Homesteading, the very term evokes a picturesque landscaping with plenty of animals and green countryside. Many are fleeing the city in pursuit of happiness. In search of that idyllic dream where they can enjoy the country life with minimal effort. But, is homesteading easy? Or does it require a lot of hard work and dedication?
Many who are fleeing the city are seeking a more self-sufficient lifestyle where they have less work and a more simple life. Unfortunately, for many of these folks, they have no idea what they are getting themselves into.
It’s important to understand that homesteading is a way of life. It’s a life of self-sufficiency and self-sacrifice. If you want it badly enough, you’re more than willing to make the sacrifices that it might take to become more self-sufficient.
During the great depression many homesteaders took in borders and took on others who were less fortunate. These folks often made homesteading look easy, however, the reason it looked so easy is that many hands made for light work.
Homesteading takes a lot of hard work and dedication. If a person is determined enough, they can make a good life homesteading. It’s not something that will be stepped into successfully for the first time. It’s going to take due diligence and hard work to be a successful homesteader.
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So, Is Homesteading Easy?
It all depends on how you look at it. If you’re seeking a more self-sufficient lifestyle and willing to put in the work, then homesteading is easy. If you don’t want a challenge, then you may find homesteading to be very difficult. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
What Exactly Is Homesteading?
The definition of homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. Whether you’re living on 200 acres, or you have half an acre, you’re sure to have your own opinion of what homesteading truly is. Ask any homesteader if homesteading is easy, and you’re sure to get an interesting answer.
Many homesteaders set out to be more self-sufficient, still others have set out to run their own home business and live off the land. Regardless of who you ask, the question, “Is Homesteading Easy?”, will have a variety of answers.
Before you can ask the question, you’ll want to know what homesteading is to you. You’ll need to take the time to give homesteading, in your vocabulary, it’s own personalized definition.
Do you dream of a lifestyle where you don’t have to run to the store frequently to feed your family? Do you dream of a job that helps to support others as well as your own family?
The truth is that homesteading can be as easy or as complicated as you choose to make it. Even if you live in an apartment you can homestead. That being said, homesteading is a choice, a way of life.
If you choose to look at it as easy, then it’s easy. However, if you choose to view homesteading as difficult or challenging, then it’s going to be just that, difficult and challenging.
To keep homesteading easy, you’ll want to take your time making decisions regarding where to build your homestead. Remember to think long and hard and don’t fall in love with just one location, you’re going to have to determine how much work you’re willing to put into a property before you embark on your homesteading journey.
If you’re seeking an easy homestead, you may wish to choose one that is already built and established and make improvements over starting from scratch and building your own.
The more that you have to do to get your homestead up and running, the more challenging it is going to be and the less easy homesteading is going to be for you.
Let Go Of Preconceived Notions
Always start small. It’s easy to get caught up in the picturesque homesteads that you see in the movies or out on the country roads. Remember, these fancier homesteads took years of hard work to develop and maintain and you’re going to want to start small and build from there.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will you build a homestead in a day. If you have a preconceived notion of a grandiose homestead put that on your wish list and start a notebook with pictures of your goals.
You can work your way up, but remember that you’ll have to start at the bottom and work long hard hours to achieve such grandiose goals.
If you want a garden, start small with about five varieties of produce. Get those going well and the following year you can add in a few more varieties. Consider a small sized garden plot that you can expand slowly but surely each and every year.
You’ll be amazed at how much work your smaller sized garden actually takes, but once you get going on it and have a well established garden it’s going to get easier each and every year.
You can also take advantage of many tips and tricks from those who go before you. Don’t hesitate to ask other homesteaders what their tips and tricks are. You’ll be amazed at some of the shortcuts that they use to accomplish a gorgeous looking homestead with less effort.
Don’t Go It Alone
If you’re new to homesteading, find a mentor. Your mentor is an excellent advisor that has been homesteading far longer than you have. Ask questions, keep asking questions until you fully understand.
There are many great mentors to be had. In our local area we often go to the Mennonites, Amish, and Hutterites as mentors for homesteading. Their culture lives off the land and have a great grasp of gardening and farming.
These small religious groups live off the land and are excellent at raising gardens and baking baked goods. They’re also often quite skilled at tending to and raising farm animals.
Establishing a relationship with other homesteaders isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Many are more than happy to share a wealth of knowledge with you and give you some tips and tricks.
Always be respectful and willing to put in the effort or work alongside of them and you can gain a wealth of information that will help you to improve your homestead dramatically.
