So you’re finally on a homestead. You’re excited and overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. Setting homesteading goals is important, have you taken the time to set goals for your homestead? If you’re not setting goals, you’re likely wasting a lot of time and money. The first step to owning a homestead is determining your budget and location.
Once you’ve determined that, you’ll want to spend some time determining exactly what your goals for your homestead are. Homesteading goals are as individualized as their owners.
Many homesteaders find that they have goals, but while planning and dreaming about your homestead are great, your goals aren’t going to be achieved if you don’t act on them. You’ll have to take the time to sit down and write them out.
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Tough Questions to Ask Yourself
If you’re not sure what your homesteading goals are, it’s time to sit down with all of the members of your homestead and determine exactly what your goals are. Here are a few important questions to ask yourselves to help determine the actual goals of your homestead:
Is your homestead going to be for money/profit, or for pleasure?
The answer to this question is huge. If you’re only going to have a homestead for pleasure, you won’t have to put quite as much effort into it as you would if you’re planning to turn a profit.
A hobby farm that is self-sufficient is ideal for a small sized family however, if you’re going to turn a profit you’ll want to plan it out accordingly. For a profit, you’ll want to establish your homestead with a more business minded plan (and always, if you’re planning on a profit, establish a solid business plan).
Are you seeking some downtime or are you planning on going all out and staying busy on your homestead? Will you start for pleasure and turn your homestead toward a profit at a later date?
All of these questions can help you to determine how large of a homestead you need to start with and what sorts of animals and garden space you’ll need for your goal.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t take a large plot of land to turn a profit but it does take determination. If you’re seeking to step out of the rat race of corporate life, keep in mind that you’ll enter an entirely new world when you homestead in that you’re still going to have tasks that must be accomplished in a timely fashion, you’re just exchanging a suit and tie/skirt for more comfortable clothing that can get dirty.
What are your goals/values in a homestead?
Now that you’ve determined whether or not you’re planning to enjoy your homestead for pleasure or profit, you’ll want to consider what your goals, values, and priorities are.
Keep in mind that as the family dynamics change (new baby or an older child leaving home etc.), that your goals, values, and priorities may also change.
You may suddenly have more or less time on your hands to work your homestead. You may have plenty of help with older children or you may lose your helpers as they grow up and leave home.
All of these factors are important to consider and vital to your final determination of what your ultimate goals are for your homestead.
Will you hire help? Or will you rely on family only? All of these questions should factor into your decisions and your goals/values for your homestead. Give each question some serious thought. Jot down ideas and goals and then sort through them so that you’ll have a good idea of what you do and don’t want.
How will you know when you’ve achieved your goals?
Do you have an idyllic picture in your mind of what your homestead is going to look like when you’ve achieved your goals? Take the time to sit down and list them out and prioritize them so that your dream can be realized.
Not all of your goals can be accomplished in one step. Many of your goals will take years to accomplish so be sure to break them down into easy steps so that you can cross those steps off of your list and see that you’re making progress.
Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and your homestead isn’t going to be complete in a day, if ever. Many homesteaders find that their homestead is ever evolving into their dreams. Sometimes, as they complete a step they will add a new step to the list and work that in as well.
It’s important to keep a running list of the projects that you want to do so that you can cross them off of your list and know what is on the horizon for your goals and dreams.
Making 1-Year, 3-Year, 5-Year, and a 10-Year Goals
First Year Goals
Breaking your list down to annual plans will go far in helping you to realize your goals and dreams. Don’t just break them down into steps, take the time to break them down into annual goals as well. The first year may be all about securing your shelters and planning out your garden.
Take the time to focus on securing things and making things that will last.
- Where the garden will go.
- Where the fruit trees should be planted.
- Where the berries will be planted.
- The location of animal shelters.
- What year will you begin planning to turn a profit?
Second Year Goals
Your second year may focus more on the garden and animals. By plotting things out annually you’re sure to get a better idea of how you’re doing overall and feel like you’ve achieved something. Talk to others who have homesteads if you’re not sure how to go about setting annual goals.
