Oh hello there. Have you wondered where I’ve been?
Well I’m alive and well. Just sitting over here living my double life.
Yes, double life. And believe me, it’s a weird sensation.
Every morning I wake up, rub the sleep out of my eyes, gulp down some coffee, slap my face and yell “Hurrah!” before running outside in the freezing cold weather wearing nothing but my nightgown and some rubber boots (with holes in them), carry 4 bags of chicken food at once across the yard, all the while singing the best rendition of Disney songs you ever did hear.
What? Was that not believable? Because I totally hold the chicken feed bag and do walking lunges across the yard.
Oh who am I kidding. I couldn’t do a lunge if my life depended on it.
Anyways, the point is I wake up, gulp coffee, and feed animals. There’s no makeup, only a messy pony tail, and sometimes not even pants. I’ll just say it. No pants. But yes, there is usually rubber boots involved. I promise you, I’m not as weird as I sound.
But after the chores are done, this weird thing happens. I turn into someone else.
I attempt to style my hair nicely (I never got that girl gene that allows you to style hair), and attempt to put makeup on (I never got that gene either). I put on nice clothes (for me. For someone else they’d be scruffy clothes), and I put on shoes (or nice boots) and drive to the office.
Right? This is weird.
I wear perfume. Calvin Klein even. Not eau de goat which is what I normally wear after hours. If I get really fancy its eau de chicken poop.
After hours I wear a baseball hat, and Carhartt insulated coveralls. I sit down in the middle of the chicken run so my hens can climb all over me in my waaaay too expensive jeans.
The more I watch it happen, the weirder it gets.
My calloused hands and dirty fingernails are a wonderful reminder of who I really am when I’m drowning in paper work and meetings.
My baseball hat waits for me at the front door, so I can pull it on the second I get in. I kick off my shoes and pull my dirty boots on again.
But on the other hand, when the chores are piling up, the dogs are barking at the wind, and there’s mud tracked across my entire house, I can’t wait to get to the office.
I feel like I’m becoming two people.
The point to all this? I get you. If you’re a homesteader at heart, I get you.
Do you desire, more than anything to have a patch of land? Chickens? Goats? Do you dream big and want a milk cow? I. Get. You.
I know how it feels to want this life more than anything, and just don’t quite have the time for it all. Or the space. Or even the ability to do anything other than grow some lettuce in a sunny windowsill.
I get you.
Last year, I ached, physically ached, for a farm. For land, and space and the ability to farm on a larger scale.
This year I’m attempting to grow in my wonderful job outside of the home (I can’t say enough good things about my job. I love it so!), start a farm business, provide our own food, cook from scratch, keep house, wash my hair, drop it like it’s hot on a moment’s notice (TMI?), budget, shop for deals, beat down the laundry monster, keep the dishes done, drink enough water, make sure my eyeliner is not smudged down my face, exercise, praise God, read books, and always be company ready, just incase.
And trust me when I tell you it.is.a.lot.
I followed a farmer on Instagram for years. She had the life, man. She raised animals for restaurants and general farm to customer orders. She had gorgeous pastures, a fantastic rotation schedule, and a constant supply of cute pictures (it is Instagram after all). And then she gave it up. And I couldn’t imagine why.
Want to know why? Because this life will drown you if you let it. She talked about how she never cooked healthy meals, because at the end of the day there was no energy left. There was falling on the couch in exhaustion.
Guess where April is right now?
And I haven’t even gotten started yet.
This is not a case of be careful what you wish for, because never in a million years would I want anything different. Just be sure you’re ready. At the end of the day, when you can hardly lift your fork to your face you’re going to wonder what on earth you got yourself into.
Here’s my top 5 tips for surviving starting a homestead.
Because most people drop out after year. And we don’t want that to be you.
- Start small. Seriously. Just grow a few tomatoes in a pot, and some lettuce in the windowsill. Shop at a farmers market. Clean with vinegar. Learn to bake bread. There’s no need to get fancy right away.
- Learn from others. Taking advice will save you so much heartache in the long run. Find someone who farms in a style similar to what you want, and learn from them. I haven’t met a farmer yet that didn’t like to talk about farming. Farmer’s love to tell you about their livestock, their set up, and the things they have learned over the years. Ask questions and learn.
- If you are going into animals, make sure you have the proper buildings and set up before you bring them home. And this can be a hard one. Trust me, I know! It’s so easy to just pull into the driveway with a heifer calf in the back seat and pretend you don’t know where she came from when your husband asks. But where are you going to put her? Buildings and fencing is HUGE. (I made this mistake a million times over. I got the animal before I had the proper building space.)
- Don’t get rid of everything in your kitchen at once. It will be so tempting to want to make it all right away. When you get bit by the homesteading DIY bug, it bites hard. But that’s a simple way to burn yourself out fast. And so many people told me this. So many blogs and Youtubers talked about this but I plowed ahead anyways. Hear me. Hear me! Slow down. It isn’t a race, it’s a lifestyle change and they take time. Years even. Start slow, build good habits, go from there.
- You won’t be able to quit your job. Yes, a lot of people have and it’s such a tempting thought. The truth of it though, is that you will still need some sort of extra income. The key to this is making sure that your off farm job is one that you like. Because that off farm job is going to support your farming job. You’re going to be busy all the time. People aren’t going to understand why you can’t go out for dinner with them, why you can’t just drop everything and have a weekend getaway, and why your schedule means everything. The truth of it is you’re going to be working around the clock, nonstop. You’ll be up at 2:30 in the morning helping a mama goat give birth, and then it’s to the office for meetings with only a 1 hour nap in-between (if you’re lucky). It’s going to be nonstop, but it’s also completely awesome to live this double life. So make sure your off farm job is just as awesome. Shop around for that job if you need to. As your farm grows, try to find as many ways to produce income from your farm as possible. Sell eggs, extra produce, goat kids, soap, etc. Just remember that all these extra income avenues are going to mean extra work for you, so don’t take on too much at once. The best case scenario is to make sure that everything on your farm brings in an income, or pulls their weight.
Lastly, this isn’t a “tip” as much as something you’re going to need to hear. Your farm does not define you. And that is so easy to think. I know deep in my heart that I’m a farmer. And I let that define me, shape my thinking, and shape my world. Truth of the matter is, I’m a child of God first, a wife second, a ministry worker third, and finally I’m a farmer. Don’t loose your priorities. Sit down and really evaluate who you should be.
Homesteading is about making something better. Not killing yourself before your time.
And it’s also about fresh eggs.