Four tips for starting a homestead

When we started our farm in Colorado we needed help!  What I wish I had was someone tell me the four tips for starting a homestead.  I wanted to learn as much as I could and try to not make a pile of ‘newbie’ mistakes as we started a homestead.  However, I did make mistakes in starting our farm!  I think it is part of any change in your life – you need to learn from your OWN mistakes – as they are the most powerful lessons.  Don’t be scared of that!

Four tips for starting a homestead!

Still, I have four tips of advice that I would like to share on starting out a homestead or farm f0r the beginners (like us) : –

1. Start small
The first of the four tips to starting a homestead is to start small.  You really don’t need 100 acres to start homesteading.  You can do it on a standard quarter-acre house block right in the middle of town.  I know it may not be the ‘dream’ you have of rolling hills and a cute homestead- but it will teach you lessons about so many things about growing food and learning to improvise.  Then, when you are ready to break free, buy something small and manageable.   My suggestion is that 5 acres is HUGE as a starting off homesteader.  Our first places was just under 5 acres, and we did not use about half of it!  We had to pay taxes and look after ALL of it….and that seemed a waste.  As a starter farm I would suggest around 3 acres is perfect.

2. Start slow
The second of the four tips to starting a homestead is to start slow.  I think that the most people fail to reach their homestead dreams because they rush into everything at once – and end up with problems on all fronts.   For example, you don’t need to have chickens, goats, bees, pigs, rabbits, turkeys and cows all in your first year.  Pick one  – and see how they go.  When you feel you are successful at one animal venture, then get into the second.   Slow and steady growth with successes is better than a mad rush and loads of failures.   My advice for animals is that you can’t beat starting with chickens!

When it comes to gardening/crops it is the same principle.   Start small – you will not need 2 acres of beans!   Plant in a small area and expand from there.  Just cause you have 5 acres does not mean you need to plant the whole 5 acres in the first year!

3. Start low tech!
The third and biggest money saver of the four tips for starting a homestead is to start low tech.  A costly problem people fall into is the huge desire to have all the fancy mechanical equipment they can buy (and for many – things they can’t afford).   You don’t need a tractor when you are starting off! (OMG – did he REALLY just say that!).   We cleared the weeds and maintained 5 acres using a ride on lawn mower and NOT an expensive and costly-to-maintain tractor.   If we needed a tractor to do some larger jobs we rented one for a few days.

Our trusty ride on mower!
Using the rented tractor! Jen is an expert!

One thing you do need is a vehicle that you can transport ‘stuff’ for your growing adventure.   An old truck is perfect – you won’t care if it gets scratched by  lumber or firewood.

Our old farm truck – has a full 8 foot bed in the back which is perfect for moving sheets of plywood etc.

4. Realize your limitations – you are  Newbie!
The final of the four tips for starting off a homestead is to remember you are a newbie.  We can’t all be wonderful gardeners, mechanics, animal herders etc.   Some of us were born with the skills – but the rest of us have to learn.  The one thing that none of us can do is become experts of everything overnight – no matter how much we read and research.  Being a ‘newbie’ is ok though – as it can open the doors to help you learn.   Let people know you are new to the game of farming/homesteading and ask them for advice – and people will happily give it to you!  (Act like you already know everything – and people will happily watch you fail!)

So start small, start slow, start low tech and ask questions…but most of all – HAVE FUN!

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