You crafty little bugger.
You’ve got my heart, but you’ve also got my blood, sweat, & tears.
As a seasoned homesteader, I thought I’d share some things most people don’t talk about when it comes to homesteading. Because you need a farmy friend to tell you the truth. So that’s what I’m’a gonna do.
Whether you’ve been homesteading for a while, or you’re itchin’ to start farming on a piece of land all you’re own, I think you’ll appreciate these…
1. Nobody knows what they’re doing.
Let’s face it. We all don’t know what we’re doing. But that’s the point, right? To learn, to grow, and to become expert-level homesteading masters, am I right?
But the truth is, learning how to live off the land is not an easy task. It takes season after season of failures & successes to get it just right. And even then some bird or gopher can destroy it in one wild n’ crazy evening.
So my best advice is don’t let the fear of failure stop you from starting your homesteading dreams. Get going, my friend. Start making mistakes now so you can make slightly less mistakes later ?
2. Projects are endless.
Oh the projects. THE. PROJECTS. There’s nothing that gets me more excited than a new project.
And there’s nothing that gets me more pouty than a project that seems to never finish.
What I’ve learned is that I’ve got to enjoy the journey. I keep my head down, I avoid all the Pinterest-Instagram-y looking gardens, and I focus on my little hub here in the desert. Projects are life, but they are also something I’d miss if I never had another one again. Embrace the project life, my friend.
3. Suddenly all that matters is the weather.
This isn’t just for everyday chit-chat here. You’ve got a farm to run and you need to know exactly when that rain’s a’ comin’. Sometimes, we’re watching for the nights that hit freezing temps so we can cover our subtropical trees or put a sweater on a new baby goat. Other times, we need to string up shade cloth over the garden when we hit hell-worthy temps in the 120s.
Care about the weather. Because it matters.
4. Buy fruit trees yesterday.
If I had a time machine I would go back and tell myself to stop being cheap and plant my fruit trees NOW. Time will pass sooner than you think and before you know it, it’ll be 5 years later. And you’ll have missed out on those 5 years you could have put in towards the growth of a young fruit tree. Unfortunately, we waited until about year 6 to start planting trees. At this rate, we’ll be gathering fruit for our grandkids if we’re lucky.
It’s okay, we’re glad we started now. But we sure wish we would have started earlier.
5. Chickens are the easiest animal to raise.
One of the most self-sufficient animals around is the chicken. She’ll forage for food, lay her eggs, and put herself to bed in her coop without any direction from you. It’s actually quite fascinating to watch. As long as you’ve got food & water available, they are pretty happy little ladies.
Definitely, definitely start with chickens.
6. Crappy fencing is…well…crappy.
Don’t do it! Don’t you dare get that cheap piece of metal you found on the side of the road and think for one second it’s going to keep an animal contained. It won’t work, my friend. As painful as it is, fencing is the backbone of your farm, so you’ve got to give it the attention it deserves. Forgo the cheapies. Spend time & money on the sturdy stuff that is stable.
7. Growing veggies is the most rewarding, but also the most difficult.
The best thing about plants dying is that you can rip ’em out and pretend it never happened. But seriously, being able to start fresh in the next season is the only thing that will keep you sane in the gardening department. If you can focus on getting better and better with the basic, beginner veggies, it will only get easier from there. As horrible as it was to kill so many plants during our first few years, now it’s incredibly rewarding to know that yes, I am awesome at growing carrots & garlic, and I will grow it proudly each year.
8. Raising animals for meat isn’t as hard as you think.
I remember thinking that butchering our own animals was going to be the hardest thing ever. While it was tough to actually do the deed, I realized it really wasn’t all that difficult and the best part of it all was feeling legit self-sufficient. Honestly, there are very few Americans who could butcher and process a chicken from start to finish. And it feels incredible to know I’m one of those people who can do it.
9. Milking an animal is an art.
I give serious props to whoever was the first person to squeeze that magical liquid from a teat. ‘Cause that stuff ain’t easy. It took me a good 3 MONTHS to be able to milk a goat without my arms and hands burning like a frenzy. Milking an animal is an art, ya’ll. Once you learn it, it’s like riding a bike, you’ll never forget. But learning it? Expect a few million tears.
