Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Five Reasons Homesteaders Fail (And How You Can Succeed!)


Homesteading is a really wonderful thing. You raise your own food. You have your livestock. You are well on your way to being self-sufficient. The homesteading blogs and books paint such a great picture of a rosy life. Sure it may be some hard work, but really how hard can it be?

People just have no idea!

Five Reasons Homesteaders Fail:

1. Disillusionment.

You have read the books. You have followed for your favorite homesteading bloggers for months now. Sure, there might be a few hard times. But you are certain this is the life for you! 

Then you start your first garden. And everything dies or doesn't produce well.

You pick up your first batch of laying chicks. Nine out of fifteen chicks die in three days. 

You buy a sow and she has piglets. So cute until the mama lays on half the litter.

You get a dog to protect the property and the livestock. Which is great until she kills her first chicken.

Slowly or suddenly, you realize that homesteading isn't all rainbows and roses. Homesteading is hard work. Hard things happen. You know you read on Facebook that your favorite homesteading blogger lost a few animals or struggled with their garden, but you didn't think it would be like this!

Disillusionment is real in the homesteading world. Many beginning homesteaders (myself included) do not realize how much work this takes, the hardships that are faced, and the heartbreak that you will inevitably feel. One day you will think you are accomplished great things and the next day watch a storm destroy all your hard work. 

Keep your chin up. Scale back a little and realize this is hard work with a great reward. Bad things are going to happen, but great things happen too!

2. Taking on too much at once.

So many homesteaders jump in with both feet and end up over their heads. In the first year, they have started gardens, have chicks, cows, goats, pigs, and lambs. They find out they can not possibly keep up with the work. The homesteaders they have watched on YouTube make it look so easy!

What many beginning homesteaders do not realize is that the homesteaders they follow started out a bit slower than they thought. Or these homesteaders grew up in the homesteading life. Very few homesteaders start out doing everything they wanted to do all at once. You shouldn't either. 

3. Money.

How much could homesteading actually cost anyway? Seeds aren't expensive. The chickens are going to free range. You won't need a fence like a lot of other homesteaders. You have savings so you can quit your job, buy your acreage, and get started homesteading! 

Right? That plan sounds great until winter comes and you have to provide feed and heat. You realize pretty quickly that a tractor or skid loader would make life a lot easier. You also realize that a fence will keep out the critters you don't want eating your garden or bothering your livestock. 

And then there are the breakdowns. The repairs. The replacing of parts and equipment. 

Where did that savings go? 

Most homesteaders have one person still working outside the home to keep money flowing in. If not that, they also have figured out how to make money homesteading and/or have multiple streams of income to stay afloat. Money is a necessary evil on the homestead for most homesteaders. You need to have money flowing in to pay for the inputs of the homestead. 

4. Real Life and Lack of Time.

You decided to start a homestead. After all, how hard can it be? You have plenty of time! The kids are only busy a few nights a week. You have time on the weekend for the projects. You only work eight hours a day and have time after supper. 

Sounds great, right?

Until you are gone almost every night the week for personal and kid-related commitments. Until your eight hour shift at work becomes a ten hour shift. Until every weekend has a tournament or family commitments. 

Real life happens. That is why new homesteaders are recommended to start out slowly with a small, easy to maintain garden and 3-4 layers for eggs. You can then work more into your schedule or stay there for a few years until life becomes less busy. Homesteading is great because you can go as big or small as you want and as slow or fast you want. 

5. Lacking in Physical Abilities.

Homesteading looks easy you think. How hard can it be to garden or build fence? How hard can it be to build a chicken tractor or build a pen out of the corner of the garage? 

The one thing that people do not factor in is physical abilities. It takes a lot of sweat, strength, and endurance to work on projects. Sometimes you need to chase after an escaped animal. Sometimes (most of the time) you will be working in the hot sun or cold of winter. 

Yes, you will probably lose some weight and build strength while homesteading and that is great! However, you will also put yourself at great risk of injury. One project could leave you exhausted for days because you were not physically fit enough to endure the project. 

