Homesteading: My 10 Truths About the Homesteading Life
When we moved to what we now call our homestead, we didn't plan on being homesteaders. That word was not even part of our lexicon, and we had honestly not thought at all about homesteading. We happened into homesteading and identifying ourselves this way completely by accident.
We live off grid because that's how this community we fell in love with just is. It's all off grid up here--there is no water, electricity, or gas piped to our neck of the world. My love of using essential oils for health turned into learning about herbalism and actually studying and becoming an herbalist.
We had enough room to begin gardening and then we learned to preserve our harvest. I began cooking from scratch, since we had access to our own whole foods. We've added chickens, turkeys, ducks, horses, and goats....and suddenly, we realized we were homesteaders!
Now that we are living the homestead life on our small 2/3 acre lot in our off-grid neighborhood, we have decided to be more intentional about the whole concept. And if you are planning to, or dream about, or are thinking about homesteading, there are some things we've learned in the past few years as we've progressed into identifying with this homestead lifestyle.
Here are some related articles in case you're interested in these, too:
15 Ways to Start Your Own Homestead Journey Right Now!, and more on the website!
EDIT: We have expanded our homestead and made some big and scary changes. We now live in the Idaho panhandle on a few acres of pasture and forest. We are starting all over again, and I hope you’ll follow our journey!
NOTE: You can get my free eBook, How to Start Your Homestead No Matter Where You Are (and Simple Living Tips) by completing the form at the end of this article.
Note: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a very small commission at no extra cost to you.
My 10 Truths About the Homestead Life
1) You Can Homestead Anywhere, and It's About Your Mind
Although we've grown into where we are now, I look back on my life, and realize I've always been a homesteader to one degree or another. I've always had some type of garden, and if I was in a period of life where I couldn't for whatever reason, I was pretty miserable.
Homesteading is really a state of mind. It's a mindset of wanting to be self-reliant. Of wanting to be ready for anything. A belief that we are all personally responsible for ourselves. That doesn't mean we don't need other people, it's just that homesteaders tend to do things themselves, if they can.
So, when I say you can homestead anywhere, that's the truth. If you live in a small apartment, you can grow herbs. Anyone can learn how to make natural remedies and use herbs for medicinal and health purposes with study and experience. How about cooking from scratch? Baking bread? Making soap?
If you have a small backyard, you can probably even keep some chickens, depending on the regulations in your area. And all of us should be keeping emergency supplies on hand, just in case.
I know I tend to blur the lines between "homesteader" and "prepper" a little bit, but they are, in fact, related. I think much of the mindset---independence, self-reliance, being ready and taking care of your family---are typical of both.
Anyway, homesteading is more a way of thinking about the world, than where it is you actually live. Our thinking, since moving here, has changed dramatically. But we've always had the homestead mind.
2) Homesteading Costs Money
I think the farther along you are on the homesteading continuum and journey, the more expensive it becomes. Because obviously, if you are living in an apartment, you are not going to have to buy a tractor. But you might have to buy supplies for your sewing projects. Or herbs for your plant remedies. Or special Einkorn wheat for that bread you want to try. Regardless, homesteading costs money.
There are also unforeseen expenses. The first goat shed didn't work because we didn't plan for babies. So...we needed to build another one. Gosh. Now we have poultry chicks---we'd better create a nursery coop for when they get too big to be in the house, but are still too small to go in with the flock. We continue to expand the garden each year.
The projects are literally never ending.
You'll find that if you have a homesteading mind, your money will probably go into your homestead adventures.
3) You'll Have a Learning Curve
Unless you've grown up off grid and/or on a farm and/or tended a garden as a child, you will have to learn some new things to become more and more self-sufficient. And that's a good thing, in my opinion.
Most people don't get to experience raising an animal for meat, from start to finish, as an example. So the first time you do it, you've got to figure things out along the way. That's where having a group of like-minded homesteading friends (online or in person) is a great thing!
I can't tell you how many times I've written a PLEASE HELP comment on Facebook in one of the many groups I belong to. The Goat Groups, as an example, are wonderful, but you do have to be careful about the advice given. One lady told me I should cut off the tip of my little buckling's penis when he experienced UC. REALLY?! I don't think so.
At any rate, plan on learning, and learning, and learning some more. And always double- or triple-check your information.
