Like any lifestyle choice you can make, there are pros and cons to choosing the homesteading lifestyle. For a while, my husband and I felt that there were more cons than pros because of the mistakes we were making – and sometimes, didn’t even realize it!
Now, I’m all for making mistakes. You can’t succeed without failure, and you can’t grow (as a person, I mean, not food 😉 ) unless you make some mistakes that you can learn from. But when it comes to how to homestead, there are a few biggies that are best avoided.
And you can avoid them, because we made them and I’m going to tell you what they are and how not to make them.
You’re welcome. 😉
Mistake #1: Be in a hurry.
I was determined that we were going to be growing most of our own fruits and vegetables as soon as possible. Therefore, we spent hundreds of dollars on fruit trees, vines and bushes just before and just after moving to our property…only to eventually dig up (or let die) at least half of them.
I had to have a huge garden the first year, which resulted in shoddy planning for which I’m going to pay for the rest of my life (some things are just too big of a pain to change). For example, I had my husband build structures that I ended up not using, and the space between beds isn’t big enough in certain areas.
If I could go back and do it again, I would have built one raised bed at a time the lasagna gardening way, and waited until our second spring there to actually start growing anything. I would have made sure I had plenty of space for cucumbers to crawl and tomatoes to sprawl…without them growing into each other.
I would have talked to an extension agent and found out the risk of disease for the fruit I wanted to grow. Because we have such high humidity, black rot affects many fruits. Knowing that, I would have either committed to spraying with a fungicide from the get-go, or chosen not to purchase certain things because of finding out that they would probably get disease every year.
If you’re just starting out on your homesteading journey, you might be like me, chomping at the bit to have everything up and running yesterday. Take my advice: take it easy, and take it slow. The beginning of your homesteading life will be a lot less stressful.
And you have the rest of your life to get everything going the way you envision.
Mistake #2: Constructing before you’re sure.
When we moved here, we weren’t vegan. We were going have bees and chickens, maybe even a couple of goats down the line.
So my husband spent hours – and a lot of sweat – building top-bar beehives. When he finished, we found out that there was no place around to buy bees!
It worked out, as we were able to sell the unused hives for a good price on craigslist, and we went vegan around the same time.
But what if we had built a chicken coop? A shelter for goats? Sure, those things are relatively small, but you can make this mistake on a much larger scale, having a house built too big or too small or not of the most sustainable materials or whatever, all because you didn’t do enough research and/or give yourself time to settle in and get a feel for what you really needed as a homesteader.
If I could go back and do it again, I would have called around about getting bees in our area ahead of time. Better, I would have purposely searched for online articles that talk about the problems that accompany beekeeping.
I also would have done more digging as to whether eggs truly are a healthy food.
Mistake #3: Fight against nature.
Though less practical and more philosophical in nature than the other two mistakes, this mistake has been the most heart-wrenching one.
Black rot on grapes (and blackberries and blueberries and…). Black beetles eating up my tomatoes every August. Cucumber beetles on everything by September.
Not enough rain. Too much rain.
If you want to learn how to homestead with as little stress as possible, don’t let nature anger or frustrate you. Every year, some crop or other won’t do as well as usual. Every year, a storm will rip part of your garden to shreds (or try its best to do so!).
The weather will never be perfect. A few pests will sometimes turn into army invasions.
Accept these unexpected turns of nature. You can’t control them. Accept them, embrace them, and plan for them.
Grow more than you need. Be grateful for the grocery store, instead of angry that you have to go inside one.
If I had to do it over, I wouldn’t have wasted so much energy complaining about the weather and getting angry at beetles.
I wouldn’t have fought against nature.
The homesteading lifestyle, like life in general, has its ups and downs. Avoid these three mistakes when you start out on your journey in learning how to homestead, and you’ll be a lot happier for it.