Being that we are almost 10 years into this lifestyle, we love to give advice. But our favorite parts to touch on are, what we would have done differently. Now that doesn’t mean regrets. It means using what we know now, to give seasoned advice to others before they make the mistakes we did.
Our Top Mistakes
Our most common mistake was that we had to keep learning from jumping headfirst into too many things at once. Zach and I are go-getters and doers. If we have a goal, it will get done in a much faster timeline than most would have planned. I love that about us, truly. But sometimes we will put too many things before the cart and before we know it, we get overwhelmed. It doesn’t take long for a feeling of overwhelm to take over and completely shut us down. What seemed like a bunch of small, easy projects can quickly become huge, daunting tasks if we put too many horses before the cart. For this reason, we started making lists. We have everyday lists, monthly lists, quarterly lists, and yearly lists. Instead of taking on too many moving parts at once, we will chunk out each project one at a time. Now sometimes it works for us to go ahead and get the materials for the next few projects. That way they are already there and we can swiftly and quickly move into the next project when one is complete. But just because all the equipment and materials are there, doesn’t mean we are starting everything all at once.
Another common mistake we had to learn from a few times was getting animals before we were ready. This was an early-on mistake that was mostly brought on by so much excitement and wanting to get everything at the same time. When we got our first piece of property, we were so excited with the room and potential, that we went a little crazy. We got animals before we had to correct infrastructure, and even before we knew anything about that certain animal. Even though those situations turned out okay, and we learned from them, it could have gone a lot worse. Getting animals before proper pens, fencing, and knowledge can cause so much to go wrong that it could end your whole journey before it even begins. There is nothing more frustrating than animals getting out of pens and fences and not being able to get them back. Those experiences can leave such a bad taste in your mouth that you consider giving it all up. Ask me how I know!
When it comes to our biggest gardening mistakes, I would say I wish we had documented EVERYTHING. When people talk about garden journals, they are serious. Learning from your biggest mistakes can come straight from documentation. Document everything! From seed starting to pests, to crop rotation, etc. You will learn so much from your notes that you will never remember. There simply isn’t brain space for it all, but there is plenty of journaling space!
Our lush, green luffa plants taking over a full garden!
Our advice for starting this journey is always to get what you can handle. If you have never owned chickens, start there. Get enough hens for eggs, and then you can move on to new birds, hatching eggs, etc. Give yourself time to get acquainted with each new thing before you jump into something new. Once you master chickens, move on to livestock. But not just any livestock, whatever livestock your family needs, whether that be for meat, dairy, or reproduction.
Start a small, raised bed or container garden before you try to tackle the secret garden of your dreams. Learn to seed start, winter sow, and all the lovely things before you jump in so hard you get overwhelmed. Learn to grow the food your family will eat, before you grow something that may rot on the counter because it wasn’t a family favorite.
The biggest key to starting all of this is following YOUR journey. Not someone else’s. Trying to mimic someone’s dream or setup won’t lead to success. Some homesteads or farms will have the infrastructure to keep getting new animal species every year. Some won’t. Just because someone else buys a herd of goats or cows, doesn’t mean you should. It’s all about finding out what your family needs for self-sufficiency and doing that. Don’t do what someone else is doing because it looks like what’s next. Sometimes there is no next. Sometimes it’s about calling it with what you have and maintaining that. Only you will know what your family needs for self-sufficiency. So start there.
Don’t Leave This Blog Without Hearing Us…
Those things we would do differently:
-Not rushing into too many projects at once
-Not getting animals before we were ready
-Not comparing our journey to others
We hope this helps inspire you to really narrow in on what you want for your journey. Your journey could be anywhere from a backyard oasis with a couple of chickens, and a small garden to a 200-acre ranch with cattle and horses. There is an in-between in there for everyone. Make your plan and own it. Don’t compare yourself to others, and make sure you know what you want out of this lifestyle before you start it. We are always right here to answer any questions and encourage you to start right where you are.
We love yall! Until the next one, bye <3