Once you’ve got a good mentor relationship going, you’ll find that homesteading is indeed easy. Until that point, you’re going to be doing a lot of trial and error.
Don’t give up if you keep running into challenges. This is how you’ll learn and gain knowledge. Don’t consider anything a failure, it’s just an opportunity to learn new skills in homesteading.
Ask any homesteader what their biggest challenge was and you’ll hear the word “setbacks”. If you don’t plan for a setback, you’re likely not prepared. Always have a contingency plan.
Plan for what you’re going to do if a crop fails. Crop failure may mean less income so don’t put all of your eggs into one basket. Always have several streams of income on your homestead. If you have eggs, sell eggs, sell layer hens or chicks as well.
If you have a cow for milk, you can sell milk, butter, cream or even make your own cheeses to sell. Make some goats milk soap or goat cheese as well. It’s not that difficult to branch out in and around the homestead just be willing to think outside of the box.
What will you do if all of your animals are sick at one time? You’ll need to have a vet on hand to help you through this and you’ll always need to understand how to prevent illnesses. Learn the right procedures for caring for the young and keeping their quarters clean to help prevent illnesses.
Plan for predators. They can show up when least expected. How will you deal with them? How will you prevent them from harming your farm animals, pets, and family?
What predators are common in the area where you have your homestead? Ask your mentor and other homesteaders in and around the area what predators are common around your area so that you can be prepared.
The Circle Of Life
Homesteading sounds so much fun but you need to understand that there are important things to consider. One of these important things is the circle of life.
This may be as simple as hatching an egg, gathering eggs from the chicken that hatched to butchering that chicken in a few years. The circle of life happens on every homestead and sometimes, it’s not as expected as other times.
When the coyote gets into the hen house, when the raccoon eats all the eggs and the chickens, when the cougar attacks the sheep, all of these predators may have a huge impact on your homestead and on the circle of life.
Be prepared to deal with the circle of life. Remember that sometimes, it’s not pretty. It can sometimes be very gory and devastating.
Prepare yourself and the children for the circle of life before it happens to ensure that they fully understand and to prevent yourself from having to deal with it during a crisis.
The Eye of The Beholder
Whether or not homesteading is easy is really in the eye of the beholder. Some people just naturally make things look easy on the homestead. Still others struggle to make everything work together. The trick here is to start small and be very successful and then slowly work your way up.
What works well for one homesteader may not work at all for another. Just as everyone is different, so are homesteads. No two homesteads are alike. Plan a focus and stick to it and most likely it will be easier than if you’re trying to do everything all on your own and all at once.
Many people feel like they can do it all. Others feel like they have a brown thumb and everything that they touch will disintegrate beneath their fingertips.
If you can take the time to learn the right skills, homesteading is going to look easier to you and for you than if you don’t understand the skills.
Learn to make things from scratch and focus on one or two tasks at a time to avoid burnout and to avoid doing so much at once that you’re not actually accomplishing anything at all. It’s okay to buy plant starts in lieu of waiting for seeds to germinate.
It’s okay to have help building that barn or the fence (just be sure to reciprocate to your neighbors).
None of these things make you any less of a homesteader. In fact, they may make you smarter and make it appear that homesteading really is easy.
When it comes to homesteading, you’re going to have your own personalized view of your homesteading lifestyle. Keeping homesteading easy is as simple as taking a few shortcuts.
Whether you choose to wash your laundry by hand, or use a washing machine is all up to you. It’s your homestead, your lifestyle, and your choice.
There are many great shortcuts for homesteading. Here are a few to get you started:
- Barter with other homesteaders,
- Buy from the local butcher,
- Buy from local Farmer’s Markets,
- Purchase plants from the local greenhouse in lieu of starting your garden from seeds,
- Shop sales and stock up on what you do use so you don’t have to go shopping so often,
- Have “semi-homemade” meals by purchasing homemade noodles instead of making them yourself.
There are a myriad of ways to make homesteading easy. Grandma had all kinds of tricks and tips she used to keep things running smoothly or at least to make them appear to run smoothly.
Always remember that what works well for one homesteader, may not work at all for another. True homesteading may take some trial and error before you fall into a rhythm.
If it works for you, then don’t worry about changing it. If you feel that something isn’t working, then by all means change things up and find a new way of doing it until you’re able to make it work.
To keep homesteading easy, don’t compare your homestead to another homestead. Each homestead is unique in its own special way. When you feel that you’re struggling, take a step back and re evaluate what you’re doing.
Is there an easier way to do it? Is there a shortcut that you might be missing? Is there something that you can let go of for now and accomplish at a later date after something else has been accomplished?