green plants growing on trellises in garden

Starting a New Homestead: What You Need to Know

Starting a new homestead but don’t know where to begin? You’re not the only one! It’s easy to be overwhelmed. This is a great reader question and I’m going to share the lessons I’ve learned about where to start homesteading.

By God’s provision we were able to buy a beautiful 3 acre piece of land two weeks ago. I’ve always dreamed of living in the country and now that we are here I don’t know where to begin when starting a new homestead. Our property came to us completely fenced for goats and equipped with a small chicken coop and fenced garden. I guess my question to you is where do you start? I’m a little overwhelmed with the laying out of our little farm. I’m excited about all of it and don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. A homeschooler like you, I need to be able to balance all the work and feel like I should ease in.

It’s exciting when your homesteading dream finally becomes a reality! You want to get in there and do everything straight from the beginning! It’s finally happening!!

But it is so easy to get too excited about all the possibilities when you get your first piece of land! The temptation is to dive into the deep end head first, not realizing you don’t even know how to swim.

This is a recipe for disaster. You run the risk of end up feeling overwhelmed, defeated, and, unless you’re of the most stubborn character, maybe even failure. We all grew up on Easy Street and this type of hard work isn’t in our nature (otherwise you’d see more folks doing it because it’s just so satisfying) and increasing accessibility to sustainable, local food makes it simple to pay someone else to raise our food for us.

So where do you begin when starting a new homestead?

Starting a New Homestead: What You Need to Know

Learn the Land

One of the permaculture concepts is don’t do anything for a year,  until you’ve walked it, see where the water goes, see where the frost pockets are, see where the dry spots are. Let the land speak to you. Then start with something you like. What do you like to eat? What do you like to do? What fascinates you?  – Joel Salatin

Were I starting a new homestead, I wouldn’t make any permanent additions for the first full year. Each season you’d find me taking pictures, making notes, recording the first & last frost in my homesteading binder and all other relevant observations. Being armed with this information will increase your success the second year.

A Practical Example

Let’s look at our orchard as an example. When we planted our orchard, the determining factor for deciding upon a location was, “Where do we have open space?” Our side yard seemed to have the most room and so that was where we planted. Thankfully, there’s southern sun in the winter and they aren’t shaded, but we didn’t think about that at the time.

Worse though was that the trees were planted in the fall and it wasn’t until the following spring that we realized just how wet it gets there. We planted half the trees in a very low spot where water sits for months in the spring. Fruit trees prefer to be 3-4 feet above the water table. Of the trees that survived that first year, their growth is visibly stunted. We have since built up the area and they’re doing better, thankfully, but careful observation would have prevented that issue.

I love that Joel suggests growing what you like to eat. Originally, we were planning on getting goats for milk production because operating on such a small scale we thought that was our only option. The problem was, we don’t care for goat’s milk and I really wanted to learn the skills associated with having a dairy cow- ice cream, butter, and cheese, etc… I’m very glad that we decided to go with a cow! While our cow doesn’t produce enough cream for ice cream and butter (which is one of the cons of having a Dexter cow), I have learned to make several types of cheeses and hopefully will one day have a cow capable of providing us with the others.

Avoid and Reduce Debt

When starting a new homestead don’t get too far into debt because you lose freedom. Do things that take time and not money and use your creativity to do for yourself. I would not recommend building your homestead by digging yourself into debt. Quite the opposite. If you happen to have debt, take that first year and try to get out of it. Reducing your monthly expenses will allow you to fit a new feed bill into the budget and ultimately give you so much more freedom to grow and expand when you are ready… not when the finances will allow.

Starting a New Homestead: What You Need to Know (This is such great advice!)

Start Small, Start Slow

For many reasons “easing in” is one of the wisest things a new homesteader can do. It prevents homestead burnout, helps you stay out of debt, allows you to thoroughly do your research. Starting a new homestead slowly, building knowledge, obtaining experience, gaining confidence, and working towards mastering each new skill will allow much of the work to be done effortlessly and as a matter of habit. Going about these new tasks habitually will go a long way to improving morale when there is a bump in the road.

