There’s no obvious word for what I do. I have a homestead and aim for self reliance…but I still have a day job. Is that “homesteading”? Who knows? Homesteading is a spectrum between Grizzly Adams and the banker’s deluded trophy wife who hires illegal aliens to plant tomatoes for her. I haven’t gone as self-reliant as I’d like but that’s probably good. It keeps me from going too Mosquito Coast and/or starving in a mud hut.
Another thing to know; it’s a bigger challenge than you think. Too many lessons are learned the hard way, most of what you read is bullshit, and half of what you actually know won’t apply to your situation.
I probably don’t know what I’m doing but I do know plenty of stuff that’s wrong. I’m always happy to help folks avoid obvious pitfalls (many of which I’ve experienced first hand). So I’ve written an unordered and incomplete list of things you need to know if you’d like to homestead.
- You have much less money than you think.
- Don’t quit your day job. See #1.
- Baby skunks are the sweetest cutest little fluffballs you’ve ever seen. Shoot them; in the head.
- Every redneck with a spare acre of overgrazed farmland will put a cow on it. If you automatically buy a cow, you may be a redneck. If you ponder the best use of your pasture you may be on the path to homesteading. If you buy a llama you’re doomed.
- If deer eat your garden; eat the deer. Humanity evolved to be a bad ass. Rise to the occasion.
- Hippies, God bless them, become a lot more realistic after raccoons kill their chickens and the pipes freeze.
- Squirrels, birds, snakes, and other woodland creatures enjoy ruining your plans. It is your job to demonstrate your superior position on the evolutionary ladder. After a while they’ll learn that you’re not nature’s bitch and back off. Unless you are; in which case they’ll take over your house and party like the Green Bay Packers on acid.
- Get this month’s copy of Mother Earth News. Then burn it.
- Jackie Clay is smarter than you.
- Tools, chainsaws, buckets, mauls… you need a whole lotta’ shit to reduce materialism. Go figure.
- The closer you are to “carbon neutral” the more ridiculous the concept will seem.
- If you need to consult with zoning rules before buying a chicken… move.
- Debt will beat your ass like a tambourine. You’ve been warned.
- There is a vast gulf between the critter you’re raising in a barn and dinner on a plate. Cross it.
- When all else fails and you think there’s no hope; swallow your pride, drive to town, and eat at the diner.
- It is entirely possible to know six languages and have mastered advanced particle physics yet screw up planting an apple tree.
- Pay attention to geezers. A lot of old people know their shit.
- A lawn is not landscaping. It is a flexible use storage facility and a defensive perimeter between you and nature.
- Ideally a dog should be roughly the size (and possibly the intelligence) of an eight cylinder engine block.
- It is entirely possible to spend two grand making a gallon of maple syrup that you’ll sell for $60. Do not try to explain the logic of this to your accountant.
- You have an accountant? Well lah de dah! I suppose you’ve got a butler too?
- If you find a real mechanic treat him well. Ladies, you may want to consider marrying him. The rest of us are trying to swim against the tide of a disposable society and it sucks. We want your mechanic’s number.
- You may find yourself daydreaming of backhoes and fences when you used to dream about yachts and Lamborghinis.
- It is said that the average person can go only three days without outside resources like grocery stores. You’ll soon realize that the average person can’t read this sentence without a support team.
- If your doctor says that homesteading is not exercise, punch him with the flabby unused muscles you developed lifting 100 pound bags of feed.
- Flannel sheets are worth it. Lumberjack plaid goes with everything. Denim jeans aren’t officially worn out until the third round of patches.
- Keep a jackknife in your pocket.
#27 is my life in a nutshell. I did a “Tech Day” talk at the local Jr. High. When a loose screw fell out of my service monitor, I pulled out my trusty Old Timer, and put it back in. Those little mush-brains were totally quiet and bug-eyed. I wasn’t allowed to have a “weapon” on the premises. The teacher didn’t appreciate my narrative on what constitutes a weapon. (human mind) I’ve been carrying one in my pocket since 2nd grade. (thanks dad!)
This is awesome truth in a can!
Hubby recently suggested that we keep chickens. I asked why. He said, “So we don’t have to buy eggs.” I said something like, “Yeah, and they’ll be twice as expensive as what we can get in the store. But at least the chickens will make great fox bait.”
They’re also excellent “live landscaping”. Every lawn should have a couple critters poking about in the foliage.
Also, the things you’ve been buying in the store are labeled eggs but they’re crap. Real farm fresh eggs are a whole new dimension.
Plus they “de-snobify” the place. One simply cannot put on airs while chickens are crapping on the dandelions. A useful trait!
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For years I had dreamed of a 15-20 acre farmette west of Jacksonville, FL.
My good friend advised me well with the brutal truth:Running to town 8 times a week for one thing or another. Critters you love to see in videos are living under, over, and in your house.
The country folks who all grew up with each other greet you with,”you ain’t from around here, are ya?”, for 5 years.
