When I was planning on my homesteading plans, I had many thoughts that ran through my head. Everything was falling into place, and my dreams appeared valid then. The laid down procedures were articulate and straightforward. Nothing could rock the sailing boat. However, as days passed by, I realized I could have been too optimistic. The turbulence had set in sooner than I thought.
The good feeling of living away from the bustles of the city had crowded my thoughts. Everything here is quite different, and you have to know it from the start. To shield you from any surprises when you cross this road, I have listed some expectations that I had initially. However, the reality on the ground proved otherwise.
1. Toiling Is Almost Continuous
When I was setting up my homestead, I had a secret fantasy that I will have lots of free time. What else was there when the plants were growing and the animals fed? Nothing much, so I thought. Now here come plants dressing, spraying insecticides and mulching and alas! You have to keep working. It’s not that you are bored or the job tiring. You just find yourself moving from one section to the other. And before you forget, you have to feed the animals and clean the shed regularly.
2. Anything Can Happen At Any Time
You know I’m used to town life where everything appears premeditated. You wake up in the morning, take a shower, brush your teeth, and head to work. It looks like a religion following, doesn’t it? That was partly the notion that I carried to my homestead. The rude awakening by a panting cow giving birth instilled the new lifestyle. I realized that anything could happen no matter the time. A sheep can get sick, a calf pen gets broken at night, or you can lose electric power anytime.
3. You Have To Be Energetic.
You may think that you will be using pieces of machinery all around. This thought is far from the truth. Most of the homestead activities are manual. That means you have to flex your body muscles for long hours almost daily. Besides, even operating some farm machinery requires you to use your energy. Therefore, be ready to have that hard worker’s physique, which I think is a good idea.
The homestead that your friends in the city crave for all their lives has many health benefits. They include;
- Gaining Strong, and Energetic Bones
The law of survival states that the disuse of any part of the body reduces its functionality. Working hands-on with direct sunlight keeps your bones strong and healthy.
- Lean Body
Most people will pay hundreds of dollars to achieve a lean body. Not for you in the homestead. Excessive fats will burn as you do what you like best.
- Keep Lifestyle Diseases At Bay.
Blood pressure and diabetes are common in the clandestine lifestyle. Such health conditions are almost nil in people working hands-on in a homestead. You enjoy high quality and longer life in this environment.
4. Be Ready To Be Angry
It’s hard to believe, but yes, sometimes you will be at the edge. When I started my homestead, I had no thoughts of being angry. But fate would have it when a calf broke loose, and we had to return it to the shed. The whole episode turned worse when the whole lot came out, and it became impossible to control. It was an episode that turned my anger to the responsible person. I learned shortly that no one was responsible. Moreover, I realized that sometimes you have to be angry, but you should always suppress it.
5. There Could Be Losses
A homestead looks like a fort where everything goes as planned. Spare that thought till you start your homestead. The reality is that losses are possible and occurs randomly. Some of the areas where you may incur losses include;
- Poor Seeds
Buying seeds from bogus companies has taught me to check on the company’s integrity the hard way. You can imagine the pain of planting several acres with faulty seeds that fail to germinate. You have to learn to work closely with reputable seeds company to avoid losses. The trick is to avoid salespersons and intermediaries who have scanty information on the suitability of the seeds in your area.
Ill health may occur in both animals and plants. When I started my homestead, the initial months were uneventful. I had been strict in keeping a regular vet schedule and consulted on all the plant’s requirements. I did not sail as I hoped. Some of the animals developed diseases that led to deaths. Consequently, some plants became sickling, and it was impossible to save them.
- Weather changes
You may have the best plans, and the homestead is in a healthy condition. Then out of the blues, there comes torrential rain that sweeps away the germinating seeds. You end up losing the whole season through this sudden weather change.
- Poor Soil
Have you ever studied your soil properties? Some of these properties include color, texture, chemistry, and porosity. It is necessary to know that different plant varieties require specific soil properties for proper growth and development. Also, test your Soil PH to determine how the soil will retain nutrients, soil bacteria, and eliminate toxic elements.
6. It’s A Long Term Project.
Forget this notion that I had of setting projects and scooping large profits within a short time. For me, that was a hard pill to swallow. The reality is that you have to dive into this world, knowing that it could be hard on you, but it’s a long term undertaking.
As you start your homestead, make plans on long term benefits as opposed to short term plans. You will bump into people promoting hyped products that promise high returns within a short time. Whereas they could be right, most of the time, you end up losing your investments. I learned that well-laid plans from proved sources always win.
7. Keep Certain Other Contacts
As you set up your homestead, collect several contacts that will be helpful to your projects. Some of the critical connections include veterinary, agricultural, and food scientists. These seemed to be the only contacts that were necessary. However, it took a short while to realize that these professionals are always busy. Besides, they will keep a schedule on when to visit your homestead. Availability at any other time is debatable.