Get in shape. Find time to work out, lose weight, build strength and endurance. It is hard to do, but you will thank yourself later when you don't have to take several breaks while building a fence or wrangling that chicken who does not want to go into the coop for the night! 

Homesteading is hard work, but the reward is worth it. However, many beginners quit because they do not understand the realities of homesteading. 

What was or is your biggest challenge homesteading?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - July 18


Another week gone by in a blur...

I have an observation to make though. I am sure you all probably know this, but there is nothing like having company or family coming over to make sure you get a lot of cleaning up to do in a very short amount of time!

Mowing had to be done after getting some much needed rain. We trimmed around everything. We hauled a load of broken appliances and junk that didn't fit in the dumpster to the landfill. We even took a magnetic roller around the buildings to get the nails and screws that had been dropped. We tidied up a lot and got a lot of little piddly projects done. I weeded as much as possible, but that chore is never done. 

I picked my first crop of peas of the year! Yeah! 



Family came and we had a great time! We talked a lot. We ate a lot. We watched the dogs play. We shot off fireworks and had a big bonfire.

Then Saturday night brought this:







We got a fierce wind, two inches of rain, and a bit of hail. The garden fence had to be repaired. The potatoes were flattened, but I think they will be fine. The tomatoes and their cages need to be fixed. The rest of the garden is looking a bit flat too. We have a lot of branches and trees to clean up. It could have been a lot worse, but so disheartening to look at when we just had everything cleaned up!

On tap for this next week is cleaning up the yard again, working on the shop some more, weeding some more, picking our first crop of zucchini and hopefully green beans. I am hoping to plant more beets and maybe spinach for the fall. Paige will be done with Driver's Ed at the end of this week. Dane will be finishing his projects for the county fair as he will be at camp the following week. 

That is it for us! What is going on at your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - July 11


Whew! Another week gone! I swear I am going to figure out how to slow down time...

The kids were a busy bunch this last week. They went to their dad's house for two days. Paige drove some more Driver's Ed and worked at the pool (she is a life guard). Dane went to his aunt and uncle's house on Saturday with his grandparents.

On Sunday, the kids and I went to my parents' house to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary! Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! A lot has happened in forty years and I am sure more will happen in the future!

This week, Dane has basketball camp from today to Thursday. Paige is on her second to last week of Driver's Ed. Both kids are frantically getting ready for county fair that is the first week in August!

And we have family coming Friday to stay with us this weekend! Whew!

So what happened last week?

I weeded the garden. Amazingly, it needs weeding again.

We got some much, much needed rain after being dry for almost three weeks. I had started to water the garden because the tomatoes were starting to wilt and the peppers were not growing. I think both are starting to come out of it now. The peas are definitely ready to pick and I hope to get that done tonight yet.


I dug up all my garlic. The plants had dried back so it was time. The bulbs were pretty decent sized and I am pretty happy with the harvest. I got thirty bulbs which is what I planted. I also got some bulbits. I had planted the garlic last fall about an inch into the soil. The bulbs must have sunk further down because I had bulbits which are a second forming on the bulb above the surface. They are still edible and I learned a lot about planting garlic this year!

We cleaned up more of the shop and worked on the barn. Rob got another wall of the shop painted which he is happy about. He also cleaned the front of the house, front porch, the front doors, and the sidewalk! The house looks brand new!


We also had two date nights at the tractor pulls in Rockwell! I love watching them every year. Rob got me into tractor pulling and I am so happy he did!

I am also trying to get back into cooking more from scratch and planning ahead for the week. This is my goal almost every weekend, but the weekends just seem to fly by. Saturday morning, I made two loaves of bread, two batches of granola bars, and a double batch of egg muffins. We ate some of the egg muffins for lunch Saturday, but the rest have been for breakfasts this week. I also diced up a canned ham we were given and will use that for scrambled eggs, omelets, pizza, and pasta salad.

