Today I thought I would share the 10 things that homesteading has taught me. I didn’t know I was going to be a backyard homesteader when we bought this house 8 years ago but it has become part of my life’s purpose. I have learned many lessons from this return to simplicity, from homesteading. Sure I don’t have 100 acres and a dairy cow but I do a lot; and it still amazes me.
So let me share with you what homesteading has taught me. I bet many of you can relate and if you’re just starting out it may give you some perspective in what you can look forward to (good, bad and ugly).
10 Things That Homesteading Has Taught Me
I Was Out of Touch with My Food
I grew up in Tucson, AZ with a backyard that was mostly bricked in. We grew some desert plants and flowers but no food; and we certainly didn’t raise animals. I started my backyard homestead with a little 4×4 vegetable garden box. But over the years I’ve turned my backyard into a vegetable oasis and I’ve raised chickens, quail and meat rabbits. I grew my food…even the food with faces, for the first time in my entire life.
I Am a Lot Less Wasteful
On that same note of getting in touch with my food it made me very aware of how much food I’d wasted thoughtlessly in the past. It is much harder to let some meat go bad in your fridge when you’ve raised that animal and know its sacrifice. To allow that meat to rot would be dishonoring the the time spent humanely raising the bird or rabbit and dishonoring to the life taken to feed you (me). But I can apply this to my garden as well – when you’ve spent weeks or months tending a garden, you don’t want to let the harvest waste! You learn to preserve, dehydrate, can and store properly!
Being Lazy Isn’t Even an Option
Ok, truth be told I have learned this from being a wife, mother and homeschooler too. But there is something different about animals and gardens waiting on you. I can’t just go through a drive through and feed them…I have to put the effort into watering, feeding, checking for pests, cleaning up, etc. Being a lazy homesteader means you will fail and something will suffer for it.
Timing is Really Everything
Homesteading has taught me that timing really is everything. Whether it is in your garden or breeding livestock, there is a right time for everything. And if you put things off you’ll regret it and make most jobs a lot hard than they really needed to be.
Failures Are Just Part of the Process
Failure isn’t about IF it is about WHEN. I don’t say that to scare you but it is just a truth you need to know. Gardens die, animals die…even when you’re doing it all right. But I learn something new with each failure and how I can improve what I’m doing for our micro desert homestead. The biggest failures come from not learning from your mistakes and continue to repeat them, expecting something new.
When You Talk About Chickens Most People Assume You Live in the Country
This one cracks me up. But if I talk about my chickens to a non-homesteader, they picture me living on a large ranch in the middle of no-where. Truth is we live in the burbs with neighbors…very patient neighbors thankfully. Most people don’t realize how amazing and doable a small flock of backyard chickens can be in the suburbs. I use these encounters as teachable moments because so many of the Phoenix suburbs have made chickens illegal; education is the key to changing that. Look at how Austin has embraced backyard chickens!
Knowing Your Gardening Zone Will Save Your a Lot of Frustration
Now, living in Zone 10 (desert) will teach you this really fast. I can’t plant leafy greens in the summer like so many others; they’ll just burn up in the sun. Know your zone so you know what to plant when! When you plant the right veggies for your zone you’re success rate will go up; it truly is the first key to a healthy and happy garden.
I also highly recommend the Farmer’s Almanac.
Organization is More Important Than I Thought
I am not an organized person by nature, though I love a list. But homesteading has taught me that some organization is required. From planting calendars to breeding schedules; you need to know when you did or will do something. Sure you can fly by the seat of your pants but this will likely cause mistakes that could have been avoided. Not to mention, if you ever need someone to watch your place, the more organized you are the easier it will be to show them the ropes.
There is So Much Poop
Chicken poop. Rabbit poop. Compost. There is so much dang poo in my life now. There was a time that if poo accidentally touched my hand I would have freaked out. Now it is just get the job done and wash your hands, it happens. Gross, right? :/
It is the Most Rewarding Life
I have made some amazing choices in my life – Jesus, my hubby and having kids. But I tell you, homesteading is right up there with them. Homesteading has taught me, even on my small homestead, about food, hard work and of course vintage skills. I found a passion in my life that I love to share and teach to just about anyone that gives me the chance. I get a satisfaction from eating food I’ve produced that is hard to fully comprehend unless you’ve done it. The first carrot I grew tasted better than any other I had ever eaten. The first rabbit I ate, that I raised, was hard but I was so proud of the ability to bring it to the table…
Homesteading has taught me that a city girl can be more capable and self-reliant that she ever thought possible!
Homesteading, whether urban, suburban or in the country, will teach you life lessons. I am so thankful for every one of them. What we learn will be a little different from each other but I think there are some things that homesteading teaches us that is pretty universal. What do you think?