And there will be bumps.

First Year

In the case of the reader asking the question, since there already is a hen house in place, I think that a small laying flock is a wonderful place to start. A few chicks this spring will generate a great deal of excitement and feeling of productivity like you’re doing something other than waiting.

Despite a lot of what you’ll read out there, chickens are relatively adaptable and probably the most foolproof of barnyard animals. After 5-6 months of enjoying your young chickens, you’ll start being able to gather eggs. Get a few new chicks each spring so you’ll have fresh layers in the fall when the older gals are molting and over the winter. They’ll keep you in at least a few eggs when everyone else is complaining of empty nesting boxes. After the 3rd or 4th year, cull out the oldest hens who are no longer laying and they can finish their contribution to the homestead by providing your family with a wonderful stock. (I have some simmering away on the stove right now.) You’ll also get the benefit of a new skill- chicken butchering.

The Second Year

The second year on the homestead I would plant a garden in the spring. You could even start seeds in the late winter or early spring. I typically start my onions in January, peppers in March, and tomatoes a couple weeks later. I have found this to be a perfect cure for the winter blues and a fantastic and frugal way to extend the gardening calendar.

Make sure you mulch your garden. Mulching is a wonderful way to build soil fertility over time, reduce fungal diseases found in the soil from infecting your plants, and most importantly (for me at least) keeping the weeds at bay. Straw or hay mulching took weeding from a daily chore down to a once-a-week one that takes less than an hour of my time.

As to adding too much else beyond the garden and the chickens I would be hesitant to do so. It’s hard to be patient, but gardening and food preservation will take more time than you think.

Get Organized

There are many reasons to keep good homestead records no matter how long you’ve been homesteading, but it’s even more important when you’re starting a new homestead and learning new things every day.

Keeping records will help you know how much you’re growing and what it’s actually costing you. This information will help you make better decisions about the best breeds, what to feed, your favorite seed varieties and which yield the most. What amendments work best, how to tackle those garden pests, what you actually ate from the pantry last year. What’s buried at the bottom of your deep freezer, when’s the best time to start seeds, how many eggs did we get last year?

I’ve created several tools that have been a tremendous blessing in helping me remember all of this information, get a good idea of whether we’re saving money by homesteading, and to have a better system for scheduling homesteading tasks. They’ve helped me organize my homestead and they will help you too!

Homesteading Organizational Resources

Homestead Management Printables These are over 115+ printable worksheets for your homestead and garden binder! They’ll help you make and keep a schedule, keep records, plan a garden, and journal how your homestead works best.

Build Soil Fertility

Assuming that growing food in the soil will be a part of every homestead, I would focus on building the fertility of your soil. Since I believe in doing so sustainably and organically, the way food has been grown for thousands of years heretofore, I would recommend doing so via mulching, cover crops, compost, and aerobic compost teas.

Test your soil, make necessary holistic amendments using compost tea, compost, and mulch. I highly, HIGHLY recommend a book I read this winter called Teaming With Microbes. It will give you all the science behind building your soil food web and then the tools and knowledge to test and amend your soil accordingly.

To this end, if you plan on putting in an orchard or berry patch in the first or second year, in The Holistic Orchard (another excellent resource), Michael Phillips recommends taking a whole year to prepare your orchard site for planting.

Fruit plantings happen in one of two ways. The go-getter turns the lawn under and, plop, the trees and assorted berries are in. No real transition toward the fungal state occurs prior to the nursery order being made and delivered. The soil biology can recover from such unbridled enthusiasm- it’s not “wrong” to do this- but soil preparation prior to planting offers certain advantages worthy of consideration. People with just a wee bit more foresight understand that a year of cover cropping and woodsy mulching not only offers the grower a chance to build organic matter and correct fertility imbalance but can also hasten fungal dominance.

Finally, having that new flock of layers will come in handy while you’re building soil fertility on your new homestead. Either by encouraging your free-ranging flock to congregate where you’ll be planting by laying down thick mulches for them to scratch through (and subsequently leave their contribution) or by proactively managing the manure of a contained flock via composting, the fertile manure of chickens will give your soil a big boost ahead of that first year of planting.