10. Homesteading heals you in more ways than one.
I don’t know if it’s the air or the dirt or the animal sounds, but there’s something special about homesteading that really comforts the soul. There’s a connection you feel with the earth, the food is so amazing you can’t believe you actually get to eat like this, and you find happiness in the simple life. Just a quick 5 minute walk to the garden to gather greens & fresh tomatoes for lunch makes me wanna fist bump mother nature.
(BONUS) 11. Goats are everything.
It really wouldn’t be a Weed ’em & Reap article without the honorable goat mention, right? I can’t end here without giving a nod to my goaty friends, who, at the least drive me nuts, and at the most, keep me laughing. If you think homesteading means you need to find a milking cow, think again my wayward friend. Goats are where it’s at. The milk is gloriously mild & sweet when fresh, and the personalities? You can’t get that from a cow, people. p.s. I’ve got a whole article on how to raise goats here.
(watch our video below for a fun look at our homestead)
What’s your homesteading goal?
Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear! Where are you at in your homesteading dreams? Are you brand spankin’ new to the idea, or are you living the life with all sorts of animals & shenanigans?
Holly Myers says
My goal this coming year is to raise happy and healthy goats, and to have healthy gardens,and to CONQUER MILKING A GOAT!!!!!
We will be moving to an acre in Wittmann in a couple months and I can’t wait. But, when I think of getting started it becomes overwhelming. I definitely want chickens and a vegetable garden and fruit trees. I am thinking probably a couple goats for pets but I haven’t decided for sure due to the cost and the work. Once we move in where would you suggest I begin? Since it will be the middle of a Phoenix summer I figure I can get my garden area started and prepped for a fall planting. How do I pick a spot for my chickens? I have so many questions and I just don’t know where to begin. Thank You, Alice
These articles can help:
Best of luck with everything!
Thank you -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)
Lucy Lonberger says
When you added wood chips, did you first remove any rocks? Our yard is covered in those AZ decorative rocks.
Yes, DaNelle had to remove rocks first.
Thank you -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)
WT Abernathy says
Wow, looks like ya’ll have some drainage issues. I hope that got fixed, it would make your lives a heck of a lot simpler.
A lot of what you say is right- the projects are always there. But I suppose that is the good thing about homesteading. Everyday we are given the opportunity to re-establish our independence by doing it ourselves. The easy way, the consumer way, is to ‘pay the problem’ away and have someone else do it. Best of luck!
They live in Arizona and use public canal flood irrigation. It’s pretty interesting if you’ve never heard of it before. I hadn’t–I live in the pnw. https://youtu.be/sxVEgUY0L1U
Roxanne Wilson says
We are purchasing a home that is just under 2 acres, my plan is goats for milk (maybe meat), chickens, and a garden. Figuring out where everything is going to go is going to be the hardest part. lol We have two small kids and two over grown acres doesnt feel like a lot of land. Hopefully after some elbow grease it will be perfect.
We are on 6 acres with 4 chickens, a single wide, and a cow that is actually next door because our place isn’t fenced in yet. We have big plans of a wide variety of animals, a garden and orchard, a pond, and eventually a site built house. We know we can do it, just have no idea where to start. We are between jobs, so money is limited. And those around us are not understanding and mildly negative about the lifestyle that we are beginning. Watching your channel has been very inspirational because it made us realize we were way over thinking the whole thing. But we, especially me, don’t really know what to put our time and effort into at the beginning that will be worth it.
I’ve been gardening for a couple of years, and next week we are closing on 2 acres of completely raw land, with a hill, some flat ground, and even a dry creek along one side of the property. We hope to have a house built by the end of the year, but the homesteading adventures starts with clearing our land! And Ima getting goats, too!
I’m in a suburban condo in So. Cal. Appreciate your tips on keeping a garden going in the hot sun. I’m at livestock limit of 2 dogs. Sure would like a few hens! Concentrating on preparing for my spring garden. A lot of it will be in containers. Besides protecting plants from dogs & hot weather, we now have to protect them from a few rats we’ve seen in the neighborhood. Not willing to share my veggies with them!
Thank you so much for reading and posting. Just wanted to pass along DaNelle’s article about HOAs and city ordinances in case it can help you get those hens you wanted…plus it gives a few tips on gardening. https://www.weedemandreap.com/hoa-approved-backyard-farm/
Best of luck with the rat situation…I wouldn’t want to share either! Thank you -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)
Wow- such a fun, informative blog!!!
We accidentally started homesteading because we ended up on a huge acreage with lots of woods and ticks. And some fruit trees, which were bug infested.
