One of the most joyous steps you can ever take is to sign on the dotted line to purchase your new homestead, that little slice of rural paradise you’ve always wanted. And now it’s yours. Your imagination takes flight at all the things you want to accomplish: a huge garden, chickens, cows or goats, an orchard. The sky’s the limit!
But many novice homesteaders get overwhelmed with too many projects. Thanks to that vivid and soaring imagination, it’s a common mistake to try to do too much too soon.
The best piece of advice for novice homesteaders is this: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Trying to do too many projects your first year or two on the homestead will only result in frustration.
Instead, take that imagination and turn it into a simple but powerful tool: a wish list. Wish lists are free, so don’t hold back! List everything you’d love to accomplish, and what you need to obtain to accomplish it.
Then – here’s the important part – divvy that list into A, B, and C categories to establish priorities. The “A” list should be what you want to accomplish, do, buy, or build first. The “B” category is for your mid-range goals, and the “C” column has your long-range (or most expensive) projects.
Now look at your “A” list and decide which projects or skills you want to tackle first. Remember, don’t tackle more than one or two major homesteading projects per year.
Here are a few common first projects for homesteaders – pick one and jump in!
Start small so you can figure out your challenges, whether it’s soil, pests, or climate. As you learn, you can expand your growing space. There’s nothing more satisfying than walking into a huge garden and picking dinner fresh from your own labors. Once a garden space is plowed, the vast majority of work can be done with the simplest of tools: rakes, forks, shovels, hoes, and the immensely useful hand weeder. (Don’t forget gloves!)
Chickens need a coop and perhaps a pen, but unlike larger livestock they don’t require heavy fencing or strong infrastructure, making them excellent beginning livestock. Make sure they have a feeder and a waterer, and they’ll reward you with fresh hen fruit and endless entertainment. There’s nothing more soothing than watching a flock of chickens.
Arguably the most versatile and useful food preservation skill, canning (both water-bath and pressure canning) allows you to preserve your garden’s bounty or take advantage of you-pick opportunities. Once you own the tools (such as a pressure canner and water bath pots), canning can be done almost free for many years. Jars, lids, a few accessories, a good reference book, a little skill – and you’re guaranteed shelves full of beautiful, gleaming jars of food.
With the holidays coming up, what better way to gift a family member than with tools for homesteading? The gift of self-sufficiency and independence is a gift that keeps on giving – for life.