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Grit and Determination

Four Reasons Not To Homestead

Alethea WilcoxIt's hard to believe that it's been 3 and 1/2 years since my husband and I started our homestead. We bought 12 acres. No house, barn, electricity or well — just land. After a year into the purchase of our acreage, we started our homestead. Sold our home in town and moved out. We had to build our house (we did some of the work), put a well in, electricity, and fix fencing and so on.

Along the way my husband and I have learned a few things. Yep, read up. If you are interested in homesteading or just getting started — there are some things to consider. Yes, I am going to say it. Homesteading isn't for everyone (gasp). Why do I say homesteading isn't for everyone? Homesteading involves a lot of things ... goals, hard work, flexibility, determination and a willingness to fail. I picked my top four reasons why NOT to homestead.

The first reason not to homestead involves goals. You will have to set priorities. If you don’t like to make goals then homesteading may not work for you. What do you want to achieve when homesteading? This is specific to the individual. Each person should set their own personal goals. You need something that you can see accomplished. You need both long term and short term objectives. For example, my husband and I knew we wanted a garden (long term goal). One of our first projects was a garden fence to keep chickens out (short term goal). A garden without a fence is a fantastic buffet for chickens. Sometimes I look at the garden fence I remember at one point it was just a goal on a piece of paper. The garden is now growing and safe from chickens (until they plan a corn heist, we are on to them and their sick plan). Set your goals and work on them.

Working in the Garden

The second reason not to homestead is work. If you think work is a four letter word, homesteading may not be for you. You have to be willing to work hard. You have to be dedicated. Your results are directly related to how much work you are willing to put into your homestead. It's just life on a homestead. My husband and I have spent hours building fencing. You don’t quit until the job is done. We have been out fixing fences with sun beating down on us. Sweat dripping off our faces. Mosquitoes pestering us. The good thing about work? You can look around your homestead and know YOU did it! If you are willing to work, things will happen.

The third reason not to homestead is that you have to be willing to be flexible. What do I mean by flexible? Go with the flow. If you have a hard time being flexible or having to change plans — homesteading may not work. Sometimes things won’t go exactly how you thought. Some projects will take more time than planned. Some things will be done out of order. Some things will have to wait on the weather. My husband I finished the fencing for the garden but rain put us behind. We had to adjust to the fact the garden was planted a little later then we wanted. Sometimes things will just go sideways. It's just life on a homestead. Sometimes things turn out differently but being flexible helps.

Spring Harvest Swiss Chard

The fourth reason not to homestead is failure. You have to be willing to fail. Oh yes, I mean F-A-I-L. Homesteading is all one big experiment. There are going to be things that work for you and things that don’t. I tried to grow bush green beans. I don't know why but I can’t seem to get the bush beans to grow. I failed. It was extremely frustrating to me. I can grow pole beans. So I chose to focus on pole beans. Failure is part of the homesteading process. Some things will work and some things won’t. Failures on the homestead don’t make you a bad homesteader. When something doesn’t work, it's okay. It means you found a way not to do something. Talk to other homesteaders in your area. They can tell you, for example, what plants grow well in your climate or what doesn’t. Grow, learn and don’t be afraid to fail!

Cutting Herbs in the Garden

The Pigs and the Lightning

Alethea WilcoxEvery spring, on our little farm, we start the search to buy piglets. Our farm has raised pastured pork for a few years.  This year my husband and I decided to purchase an entire litter. Unfortunately the deal fell through. We never heard back from the breeder. My husband and I were very disappointed. I suppose we could have given up, but I was determined to fill our freezer and have enough for some customers. You know what the Marine Corps says: Adapt, Improvise and Overcome.

I did some looking and calling around. I was able to find a very nice woman on Facebook who had some piglets for sale. I have never had luck with Craigslist or Facebook, but hoped for the best. We told the children we would be leaving to go get some pigs later that afternoon. My son, Wyatt, excitedly was picking out names he liked. My girls were looking forward to driving out to pick up the pigs. Our drive was roughly going to be about two hours. We took the old four-door farm truck; it was going to be a rough four hours. The farm truck was never really meant to drive off the farm and certainly not two hours away. I had some concerns about the possibility of being stranded so far away from our home. I had been keeping an eye on weather and noticed some severe thunderstorms that were coming our way. We crossed our fingers and left, hoping for the best.

The pigs ... 

The old farm truck rattled down the Interstate … then it happened. Sixty miles out, it started to dump rain. Most of the vehicles slowed down to a crawl. The force of the rain was so hard the windshield wipers flew apart and you couldn’t see. Lightning was hitting the ground all around us and the thunder was so loud it shook the truck. The rain was bad enough we had to pull off the highway and replace the windshield wipers. Nothing makes a person more jumpy then the possibility of your truck hydroplaning into bolt of lightning. We parked for a bit, but the storm showed no signs of slowing down, so we continued on. The farther we drove the more the weather improved. The children, my husband and I seemed to relax and become talkative again. As the rain cleared, so did the mood in the vehicle.  

... and the lightning. 

We arrived safely at our destination (no small feat). I couldn’t tell if the children were excited to be alive or to see the new pigs! My husband and the seller loaded up the pigs, and we all buckled up to drive back home in the blue farm truck. We made it back home incident free. We unloaded the pigs into their new pasture pens. In spite the rain, thunder and lightning, we managed to end up with piggies!