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.