Mother Earth News Blogs > Homesteading and Livestock

Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


Preparing to Homestead, Part 1

Before we started homesteading I would sit and imagine how idyllic and peaceful it would be. Sitting on my porch shucking peas, looking out at all the animals grazing on lush pasture, the garden teaming with vegetables, fruit trees drooping from the load of fruit ready to be picked, and the kids building forts and playing with the dogs. I imagined a pot of soup on the stove, fire burning, and homemade bread in the oven.

In my imaginings, it was all just magically there, perhaps we’d been homesteading for a while and things had grown over the years, I’m not sure. But in my dreams, I certainly wasn’t giving a pedicure to a severed chicken foot readying it for the pot, or feeding a dead rabbit “kit” to our dog so as not to waste perfectly good dog food, but that’s reality on our homestead.

Certainly I do get days of sitting on our deck and watching our animals graze, but I understand now the work, sweat, dedication, and money that has gone into these things. Reality is not prettier than what I imagined, but it’s better.

Becoming a homesteader is more than a physical move or change, it’s emotional, mental, and spiritual. It matures us as we embrace it, it increases our practical skills, and knowledge of the Creator abounds as we are daily surrounded by His handiwork. Moving from a suburban or urban life to homesteading requires a mental shift, a change in the way a person thinks. So as you begin to make the transition to a homestead, we want to share with you a few things we believe will help you make it easier on yourself and your family.

Commit

The first step seems pretty simple – commit. Now, we don’t mean just think about, dream about it, imagine what it will be like, or even talk to other people about your plans to homestead. We mean get serious about it, make a mental shift; decide to start making changes now in order to ease the stress of the transition.

Making changes is hard. However, if you truly commit you won’t let trials, problems, obstacles, shiny new objects, the trappings of the world, or even failures keep you from accomplishing your goal.

Unplug from the Matrix

Once you’ve committed, the next step will be easier – unplug from The Matrix! The average American wastes 35 hours a week watching television (including Netflix and the like), that’s an exorbitant number of hours. The skills you need for homesteading (gardening, animal husbandry, managing a forest, etc.) do not come naturally to most suburbanites, it requires study and practice.

Once you “unplug,” you will happily find many available hours you never knew you had. “Unplugging” will require you to go back to step one – commit, because changing your family’s television, video game, computer, social media, and movie time won’t be easy. You will meet resistance, if you, personally, have been mindlessly “plugging yourself in” everyday it will require great self-discipline to pull the plug, but do it!

Eventually everyone’s minds will wake up and creativity will begin. It will take time but it will be worth it in the end – you are rescuing your family.

Redeem the Time

Now that you have available time, redeem it by beginning a self-education and family education program. Make a list of books to read, activities to do, projects to build or try, start a small garden where you are, if you’re in an apartment, start a container garden. Learn what you can. Learn to cook from scratch, wildcraft for wild edibles and medicinals, find farmers near you and see if you can help a couple of days a month.

There are many ways to receive an education and build skills even before move on to your own homestead! During this time, teach your children hard work, not just simple household chores but real, hard work; toughen them up, work with them, help them to understand that work is a blessing. When the move does come your children won’t be moaning, crying, and complaining about the work and how they miss their old house, they’ve already been working hard so it’s not a big deal.

We’ve covered three steps so far: commit, unplug from the Matrix, and redeem your time, next time we will talk about financial preparation.

Photos by Linde Mitzel, P3 Photography

Click here to read Part 2.

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.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.