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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Setting Goals & Figuring out the Homestead!

Definition of 'Homesteading' from Wikipedia:
 Broadly defined, homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.

So are we farming or homesteading ??? and what is exactly is our focus here????
Shylo... sweet girl that I love... but will she work out on our homestead???
Questions we've asked ourselves here alot the last few months.

When we first decided to get land  it was all about being more self sufficient. Growing our own foods and going for a more isolated, simple lifestyle.

Well, homesteading is anything but simple,,, but we made it worse by trying to turn our homestead into a working farm! Which was not our goal...our goal had not changed...yet we lost our focus and now its more work to get back on track!

Self sufficiency gets lost when trying to 'make a living' off certain 'crops' and they become the focus.
Example: You grow your herd of cows to make more money off them at market to pay all your bills... that leaves you no time to garden & preserve all your veggies for the year... so then you must take money from your cattle sells to then buy your veggies.. adding yet another bill! and losing the self sufficientcy of having your own veggies.. back to depending on other famers or the grocery store...
And there's nothing at all wrong with that!!! we need farmers like this...
Because not everyone wants to be a subsistance homesteader.... you may only like to have one crop on your farm! you may hate raising animals... you may hate to garden...

But if you want to 'have it all' it must be done in moderation. I learned this the hard way this year.
In trying to grow my goat herds to a very large scale and have 3 separate goat herds(Nigerians, Dairy goats for our dairy needs and breeding kids for others and Meat goats for market)
Because of all this I did not have time to garden properly.. and with this being a very hard year on the garden it really really needed much more attention than I could give it because with goats being difficult to raise all my focus was on them.
Yes, I did make more money from goat sales ... but I will have to take that money and buy veggies because I didn't garden as well... which I do NOT like!
Made me realize, I do not want a goat farm, I want my homestead!
Last year at this time I had BUSHELS of veggies! This year... not so much :-(
When really, I only need a few goats for our homestead needs ... way less than I had even though at first! Even with my Goat milk skin care business...I really only need 3 or 4 good milkers...
Its so easy to lose focus on goals.... esp, if your a crazy goat lady :-)
 I see alot of people start out to homestead...but end up with a Hobby Farm.... People with a good full time day jobs get land having big goals and intending to homestead.. quickly realize they do not have time to homestead (or they don't like it because its crazy hard) so what to do with all the land? Taking a 'pet like' livestock animal they love (often alternative livestock and often the next trendy livestock) and basicly turning it into a pet mill. I also see alot of people do this who do not want to raise their own meat or raise meat for others... but want to make money to pay for their animals they keep.
There's nothing wrong with that either.. having say... a hobby mini donkey farm... or a nigerian dwarf pet goat farm.
but its not really homesteading or farming for a profit... hobbys are hard to make a profit off of...  or even to make it pay for itself. You need to make it a business for that and be honest about your numbers... (see 'do your numbers' below!)
Its easy to think more animals=more money... most of the time more animals just = bigger fed bills!
(numbers, numbers, numbers! can't stress it enough)

With so many people looking to get back to the land to be more self sufficient its important to know what your goals are, be accepting if they change or things don't work out... and realize that its very very easy to lose focus!!!!!

Also, certain things you may like to eat may be impossible to grow in your area... certain animals you love may not be cut out to thrive in your climate making alot more work ... on an already heavy workload...and a huge money strain if they really don't like your climate and they die often!
Since so many of us trying to get back to the land have no real clue about gardening or raising livestock ,trial and error is the way many have to go...
My husband and I included! (and we were raised on farms... we just didn't pay attention obviously!)

Most of the animals and garden seeds I started with did not work out.... all the heirlooms everyone raves about may taste nice but if the yields not there and its more likely to be hit with disease , it ain't worth growing here! I don't have time! Instead of holding on to the dream .. I had to be flexible and start using some open pollenated tried and trues for my area.. and some heavy producing hybrids for canning!
 Goals for your livestock may also change if you realize there is not a market for that animal or to many other breeders for that animal (like nigerian dwarfs or chickens!)

Very important lesson I learned this year... DO YOUR NUMBERS! and be fierce about them! the feed bill, vet bills, new bloodlines cost, keep track of every expense no matter how small.... you may think you don't spend that much on feed.. you may think you make money on your livestock... check the numbers... and then check them again.
Figure up your time per day, per week you have to spend on them... or your gardens if you sell veggies.
Figure up what you make hourly.... you might be shocked. In a good way, hopefully! but don't be surprized if its not so good! and again be flexible if you have to change things... its not the end of the world if you do. Don't hold onto the 'ideal' you have for your homestead or farm if your numbers don't add up.
Let it go.... a hard hard thing to do! But you'll be glad you did.

And in between ALL this work and figuring out and re-figuring out... don't forget to have fun...  living the homestead life is vastly different from what most people 'think' it will be. Its so much work.... remember to have time for things you enjoy. Its alot harder than you may think once you start this lifestyle. I think I almost forgot to have fun last year!



Sheep, an animal I NEVER thought I would have on my homestead! Yet, here they are and I love them.. will they work out??? Stay tuned to find out :-) But so far so good!

And last but not lest... PRAY! about everything!

and have faith that He will help you work out the path you're to be on...  realizing it may not be the path you had wanted to begin with!
That applies to ANY lifestyle you have choose!
Without Faith and Trust in the Lord I know I could not do anything this hard!

and alittle help from my husband, The Bald Man :-)

Have a Lovely Sunday!

4 comments:

  1. Hi! Great post! We bought a farm too with the intention of being more self sufficient. However, we came into it with a hobby farmer's mindset. And it has worked out. We are just down the road from you and feel like we are now ready to add a handful of goats to our farmyard. Our intention is for milk, weed control, and generation of fertilizer. We've seen your goat ads on Craigslist. We'd love to chat with you more if you have time! -susan

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    1. You're more than welcome to get in touch and come over and see the goats. I have 3 left...2 will be good for milk, one is a meat goat.
      They are good for milk and fetilizer... weed control not so much! Goats are actually very very picky eaters! :-)
      The sheep are actually way better at eating weeds!

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  3. I agree with Susan, very appropriate post and very thought provoking. I think the "idea" is what everyone wants and we like you have WAY to many animals and the food bill is a bit outrageous. We have been scaling back on chickens and are loving our new additions of milking goats. They are working out beautifully on our farm. But I found that people rely on me for eggs and I am not making anything off that and too many hens cycling out so some will have to go to the freezer very soon. I think some of our calves will have to go soon too! But it is like you said without moderation it becomes overwhelming and 4 hours of chores everyday to add to a family of 7 can be too much! Thanks for the insight!

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