The 4 P’s Every Homesteader Needs

Reader Contribution by Fala Burnette and Wolf Branch Homestead
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The four qualities, what we also refer to as the four P’s, with simple summaries outlined here.

When reading the title of this article, what comes to mind? Do you begin to list specific, tangible items and skills that you believe should be included? Too often, we focus more on the tools of the hand instead of the tools of the mind. We cannot ignore the health of the mind when it comes to our ability to be self-sufficient, as you can have a whole shed full of equipment that is rendered useless if you find yourself in a dark time with no motivation. In an easy to remember format, I have listed four qualities beginning with the letter P that I believe are invaluable to the mind.

Now, I am one to talk, and I will openly admit that I struggle with my mindset. But I hope that some of the lessons learned along the way will benefit others and serve as inspiration to you so that you know you are not alone in your path. I will use examples from our experiences of the past few years as we have had to rebuild our home, losing the first cabin in an accidental fire. This was one of the most personally challenging moments I have faced and tested my mental state and tested the qualities I have listed. During this time, my husband inspired me by displaying these qualities and being an extremely important example for me.

The evening of New Year’s Day 2018 was not supposed to be filled with flames that lit up the dark of the woods. It was not supposed to be calling the volunteer firefighters from their homes and families (though, we are extremely grateful to them). You do not think of a “fresh start” and “goal-setting” involving literally building from the ground up. An accidental house fire made these things a reality for us when the cabin my husband worked tirelessly to build for us was completely lost. This was an important moment that shaped the 4 P’s for me.


This is the most important of the qualities to me. Without a positive train of thought, trials become harder to get through, and sometimes it is hard to find the motivation to carry through with a task when things do not go right. I emotionally remember the firefighter bringing us the American flag carefully in his hands- the only thing saved besides an older cast iron stove from the porch. Though I could count the things lost, a positive attitude helped me understand how blessed we truly were. Yes, we lost our home, but we were lucky no life was lost. Though we lost heirlooms and treasures made for one another, we did not lose out memories or our ability to love and start anew. I know it is easier said than done, but without training yourself to see the brighter side of hard times, it is easier to break down.


This word is defined in a sense by persisting through to complete something, even when the going is rough, and things get difficult. It is easy to get distracted by the negative and let it weigh you down to the point you cannot progress. When we lost the cabin, I cried as this beautiful home we built ourselves became ash. But we were extremely thankful that our chainsaw, our sawmill, and our tractor were not close by. The focus became immediately on rebuilding- persevering through this difficulty and knowing we were able to start again. By mid-Summer, we were back at it with the wood chips flying. It was therapeutic to be hauling logs behind the old tractor again. When you are faced with challenges- push through! You’ve got this!


Sometimes we want things done right the first time, every time. We get started on a task to get it done in a hurry or expect results immediately. By the time we got started on the second cabin as we went to rebuild, I had it in my head this would go by in a breeze. However, we battled with moving logs without the use of heavy machinery. Then came a terrible leg injury, though I am thankful my husband is alright and healed today (positivity), that had us down for quite a few months. Understanding that things do not always go on schedule and it will be alright if you must take some more time shows the quality mentioned here by enabling one to keep a level head. Do not get me wrong, having deadlines shows discipline, but being able to accept setback without discouragement shows patience.


You have probably heard the phrase practice makes perfect, but do we ever take the time to stop and think about our skills and how they improve? I’ve you have been splitting, hauling, and stacking firewood for years, compare yourself today to the very first time you remember splitting wood. After lots of practice out of necessity, I am sure you are much more efficient with your methods today and much more skilled. As an example, we have well-practiced by now how to move logs for our building process. When we first started out, it about three times as long, but repeating the process has helped us learn which equipment to use and the proper way to hook the log to the back of our tractor to make things run smoother. On cabin #2, we now also have plenty of practice with our sawmill in order to maximize the output of lumber and reduce waste and can put logs to greater use compared to when we first started out. Practice will help ensure quality, so keep testing the skills you will need and use frequently.

To sum everything up, just remember the 4 P’s as qualities to keep in your mind as you go through your journey. Even when things do not go right, try to keep your head up and remain positive. Though tough times come your way, persevere through them with strength. Have patience in what you do and keep a calm, and collected, head. Remember that practicing the skills you need can help things run smoother, so do not be afraid to repeat steps until you get better. What do you think of this list of P’s, and can you add anything to it? I challenge you to remember these and consciously put them to use today

Fala Burnette is a homesteader with her husband at Wolf Branch Homestead in Alabama. They are currently building their own log cabin and milling their own lumber, along with raising heirloom crops in the Spring and tanning furs during the Winter. Read all of Fala’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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