There’s something very appealing to the human spirit when it comes to homesteading. Growing your own food, practicing a self-sufficient lifestyle, maybe even living off the grid – at some point in our lives we all long to reconnect to our agrarian roots. It’s no wonder homesteading has been gaining more attention recently.
I decided to write on this topic because for the last four or five years I have been hearing folks talking about getting off the grid, getting a homestead, or moving to a farm. While I heartily endorse the do-it-yourself lifestyle, I hesitate to recommend big moves to big properties unless you and your family are properly prepared. This may seem harsh, but I have seen friends running farms tell me that their deep desire to be homesteaders and farmers died out after a year or two. They found that they just didn’t like it. This is after investing in a mortgage, a move, and everything to keep them going for a few years.
The reality is, homesteading is hard work. The better you prepare for it the less work you will need to do up front. Let’s take a look at few steps to take to make things a little better:
- Have a plan of what you want to produce on the homestead. While the homestead dream is a great one, it is difficult to manage a large property without a firm idea of what you are going to do with it.
- Study the how-tos of what you plan on producing on the homestead. If you don't have a plan, research is the only way to start setting one up. Research can include talking to successful farmers, getting books on farming, or even looking at prices for farm produce. This research never ends, you should be doing it up to the day you die.
- Start small. If you are already in a house with yard space and you have not maxed out your production area, you are most likely not ready to take on more.
- If you are in an apartment or even if you have tilled up your lawn already, it would still be wise to find an intermediate sized property that you can rent for a few years to make sure you have the skills to make the final jump to your own place. If you are in an old, dense urban area you may not have any farmland close enough to rent, but many suburbs and even newer urban areas have small farms still intact and many of them are under used.
- Before you buy the property, have an out plan. I know this sounds defeatist, but none of us can foresee the future. In the last six months I have had one of my homesteading friends fall out of a tree and break her hip and a second have to get pins in her back. These were unplanned for events, and while they may not require my friends to leave their farms, they easily could have been worse and absolutely required it.
I have also had question after question on basic farming and gardening practices on social media from acreage owners about how to do things that should be simple tasks, questions that should have been asked and answered before even looking at a farm.
So don’t get discouraged or give up the dream, just make sure you are prepared ahead of time so you can make the dream come true in the best way you can!