In planning, preparing for, and starting our homestead, we’ve devoured everything we could possibly absorb about the lifestyle. Every book, every blog, every website. We’ve found some great words of wisdom out there, but there are a few tidbits that stick out.
First, I read in Joel Salatin’s book, “Your Successful Farm Business,” that fifty-somethings should never, ever start a homestead. Frankly, those words pissed me off. He said older people have worked their whole lives to get where they are. They have money, a 401k, a savings account. They are used to having an income and they’re counting on more money coming in. They will be the homesteaders who spend big bucks on fancy tractors and expensive toys, and spending money like that will tap them out in no time flat.
Even though his comment bugged me, I have kept it in the back of my mind and can see now, first hand, what he meant. It would be easy to dump a boat-load of money into a new barn roof, and have ten acres of beautiful fencing professionally installed, and spend thousands of dollars on raised beds, fancy irrigation systems, and rare animals. Slow, young grasshopper, go slow. Act as if you’re one of the twenty-somethings who have no money, no nest egg, the ones who scrimp and scrape to make things work. Think outside of the box and find cheap/free ways to do things.
Second, I heard that whatever you plan to do, it will take twice as long as you think.
Yep, no truer statement was ever uttered. It doesn’t help that the house we purchased, though beautiful, needs a lot of work, so everything we want to do outside has been postponed for months. First, we have to deal with paint, fleas, cat urine smells, mice, snakes, ticks, pulling up carpet, replacing floor sections, and cleaning out the barn and the garage. You have to see the humor in the fact that we were told there were “a few things left in the garage.” Yeah. Two car garage, side-to-side, front-to-back, full. The barn looks the same, except with more flat-out trash. This is going to take a while. Maybe there’s enough wood buried in there to build a fence.
“a few things”
Third and most important is the advice that’s the hardest to actually do.
Enjoy every moment and don’t forget to take a day off.
When you want it all, and you want it now, it’s hard to enjoy the process and not be overwhelmed. Overwhelmed is a real thing. Farmer-husband and I have had to talk each other down from the ledge quite a few times during our first week on the farm. There’s so much to do, it’s hard to take that down-time, but it’s necessary. Pizza and a movie are in our near future! (as soon as we get this rat snake out of the chicken run…and finish painting the office…and give the pups another flea bath…)
If you’re interested in the process of starting your own homestead, start by reading some tried and true authors. I suggest anything by Joel Salatin.