Build Skills

All of this doesn’t mean that you can be actively homesteading. There is still much that can be done. My next recommendation is work on building your homesteading skills.

Food preservation such as canning, curing, smoking, experimenting with cheese or soap making will all go a long way to helping so that the future learning curve will be more focused on animal care rather than turning their products into useable goods. Learning to cook from scratch, if you don’t already know how will help you to know how to prepare the food you grow or raise.

You can spend your time reading and researching the ventures you plan on beginning with. Having that knowledge to draw on when you need it will be so helpful, allowing you to attack a problem immediately when it arises.

Check out these 30 skills you could be building while you wait for your homestead dream. 

Find a Homesteading Mentor

You could find a mentor. That’s not always easy, particularly if you raise your food unconventionally. If you find a mentor, gleaning from their acquired wisdom and experience, what a blessing that would be! When we started our homestead we didn’t know anyone like us. The community found on the internet has been a great benefit. One word of caution if you look to the internet for homesteading mentorship: Like the Titus 2 model the Lord gives women for godly female mentorship where the older, more experienced women are teaching younger women, try to look for homesteaders who are sharing wisdom and experience they have acquired over the years. 

Lessons learned from novice homesteaders may just be flukes. Or they may not fully understand why things did or did not work for them. It’s folly to make generalizations and give advice based on only a small window of experience. By all means, glean from their experience, but always be discerning and thinking critically, even though it would definitely be really nice to have someone tell exactly what to do and have it all work out.

Places to find mentors would be active bloggers who engage with their communities, Facebook Groups, forums, or the Ladies Homestead Gathering.   You can even be open to making connections as you buy and sell on your homestead as you meet the local like-minded people who come your way. Be willing to help others in your community and to ask for help too! We need each other more than we’d like to think!

Get Fit and Stay Healthy

Another suggestion for anyone starting a new homestead is to work out. This may seem odd since homesteading provides a built-in workout with all the chores to be done. I’m not talking about lifting weights or anything. While a cardio workout helps with endurance, if you’ll be raising livestock, stretching could prevent injuries that could happen while chasing animals, slipping in the mud, etc. I’ve been stretching twice a week with this workout, really enjoy it, and hope it will be beneficial I play a more active role around here in the coming months.

Build Infrastructure

If you don’t have the infrastructure in place, the first year is a great time to work on it. (Without going into debt, obviously.) Having the whole year set aside to work on these projects will mean fewer impulse purchases. (Like when we bought a cow but weren’t ready for her. Who was supposed to be bred, but wasn’t so we bought a bull to breed her when we shouldn’t have. Who we then had to butcher because we didn’t have space for him which meant buying all the supplies to get that job done. She also wasn’t supposed to be lactating, but was- to the tune of 4 gallons a day! and there was that start-up expense. So much for having 6 months to prepare!)

And if you already have these things in place, you could buy high-quality tools and equipment. I emphasize high quality because the tools you get at a big box store are made for occasional use. If you don’t buy high quality, plan on making an annual expense of the most used tools. (We have more shovel and rake heads than I can count!)

Check out Lehman’s if you’re looking for a new tool! They have a large supply of traditional Amish tools (so you know they’ve got to be quality and build to stand the test of time!)

Finally, from the homemaker’s perspective, think about getting a  mudroom if there isn’t one in your home. Our home doesn’t have one and without an addition, there is nowhere to put one. “One of these day’s” we intend to put in an access and use the unfinished basement as a mudroom. Right now there 14 muddy- and by muddy, I mean “muddy”- boots strewn about our schoolroom. Which doubles as the common entry into the home. The walls are often scattered and splashed with mud. I took down my lace curtains over the door panels because I noticed they were no longer ivory, but beige. The maroon rugs look more dark gray than anything. I could go on. Point being, do yourself a favor and have a mudroom.

