So, you’ve found the perfect piece of property and are raring to build your homestead! You have plans and goals and timelines. You need cows and sheep and fencing, a chainsaw, an irrigation system, and a new pair of boots.
Wait! Stop! Take a deep breath and come down from cloud nine for just a minute.
If you ask anyone who has ever started a farm or a homestead what to do and what not to do, you’ll probably hear the same answers. Most folks say you should live on your property for all four seasons before doing anything. That’s logical and smart, but oh so hard to do. So, how much exactly can we do when we’re just starting?
Let’s start with the DON’Ts.
DON’T build anything permanent.
The more excited and impatient you are, the more likely you are to spend a lot of time and money building permanent structures, only to have to move them later. That thought of living on your property for a whole year before building anything will save you a lot of time and stress later on. This doesn’t mean you can’t put up a lean-to or temporary fencing or plant a few tomato plants, just don’t do anything major and permanent until you’re sure that’s where it will stay.
DON’T buy any animals!
Darn. I know, that sucks. But while building your infrastructure and getting things just the way you want them, animals are just going to take up your time. If you already have animals, I’m not saying to get rid of them, just don’t buy any more right now, and maybe downsizing for a small time isn’t such a bad idea.
DON’T try to do everything at once.
Slow down, young grasshopper. One thing at a time. Choose your projects wisely as time and money permit. We’ve all seen vacant farmhouses and falling-down barns. These places began with great dreams also, but at some point, they turned into foreclosures or abandonment. Build slowly.
And the last DON’T – DON’T get discouraged.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will take a long, long time for you to get everything the way you want it. That’s okay. We all start somewhere and it’s going to take however long it’s going to take. It’s not a race.
Now for the DOs!
DO evaluate and repair the infrastructure you already have.
When you get the permanent structures and the animals, you won’t have time to clear the back 40 or fix the barn roof, so go ahead and do those things now while you still have the time.
DO start an emergency fund if you don’t already have one.
A new well could run $10k. A new septic system is anywhere from $5k to $20k. You never know what unplanned expenses you will face, so start putting some money aside. It would be devastating to not be able to build the greenhouse you planned just because your hot-water tank decided to explode.
DO get out on your property every day – morning, evening, even in rainstorms.
Check the sun, the shade, the wet areas. Take notes. What wild plants do you have, what kind of trees, what animals? The more time you spend on your land, the more knowledgeable you will be when it comes time to put up fencing, put in gardens, put up a barn.
And finally, DO enjoy the process even if it’s slower than you’d like.
Take time each day to look around you and appreciate the simple joys of your property. Pick the berries, smell the flowers, visit the local attractions, admire the sunsets. Be glad you’re finally living your dream and allow that joy to penetrate deep inside your soul!
Everything else will come in time.