What Are The Most Important Homesteading Skills You've Learned?

| 8/17/2009 10:16:51 AM


In Homesteading Lessons Learned: If I Could Do It All Again, contributing editor and DIY expert Steve Maxwell shares the many lessons he learned during his twenty years as a homesteader. Man, is there a lot of trial-and-error involved in the process of honing those skills! Veteran homesteaders: Please, please share your wisdom with those of us who are just getting started down the path to self-sufficiency — what are the most important lessons you learned along the way?

Photo by iStockphoto/Moira De La O

5/29/2010 1:57:36 PM

Hmm, I agree that chickens and cooking your own healthy food are good first steps. Learning to do within your means is important, and that doesn't just mean money. Budget your time as well. Remember that anything you are learning to do the first time is going to take at least twice as long and cost twice as much, as you think it should. Ha ha. Really, it does! Accept this and budget for it. It will get cheaper and easier as you get the hang of it. I know others have mentioned asking for help and that is really important, but also remember to be of help to others. You can learn a lot and your neighbors will not see you as a leach on their time and energy. Remember to keep an eye out for the oldsters and others who may need help. This makes you feel good and builds community. Don't forget to budget your time for this, too. Take a few minutes each day to breathe and enjoy. Remember that it's not about the destination. The homestead is never a finished project. It evolves as you go along. Your vision will change. Take time to enjoy the ride. That's what its all about.

5/27/2010 12:24:53 PM

After 30+ years I realize start slow,plan,make sure to discuss the goals with your spouse.Make sure you are on the same page,understand it will not be easy,work as a Team.... Plan out your home,build to last. Our first job should have been a shed to store all the things we collected to build with,plan on the size of the home,remember the kids will grow up an move on.Plan on where the garden will be ,the orchard,the chicken house.Build fences to last.Build the land,build the soil to last. Remember your neighers have dogs that love to eat eggs or kill chickens or goats. Make sure the pens are safe,they have adequate shelter no matter what the weather.Remember that those cute little bunnies and animals have to be fed and watered,sleet,snow,7 days a week,water freezes,electric goes off,feed and vets are expensive.It doesnt make a difference if you are tired,late,sick,cold,animals have to be taken care of. Read books,on line info,visit with older people in your area.They can help more then anyone,most were raised in the country and made it thru hard times.Older people can be a lifeline with sick animals or any emergency,help you with gardening,canning,butching chickens,etc.I miss my grandparents their knowledge was invaluable.Grandad always said build you home out of the north wind,higher up so your not sitting in water,Plan,plan,plan, before you build.I now know I should have listened carefully.Listen to their knowledge and save alot of time and tears.

5/27/2010 8:02:40 AM

If you want to homestead but don't have a lot of money, use your imagination. I bought a very sturdy 90 year old house, in a small town, with a big yard. I grow all the fruits and vegetables I can eat, plus plenty to sell. Just get rid of the grass. Don't believe everything you read. Many of the so-called experts get their information from other books written by people who've never done the work either. Don't be discouraged by some failure. It will happen. It is hard work and at times you will questioned if you made the right decision. Get a practical hobby (sewing, knitting, home repairs, woodwork) for those times when you are snowed or rained in so you don't get stressed because you are forced to take time off when you have so much to do. If you live somewhere where you get lots of snow Sandra's advice is the most important. My front door is useless for most of the winter because the screen opens out.

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