, and for many people, there’s no turning back. You will most likely learn to cope quickly with these challenges and setbacks and embrace the rewarding, wonderful process of growing your homestead and living the dream.
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