4) The Work is Never Ending
I don't care what people say. There is NO way you can get everything done you need to get done. It's an ongoing, continual process. The garden is always in flux. The animals always have needs. Food needs to be put by. Things need to be repaired. It's the nature of the beast.
Just count on the fact that if you want to garden, raise animals, make plant medicine, cook from scratch, sew your own clothes, whatever it is, your time will be impacted. There's no way out of it.
We all make choices, and there's always a trade off. Want to spend three hours at the new Star Wars movie? Or do you want to get that fence repaired? I'm not saying that homesteaders never have fun---just that our choices are created by the lives we want to live. I'm also not saying that homesteaders don't ever go see movies, but it's probably not the first choice when there is so much to be done.
Luckily, we love what we do out here. So, it's not a hardship for us not to go see a movie. Our work is our fun.
5) Death Happens---Sometimes in Horrific Ways
You can't escape death. Everything dies at some point. The problem is that sometimes death happens unexpectedly. And sometimes it's even your fault. (Part of that learning curve again.)
Animals get sick...and sometimes they die. Or, you might build something wrong, and an accident happens. Chickens might drown in the duck pond (Ahem--yes, we lost five Rhode Island Reds---just that particular breed---when they saw the ducks swimming in the little pond and decided they were going to try it out too. I continue to wonder what that says about Rhode Island Reds.)
Just this morning, I watched one of our hens kill a little mouse. I like mice. I don't want them in the house or the chicken coop---but I don't like to see them die either.
So---plan on seeing death if you want to homestead.
6) You Gotta Watch the 'Hood--Not Everyone Appreciates Homesteading
"They have a LOT of animals," we've heard people whispering about us with leeriness.
Or, one neighbor called another neighbor, "Hey, I think a wild horse got caught in their yard."
"No, that's their new horse. And they're getting one more."
And the conflicts begin. (Now, why someone would move to horse property when they don't want to deal with horses is beyond me.)
We try really, REALLY hard to make our neighbors happy. We can't stop the ducks from quacking at four a.m., or the goats from bleating ballistically when they want something NOW, but we can control the flies. We can keep the poop picked up. We can make things as nice as possible.
And we do.
7) It's DIRTY (Poop Anyone?)
And while we're discussing poop.....There's a LOT of poop if you have animals. Chicken poop, duck poop, turkey poop, horse poop, and goat poop....not to mention the usual dog and cat poop.
Poop ends up on your shoes. Poop ends up tracked into the house. Poop is part of life.
We just try our best to keep it clean---
8) Leaving is Practically Impossible
We haven't been out of town on a vacation in over five years. That's right. Mr. V. and I have not stayed over night together, anywhere, in all that time. Any trip we've taken out of town has been a quick up and back.
Even our recent antelope hunt occurred in a one day period of time.
Animals need you! The garden needs you! (Well, it's really about the animals.)
I know we can ask people to take care of them, but I am a worrier, and I know that nobody is going to take care of our animals like we will. That's a fact.
This is something I'm going to have to figure out fast, because we are planning on moving. And to move, we have to find a place. And to find a place, you have to go search and look. And to do that, you have to leave. Gulp.
9) It's One Big Experiment
Homesteading is an experiment. It's an exercise in constant problem solving. You try one thing, it doesn't work. Then you try another. Homesteaders tend not to quit. If there is a problem, they just keep trying things until something works.
I like to say: It's science in action.
10) It's Worth It! Every Single Cent. Every Single Second.
We would not trade this life of learning self-sufficiency, to grow our own food, to make our own things, to work things out, the constant busy-ness----not for anything. As we've edged into this homesteading lifestyle, one thing has become glaringly apparent: we love this lifestyle.
We are currently planning to go more "hard-core," and trade our little homestead in for one with a bit more land to do even more with!
Final Thoughts on Being a Homesteader
We love our life right now. It's awesome. We love our animals. We love our garden. We love the gifts this life constantly provides for us. We love the experiences we've had on our little property, and we are dreaming of more land to do even more with.
If you are dreaming of one day becoming a homesteader, well, then perhaps you already are one! Start doing the things you can do right now, with what you have! Then as you progress, you'll have a background of skills already in place.
That's what we did--without even knowing it!
Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance,
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