Grit Blogs > Chasing Goats and Scratching Hogs

7 Simple Things Every Homesteader Needs

A photo of AmyYears ago, when I toyed with the idea of moving to a farm, I was overwhelmed with the list of things I thought I would need to succeed in the simple life. As it turns out, the things I use most often are simple things that I already owned. No bells or whistles needed! At our little patch of land, the things we’re usually grabbing for are:

1. A good pair of boots: We fly out the door to deal with some barnyard issue so often, you’d think we would sprout a pair of wings. Fortunately, a pair of boots left right at the door helps us to quickly attend to any emergency set in front of us.

My Bog Boots, at the ready, easy to pull on and go!  

Make sure your boots are weather resistant and can be pulled on in record time. When there’s a rabbit in the garden, a snapping turtle stalking your ducks, or you discover the goats have played Houdini again, there’s no time to deal with anything other than a quick pair of boots. No laces, nothing fancy. Just pull them on and go!

2. A good flashlight: There’s always something to look for on the homestead after dark. Maybe it’s the chicken that didn’t come back to the coop for roosting. Or maybe it’s the noise you can hear around the house – is it a fox or a lynx carousing through your yard? Sometimes a flashlight comes in handy during the day. There’s a strange commotion coming from the woodshed, but gosh, that back corner is dark! We have several flashlights strategically placed around our farm for easy access. We even have one hanging from the back door.

3. A good pair of gloves: Messing around in the garden? Throwing hay bales? A good pair of gloves will definitely save your hands.

Hard work needs hardworking gloves. Your hands will thank you!  

And yes, you have every right to celebrate when your hard work wears a hole through one of the fingers, or you completely rip out the thumb.

4. A good pocketknife: Choose a knife you’re comfortable with and will also get the job done. There’s always something to be opened, cut, or somehow modified around the farm, so a pocketknife (or utility knife) is always being used. Carry it with you, and also keep an extra (or two) in various places where you commonly use them. You never know when someone else will have used your knife to do their work.

5. A good crate: I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to grab a crate, kennel, or carrier at our farm. Occasionally we have chickens who need to be separated from the rest of the flock. Sometimes a stray cat or dog shows up and we need to keep them contained until we can locate the owner. And there’s always the unfortunate accident or illness that means an emergency trip to the vet. Things happen quickly on the homestead, and when dealing with live animals, it’s always best to be prepared.

Our stash of crates and cages, ready for whatever animal needs them.  

6. A good support system: No matter how long you’ve been living the simple life, there’s always more to learn. Meet your neighbors, the co-op employees and the couple who runs the hardware store. Learn from the people who know what you want to know. Check out websites, forums, books, magazines, and don’t be afraid to learn in any way you can! I learned how to crochet and how to preserve food by watching Youtube. The information is out there, you’ve just got to have the drive to hunt it down!

7. A good sense of humor: When the garden floods, your bread won’t raise, and the chickens stop laying, it’s best to have a good sense of humor. If there’s one lesson to be learned in the simple life, it’s that we have very little control over anything! Your ability to shake your head, sigh, and try again will make things easier all the way around. A good sense of humor is probably the only way I’m able to run out and round up those trouble making Houdini goats again! Well, that….and my boots that are waiting by the back door.

steven gregersen
5/26/2013 4:31:34 AM

Good post! Muck/mud/bog boots and a good flashlight need to be at the top of every homesteader's list! A rain coat hanging by the door is a great help as well! Seems like things are most likely to go wrong in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm!

dianne moen
5/25/2013 3:09:51 PM

Amy, very good post. I arrived to my Northern Minnesota homestead in late March, when it was buried in deep snow. The first thing I did was buy a good pair of cold rated, waterproof winter boots. By the end of April, I there was icy mud and standing water everywhere...bought a good pair of insulated muck boots. Its now the end of May and I bought a good pair of rubber knee boots. I can see the pattern, and bought a pair of slogger clogs. Feet need to be warm in winter and dry. The same with hands and gloves! Everything is a learning process to me. If I have any advice, it would be don't skimp on the essentials. Good safe suitable gear, tools, and equipment cost - but not as much as injury, frostbite, and replacing the cheaper stuff that didn't work anyway. Don't be embarrassed to ask for advice. Most people like to share, especially if the lesson was hard earned and somewhat funny!

amy stevenson dingmann
7/6/2012 2:33:01 PM

Thanks, Robyn! When we first started with chickens, I did a lot of running out the door barefoot. That only lasted a few times until we stuck my boots by the door! :)

robyn dolan
7/5/2012 10:39:16 PM

Amy, welcome, and this post is right on! Indispensable items. I can't tell you how many times I've had to throw the boots on and grab the flashlight after dark to check on some strange noise out in the barnyard!

amy stevenson dingmann
7/1/2012 3:30:11 PM

Thanks, Nebraska Dave. I'm glad to be here! I haven't had any hogs get out yet, only those pesky goats...but nothing would surprise me at this point. Thanks for your comment, and have a great day!

nebraska dave
7/1/2012 1:14:52 AM

Amy, welcome to the GRIT blogger community. I can see that you will be a great asset to the bloggers. You have nailed it for sure with your list of simple necessities for farm life. The biggest thing is the sense of humor. The most unexpected things will happen at the most inopportune times. Nothings is a slam dunk with life on the farm. My thorn in the side during my high school years were the hogs. They are the best escape artists of all barnyard animals. If you want to test your fences just let a few hogs run loose inside your fences and you will soon know if they are critter tight or not. Have a great homestead day.