Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Start with a DreamIt’s ok, go ahead and describe your dream small farm or homestead. For us it looks like this:
"Sovereign Sonrise Permafarm has a beautiful lodge-like home surrounded in God’s beauty and bounty; the polycultural nature of the property is filled with multiple species of livestock working in conjunction with working animals and us to provide delicious and very healthy meat.
"You will find pigs in forested paddocks. Goats and sheep in a paddock shift model on a diverse silvopasture. Rabbits in tractors eating fresh grass and fertilizing along the way. Poultry working partners preparing ground, keeping bug populations in check, foraging amongst the plenty, working food forests and dropping nutrient. Livestock guardian dogs are found protecting the animals and keeping the predators at bay.
"The terraced food forest and linear food forests are stable and self-supporting with their own mulch makers, pollinator attractors, nitrogen fixers and dynamic accumulators that support dozens and dozens of diverse productive fruit and nut cultivars that provide an abundance of food for humans and animals. Annual gardens are planted each year providing delicious, nutrient dense vegetables and herbs. Beehives are healthy and provide so many useful functions in tandem with our homestead. Forage is planted so prolifically that the system has become almost a closed loop of forage, production and waste all working together synergistically.
"The water flows have all been set up in systems that work passively with springs, rainwater catchment, swales and ponds all working together to provide the nourishing effects of water to the farm. Sitting on the back deck overseeing the majority of the homestead is stunning to the eyes and aromatically pleasing to the nose and sweet to the mouth.
"Trail systems throughout the property offer an experience with nature, a variety of birds singing from three kinds of pines, Cedar, Firs, Larch, Birch and Aspen and dozens of understory species. Moose, deer, mountain lion, wolves, snowshoe hare all occupy the outer zones of the property.
"A plethora of beneficial insects can be seen and heard in and amongst trees, bushes and flowers that give an unmistakable natural feel to the land. The Lodge and property are perfect for the family. Many opportunities exist for farmstead enterprises and other ventures. The farm produces nearly all of the food required by the family.
Additionally, we have a successful business helping others toward self-sufficiency and homesteading. In the wintertime, we get to slow down with the rhythm of the seasons, relax and let wood heat penetrate and warm the soul."
Are we there yet? No, not even close, but we are working on it. If all we had were the above dream with no goals or a plan it would be very easy to become discouraged. Start with the above and move to the next step: start by finding your purpose and then setting goals.
Develop Your Purpose
You must have a purpose! This is not a regurgitation of a “life purpose” exercise but really just a way to figure out what important things are you going to do with your life. In particular, why is it important for you to homestead? Write it down. Here are a list of potential reasons people homestead; they happen to be our reasons:
The freedom it provides
The healthy food that it produces
The healthy lifestyle it promotes
The skills that are learned
The stability that it provides in uncertain times
The potential streams of income from working the land it affords
Why is it important to develop a purpose? Because when homesteading becomes hard — and it will — if you don’t have a purpose to fall back on, it is likely that you will give up.
Design Major Goals
The next step in the goal-setting process is to set major goals. We highly recommend that you set major goals in the following categories: Homestead, Spiritual, Family, Health & Fitness, Business, Education and Financial.
This is a blog about homesteading, so we will focus on the homesteading goals, but in order to achieve balance in your life, it is important to apply the same level of detail to all of your major goals. We can’t stress this enough. You can devise the best laid plans and goals but if your life is out of balance it will be for not. This is a critical point that we can’t stress enough.
The amount of work, dedication and commitment required to homestead is high and therefore, balance must be high as well. We recommend that you set two or three goals in each category. Here’s an example of one of our major goals:
"By August 1, 2016, the homestead provides 80 percent of family’s caloric needs, averaged out over any given week (when we are on the homestead) in order to obtain more self-sufficiency, work for the family, reduced financial strain and healthy food to eat."
Is it specific? Yeah, I would say this meets the specific requirement. The homestead needs to provide the sustenance, not Wal-Mart, not the farm store, not the farmer’s market.
Is it measurable? Yes, 80 percent of caloric needs over any given week when on the homestead. This rules out the occasional family vacation or business travel. It also rules out the anomaly of any given day that would be very hard to track and achieve.
Is it achievable? Yes, we are committed and are aware of the cost and are definitely paying the price! Is it relevant? Absolutely, this is a key step in order to get closer to our idyllic dream homestead.
In Part 2 of this blog series, I cover how to design major goals and more importantly how to get stuff done with supporting mid-term, short-term goals and plans of action!
Sean and Monica Mitzel homestead with their family on 40 acres and are using permaculture techniques and strategies for the property. The property will eventually become a demonstration and education site where they raise dairy goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and ducks. The Mitzels have planted more then 50 productive trees and enjoy wildcrafting, propagating mushrooms, and raising and training livestock guardian dogs. Listen to The Courageous Life Podcast and to learn more about the Mitzels, visit The Prepared Homestead. Read all of their MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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