How was your week?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - June 27 & July 4


This last two weeks have really been a roller coaster. We have had a few ups and a few downs. 

The garden is growing well. All except my peppers. They are not growing much at all. I think I am going to hit them with a shot of fertilizer. My carrots did not come up very well either. However, I hit up some end of the season sales. I planted more tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I will probably go back and get some more strawberry plants and see what else is left. 

We need rain and soon. We are suppose to get a storm tonight so hopefully we get some significant rainfall with that. We are dry...as in do not light a fire anytime soon dry. 



We lost our house cat, Lola last Friday. She hadn't been doing very well this last week and was scheduled to go back to the vet last Friday. She passed away on the way to the vet. She was 15 years old and had lived a long, good life. We buried her in the yard so the kids can visit. They were pretty attached to her.



The chickens are doing great. The egg output has been slowing down a bit which leaves us with some tough decisions. Rob wants to put up a camera in the coop and see who is actually laying or not. If they are not laying, they need to be part of the freezer. I am a little more attached than that. However, I am really considering getting some pullets and expanding the flock so we have fresh layers. I have already looked into it.

Other than that, we have been doing a lot of cleaning up outside. We (meaning mostly Rob) took down two dead trees in the grove. We have also been putting some work into the inside of the barn. As of right now, the goals for July is to: 

  1. paint the walls in the shop 
  2. move the wood in the barn to a neater pile in one of the other buildings 
  3. rent or borrow a pressure washer to clean the floor in the barn
  4. kill as many rats and mice as possible
  5. build shelves in the shop so Rob can find his stuff a lot faster and easier

We are never bored. That is for certain.

What is going on at your homestead? What is your goals for July?

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

60 Ways To Save Money Today


Saving money is always important. For most people, it is a part of every decision they make. 

With the economy in a precarious position, we all need to work on saving more money! Practicing good money-saving habits now will help you in the future when the money might be tighter than ever. The tips below will help you save more money and might even give you more ideas on how to save money in other areas of your life. 

With that said, here is 60 Ways To Save Money Today:

1. Eat up the leftovers in the fridge. It's just food!

2. Eat from your fridge first to use up the food that will go bad the fastest.

3. Do not eat out - unless you scored a free meal for yourself or your family!

4. Use your gift cards - saving them for some rainy day is wasting money.

5. Use coupons on things you buy.

6. Use your store loyalty cards. Load coupons and store specials on them.

7. Sign up for free samples and accept them when shopping. Free is good!

8. Use sites like Swagbucks to earn points for gift cards and Ebates to earn money back on online purchases.

9. Buy soda pop from the store instead of the convenience store. You will save over $1.00 a bottle and $.50 a can.

10. Better yet, give up soda pop and drink water instead.

11. Use your public library for books and movies. If the library doesn't have the book you want, they can usually get it for you a different way!

12. Make your coffee and tea at home instead of buying it at the fancy coffee places.

13. Check the pressure in your tires. Properly inflated tires will help your fuel mileage and save money on gas!

14. Bring your lunch and snacks to work. Eating out is just expensive!

15. Shop for clothes at thrift stores and garage sales.

16. Make a budget and stick to it!

17. Commit to a clothes buying ban. See how long you can go without buying clothes.

18. Start a no spend month. Set boundaries and see what you can live without.

19. Buy used instead of new. Rarely do you need anything brand new.

20. Bring your snacks and drinks to kids' ball games. Buying at the concession stand can be expensive!

21. Have movie night in instead of going to the movie theater. Pop your own popcorn, rent a movie, and relax in your home for a lot less money!

22. Cut your own bangs, groom your eye brows, and even trim your own hair. I save myself $10 by cutting my own bangs tweezing my eye brows in between hair cuts.

