Today as I was thinking about how my day went, I started surfing the internet. I was looking for new projects for my homestead. The truth is I already have a list of projects that I am working on right now. I really don’t need any new projects. So what was I looking for? Well that is an interesting and thought provoking question. You see the answer is that I get a lot of intrinsic rewards when I work on my homestead. There is a peaceful feeling when I walk around and take car of my animals and the garden. Being around living things brings a peace that is very difficult to duplicate.
This is why we find so much peace when we are camping or hiking (assuming we aren’t being attacked by insects). This is why the sound of the river or the ocean calms us. Mother Nature has a magic that brings peace.
So back to my question, what was I really looking for when I was surfing the internet. I was actually looking to expand my peace. The thing is there are so many amazing ideas and projects out there that are quite incredible. The internet has made it possible for us to have dozens of mentors who can teach us with a few clicks. We can watch videos, read blogs or just surf through pictures full of information that we can apply or sometimes just dream about. But dreaming is productive. It helps us.
On our homestead we have decided that there is value in raising new animals. We learn about them and through them. For this reason we periodically add new animals to our homestead. This also allows our children to learn about animals that they otherwise would have limited knowledge about.
Adding new animals to our homestead gives all of us an opportunity to learn to love more of God’s creations.
But we don’t stop there, we also experiment with new plants and new skills. Its fun to build new things even when we are good at it. Its so cool to step back and say wow we did it.
There are so many intrinsic rewards that come from homesteading. When I was surfing the internet I was reading about new plants, new animals, new projects. I was preparing for new experiences for my family. I was planning for the next DIY. We experience set backs often enough, but slowly over the years we have started creating an oasis in our desert and it has been rewarding.
One day my kids will be grown and gone. I hope when that day comes that they cant wait to come back home to our homestead to feel the peace here that they felt growing up. I hope that they are eager to bring their children here to see our little oasis in the desert.
I hope that I am still scheming with my husband planning our next DIY projects.
Yep, we cash flow everything. What does that look like on our homestead? Well that means we come up with creative solutions as often as we can using free, reclaimed, or recycled supplies. We REDUCE/REUSE/RECYCLE! And then whenever possible we trade with friends.
We used an old sign cut in half to make the shaded part of this chicken tractor. We used old chicken wire to cover the front part of the tractor. We used wood that was salvaged for the frame. There are other small pieces on the chicken tractor that we salvaged from various places. All the screws were salvaged or left over from other projects.
When we can’t do everything with supplies we already have we buy the very least we need to purchase to finish the job. On this chicken tractor we had to buy the latch to close it and the hinges for the door.
Our total out of pocket cost was $5.
We prefer to build with screws. Why? Homesteads evolve and since we reuse as often as possible building with screws allows us to reuse supplies. We were able to rebuild a chicken brooder that was no longer useful into a rabbit hutch.
Using screws also helps us make repairs easier.
Planning our homestead to include growing food for our animals helps us to reduce the cost of having a homestead. For that reason our homestead goals include gardens for our animals in addition to ourselves. Even if we have to purchase food in the short term, raising food for the animals in the long term is definitely wise.
Trading is Amazing
We trade services. My friend wanted me to hatch some eggs for her, so she offered to give me some of the turkeys if I hatched them for her. What a great trade. It literally didn’t cost me anything to add some turkeys to my homestead.
We let our friends know what we are working on. It is amazing how much help you can get when you tell others about your projects. They might have just what you need. Perhaps they are willing to come over and help work on a project with you. Maybe they did something similar and they have a useful suggestion. Maybe they know where you can get the supplies you need for free or at an incredible discount. On another occasion my friend had more eggs then she was able to fit into her incubator and just offered them to me. Awesome, I will take free hatching eggs any day.
The result was 10 new chicks for our homestead.
Using our cash flow method keeps our stress level down and our projects going. Being creative allows us to do more on a limited income. Trying new things helps us to increase our skills. Although homesteading can have a lot of costs involved there are many ways that you can decrease the cost of living on a homestead.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about what advice I would give to someone who is or wants to homestead. This advice is not all inclusive, but there are 8 things I think that all new homesteaders (and some old homesteaders) would benefit from knowing.
- Interview your neighbors. Your neighbors know lot about the seasons and the land. Glean what you can from your neighbors and your community. When we moved to our homestead our neighbors proved a valuable resource. They had been working the land for a few years before us and they had good information on improving the soil, when the rain seasons were, and what insects and other pests I could expect and in what seasons.
- Set your 5 and 10 year goals. Although my homestead plan is always changing and adapting to our time, resources, life events and current interests, having long term goals helps us to set goals today that will help us reach our 5 and 10 year goals. For example, if you want an edible food forest or an orchard, then planting trees as soon as you are able is extremely valuable.