The solution to this problem is to have other contacts from other homesteads that deal with similar projects that you set up. These friendly and experienced contacts provide invaluable advice on your projects. Besides, they may provide you with simple solutions that they have discovered on their homesteading journey.
8. There Could Be Quiet Days.
Before you start a homestead, you have this view that it will be work all the time. I would agree with this notion to a larger scale. But tell you what? In the middle of all these activities, there are some quiet days in between. Perfect examples are the days after harvesting or just after planting on a large scale. These are the days you may wander around, looking for activities to perform. Although you may find yourself in this situation, it’s prudent to mention that you may still perform some duties that are not very urgent.
9. You Could Miss Some Ingredients For Your Favorite Meals.
Self-sufficiency is the primary plan for starting a homestead. You expect to have all your favorite vegetables and cereals in plenty. At the same time, you expect to have sufficient poultry and their products.
For plants, your expectations may be hampered by climatic conditions, nature of the soil and planting on the wrong time. An example on point is the bread wheat. It requires hot and wet conditions for proper growth. However, the harvesting time should be dry.
Animals like poultry are affected by cold weather that decreases their egg-laying frequency. The drop in production may lead to a deficit for your breakfast. This scenario is particularly possible If you have to maintain a certain supply quantity to your clients.
10. Things Could Go Wrong.
Initially you think of a homestead as a fort that’s immune to adverse factors. The seclusion and well maintained high fences appear to keep you intact. However, like any other place, things could head the wrong way with disastrous outcomes. There could be excessive downpours or medical emergencies without warning. The backup plans and safety strategies are entirely in your hands. The plans can save lives and restore normalcy on time.
11. Every Day Is A Learning Day.
Most people, I included will buy books and manuals on how to start and maintain a homestead. The materials are essential as they open the door to the world of the unknown. However, as you get into real projects, you will find the manuals less critical. They taught you the basics, but now it’s time to apply the learnt information. And boy, it’s when you realize that what was in that book was just an outline of the whole thing.
Soon you find yourself learning new ways, tricks, shortcuts and improvements never mentioned anywhere. You find yourself writing things that you seldom share as they are vital for the homestead. Shortly you start sharing with likeminded people and start a revolution that you never imagined.
12. Being Alert Is Part Of Life.
Fanatics believe that a homestead is a quiet place where one can finally enjoy a fitful sleep. After all, you have secured the whole homestead. While this notion is right, disruptions of your sound sleep are rampant.
How can you sleep soundly when one of your cows is due to give birth? Every time you hear some noise or movements from any location, you wake up thinking its time.
Security is another concern that may keep you alert. Some people may plan to reap your vegetables, especially when the demand and prices are high. Dogs play an essential role in alerting you when strangers break into the homestead. However, you think of break-ins every time they bark with commotions.
Many other concerns call for alertness in the homestead as you will learn.
13. Schedules May Not Proceed As Planned.
As you start a homestead, every operation appears seamless. For instance, it’s easy to install irrigation machinery and others that you may need. You may think that machines will operate smoothly forever. However, there comes a time when they breakdown in the middle of a project. The problem may be minor and easy to rectify. But sometimes you could encounter a significant breakdown that may take several weeks to repair. The disruption could interfere with your plans in a big way.
14. What about the Wardrobe?
Stop. Don’t upgrade your wardrobe now if you are planning to start a homestead. All your fancy clothes and suits are about to take a back seat. You will wear aprons and other clothes that adapt quickly to dirt almost every time.
Changing your wardrobe does not mean that you put on dirty and torn clothes. It means you will shift to wearing homestead clothing. You can find smart clothing online or on your clothing store that specializes in homestead clothes.
When buying homesteading clothes, look out for the following specifications;
You are working all day, so you don’t need a heavy apron. The most suitable ones are lightweight clothing.
Bright coloured clothes are not suitable in this place. They tend to appear dirty within a short time, especially when gardening. Select dark-coloured clothes that you can use without displaying a lot of dirt.
Select clothing that is easy to wash without losing its integrity. Besides, buy clothing with a material that provides some warmth during cold seasons. At the same time, it should dry quickly to keep you warm when out on the field.
15. You Will Maintain Cleanliness.
You may strive hard to maintain cleanliness while in the homestead. That will be a tall order, my friend. Homesteading involves a lot of dirty work. Dirt will be everywhere whether you are working in the garden or feeding the animals. Your clothes, shoes, hands and legs will form a relationship with soil.
Cleanliness is the last thing that preoccupies a homesteader. There are instances when you take a shower and wear clean clothes only to remember an issue you want to sort in the cowshed. All the cleanliness becomes useless within a short time.
A homestead is similar to any workplace. Challenges remain the same, and you solve them as they appear. You may not achieve most of what you expect within your timeframe. However, it’s prudent to be flexible on your expectations as they may fall short of your standards. It’s advisable to focus on the bigger picture of self-sufficiency.