We started with gardening, which was hard and not fruitful because the soil needed more nutrients. Then we got chicks, and the fruit trees were healthier. Then ducks. So eggs and a few roosters added to the family diet. Then had surprise pigs, which we ended up madly in love with, and suddenly looking at goats which led us here.
With six kids, if we can have loads of pastured eggs, some pork, and goat milk alongside the fruit and hopefully a better garden, the work and the food are all huge benefits! Thanks for the encouragement and resources for those of us starting off on this journey.
My husband and I and our 18 month old daughter will be moving to my parent’s 5 acre property in southern Arizona next February (Lord willing!). We are planning to breed the 2 Nigerian dwarf does that my parents already own and start our own herd for milk. We are also planning to get chickens and start a garden… basically we’re wanting/hoping/planning to begin the homesteading adventure with a bang! I’m so thankful and excited to find your blog and then find out that you’re also in AZ! That and the fact that you’re doing all that on only 1 acre gives me lots of hope and encouragement for our adventure! Thank you for all you share!
Sounds like you are embarking on a new and exciting adventure! Best wishes and Happy Homesteading! -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)
We’re going to be starting out with chickens next week and hopefully goats in the spring. I’m super excited!! Two years in the city is enough for me. We’ll be moving back to the country and I cannot wait
That’s fantastic! Best of luck! -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)
Jackie Bigar says
We hope to sell our current house and invest in around 5-20 acres of land. We are not sure yet if we’ll buy a fixer upper house or live in our travel trailer. Starting the homestead life debt free is really important to us. We really want my husband Michael to be able to stay home with us a build our homestead so we have to start with little to build it up. We are hoping to have fruit trees like your family (ps thank you for the tip of planting them sooner than later), animals, and building our homestead. We want to grow and raise all the food we need to survive plus sell some extra to help fund our homesteading adventure.?
Good luck with everything! I hope all goes well! -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)
Hi! I LOVE your blog and videos and have learned SO much from you. Thank you so much for that!
I DO have a goat question though. We purchased a registered & pregnant Nigerian Dwarf and she gave birth to an adorable doe. OMG! They are SO cute!! Anyway, this was her first time and she wasn’t too keep on being milked and we didn’t know what the heck we were doing! LONG story short, we got some milk, but not much and we now have NO milk, but we do have two adorable does. The trouble is, momma NEVER learned to appreciate our dogs and is super aggressive with them to the point where they are now terrified to be around her. The baby (did I say she’s adorable!) is fine with them and isn’t bothered with them at all. My initial goal was to have a small herd for milk (and adorableness) and to have what you have…adorable goats, yummy milk, and fun pets too! The question is, now what?!?! Momma hates the dogs and we have had to separate them full time which means my dogs are now pooping/peeing on the patio and the goats have the run of the yard/horse arena. Do you think we should sell these two together and start over? Should we sell momma and keep the baby? Should we add to the herd so they have goat friends? Should we sell mom, keep the baby and add other baby goats (she is now 5 mo only) to the herd and wait for them all to grow up and then breed them? SO many questions. Can you offer any wisdom?
homeschooling momma to six, living on a small ranch in Los Angeles
Well it sounds like quite a lot going on with your farm! Never a dull moment is there? 😉 Keeps life exciting and fun! I think you can keep all of your animals if you wanted to. Perhaps fencing them properly might help. Doing so could allow for adequate separation and a feeling that they have their own space that’s safe and comfy. DaNelle actually has a great article about goat fencing that might be helpful: https://www.weedemandreap.com/goat-fencing-breaking-out/
I hope this helps and your animals can live together…peacefully. 🙂 Best of luck and Happy Goating! -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)
It’s normal for goats to be afraid of dogs and be protective of their young. Ideally you would not allow the dogs to run with the goats – goats are prey animals and dogs, even family pets, are natural predators. Fence off a section of the yard just for the farm animals (sheep, chickens, etc. also naturally fear dogs) and keep a section fenced just for the dogs, and everyone will be much happier. The only exception to this would be an LGD breed like a Great Pyrenees or Anatolian Shepherd, which can usually be trained to live with livestock safely.
Barbara Austin says
Let me add English Shepherds to the list of dogs who will look after livestock and poultry and any children and who will watch your back, too. Of course, any dogs has to have some training, but ES are the perfect small farm dog.