Last week, I invited anyone who’d like to share to answer some questions from your own homestead experience. Thank you so much to those who chose to reply!
Here was the question that was posed:
Whether you are a seasoned expert or a beginner, what was your original vision/plan for your homestead (home, garden, animals, profession), and as it unfolded, what is it now?
- Is there a bit of key advice you’d offer to someone just starting out…things to do, things to avoid, what you’d have done differently?
- What would you never do again?
- If you garden, what ended up being your most reliable crops over time?
- If you keep animals, which ones did you start with, and which ones do you have now and why?
- What are your continuing goals and some things you’d still like to add to the plan, or do you like it As Is?
- Do you have to rely on an off-property job for income, or do you rely on income made from your homestead efforts?
From Hands at Home/Susan in NY (by the way, Susan do you have a link to your site you’d like me to include?):
What a great idea!
I would have to say that I envisioned way too much too soon. I moved to my small, 4 acre place three years ago and went wild, in a matter of speaking.
What I’ve learned is: Write out a plan, figure out the time and $ for each part of your plan – animals, garden, etc.
Start with your gardens first. This was my biggest mistake – I was so anxious to have chickens that I didn’t stop to consider what was involved: building a coop/housing, fixing up a run, raising them to egg-laying age. By the time I got them settled, it was too late to put in a garden, and my place is all rocks and briars.
Did I learn right away? Nooooo. I then bought some sheep on a payment plan, then the plan, as all plans do, went to pot. I ended up having to rush around and put up fencing, having to use cattle panels that were very expensive. I could go on, but I won’t…I don’t want you to know how dumb I am, LOL.
My vision of a large, fenced in garden of raised beds is still that – a vision. I’ve managed to start a fairly nice herb garden and have reconciled my vegetable garden to containers.
What I didn’t realize when I started is how important having a plan is. It would have saved me a lot of money and backaches. Oh, and I am doing all my homesteading by myself as a ‘woman of a certain age”, In spite of everything, I love how I live now.
My sweet friend Christina from the CoffeeCoffeeCoffee website wrote:
We are still young in our original vision. We are slowly working toward be a self sustainable homestead. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Best advice. Have a dream. Break it up into doable bits. Add something each season or year. Eventually, you will get there.
I really don’t know what I would do different, except start younger! We started slowly. Gardening… expanding the garden…. adding chickens…most recently adding bees.
What would I never do again?
There really is not a never do… I always learn.
Most reliable crops over time? Garlic, strawberries, okra, and asparagus.
Animals I started with, which ones do you have now and why:
Dogs.. then chickens…now bees… on the list are pigs and cows.
Some continuing goals and some things I’d still like to add to the plan:
We currently rent. We are looking to buy soon. We want to pasture the chickens. We want to have a dairy and milk cow. and a pig. We would like to expand the garden to be able to grow enough to store for the winter. And to possibly open a little restaurant with home grown organic foods.
Work and Income: At this point I work full time outside the home. My sweetie is a stay at home hubby and takes care of our little homestead. Our dream is to make our lifestyle pay our upkeep.
Thank you, Susan and Christina, for dropping me a line with your thoughtful answers! Anyone else who’d like to offer a personal perspective can feel free to leave it in comments here, and I’ll go back and post it in the list of answers.
Here’s EJ’s comment from last week:
If you keep animals, which ones did you start with, and which ones do you have now and why?
We started with chickens which we still keep for meat, eggs, manure
We added sheep (meat, manure, weed eaters), then muscovy ducks (meat, forage clean up, pest control), then a llama (predator deterrent). We are happy with the number of animals, breeds etc.
All the animals have been added after careful consideration – but unfortunately not always after infrastructure was in place. Not a great situation but we’ve been lucky.
Disasters- none really. Bad year for lambing, but usually we do fine. Disasters usually come from no/bad planning, lack of money or time to do things right, overoptimism, greed. To avoid disasters talk to people who are doing what you want in your area, read a lot, join any groups working with things you are interested in. Ask lots of questions & start small.
I love learning from your answers! There were some great suggestions last week for further reader feedback. I’ll take them in the order posted in comments.
Here’s the question for next week!
I’d like to hear different folks’ approaches to clean drinking water. Filters? Hand pumps? Windmills? Rely on city water? Distillation? how are you pumping it, if applicable?
Answers can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in next week’s post.
Hope you’re enjoying sunny days in your corner of the world as summer approaches!