Tips for Starting a Homestead

Choosing the unfamiliar can be quite intimidating at first but with careful planning, it can also lead to the greatest moments in life. If you’ve ever thought about moving away from the noise of the modern world to start your own homestead, then I’m sure you’ve experienced this intimidation first-hand.

Relocating to unfamiliar territory shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s important that you set goals and reconsider your life a few months from now before taking this giant leap into the unknown. With that in mind, here are some essential tips for starting a homestead that you should follow.

 

#1: Understand What You’re Getting Into

Do not set unrealistic expectations. If the idea in your mind seems too good to be true, then it probably is and you will quickly be met with harsh reality. Most of the time, the property you buy won’t be ready for homesteading. It will be overgrown, messy, and requires a lot of work to get it ready.

Be prepared to put in the work to get the property ready for homesteading, but the experience itself is one of the most rewarding ever. If you have properly planned ahead, you’ll find yourself staring in amazement and have a wholehearted experience.

#2: Be Willing to Study and Learn

One of the big shocks that comes with starting a homestead is the amount of learning required. It’s never-ending. Of course, most expect they will have to study gardening and how to raise animals. But these are much more in-depth topics than most people realize.

For instance, growing beets is different depending on the climate and soil. You’ll find yourself researching similar topics for everything you do just to be sure you’re following the proper process for your specific area. Therefore, you must be willing to study every new venture you take on.

#3: You’ll Probably Need a Diary Cow

This is a big commitment that you must take on if you want to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. The substantial upfront cost isn’t the only factor. You’ll need to ensure that the cow is taken care of. The first step is understanding how it works.

Naturally, the cow gives birth to calves and lactates in order to feed them. This period usually lasts 10 months but you must take steps to ensure the cow doesn’t stop. She requires daily milking or she will stop making milk. You must ensure that this cycle remains consistent too.

Another part of the expense is the equipment needed to milk the cow. In many cases, it can be done manually (the old-fashioned way), but you may consider buying a milking machine to save time and get better results.

Additionally, you’ll have to determine what to do with each calf as they are born. You can either raise it for meat or sell it. Most homesteaders will keep these calves to supply meat for their families.

#4: Become Best Friends with Growing Seasons

Crops have specific seasons when they must be planted and harvested so you’ll have to plan around these seasons. Furthermore, this can change depending on where you live. Crop windows might be shorter or longer depending on where it’s being grown.

Here are a few tips that will help you get a feel for what’s in season.

  • Shop at farmer’s markets and take note of what’s in season. This will give you a great feel for when to plant and harvest specific crops.
  • Understand that you probably won’t be able to grow all of your food. It’s okay to shop for foods that you don’t plan to grow yourself.
  • Try to always have something growing when possible. Don’t waste precious growing seasons with empty fields.

#5: Start Small and Slowly Grow your Homestead

Don’t try doing everything the moment you move into your new property. Take small steps to slowly develop a routine. You probably won’t be growing crops in all of your fields right away. That’s too stressful and due to your likely lack of knowledge, it would probably end in disaster and waste resources.

Remember that studying how to do certain things is just as important of a step as actually doing it. Shop at local farmer’s markets and document what’s in season. Just keep in mind that foods you find at a market show the harvest season. The planting season will be different. So do some additional research.

Plant a few small gardens with different crops. Stay at a size that you can maintain with just 15-20 minutes of work a day. Then after each harvest, increase the size.

The first few months will likely involve readying the property, learning the basics of homesteading, and developing routines.

#6: Plan for Roadblocks

Problems come up and you may eventually find yourself facing down large problems. Unexpected cold fronts, bad weather, financial woes, pest problems – you name it and it will probably happen at some point. Plan for these eventualities as best you can. Do you have enough money saved for hard times? What will you do if an unexpected cold front comes through your area? What is your plan for pest problems?

Have this documented somewhere so that when a problem arises, you can simply pull out your plan and follow through with it.

 

Enjoy your New Lifestyle

Never forget the reason why you started a homestead in the first place! This will motivate you through difficult times. With a little planning, the benefits far outweigh any issues that come up.

 

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