People end up back on the land for many reasons. Contrary to popular belief, homesteading requires a lot of hard work and passion. Many people think that today’s technology will make things a lot easier, and somehow you will not have to work hard if you decide to start on this path. While it has its place, technology is not all that it takes for homesteading success.
My 80-year old father-in-law is one of the few people I know that has a vast knowledge of solving problems the-do-it-yourself way, growing his own food and being his own boss while reaching towards complete self-sufficiency. He noticed that here are more and more people who want to get back on the land. He now calls them the ‘new pioneers’.
I’ve often discussed with him about what makes a successful homesteader. I wanted to share some of his knowledge when it comes to achieving homesteading success. The tips listed in this article will help those who want to get back to a simpler life and this is knowledge worth knowing.
Eight tips for homesteading success that I’ve learned from an 80 year old farmer:
You should try it before you buy it
This is a general rule and today, we often try products before we buy them. We do not jump right on it and we are used to reading reviews about the things we want. We join all sorts of virtual communities that would help us make the right choice. Homesteading, even at the smallest-scale requires certain strength and this lifestyle is both physically and emotionally demanding. Many will buy a property and decide later on what they should do with it and how to plan their new life. Before you sign the papers and turn in your two-week notice at your day job you should at least try to experience what it means living on a farm. Even a two week stat will provide you with a first-hand experience. It will help you decide if this is the right direction for you and your family.
There are many farms looking for dedicated people and will gladly accept them as apprentices. Even though many will provide a two season internship, there are also listings for shorter stays. A good place to start would be with the World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms organization. They will provide room and board for all those who want to help and learn about sustainable agriculture. Here is their address woofusa.org, in case you want to try this experience. The organization has implemented this program in many countries. In order to become a member you need to join WOOF in the country where your farm is located.
Save and say NO to debt
Many of those who decide to start a homesteading life will plan to go off-the grid in order to become totally independent. It doesn’t matter if you plan to be off the grid in the next 6 months or in the next 8 years, now is the time to save and plan for this important change. You have to understand that the less debt you have, the better off you will be in this new lifestyle. Homesteading is also about being frugal and there are many ways to save money and successfully live on a budget. Some people will rather skip a traditional wedding. Others will sell their hobbies just to save money for their homestead.
How to become frugal is something that should be taught in schools. It’s one of the most useful habits you could develop in this uncertain economy. Start by keeping a notebook (or use an excel sheet) with all your daily expenses. Do this for a month and grow up to a year. I guarantee that you will be shocked to discover how much money you are throwing away on things you don’t actually need.
Related article: Useful strategies to pay down debt
Transition slowly or you will fail
Homesteading is about learning how to make a slow and smooth transition to a new lifestyle. Some people are able to trade their big flat screen TV and their video games for a cabin in the woods overnight, but you are not probably one of those types. Can you trade all your modern comfort that you were programed to use and enjoy since you were born, for a simpler life that requires hard work? To find out the answer to this question you should start preparing now by learning how to cut back and live simply.
There are many ways you can do so and you should start by growing a small garden and learning to preserve your own food. Try to live on a smaller budget for a month or two. Discover if you are able to live with the restrictions you impose on yourself. If homesteading isn’t for you, going back to your old life would be much easier. Basically, you haven’t lost anything in the process of testing yoursefl. On the contrary, you’ve learned something about yourself and you will know where to go from there.
Homesteading is about getting the right piece of land
The land is the main ingredient that will affect your homesteading lifestyle. Many will compromise and look for land that may need some sprucing up in order to be in their price range. Before you do that, you should really know what you want and what your future goals are. If you plan to go very rural, selling your farm products at a farmer markets will not be easy. You need to consider the commute times and costs for your piece of property. Being isolated and not having any neighbors might look like the best alternative if you are a prepper. However, his also means that you won’t get any help from the community. There are many aspects you should consider when buying a good piece of land and the article bellow should help you figure things out.
Suggested reading: How to pick the right piece of land for an off-grid living
Don’t quit your day job unless you have enough savings
Most of the off-gridders that I personally know have an outside income coming in. This greatly improves their chances of living their homesteading dream. While saving money helps, there are always ways to bring some money in. Today, many will go for freelance work or they will sell their skills to the community they are part of. Having a steady cash flow is still required even after you achieved homesteading success. Unfortunately, you cannot cut yourself completely from the money stream. There are all sorts of ways to make some extra cash. It all depends on the region you live in and the skills you have.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
The new pioneers are part of a new generation and most of them will try to figure out things on their own or look online for the solutions to their problems. While this is a good approach and you should be curious about how to resolve the homesteading issues you may encounter, most of the times reading about something is not the same thing as doing. Asking for help from someone who is more experienced and seeing him or her handling things is a much more rewarding experience. You will have the opportunity to learn by doing. At the same time you will be able to form a bond with people that know a thing or two about hard work.
My father in-law loves to teach his neighbors about homesteading. He is always willing to help them when they ask for his help. His neighbors moved to the area in their forties and are still ‘green”. He says that passing his knowledge onto them is a way of making sure that all his life experience and hard learned skills will not be lost to time. If you decide to give homesteading a try, don’t hesitate to ask for help from the more experienced homesteaders because this is what helps to form a strong community.
Look at the old ways if you want to succeed
Many people do not like history lessons and they would rather watch the movie than reading the book, and this is really a shame. If you are eager to build your homestead, you should start first by looking into how your grandparents and great-grandparents did it. The lost ways of the first pioneers made this country what it is today. In time, the homesteading lessons of our forefathers were improved so that new generations would benefit the most from them. Learning a little bit of history will help you understand the big picture of homesteading. At the same time it will provide you with the confidence you will need to succeed.
If the methods used by our forefathers worked for them, they will surely work for you in these modern times when you have much more options than they ever did. Taking a moment and looking back at their lives will help you build your homesteading lifestyle and live the off-grid dream you are searching for because some of their lessons can be used even today.
Suggested article: Preparedness skills Your Great Grandparents Had That You Don’t
You will be put to the test, but don’t give up!
When it comes to homesteading, there is a saying: “hard work pays off”, but what people don’t tell you is that you will have multiple trial and errors before you get there. There are some factors you can control and there are some, you have no power over. You could do everything by the book and you could take all precautionary measures you can think off and Mother Nature will still throw you a curve ball every once in a while. There will be times when you will lose your faith and you will feel like giving up. You should know that there is no self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to homesteading.
Rather than giving up, learn from these experiences and push forward. Your ideas about your homestead will change many times and you will experience the hard life, before you taste the good one. Just like in nature, only the strong ones survive and you should always be ready for the worst. Some people will adjust easier to the homesteading lifestyle and will be able to overcome anything while others will need a helping hand to push forward.
A last word
Everyone wants to become a homesteader and they think that disengaging from the modern society is all that it takes. There are many details to a homesteading life that people fail to consider. This is probably why many of them will fail, and will return to their former lives. While the tips listed in this article will help all those who aim of building a homestead for their family, they should also do their own resource and discover more about what homesteading really is. Despite all the obstacles you may encounter, immersing yourself in an off-grid lifestyle that provides you with everything you need is an experience that is priceless in my opinion.
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