When we started the process of founding the Forgotten Forty farm back in 2008, we were, like most people beginning their journey into homesteading, worried about knowing where our food came from. We began researching and interviewing people who were ahead of us in that way, and reading every possible book on the subject. Feeling very confident in our "knowledge" gleaned from these second-hand experiences, we dove in... face first.
There is a big learning curve to this game. Looking back on our mistakes, they seem pretty silly, but that's only because we're looking back on them. At the time, they made homesteading seem like an impossible dream better left to episodes of Little House on the Prairie than attempted by us mortals. Who knew a single raccoon could wipe out a whole flock of birds in one sitting... for that matter, who knew they could undo latches like it's their job?
Those truths of farming are hard lessons indeed. When you spend so much time caring for a laying flock, or nurturing flats of tomatoes only to watch them die before your fist egg or blossom, it's very discouraging, to say the least. What we do when we plant a seed, hatch an egg or buy a chick is enter into a contract with nature, and nature plays by it's own rules. The best laid plans go awry. Predators happen. Animals get loose. Crops fail. Droughts and floods occur, and insects decimate. These are risks we take. Life itself is a gamble.
Many new homesteaders give up in the first few years because of issues like this. Early on, they seem overwhelming, and invariably seem to occur right on top of each other. Sometimes it's enough to make a person spill their marbles all over, but NEVER GIVE UP. The only way to learn how homesteading works for you is by figuring out what doesn't. Each farm is different. Each animal is different. Each growing season is different. Adaptability is the farmer's shield. One batch of pigs never tests the fence, perfectly content to sunbathe in the pasture, and the next batch delights in running amuck anywhere but where they belong. These things happen, but you can't let it discourage you. No one who homesteads can be called lazy. We are a tenacious, resilient bunch by definition. Never a dull moment.
Baby chicks are fluffy little balls of hope.
The next time your goat gets stuck in the fence while your neighbors dog is killing your chickens and your cow is booking it down the road, don't forget to breathe. Every farm has it's horror stories, but every farm has it's wonderful memories as well. When you see the new chicks in the brooder, peeping and flapping their itty bitty wings, full of optimism and wonder, it becomes easier to forget about the ones you've lost.
Americauna chick enjoying life on the farm.
Homesteading is about the future, and the future is full of bright possibilities. NEVER. GIVE. UP.