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Homesteading is very challenging lifestyle, but it is so very rewarding. I have been so busy since moving to the homestead, but have learned so much about self reliance. I’ve also been able to raise so much food for my family! I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it doesn’t have it’s drawbacks. Here are 10 homestead secrets that lots of people won’t tell you before you begin your homestead.
1. You will have failures.
It’s inevitable. When you are first starting out, you will have failures until you “figure it out”. Don’t let that bring you down! Dust yourself off and try again! You can read my post about dealing with homestead failures for more inspiration.
I thought that raising meat rabbits would be easy, since they “breed like rabbits”, but we have yet to have a successful litter. And we had 4 calves die at a very young age. But we still kept going! We ended up with 3 big beautiful butcher cows, and we have a full colony of rabbits. You just need encouragement to carry on in spite of the failures!
2. Nothing will go as planned.
Some things are out of your control. Other things you just aren’t experienced enough at. Either way, you will probably get frustrated when one thing after another just doesn’t work out like it should. Again, my advice is the same. Just don’t give up! Do your due diligence, do your best, and do your research. You’ll get it.
3. Things will die.
Death is a fact of life, especially on the homestead. If you raise animals for meat, of course part of that is killing the animal. No one likes this task. You’re not supposed to like killing things. But it is something that you have to deal with if you use your animals for meat. My best suggestion here is to not name anything that you are going to eat.
If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer and you take your animals to the butcher, it is inherently easier.
You don’t see the actual death. On the other hand, if it is you doing the butchering, you may struggle a bit with it. I never thought that I would be able to kill any animal, but I have found that mindset is everything. If you go into this knowing the end result, you should be able to keep the emotions in check. If you find this especially difficult, you should be able to find someone to do it for you for a fee.
4. You won’t have much free time (if you have any at all!).
Having a homestead means that you always have work to do. You don’t get a day off unless someone can do your chores for you. While most daily homestead chores don’t normally take a lot of time, it is a daily commitment. Taking vacations, going camping, even being sick is more difficult when you have a homestead. Finding a good farm sitter can be difficult, and if your family is going with you on vacay, it might be hard to get the homestead covered. Then there’s the extra chores that inevitably come up. I always have at least one project that I want to get done, so even weekends are filled with work. Might be TMI, but I don’t even shave my legs as often as I used to!
5. You will probably always have a messy house and dirty car.
Going along with the lack of free time, you will probably also fall behind on some of the things that you used to think were important. Homesteading is a huge mindshift. You will find that you often feel overwhelmed and just not able to do it all. Give yourself some grace and realize that you are only one person, not a superhuman. Sometimes you have to let things slide, or ask for some help.
6. It costs more than you think.
I try to run a frugal homestead, but there is always money going out. Even with free-ranging chickens, turkeys, and ducks, we still have to buy a good amount of feed to supplement. Hay is expensive, especially when you don’t plan ahead and buy it when it is cheaper. At one point over the winter we had to buy hay at $14/bale!
The best way to plan this out is to figure how much your animals eat, then figure out how many days (or months, if that’s easier) of winter you normally have. Hay prices are good here in the summer and fall, then get crazy during the cold months. About a month after spring hits is when we normally have good prices on hay again.
Layer feed and goat/cow grain is normally the same price year round, so we just buy it as we go. That’s easier for us, since you need to have it in weather- and rodent-proof containers like garbage cans. My advice is to make a budget, and track your homestead expenses. And always be on the lookout for cheaper, more efficient feed for your animals. You can read my post about saving money on the homestead here.
7. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with.
You may have a lot of other obligations that make it difficult to keep up with a homestead. You may have a job, have kids,volunteer work, or church obligations that conflict with what needs to be done. And as you age, it gets increasingly difficult to keep up with the homestead chores. Keep in mind that homesteading is a lifestyle, and be realistic about it. Can you devote the amount of time and effort needed to make a homestead work? This homestead secret is a major reason why people give up, so really think about it!
8. Organic is expensive.
Organic feed is ridiculously expensive! And it’s hard to find good non-GMO feed that doesn’t break the bank. Depending on your budget, and how much you’re willing to spend, you may need to adjust your expectations. I had every intention of raising organic, chemical-free animals, but after recovering from the sticker shock of the organic feed options, I chose to just buy commercial feed. But my animals have no added hormones, chemicals, or medications (with the exception of a few calves that we had to medicate to save). You will need to make that decision for yourself, but our way is “clean” enough for my family.
9. Homesteading is dirty work.
You will find that nearly every day after working on the homestead, you will be dirty. You will need designated farm shoes (or boots), jackets, and pants. Your hair will probably always be put up and out of the way. You will probably be sweaty and stinky. That’s just homestead life!
10. You will never feel “done”.
This one is a major homestead secret. Homesteading is a never-ending cycle of chores, projects, and to-do lists. You will never feel like you have accomplished all that you want to on the homestead. You will either want more animals, more garden space, more structures, or more pens. My advice is to only take on what you can tackle. Finish one project before you move onto the next.
Don’t let these dark homestead secrets turn you away from this lifestyle. Homesteading has its drawbacks, but I believe it is so worth it! The sense of pride that you feel when you have a great garden harvest or get a freezer full of meat is a feeling that can’t be beat. Next to raising my kids, my little homestead has been one of my greatest accomplishments. These homestead secrets can be overcome if you really apply yourself. If you get a chance to start your own homestead, do it!