Start small and work your way up. It’s hard to focus on several different animals all at once. Why not first establish one set of animals and work that out and then add another kind. Maybe start with chickens and the next year add goats? It will help you to stay focused and not feel overwhelmed.
Third Year And Beyond Goals
Ask lots of questions and learn from those who have gone before you and you’re sure to have a better realization of what you’re looking for and how to achieve it.
For many homesteaders, this is the year that they start turning a profit. Set that as a third year goal so that you have a few years to establish and build up your garden and animal supply. Once you’ve got everything established it’s easy to “open for business” and turn a profit.
Plan to add to things slowly over the next several years. You may choose to expand the garden, add in more animals, create a road side fruit and vegetable stand. Add more fruit trees. Turn your orchard into a “U-Pick” orchard and do it that way. It’s all up to you. This is the year to set some goals and begin turning your profit.
Set a goal of $500 for the first profit turning year. If you exceed that, great! If you reach that, great! It’s a small goal and easily obtainable. Plan to add a few hundred to that goal annually and work your way up.
Common Goals by Category
Here are some common goals for homesteaders in the first few years to help get you started on making your list:
- Plot out your garden area.
- Build a compost bin.
- Plan out which plants you’re going to put into the ground.
- Grow some garlic! Garlic is about $8 in our area and you plant it in the fall for the next fall season. People love garlic and will flock to this crop when you begin turning a profit!
- Will you garden organically or will you be using chemicals?
- What is your budget for your garden?
- Will you have fruit trees and if so where do you plan to plant them? Fruit trees should be added early on as they will take a few years to mature.
- Will you have a berry patch (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.)? Berry patches should also be added early on so that they have time to establish. Most berries grow on the second year stalks or shoots so you’ll want to get those established as well.
Will you have a separate section of the garden as an herb garden (many homesteaders make this herb garden near the kitchen for ease of harvesting while cooking)?
Start small and work your way up each year. Don’t start with 30 some different plants, start with 5 or 10 and work your way up so that it’s not overwhelming.
- What kinds of animals will you buy for your new homestead?
- Will you need to build shelter for the animals?
- Will you need a corral?
- Have you listed out the materials you’ll require for a barn or chicken coop?
- Do you have a budget to stay within?
- Will you need to properly fence in fields to keep them from wandering out onto a road or the neighbors?
- How do you plan to feed the animals (will you grow feed or buy it?)?
- Where will you store your feed?
- Will you require a fenced yard for pets?
- Will you have ducks and a pond (If so, is there already a pond or do you need to build one?)?
Many homesteads are wood heat. Will you have a woodshed? If so you’ll need this list:
- Where will you locate your woodshed?
- How many cords of wood will you need for the upcoming winter months?
- Where will you get your wood (on your own homestead?)?
- Who is going to cut the wood?
- Do you have the proper tools for cutting the wood?
- Do you need a wood splitter?
Important Tips On Goal Setting
Your goals should be easy to attain. Start small, work your way up to larger goals. Break larger goals down into baby steps so that you still feel as if you’re accomplishing something. Go with the acronym S.M.A.R.T. to set your goals.
- S for specific. Are your goals specific? Do you have them clearly defined?
- M for measurable. Do you have a way to measure your goals? Are you raising over half of your food?
- A for attainable. Can you reach your goals? If you go step by step you should be able to achieve them.
- R for realistic. Are your goals realistic? Or are you taking too big of steps?
- T for timely. Can you reach your goals in a timely manner? Set goals for 1, 3, and 5 years.
Set specific goals that are measurable and attainable. Make sure that you can “measure” your goals. Again, this is done by laying out your goals in baby steps. Are your goals realistic? Can you complete them in a timely manner?
Once you focus on these questions and answers you may see that some of your goals need to be adjusted.
Break your goals down into weekly steps. If you want to have a herd of cattle for example, the first thing you may wish to do is ready the barn. Break that down into further steps and focus on stalls, securing the stalls, water source etc.
After that you may wish to have a well fenced in area where the cattle can get some outside time as well as barn time. By breaking the steps down you can focus on each weeks progress rather than worry about how you’re going to achieve your goals.