23. Make your own laundry detergent instead buying the expensive stuff at the store.

24. Make your cleaners with vinegar, water, baking soda, and salt. If you already have essential oils, add them in too!

25. Wash your vehicles at home. Detail the insides of your vehicle at home too!

26. Rent or borrow equipment you are only going to use once or twice.

27. Hang clothes outside or on a clothes rack to dry instead of using the clothes dryer.

28. Cancel the cable and/or satellite. Sign for the cheaper Netflix, Hulu, or just watch YouTube videos for free!

29. Drive right by the coffee shop, the convenience store, and the donut shop! Don't stop!

30. Never, ever shop without a list. The list will help you remember what you are getting (saving extra trips) and you should not be tempted to buy anything else.

31. Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. Knowing what you are going to make will save you from being tempted to eat out and/or making an extra trip to the grocery store.

32. If you have people coming over, make the meal potluck or have them bring their own drinks.

33. Turn old shirts and socks into rags and stop using paper towels!

34. Stay home for the day. Get things done around the house or just chill for the day!

35. Fix your own things and do your work if possible. You can Google or YouTube for instructions.

36. Run errands while on your lunch break or after work. You will save money doing that instead of running them on the weekends.

37. Look at your grocery ads to see what is on sale. Plan your menu around them.

38. Wait 3-7 days before making any major purchases. Sometimes you can find a better deal or realize that you can live without it.

39. When shopping online, add items to your cart and then save it for at least three days. A discount may come along or you may realize that you no longer want those items.

40. Use cash when shopping. When the cash runs out, you are done.

41. Have at-home date nights. Pop in a movie, make your steak dinner, play cards or a game, and chill in the comfort of your home. Going out is so expensive and overrated!

42. Shut off lights in the house and unplug the electronics chargers.

43. Go one step further. Shut off the air conditioning and open the windows. Your house will get aired out and your electric bill will go down. (Of course, use your discretion on this.)

44. Use rags instead of paper towels.

45. If you can, walk or bike instead of driving.

46. Use your grill or slow cooker instead of your oven in the summer. Keeps the house cooler and saves on electricity.

47. Mend your clothing instead of throwing them away.

48. Get organized. Knowing what you have and where to find will keep you from buying a item that you have and can't find.

49. Before you make a purchase online, find out if there is a coupon code available. If there is, use it!

50. Stop the kids cold with all the requests to buy stuff at school. I swear I get a new request for a t-shirt every other week. Unless it is necessary for the class or participation, don't spend the money.

51. Want to hang out with your friends? Invite them over for coffee, tea, or drinks. Take a walk together, watch a movie together, or just hang out and talk!

52. Before purchasing anything, ask yourself if it is a need or a want. If you are really strapped for cash, then you know what you need to answer.

53. Take shorter showers and use cold water to wash laundry to save money on electricity for your water heater and (if you have one) well pump.

54. Wear clothes more than once if you can. Wearing clothes more than once saves you money because you will do less laundry!

55. Down to the bottom of that soap bottle? Doesn't matter what kind of soap you are using, add a little water to the bottom to get the rest of that soap out! 

56. Clean and declutter your house. You will feel better when you have it done and you may never know what you will find! You will also have a lower heating/cooling bill because you won't be heating/cooling as much stuff.

57. Grow a garden. You will be growing your own food for a lot less money than buying the produce in the store.

58. Get rid of the subscription services like Stitch Fix, Just Fab, Birch Box, etc. You are paying a fee for every one you are subscribed to. Stitch Fix takes $20 out of your account on the month you get a fix and you don't get that back unless you purchase an overpriced piece of clothing.

59. Buy generic over brand name. I have very few things I am brand loyal too anymore, but OTC medications, body wash, and many more things are just fine as generic!

60. Invest in some mini-scrapers and super skinny scrapers. They will help you get the last of the peanut butter, ketchup, mustard, lotion, etc. By not doing this, you will be throwing money away when you recycle the bottles. 

Did you get some ideas? What will you try first? What ideas do you have to save money today?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Prep for NOW, Not Later!