Of course, in some situations, a mudroom might be out of the question. In which case, I HIGHLY recommend saving your sanity and all the time spent cleaning up after an unruly husband or children and investing in a pair of these. Maybe one for each door of your home even. I know I sure would have appreciated having them in the past!

Easing into starting a new homestead doesn’t mean that you can’t be busy building your new lifestyle. There is always much work to be done and, as you’ll soon find out, the work is never really done. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by all the knowledge to be gained. It’s a big responsibility to steward that knowledge to the next generation so it isn’t lost again. I really feel like because of trial and error it could take more than a lifetime to recover these skills. There is really no sense in rushing it. So relax and enjoy the simple life and all the blessings and challenges it has to offer!

Seasoned homesteaders, if you were starting a new homestead all over again, where would you share with someone just beginning? What lessons have you learned? 

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34 Comments

  1. Amazing Post! thanks for sharing this post with us. If you want to start your homesteading business, lives in rural area and no idea how to start it. Firstly you know what is homesteading and how we manage it.You have to follow these steps to start homesteading at low cost:
    List Your Priorities
    Find a Homestead
    Make homesteading friends
    Start gardening
    Preserve what you grow and what you gather
    Quit buying things you can’t afford

  2. Loved this! We just bought 6 acres 2 months ago and my mother-in-law warned me not to try to do it all at once. Great advice! I already had homecooking down and bread making and simple water-bath canning. Homecooking can really be done anywhere, that and gardening is really a great first step. You can even container garden (or earthbox) if you rent. We rented for 8 years, moving every 2 years, so I could get a container garden planted really quick with herbs and the things that we loved/or grew well in the climate. Then when we finally got the 6 acres with a used garden space, I could put things in from practice and we could try ducks as our 1 new thing. Funny story about your trees, our first house, I put in a row/flower bed style garden before I knew that the location would flood every 2 weeks or so. My poor veggies, I shoved dirt under them to raise their feet out of the receding water and let the flooding be my irrigation.

    1. Congratulations on your new homestead!! Super exciting! I’m so thankful you heeded your mother-in-law’s advice- between that and the knowledge you built before making it to your new farm gives me high hopes that you will be one of the ones that MAKE IT! Yea!! Take care, Quinn

  3. quinn,
    i wasn’t sure where to post this question so i thought i would just post it here. would you share what font you use in the body of your posts? it is so readable. i would like to use the same one for my site.
    thank you.

    1. I know the headings font is Pompiere and then the only other font I’m seeing listed is Roboto, so that must be the body text.

      1. thank you so much. it’s the Roboto I was after. It’s so easy to read!!!! Quinn, you are amazing(by the way).

  4. And it's such an enjoyable life, despite the hard work 🙂 I wouldn't trade it! I hope that your new homestead is abundantly productive and your work is blessed!

  5. This post answered some questions I had on starting our homestead this year! We purchased our land this previous September. So far, we have a garden and some baby chicks. Nothing we have done, besides our shop, is perminent, because we aren't sure about the land. Our coop is mobile with a tractor, and our garden is only protected by an electric fence. Both of these are easy to move if need be. We want to add some nursing cows and baby calves to the mix by the end of the year.

    As far as for cleaning, I am trying out some all natural products. I have made my laundry detergent for about 2 years now, and love it! I spend maybe $15 a YEAR on laundry detergent! I am wanting to switch all of our bathroom products to something I make myself or at least organic.

    You are right about all of it being hard work, but to me, it is worth the hard work. I didn't utilize my time on productive tasks. I was rather lazy, if I am honest. Now I have a reason to get up and move, be outdoors, and enjoy life.

  6. Personally I would start with a few chickens they are very
    easy to care for and nothing is as fun as getting that first egg. But I will
    say from experience don’t try to have too big of a garden to start with,
    nothing is more upsetting than seeing your carefully planned out food plot get
    over run with weeds after you bit off more then you could handle. (I stopped
    gardening for 2 years after I was so upset)

  7. I am so freaked out with our upcoming move to the country! Don’t get me wrong: I grew up on a farm and convinced my husband that we can and should do this. But talk about biting off too much; we don’t have a year to spare to observe the land as several fruit trees will arrive (and need to be planted) sometime in April and the chicks I ordered will be here by mid-May. Did I mention that I have to clear heavy brush/small trees before there is any garden space? or that we have to build a road access for the shed-converted-to-a-coop for said chickens? or that we have to live in a camper because the local authorities won’t let us build a very small house (on the large property we own)? I have only one goal this year: Don’t let the trees or chickens die.

