Homestead mentors are more important than you can ever imagine. As a modern homesteader there are so many tools at our disposal and ways we can learn so many skills (like homestead bloggers). So you may feel like that online community and a few books are all you need to start your homestead journey. And you might do just fine. But the reality is that a homestead mentor could be the difference between “just fine” and “kicking some homesteading butt”.
I found my mentor by pure accident but she has been an absolute blessing to me along the way and has become a dear friend in the process. She became a partner in my success – and a good mentor will do that for you. And you may find that you need more than one homestead mentor. You may need a garden guru, a goat expert and someone that understands the finer points of cheese making to round out your mentor needs.
The great part about being mentored is that someday you’ll be able to pay that off by mentoring someone else. These mentoring relationships will help to sustain the homestead life far into the future.
So what can having homestead mentors offer you?
Homestead Mentors offer wisdom from experience.
I guess this one is fairly simple, they have knowledge that can only be acquired through time and doing the job. Whether it is beekeeping or composting, find the expert. You may find that one mentor is able to help you in many areas but it is ok to have more than one mentor too. Your garden and compost mentor may not be the one you want to look to for dairy cow knowledge and vice versa.
Homestead Mentors see where we can tweak things for better results.
One thing a mentor can do is see your mistakes, sometimes before they cause you any real trouble. They can help you tweak things so you don’t lose what you’ve worked for; so don’t mind some critique!
Homestead Mentors give us the encouragement we need to keep going in hard times.
One thing that experience can bring you is the ability to lift someone up who is going through something you’ve already experienced. A good homestead mentor will be able to encourage you, even when you’ve hit a rough patch; and that can be the difference between moving forward and quitting.
Homestead Mentors are a safe place to share ideas before we put them into place.
A mentor is a great person to share your new ideas with and can often help you figure out how doable they are. Sure you may want to invent some new processes but often you’re just trying to reinvent the wheel without necessity. Your mentor should be able to help you look at all the angles and decide if it is worth moving forward on your plans, ideas; and before you spend a lot of time and money doing it.
Homestead Mentors get us connected to the right people, equipment, places, etc.
Another thing that comes with time is the connections we make. Your mentor might be able to help you find just the right person to build your bee boxes at a reasonable rate, or who can come out and show you how to trim your goat hooves. They can get you in touch or point you in the right direction with people, stores, land and a myriad of other things simply because they’ve been in the community of homesteaders a long time. Doors may open to you, just because your mentor gives the word.
Homestead Mentors inspire us.
I know that my mentor has inspired me, not only with her knowledge but her perseverance and patience. She’s older than me, not by much but enough to be like a big sister. A mentor will give us inspiration when we walk their homestead, sit in their kitchen as they prepare herbal remedies or homemade cheese; they tell us stories of the good and the bad times… and we will learn, dream and put our plans into action.
Where to find a Homestead Mentor:
- Local gardening groups
- Farmer’s Market – talk to them and BUY something!
- Feed shops often have boards where you can post that you are looking for help with something
- Online groups that are specific to your area can help you find a face to face mentor or national/global groups can help you connect with a digital mentor
- Ask! Don’t be afraid to ask someone you know to mentor you.
- Don’t overlook a google search from farmers, livestock breeders, etc that are in your area. They may be willing to take you under their wing for a little intern work on their place.
How do you choose the right mentor?
Find the person or people that not only have the knowledge but a passion for sharing it! A mentor isn’t just someone with experience they have a teacher’s heart to educate the present and future homesteaders, crafters, gardeners, etc. They love what they do so much that is just naturally spills out from them in sharing, teaching, encouraging and molding those who seek them out (and sometimes those who don’t).
Show Your Homestead Mentor Appreciation
I can’t tell you how to do this – that will depend on you and your teacher. But it will probably be more than a thank you card. Help them around their homestead or exchange knowledge for something you do well that they need help in. When you are blessed, be a blessing.
How to Be Homestead Mentor
- Get involved with local groups in the area of your expertise.
- Get online and answer questions.
- Be willing to share information with newcomers.
- Learn how to listen, teach, encourage and critique.
- Never feel like you have nothing to offer. If you have experience, no matter the time, you have more than someone just starting out!
- Never let your knowledge go to waste; someone wants to learn what you have to share.
- Just do it!