Homesteading Mistakes and Lessons Learned: Part 1

Reader Contribution by Becca Moore
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We totally did this and although we don’t completely regret it, we would never do it again!  

For years my husband and I had been talking about moving to a bigger piece of land and homesteading on a larger scale. Our little homestead back east just wasn’t what we’d call prime homesteading land. We were renting a small home on just a quarter of an acre, right smack in the middle of a subdivision. Chickens, goats, pigs, cows, big gardens, and all the other goodies that come with homesteading, were not very welcome in our subdivision. Being able to provide our family with food that we had raised and grown ourselves was extremely important to my husband and me. We also wanted to be able to teach our children all the skills that come along with a self-sufficient lifestyle.  

We had all the big dreams that come with a big homestead too. Lots of land, lots of animals, a huge garden, all the equipment we needed, and a home that needed some work. We always said that if a property ever came available that we could afford, we would jump on the opportunity — and we did just that.  

We had dreams, but we had no practical plan

During the late winter of 2017, an old abandon home had come available through one of the leasing companies we had been talking with. It was situated in the Ozarks on just nine acres of land and it was perfect! We knew, or at least we thought we knew, this was our opportunity and we better jump on it. We immediately began planning for our family of nine minus one (our oldest son was not ready to make the move with us yet), to make the 1,100- mile move across country. We downsized just about everything we owned except for the necessities and some homesteading essentials and loaded everything into a 10′ x 12′ trailer. We loaded everyone and the dog up in our SUV and headed off to Southwestern Missouri….totally sight unseen.  

That was our mistake. We had never even visited Southwestern Missouri and didn’t really know anyone there. We had no idea what we were getting into and how much of a change it really was going to be for our family. Sure, we had the skills, we had been building them and improving them our entire lives. What we didn’t have was the experience of living in a rural community of less than 200 people and town being more than 40 miles away. We didn’t have the experience of not having electricity and needing to run off a contractor’s box for more than three months. We didn’t have the equipment needed to clear more than nine acres of land that had been untouched for over 30 years.  

And then there was the house

It was beautiful and it had a ton of potential, but eight people living in a one bedroom just was not going to work. We “thought” we would be able to convert the attic into two bedrooms, however, with the cost of the other major projects that needed to be done first — staying in a hotel for nine days due to no electricity at the house, daily trips for almost a month between the homestead and town that was over 40 miles away, running new electric lines, a new holding tank, the contractor’s box so we could run temporary electric for the house and well, cleaning supplies, tools and other equipment, food because we didn’t move our freezer stock from back east — there were no funds to even think about converting the attic. With living so far from town, D had a difficult time finding a job that paid well enough to supply enough gas in the Tahoe to make it worth it. In the end, we were putting out more of his salary for gas to get to work than we were to pay our mortgage payment.  
It just was not worth it, and we were all ready to pack it up and go back to living in town, which none of us really wanted to do.  

In the late summer, my husband went to work for the leasing company we were buying our home through. He explained much of our situation and asked if there were any other homes available that maybe were better suited for us. Fortunately, there was and this time, we didn’t make the move blind. We loaded everyone up into our Tahoe and made the one and half hour trip to see the house.

The new property had less land, only about 3 ½ acres, but we could maintain it and we could absolutely do the work that needed to be done on the land, if we chose to ever start homesteading again. The home was a three bedroom (possibly four) and it had so much charm and potential to it. Sadly, I was very discouraged and felt like a failure, so I wasn’t seeing the potential at the time. I was extremely negative about the entire thing and although we did eventually move to the new homestead, I put off even talking about homesteading again for a full year.  

Thankfully, much has changed, and we are back on track with a vision for our homestead and a plan in place. This time we aren’t only motivated by dreams, but by the reality of what living on a homestead really costs — financially and emotionally. We’ve learned that going in blind can often be a costly mistake, but more importantly, we’ve learned that discouragement, what seems like failure, and allowing ourselves to be defeated just isn’t a possibility if we really want to live self-sufficiently. 

We’ve learned a lot over the last year and we hope that you’ll join us through this series.  

Becca was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania where she learned to home-preserve foods and cook from scratch. She now lives on her 3 ½ acre homestead with her husband and six of their seven children. After a huge set back, she is back to growing and raising and preserving food for her family. More Places To Find Becca On The Web: Blog: The Faith, Family, and Homesteading; Facebook: Faith, Family, and Homesteading; Pinterest: Faith, Family, and Homesteading

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