Life changes in an instant. One day life is normal and everyone is going on their own merry way. The next day, you may have to evacuate your home in an hour due to wildfires or flooding. Your kids may have a life threatening illness or the new superbug. People may be starting to riot on the street outside your home. The electricity could be out for the next week. The water may be shut off for three days.

You just may never know what can happen today or tomorrow.

Yet, you will hear preppers say:

"I have a bug-out shelter", but there isn't anything in it.
"I have jars for canning and seeds for the garden", but haven't ever canned or gardened.
"I have a gun and ammo", but have never shot it.
"I have a tent and camping gear for survival living", but everything is still in the box and they have never camped.
"I have stuff for barter", but have never bartered or haggled with someone.
"I have supplies to have chickens and other livestock", but don't actually have any experience with livestock.
"I have 55 gallon drums for water", but they are not full of water.

While prepping for the future is good, you should be prepping and planning for now. Prepping for future events is a vague thing that recognizes that something could happen, but you think more than likely nothing will ever happen. Prepping for now recognizes that something could happen at any time and you are serious about being ready for it.

You can't expect to start a garden and have it produce well the first year with no prior experience. You need to be starting to garden now and prepping those gardens to produce well year after year. Canning is relatively easy, but deadly mistakes can be made. You need to get the hang of it now and be comfortable working around a water canner and pressure canner.

Wouldn't it be easier to have some of your supplies at your bug-out location now rather than taking the chance of only being able to leave home with only your clothes on your back? Do you have your 72 hour kit ready to go? Are you bug-out bags ready to go by the front door? Or are you waiting for the one hour evacuation notice? You would have a chance of getting everything you need, but you would be hurried and more than likely forget something valuable.

Having chickens and livestock is a huge learning curve. Many people do not understand how much time livestock takes. Starting with some chicken layers now and working your way up to pigs or goats would help you get comfortable with livestock. Learning to cull your flock, to butcher, and to deal with new births is not easy and the earlier you start, the better off you are when you need to support your family with this food.

Fill the water barrels today. Go camping this weekend. Get your bug-out bags full and ready to go by one of your doors. Get your preps in order today instead of waiting until something happens. You will feel calmer knowing you are ready to leave in an instant. You won't sweat not having water for a few days. Staying at home because you can't leave your home won't be a big deal.

Your mind will be clearer and you will be less stressed because you are ready for anything that could happen today. Wouldn't that be easier than being panicked and hurried because you aren't?

Get your preps in order TODAY!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead: June 13 & June 20


It has been two weeks again and time is flying! I mean to do this every week and hopefully I will again soon. I am lacking pictures for this post, but stay tuned and I will have more!

The clothesline is done! Rob finished that last week with minimal assistance from me. I love it because it is a little higher than the last one and it has a center support post. I can hang more laundry on it without the center sag that I had with the old clothesline. I hung laundry out all day yesterday and love it! I hope to have a post up this week about how we built it!

I have been spending a lot of time in the garden trying to stay ahead of the weeds. I haven't been entirely successful, but I am doing the best I can. Rob and Dane have been catching toads for the garden to help with the bugs. So far, so good! Before they started, my green beans and zucchini plants were getting eaten alive. We have managed to keep the rabbits out, but the bugs do not respect the fence!

Paige starts Driver's Ed this week. She just got her permit last week and Grandpa has been taking her driving. Yes, I am totally shirking my parenting duty on this. I am fine with that!

We have started on the shop and the back of the barn. Rob has been getting the work bench the way he wants it and fixing/painting what needs to be done. I started on the back of the barn yesterday. Yuck! Too many critters making a mess! About a third of the barn got done and hopefully I can finish the rest by the end of next weekend.

We (mostly the kids) cleaned out the chicken coop. We do a thorough cleaning about every three months with a more frequent cleaning under the roost. I love the smell of a freshly cleaned coop!

Otherwise we have been doing a lot of little things like getting curtains bought two months ago hung up, going through more stuff and getting rid of a lot, prepping, and staying on top of the kids and their chores!

What have you been up to?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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