On a homestead, there are so many things to do, one can easily get lost in the weeds. Imagine how you want your life to look when it’s all done! Now, let’s create a roadmap to get there. Long-term goals are easy to create, but they are “long-term” so they require two things – time and patience. That’s the hard part. How do you give them time and be patient but not lose track of getting them done? Read on!
Here’s the key – You Must Work Backwards! Make a list, prioritize your list, research your items, make a budget. That’s it!
- MAKE A LIST. What do you want your perfect homestead to look like? Be specific.
- How much land?
- What kind of home?
- What kind of community/neighbors?
- What kinds of animals and how many of each?
- How many hours a day would you like to spend on farm and off farm (maybe for a job)?
- What kind of money do you need coming in to be comfortable?
- How big a garden and what crops?
- How would you like to store your food – freezers/pantry/root cellar?
- Would you like to sell products? What products? On-farm like having your own farm store, or off-farm like at a farmer’s market or directly to a restaurant or gift shop?
- How many hours a day marketing/social media?
- How many hours a day tending crops/orchard/vineyard?
- How many hours a day tending animals?
- How big a barn/tractor/pond/house/coop/fenced paddock?
- PRIORITIZE YOUR LIST. Now that you have that BIG picture in your mind, let’s number those items in terms of importance: 1 being “I want/need this RIGHT NOW”, 2 “We’ll do this very soon”, 3 “We’ll do this in a few years once we’re up and running”, 4 “We definitely want this, but it needs to wait”, 5 “This is a good dream, but it may or may not ever happen.”
(Keep in mind, your goals and dreams will change as you work them, so you need to repeat this exercise at least annually. Try to do it at the end of the year when planning for next year. You will add items, remove items, and re-prioritize items regularly. Some Number 2 items will quickly move up to Number 1 to replace items that have gotten completed. Some Number 5 items will remain in that category for years.)
Now that the most important items on your list have been numbered 1, let’s figure out how to make those happen ASAP! Take all of your Number 1s and put them in order from most urgent to least urgent and start working on the first item. Let’s say your most urgent Number 1 goal is to plant an orchard. What do you need to do to plant an orchard?
- RESEARCH. First, we need to research what trees grow well in your planting zone climate. Where will you place your orchard? How big of a space do you have to plant? What fruit does your family eat? What fruits can you sell? If you like apple trees, how much room does your favorite apple tree need? Do you have room for two trees or room for thirty trees? If you don’t eat or sell your fruit right away, how will you process/dry/freeze/can your harvest? Where can you get trees? Do you have critters who would eat your trees? Does your orchard need to be fenced? Temporary fence or permanent fence? What about fertilizers and pests and bugs? Organic or not? Don’t get overwhelmed at the questions, just answer them one at a time. Make a new list of everything you know and don’t know about planting and maintaining an orchard and start googling. You’ll find trees that are bought from a nursery in the winter are bare-root and dormant when shipped to you. They are NOT dead, just sleeping. You’ll need to plant those as soon as the ground can be worked when it’s still cold outside. If you don’t want to wait until January or February, you can purchase trees in the spring that already have leaves. Plan around your calendar.
- MAKE A BUDGET. You’ll find your homestead orchard may cost up to $1,000.00 or more, depending on the size. If you don’t have that much money sitting around, look at your budget and decide how much you can put away every month until you can order your trees. Or perhaps you could purchase only one or two trees at a time over many years to fill your orchard. It may take a few months or a few years to complete your dream of having an orchard, whether purchasing a couple trees at a time or an entire orchard at once, but you’ll never get there if you don’t start working your goal now.
Once you have a plan to complete your most urgent Number 1 item, look through the rest of your Number 1s and research each item. If something is a super large goal, it may take a couple years of working on it. If you realize you can’t complete a goal until something else happens first, you may need to re-prioritize it until later in the year or next year or five years from now. That’s okay. It’s not a race!!
Keep your list handy and add or delete items as needed. Give the new items a priority rating and work each item as above. Eventually, you’ll have everything you want!! It all starts with a list!