You may find that it’s easier to work backwards by focusing on each baby step until you reach the ultimate goal. That’s fine, many homesteaders do things this way. It helps break things down and make it easier.
Set up a binder. Take before and after pictures and include those in the binder. Divide the binder up into different sections (garden, animals, barn, house, etc.).
You may even wish to include a “dream” section in your binder where you place photos of gardens or barns that you would like to make yours into. Write down your dreams and then see how you can incorporate them into your goals.
Use your binder like a journal for your homestead. In this journal be sure to write down all of your goals. Keep everything and take a lot of pictures. When you begin to turn a profit, be sure to have a section where you list what you’re selling and how much you sold them for.
Your binder is also a great place to keep receipts and pricing (how much you paid for that shovel etc.) so that you can always take a peek at how much a specific item cost. This can help you to keep track of expenditures so that you don’t go over budget.
Also keep your budget in your binder. Update it monthly as you turn a profit and pay different bills related to your homestead.
Sit down on a weekly or monthly basis and reassess your goals. Do you need to change anything? Are you busier than anticipated this week or month so you may need to adjust some of your goals? By taking the time to reassess your goals you can help keep yourself on track.
Maybe you have unexpected company and that set you back a week or so. Perhaps you had to do a task like fence mending that you hadn’t anticipated. Whatever the reason, it’s okay to change your goals so that you can attain them.
Your goals are likely to change a lot in the beginning, and that’s okay. Don’t stress over the little things. Learn to roll with it and reassess your goals often. This will help you to keep your momentum going.
Name Your Goals
Give your goals a name. Perhaps you want a theme for your week, month or year. You may wish to achieve financial freedom and give that as an annual name and then break that down into weekly or monthly tasks. Whatever the route you go, give yourself the grace to expand and grow accordingly without pressure.
Sometimes the yearly theme won’t come to you until a little ways in and other times it changes halfway through. It’s nice though, to have a word or phrase that can keep you focused.
Of course homesteading is overwhelming. No one has ever set out to build a homestead and not been overwhelmed at some point in time. However, by breaking things down and taking them step by step you can focus on the end result that you’re dreaming of.
Life is going to happen and sometimes you can change something that is going on. The weather may be inclement when you planned to paint, the animals may get out as you’re getting ready to go to town and buy supplies.
You may have sudden unexpected company. A family member may pass on or be born. You can’t always control things so you’re going to have to learn to roll with the flow.
My homestead goals are to make my life more simple and become more self-reliant. I want to eat healthier and avoid chemicals and pesticides. I try to freeze, can, and dehydrate as much of my fresh produce as I can and slowly build up a food supply. If I am stuck at home for a week or so due to a blizzard I will have plenty to eat.
I’ll also have plenty of heat with a wood stove and a wood supply. The wood stove can double as a cook stove so I will have something to cook on as well.
By planning ahead I am always prepared. It takes a bit of time to plan out, but it’s one of my goals to always be prepared and focus on what may happen at a later date.
There are so many great possibilities when you start a homestead. You can go off grid and choose solar, you can choose to earn a profit or simply have your homestead for your own personal use.
I knew one family that ran their homestead and home schooled their kids. They allowed other home schoolers to come and tour the homestead, pet the small animals and experience life on a farm. The possibilities are endless.
As the different home schooling groups would visit they not only experienced life on a farm, they also were able to sample fresh foods and often went home with a home grown apple or cucumber depending on the season. It worked out well all of the way around.
Homesteading can be as large or small as you choose. Many homesteads are as little as half an acre. If you don’t have a large family and you’re not planning on a large family, half an acre may be plenty of room for you and your little family to homestead.
Remember, the larger the homestead, the more work required and the more money you’re going to have to spend on your homestead. Always keep this in mind to keep your goals in perspective.
Many people budget for several years before they embark on a homesteading journey. They plot out how large of a piece of property they will require and they save as much money as possible toward their down payment. This is a great way to start out nearly debt free.
What goals are you planning for your homestead? How are you planning to achieve them? Will your homestead earn you some money? Or is it simply a way of life that you wish to live so that you can live off of the land and simply provide for yourself and your family? Once you have the answers to these questions, you will have the answers to your goals.