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,


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