When you’re older and want to move back to the city, any interested buyers simply wait you out.
Oh yes, the truth is brutal. But then again so is life.
As for the neighbors? There are good ones and bad ones everywhere. Nothing much you can do about it.
I don’t intend to move back to the city. It could happen, of course, but I don’t intend on leaving this place any way other than feet first. The real goal now is endeavoring to make that time come as far from now as possible!
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Richard Pryor said it best on #17. “Most old people ain’t fools. You don’t get to be old bein no fool.”
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Awesome. I had to post a link to this on my blog.
What blog is that? Just curious.
Corollary to #22: If you find a real mechanic treat him well – and NEVER FOR THE LOVE OF GOD tell anyone about him.
He’ll get way too many customers simply by osmosis. No need to help him advertise.
In a similar vein, I do general computer work for a few small businesses. I give them a discount if they promise never to tell their family or friends about me.
#6, I’ve seen the romance of homesteading wither and fade like a fourO’clock bloom at noon so many times. Culture shock can be a formidable obstacle.
I had to move into the city for awhile and my brother wanted to rent my farm (cheap) while he want back to school. This is a guy that had lived IN Atlanta for 15+ years.
I figured that the shock would kill him or leave him divorced. 6 months later his wife sent me a picture of him shooting a groundhog using the kitchen window as a gun rest.
He bought land nearby so when I move back, he can stay in the country.
Sometimes it works.
Chickens are a yards best defense against vermin. Plus you’ve got eggs when
the store don’t.
Until the fox, coyote, possom, or neighbors dog gets’em…….
Chickens are the defense against little vermin. You are the defense against bigger vermin.
You either get it or you don’t. If you can work in the sun all day, nearly giving yourself heatstroke, and still feel like youv’e had a rewarding fruitfull day, then homesteading is for you. If you’re afriad to get blisters on the palms of your hands…. Move back to town city boy.
Well put. My idea was that a lot of people don’t know that and it’s better to find out with a laugh…far in advance. Homesteading, like anything, can look different in passing than in close reality.
OK, that was LMAO funny. It’s amazing how reality comes up and bites you in the ass when you try to work the land. We run 650 acres, I DO have a day job, and I figure I’ll sleep sometime when I’m old and grey, if I live that long. But there is someting about feeding an entire family on food without a single store sticker on it, and the table, and the plates, and the utensils, etc….
And oh, you forgot 28: Bambi is NOT a movie, it’s a food group…..
And # 3 of course needs clarification. Use a sniper scope, shoot them from long range, put the carcass in a hermeticaly sealed bag, drive it at least 20 miles and bury it in a really deep hole, and the smell MIGHT go away in under a month 🙂
I generally have no patience for blogs – but a friend turned me on to this one – and I loved it. I will now become a faithful reader – you have sucessfully breached my virgin-blog-status: thanks!
Excellent! Nothing can burn time like blogs. You’re doomed now.
Bought the “Farm” 30 years ago. My wife finally shot her first Armadillo last week. Racoons can move a cement block with little or no effort at all. If you think you have them locked out of the Dog Food container, you are only fooling yourself. If an animal is not destined for the table and you don’t use it daily for plowing or transportation it is a “Pasture Ornament” not a farm animal.
Until the fox, coyote, possom, or neighbors dog gets’em……
That’s why you don’t eat all the eggs. We always had a hen or two that would go off somewhere and hatch a brood of chicks. Surprisingly we got very few roosters.
Anon is right about #3.
That too. I just have my doubts about being able to tolerate the chickens in the first place. Guess thats why I’m not homesteading. Though I’ll admit I’m considering Muscovy ducks for small vermin control…..I have to convince my husband first.
Sometimes, some things just need to die
In the country, sometimes, some things just need to die. That is why Roundup, Tordon and a Mini 14 are the best weapons.
If your chicken coop is on stilts they’ll jump up into it at night.
The dumb ones are critter food.
There are smart chickens?
I’ve been out on my 90-acre place for about 17 years now and I love it, but I have a saying when people talk about “how big” it is or “how nice.”
“Yeah, 90 acres is the perfect size — too little to make much money off, too big to take care of.” 😉
BTW, I don’t have chickens at the moment, but last time I did, I never lost a single one to predators — my dogs were a perfect defense for them. I lost two chickens to one of the dogs, at first, but after she was convinced that was NOT cool, she and my other dog at the time became great defenders of the flock.
After twenty years on this property, I frequently muse on how many large machines (well-drilling rigs, well-cleaning and sucking-out rigs, septic-tank-cleaning trucks, propane trucks, boom trucks, backhoes, tractors, dump trucks, snow blowers, etc.) it takes in order to enjoy a tranquil country life.
thx for the warnings and tips and I still really badly wanna move to a farm I’m a really hard worker i’ll think i’ll cope 😀
Go for it!
and also I can drive tractors and mechanical work so yea 😉
If you ever need a broken tractor to test your mechanical skills call me. Mine is always broke.