Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First Year Homestead Tips

We are quickly approaching our first anniversary on our little farm. It never ceases to amaze me at how much has changed in our lives! Today I'd like to share a few tips that I've learned during our first year here.

The first thing I realized is never ever buy any form of farm animal without the shelter already built. Our farm had no out buildings whatsoever. I mistakenly assumed that building a chicken coop would be easy and cheap. Wrong on both accounts. I'm sure it can be done extremely well and cheaply but we had to buy all of our materials and everything cost more than the books/blogs said. I had already bought 10 chicks so building a coop became necessary and we had to cut corners and make it smaller than we had originally planned. I thought we wouldn't need the extra space but I really regret making it half the size we had originally planned. I could really use the extra space to store hay/outside toys/extra feed.

One thing that I did right was I made sure to put the word out that I would take any free livestock. I ended up with 12 free laying hens that way. I did feel like we might have had too many hens at one point (24) I'm glad I kept them all because we lost almost half to coons. I would make sure all your animals you are offered are healthy and something you want to have. It saves you money in the long run if after you get them you decide that they weren't what you were looking for.

We heat with wood. I would highly recommend you cut wood in preparation for winter all summer long. My spouse did not take this advice and we have paid for it. This winter has been unusually mild and we haven't been able to drive into the woods, which means we are carrying the wood to our house. I will say it's great exercise and we do appreciate that wood!! Also, be sure to keep the wood you worked so hard to get dry!! Wet wood is NOT fire starting friendly and will do nothing but make you curse at the wood burner! ( and also realize that if they were offering me a million dollars to start a fire I would not be a winner. I am extremely grateful that my parents live across the road and my master fire starter dad comes to my rescue frequently) Also, cut way more than you think you'll need. Way way more.

Expect to be slightly inconvenienced. Our "high" speed Internet is extremely slow and pricey. There is no cable only satellite. We are blessed that we can pick up several local TV stations with our antenna. Cell phones may or may not get service where you are. There might not be trash pick up.

Utility bills will be higher. I don't know why this is but every time we've lived in the country our electric bill almost doubles. We have an energy cooperative and our rates are high. Be aware of this before you move and plan on reducing your need for electric.

Enjoy staying home. Running back to town gets expensive. I have had to reduce my children's involvement since we moved. We now pack as many activities as we can into Wednesdays which is our town day. I also do a major once a month grocery trip to the "city" because of the cheaper prices. I make a detailed list and stock up. Also, when it does snow your road might not be drivable. It helps to have a stockpile of comfort food in case you get stuck at home for any length of time.

This post is linked to Frugally Sustainable


Anonymous said...

No offense but the font on your blog is hard to read!

Enjoyed visiting your blog :)


Kim said...

I also had a hard time starting our woodstove until my hubby made me some "ashmix" as he calls it.
Larry took an old coffee can an filled it with dry, cool ash from the stove. He added Kerosene to the ashes, slowly, until it made a soft paste. Now when I want to light the stove, I take about a tablespoon full and put in under some sticks and then light it. After the fire is going good I can place logs on top and it usually takes off very nicely.
There is a little kerosene smell at the beginning but it disipates pretty fast. Kerosene is not like gasoline as it does not "flash".
I hope this helps.

Kelly said...

Great tips! I did not realize coons could be a problem for the chickens. I never thought about that!

Jennifer said...

Yeah, people seem to always underestimate how much wood a fire takes, heating with it all winter probably takes a massive amount. I think you have done well for the first year though. And how great that your parents live so close.