- Plant food for your family and your animals. It is helpful when you have a homestead to set aside space to grow food for your family and for your animals. Planting food may take years to get to the point that you can use it, but having the forethought to plan long term for your family and animals can be very rewarding. Planting perennial plants can provide food for both family and animals, but often these plants and trees take years to get to the stage that they provide food in abundance for both. Planting an orchard or an edible food forest now will reap benefits for years, but it often takes a few years for it to mature. Likewise pastures and paddocks for animals can be great, but it can take years for the pastures and paddocks to be well established and mature to a place that they won’t be demolished in a season of the animals using them.
- Set aside money for great deals. Setting up a homestead can pull ALL of your resources, but if you can set aside some money then you can jump on opportunities that are too good to pass up. If however you are always broke then you will miss out on opportunities that can quite literally save you hundreds to thousands of dollars and sometimes jump you ahead years on your goals. In the world of homesteading there are many great but rare opportunities that come up that you would be wise to take advantage of. However if you are broke all the time sadly you will find that you cannot take advantage of these opportunities. You would be wise to do everything you can to live off of 90% of your take home pay and set aside no less than 10% for rare opportunities that are valuable. I would add a word of caution here. Be careful when you buy. One mans trash is not always another mans treasure. Also, only buy things that help in your homesteading goals. Don’t buy sheep if your don’t want to raise sheep just because the guy down the road is selling them for practically nothing.
- Invest in good tools. My tools are EXTREMELY valuable! For this reason I offer two suggestions. (1) Buy the best that you can afford, and (2) take care of your tools. Although there are many tools that I use, I have compiled a list of the 14 tools that I use the most on my homestead and that I think are wise to purchase.
- wheel barrow
- cordless drill/driver set
- shovel (After wearing out some of my tools in the hot Arizona sun I don’t buy tools with wood handles because they dry out and break too often, and I don’t want to spend my time replacing their handles. Instead I spend just a little more money up front to buy tools with handles that aren’t wood.)
- garden hose
- post pounder (this is extremely useful if you are planning on putting up fencing for your homestead)
- saw (I have and use a miter saw and a skill saw all the time although if you don’t have the money to purchase either any saw is better than none as you will find countless time when a saw if useful.)
- measuring tape
- good work gloves.Sometimes saving money by doing things the hard was can be really stressful.
I enjoy saving money, but I also need to save my sanity sometimes.
Having the right tool for the job can be a lifesaver to your homestead and your sanity.
There are many tools that you can get that will make life on your homestead more successful.
This is just the beginners list.
- If you can get a truck, then get it. Trucks are very valuable on a homestead. I can’t tell you enough how valuable a truck can be. We weren’t able to get a truck for the first 4 years of our homestead. As a result we have had to borrow a truck from friends and neighbors for years.
We also shove everything into our car that we can, and we take advantage of home supply stores that will pre-cut wood at times. Having said all of that there is no shortage of jobs and uses for a truck on a homestead. I strongly advice that if you are homesteading and only have one vehicle consider a truck!. Sadly we have missed out on free or inexpensive things that would have benefited our homestead because we didn’t have the ability to haul things to our homestead without calling around to find a truck. Can you make it without a truck, well yes. We did for 4 years, but we have also borrowed one more times than I can count, sometimes multiple times in a week, and as I mentioned earlier, we have missed opportunities because we didn’t have a truck. Owning a truck is just a good idea!
- Enjoy your homestead!!! Homesteading is a lot of work, but it can also be very rewarding. However, if you aren’t careful you can become “trapped” in your homestead lifestyle. My suggestion is don’t put so many projects on your schedule that you wear yourself out and become a slave to your homestead. Additionally, plan your homestead to include things that make you smile.
Take time to enjoy your homestead and the lifestyle it brings. Plant food you love and build things that make your smile. Get animals you love to take care of. If you find your animals to be a burden then try new animals or make changes that make taking care of them easier. Don’t do everything the hard way. Find shortcuts and tools that make your life easier and enjoyable.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. The reality of homesteading includes a lot of ups and downs. Failure is just part of the puzzle. We have tried lots of different animals here on our homestead, and we will likely try a lot more. Some animals that work for me don’t work for my neighbors or friends. Likewise some of the animals they enjoy aren’t a good fit for our homestead. Don’t be afraid to try different animals, plants, and skills. We try to learn as many new skills as we can, but we find that some homesteading skills just aren’t for us (or at least not right now). Because we live off-grid we have to be conservative of our power, especially during the winter months. For this reason we pass on some things that my friends who are on-grid and homestead do. Learn what you enjoy and what you can take a pass on, but if you don’t try you won’t know.