    1. It’s good at least you’ve set those goals though there is so much to do. Makes it much easier for declaring success at the end which will give you the confidence to plug away at it again the next year. May your land be blessed & produce bountifully! 😀

  8. This is my inspiration. I have been dreaming about owning my own house and having a large land space, where I can have my own sanctuary, fruit trees, veggie beds, cows, chickens – and all the rest! I can’t imagine it will be for another few years yet, but I am beginning my journey in my current, small, all paved backyard I have right now. I have gathered some veggie beds. I started last November, beginning to build, learn and grow. I happened to stumble upon this website yesterday, I am so glad I did. I will be gathering inspiration and ideas, knowledge and support! Thanks for all the information, it will be put to very good use in the following years!
    All the best! x

    1. May your homestead dream come true! (And when it does may you remember the part about starting slow & getting burned out! Feeling it right now & I keep thinking, “I KNOW this, why can’t I remember it?!)

  9. great advice thanks we are just makring it through first year we rent but are in country and working with owner who has been doing it for a year longer so we started out with some chickens and rescued 8 rabbits too

  10. Great advice. All of us didn't grow up on Easy Street. My dad was a coal miner. There were eight children. We grew a huge garden, several acres, probably. We had three chicken houses with coal stoves in them…one for biddies (chicks), one for young hens (layers) and one for the older hens and the roosters that were fattened up and eaten. We used the manure on the garden that was so steep that we had to scotch our watermelons by bracing them with rocks. Dad fished and hunted for meat to feed us. We had a big orchard of apple, pear, cherry,plum, walnut and mulberry trees. Under the trees we had hazelnuts and strawberries. We gathered strawberries in scrub tubs! We collected wild berries, raspberries, blackberries, snake berries,
    blueberries. We canned all kinds of fruits and vegetables. We canned in pint, quart and half gallon jars. We had potatoes all winter! Everyone in the family worked. I think the girls did more, with all the canning, cooking and cleaning
    that the boys didn't have to do. If you homeschooling, I would have the children do research about problems that come up. Print good articles and have younger children find answers to questions you pose. You don't have to have them reading Dick and Jane books for their reading skills.

  11. Thank you so much for this article! We bought our home and land almost eight years ago. The kids have all graduated, moved out, gotten married and had their kids. Now we are interested in starting to homestead. We have chickens and a garden and I wondered where to go from here. Our plan had been bringing in more chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs and a couple donkeys this year, as well as tripling the size of the garden. I'd still love to, but your article makes sense and I realize that we need to slow down. It's all still new, there are always years to come. This year we'll just add the extra chickens so we can start to not only collect eggs but process and I will enlarge the garden so I can start to can and freeze what we grow. Maybe next year we'll get a goat. 🙂 We have lots of land to fence in the meantime and some outbuildings that the property needs first.

  12. This was a great article! Thank you for sharing! I just bought my first little homestead 1.25 acres. Which I think is just perfect since it is just my daughter and I working it (aka as just me). I am really excited to get sheep and have a field that is already fenced (needing only a few repairs). I wanted to jump right in and get everything going at once! I mean this is what we have all been waiting for right? Instead I am learning by helping friends with their farm chores and lots of observations. Luckily I was In contract throughout the summer so I got to observe the changes then, and now going through my first winter, by the time spring rolls around I think I will have a good foundation of the lay of my property. There are many things that need to be worked on. I have been spending the winter working on what the 10 year plan is and working backwards. Rather than invest time and money into projects that will later have to be altered due to poor planning, visualize what you want your homestead to look like and produce 10 years down the road. In that regard, this year will be spent on clearing weeds and establishing feed crops for future livestock, irrigating the land to help control run-off issues, planting trees to start an orchard, and watching my chickens frolic and loosen my soil. All of which might not be as immediately rewarding (except the smiles from the chickens!), but will make a huge difference in the long run of my homestead! Good luck to all of us going the route of being more self sufficient and more connected to our food and earth!

