Mistakes We Have Made

I was recently asked to write on mistakes we have made. Gosh, where to start? I would say biggest mistake is that if you are married please both be in agreement as to starting your homesteading/self sufficiency adventure. Also make sure your relationship is strong. This will test your relationship. I could make this lifestyle seem romantic and simple but that in most cases is not true. It does have its sweet moments and benefits but more than likely you will be arguing about who will go milk the goat with its freezing rain outside.

The next mistake many make and quickly end up giving up on this lifestyle is taking on too much at once. We went through “phases” and this is what I highly suggest. I know you are in a hurry to see your master plan to be in effect but please hear me out. Start out in phases such as #1 chicken phase, #2 rabbit phase, #3 goat phase, #4 cattle phase etc. And put maybe a year or maybe more in between each phase. I know that’s not what you want to do but if you want to be self sufficient and be successful at it this is my suggestion. Believe me if you start out with a small garden, (yes start out small!) and then start with chickens. You will be busy enough with running the household, raising chickens, and gardening to fill up any day.

Also please note NO BOOK LEARNING will make you experts at homesteading. By all means study, study, study. Fill up your journals and notebooks with notes, drawings, pictures, links and master plans. Honestly that’s what keeps the dream alive in the cold of winter. Ha, That and the never ending  seed and gardening catalogs that come in the mail. I really thought when I started raising chickens for the first time I knew what I was doing. But life happens. You order your chicks to early or too late. Bulbs blow out in the heat lamp. Power goes out during a late ice storm. Stupid chickens won’t go inside the fancy chicken house you made them and instead die of heat stroke. Your chickens turn out to be cannibals. You learn about fowl pox etc. Oh and don’t worry about the fowl pox. Sounds bad, looks even worse but they will get over it eventually.

Do not get ahead of yourself. Let me say it again DO NOT GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF! Yes, this has a lot to do with the earlier paragraph of warning but what I mean in this case is equipment. Some things like good fencing you cannot do without. So don’t order the chickens without planning ahead with fencing and housing and do not whatsoever have a bunch of goats delivered and think they will stay inside a backyard fence. They will not stay in there until you get their other fencing done. Also, do not think you need all the bells and whistles when raising animals. Fencing is a must have. But lets say nest boxes don’t need to be the fancy metal ones you see in all the catalogs. Chickens will lay in whatever and where ever they are comfortable. They don’t care what it cost or that you did each little rivet to put the thing together. Our first nest boxes where plastic dish tubs screwed down unto scrap wood shelves and worked great. Oh and you do not need a tractor or a fancy goat milker either. Would be great one day but for growing food only for your use you don’t need to go that fancy.

I hope you avoid some of these mistakes. I know I have made more than this but these are the most important ones I always tell people about. They usually hate the “doing in phase” idea. But its your farm and its your hard work that is going in to this. I am not an expert and don’t claim to be. Make the decisions that work best for you and your family. And until next time take this other piece of wisdom never underestimate the intelligence of a goat or a donkey. That dumb look is an act!

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