  13. Stephanie F. says, “Wow! Thank you so much for all of this great information. You are helping me to reel things in a bit and slow down :)”

  14. Wow, thank you Quinn!

    I have been a “lurker” on your blog for some time and have so enjoyed the life you’ve shared with us here. I would love to homestead, and we just purchased our very first 2 1/4 acre plot with a house– debt free!

    The house needs significant repair before we can move in, but I’m grateful in a way because it will give us time to survey the property and make notes like you suggested.

    One more question for you: do you know of any other homestead blogs that offer good, tested advice for young, “green” homesteaders like us?

    1. Justin Rhodes Great American Farm Tour , Lumnah Acres, Grow your own Groceries with Marjarie Wildcraft Then you can get great links from their sites. Eula

      1. Yep! Some good resources are on YouTube! My only caution would be that some folks you’ll find are journaling their homestead from the beginning so the advice isn’t necessarily seasoned.

  15. So funny that you did this post. I did one awhile back (with the same Salatin video too!), but not as “in detail” as yours. We’re putting an offer in on 5 acres this week and hoping it comes through. Planning on living out of an RV for awhile while we build a Florida Cracker style home. We too have a cow (Jersey) who we just bred, but she’s at a friend’s farm while we get her pasture ready on our own farm (Lord-willing). Thanks so much for this post as there were a few things that hadn’t crossed my mind!
    we4bates.blogspot.com
    Kelli

  16. This is such a great post! I’m so glad to store this info away for when my dream of a homestead comes to light. Ease in and do it right is the best way to do everything!

  17. This message is so timely, considering that I will be on our new property by the first week in April, Lord willing. You have helped to quell my anxiety. I was so afraid that I would feel like a homesteading failure if I didn’t get a lot accomplished.

    We’re trying to move slowly and only plan to have a large garden and chickens the first year (and my son’s beloved pigeons). We also have fencing and a well to put in! I loved your point about focusing on building your skills. We are going to be part of a cow share, so we can have access to raw milk. I hope to learn how to make cheese. Plus, this will be the first year that I plan to use my pressure canner! So there will be lots to do, even if I don’t have a cow, goats, or pigs this year!

    I also appreciate Angi’s point about considering the family. Homesteading is my dream and my son’s dream, but not hubby’s so much. He will take part in some of the building projects and he supports us, but I don’t want to overwhelm him, either :-).

    I plan to print out your article and keep going over it when I need a reality check, lol! Thanks SO much, this was excellent and just what I needed to hear!

    Brenda

  18. Wisdom here Quinn! We did everything wrong our first year, planted too big of a garden, grew 1/4 acre of cut flowers and went to 2 farmers markets (had only “farmed” 1/4 of an acre with a house plopped down in the middle of it ever before lol!), bought 3 beef cows off of Craigs List, layer hens, turkeys, what, you have to feed them??? Hmmm….should I feed my kids or the chickens since I only have enough money for one or the other? What? The cows aren’t yearlings but only 6 month heifers and now we have to overwinter them? How much does all of that electric fencing and chicken tractors and electrified poutry netting and market tent and portable outside chicken house cost??? Needless to say, we ran up an empty credit card, my goals of homeschooling over the summer never came to fruition, the younger children grew too wild and the older children grew frustrated and neglected.

    God is merciful and we came up with a new game plan. Friends from church overwintered our cattle and fed them lots of fresh hay in exchange for the beef from one of them the following year when they were finally ready to butcher. We had many family meetings and decided to focus on what worked – broilers, so nixed the cut flowers and spent our time working at what we had done well. We sent out letters explaining our pasture based broiler business, asked for deposits with the orders – enough to pay for each chick and 8 week’s worth of feed, then the balance was paid on a per pound basis when picking up the fresh chickens at the end of “processing day”. We only ordered enough chicks to cover the customer orders, at the end of the summer we took our proceeds and raised some for our own freezer. The turkeys laid, hatched, and raised this year’s flock of Bourbon Reds themselves, so Thanksgiving was pure profit! Sale of 1/2’s of the 3rd cow paid for processing of the other two – one for our friends and one for us. We re-gained our children’s hearts, made decisions as a family and learned to listen carefully to one another. While they all still have chores, not all of them share the same homesteading excitement that my husband and I have, so like Angi below, we are allowing them the time and space to explore other interests under our guidance and support.

    There will always be lessons learned each season I think, but the wisest thing we did was to separate out the farming venture from our personal budget. Any income from raising pastured meats or organic eggs and veggies goes back into the farm account to pay for feed, additional fencing, etc. Last summer we raised “free” meat for the year – pork, chicken, and beef – and put any additional money earned back into our farm account.

    And all of this was practice while renting someone else’s place and trying to make it work with out good buildings or proper infrastructure. By God’s grace, we just purchased our own 10 acre farm 4 months ago. We are renovating the house and slated to move in at the end of April. Thankfully, there is a fabulous old chicken house that friends helped us divide into 3 rooms – one for a winter home for layers, one for the Bourbon Reds (keeping them separate to prevent black head infection), and a small feed room. Chores are so much easier now! There is a fabulous barn and an already established garden area with Asparagus, strawberries, and rhubarb. Since the farm was purchased out of foreclosure, I drove over before our November closing and transplanted my blueberry bushes next to some great pine trees and mulched them with pine needles. Waiting to see if they made it through our MN winter!

    I so agree with living somewhere for a year to learn the lay out of the land, etc. We are converting 8 acres of row cropland back to pasture this year, using oats as a “nurse crop” and will only put chickens/broilers on it. Next year we will put up our fencing once the pasture root system is established enough to withstand the weight of heavier animals and any drought that might occur, then we will see if we can purchase a cow/calf pair or two. I am planning on just using the existing garden space this year to see what it will grow, and my goal this summer is to stay on top of weeds and “can as I go”.

    I am no longer in a hurry to “do it all” as we first were upon moving out to the country 2 1/2 years ago. There is wisdom in coming up with a 1,3,and 5 year plan. Honoring the Lord with our finances and enjoying the “scenery along the way” is so important! We have also cut up said credit card, and are on track for having our zealous mistakes paid off in 2 more years. My advice – pick one large project that is affordable per year, continue to learn and hone homesteading skills in other areas, do a yearly re-evaluation and refine your vision. May God bless your efforts!

  19. Great answers. We moved onto our property about a year and a half ago. We only have 1.5 acres so chickens and bees are the only animals we have. But that is also by choice. While I love the idea of raising all our own food and having various animals I know that that would be just too much for us. This homestead dream is mine and my husband’s not necessarily our children’s so we’re careful not to do too much that would require a big commitment from the entire family. Most of our children are older and have their own dreams they want to pursue and we want to have time to support them. So, I think that’s an important thing for parents to consider when they are building a homestead.
    I’d add that if you’re going to have a garden you can just start a small one the first year. Even if you use transplants, it will still be cheaper than buying produce. When I say small I mean just one or two beds that are 4’X8′. You should be able to get some tomatoes, a couple of squash and zucchini plants, some green beans, and a few other plants in them. They shouldn’t require a lot of time commitment and they should provide your family with most of your veggie needs, although you probably won’t have much to preserve. If you find that you put your garden in the wrong area it won’t feel like starting over if you need to move it.

    1. Thanks Angi for sharing this! I suppose I did come at the gardening angle with the mindset of someone who has to feed 9 people with growing appetites 😉 in which case large scale gardening is the way to go. I’m starting to panic that between those growing appetites and growing shade trees with growing roots I’m never going to achieve my goal of supplying all, or even most, of our vegetable needs :/ So I appreciate your wisdom!

  20. Bravo, well said! Start out debt free!! I learned a bunch from this post, can’t wait to read the next one too.