Everyone that wants to start homesteading enters the journey with high expectations and sometimes unrealistic goals. It’s natural when you are diving into the unknown. However, having unrealistic homesteading expectations can sometimes set you up for failure before you even get started.
When I started homesteading my vision included; the white picket fence, the dog, the big red barn, a huge chicken coop and pens of sheep and goats, a pasture of wildflowers that cows grazed on, and a huge farmhouse in the middle of it all. Ha! That is not exactly where I am at now and may not be what it will ever be.
Having unrealistic homesteading expectations was to blame. While it was nice to envision such a perfect dream, the realities of homesteading are far different. Knowing the realities of what to expect before you dive in can really help with your confidence and attitude when starting out homesteading. Let’s look at the top 10 homesteading expectations you should forget now.
10 Homesteading Expectations You Should Forget Immediately!
You will not stay clean!
Homesteading is dirty work, plain and simple! Your hands and feet will get dirty. You will at some time during the day and maybe more than once get poop on your feet, shoes, or clothes. Gardening means dirt under your nails, a lot.
All those nice shorts and jeans and shirts you love will probably become stained or torn. I have very few dress clothes and shoes. I have an abundance of “work” clothes now, thanks to homesteading. And shoes, they will look worn in no time, trust me.
Do you shower in the morning to start your day? Great! Now you will shower in the evening too before you cook. You may eventually decide to shower in the evening only because showering in the morning might seem like a waste of time.
Your energy will wear out!
Homesteading can be strenuous work, and it doesn’t stop. It starts early and can continue late into the night when a baby calf is being born, or a fence is down. Your sleep patterns can change in the blink of an eye and your energy runs down a lot.
Breakfast will become an important meal when you homestead. Snickers bars are a savior for me! Feeding your energy levels with good wholesome meals and taking naps if possible will become a regular occurrence. I can pretty much guarantee that your bedtime will become earlier than usual too. I used to be a night owl. I’m in bed by 10 now.
Do you have a gym membership? I did. I gave it up because I got more of a workout on the homestead than I did in the gym. Trust me when I tell you, you will get all the exercise you need and it won’t cost you a monthly membership fee.
Things won’t be perfect!
Are you a perfectionist that has to have everything just so? Well, give that up. Nothing about homesteading is perfect. The barn will become a mess, chickens will lay eggs wherever they want, not where you want them to. The dishes may not get done immediately because an emergency may happen that requires you to get outside and fix it first.
I used to pride myself on my vehicle and how clean I kept it inside. Now it is normal to find straw, sand, and hay on the floors, paperwork in the visor. It also doesn’t get a bath as often as before. It’s okay though, other things have taken preference.
Even my planner that I really pride myself on is a mess. I rewrite things, cross things out and move things constantly. It is the nature of the homestead community I guess. Just go with what is working and don’t try to be perfect.
There is no perfect schedule!
I’m a planner. I plan everything from what needs to be done on the homestead, my meals for the month, and my business and blog tasks. However, I don’t think I have gone 1 week that something hasn’t changed, thus another of my homesteading expectations I had to change my thoughts about!
The weather can make my schedule change. Living in Florida, hurricanes and tropical storms, and even a heavy rainy season can wreak havoc on my homesteading plans. To accommodate those changes, I work more inside on business or household stuff while being outside is not an option.
Family emergencies and grandkids have brought about changes, births and deaths of animals have changed the plans also. I used to take care of my 87-year-old father who had Alzheimer’s Disease, so there was always something to tend to while he was still alive I had to make instant time for. Getting time with the grandkids or babysitting can change my schedule also.
When these changes come about I have to adapt my schedule to meet those other demands.
You will not have clean floors!
If you love dirty floors you’re golden because no matter how hard you try, they will get dirty. There is a lot of sand, which doesn’t help so I am constantly sweeping the floors. I gave up on carpets and even throw rugs because they won’t stay clean.
I am in and out of the house all through the day. Even though I try to remember to leave my shoes outside, the grandkids don’t remember to do the same. I also have a dog that follows me everywhere so every time I go in she goes in thus more dirt. Even the farm cat is in and out all day.
The point is that if you love having clean floors you better do some adjusting because it just doesn’t happen.
There isn’t a lot of free time!
As a homesteader, you will be busy all the time. It will be second nature to say things like, “I can’t I have to milk the goats”, or “I can’t take that much time off because someone has to watch the farm”.
When everyone is taking vacations in summer and fall, you will think they are crazy because that’s when all the gardening is happening for you. I travel to Pittsburgh to see my family in the winter every year, and I get teased about how only I would go north in the winter. What they don’t understand is that it is the only time I can take a week or 2 off!
Even daily free time is tough for homesteaders, and those of us that homestead and have a business, it’ s even harder. When we aren’t working on the homestead, we are working on the business. My only free time is when I sit with my family to eat and a few minutes before I fall asleep at night.
You won’t always meet your goals!
I set very specific goals for the year, the months, the weeks and the days. Usually, I accomplish most of them. However, things happen as I said before that we can’t control and goals aren’t met.
I set goals for the animals I want to purchase and/or sell. Sometimes money changes and I can’t afford the animals I planned. Sometimes it is because of unexpected maintenance, and sometimes it is because of bills that I didn’t expect to pay. Caring for a sick animal, for example, can change my money situation fast.
The goals that I set for my garden can change due to bad weather or drought. I have had to change my whole gardening plan because the equipment broke down. No matter what the goal is I have learned to allow for changes and adjustments to both my planning and my goal setting.
Your to-do list never ends!
I sit every night and make a list of important things that need to be done the next day. I also have an ongoing list that spells out all the projects and miscellaneous tasks that need to be done around the homestead. No matter how many tasks I cross off those lists, I seem to add 2 or 3 more that need to be done.
There are always things that need to be done. If you are going to be homesteading you have to feel a sense of accomplishment on what is actually done without harping on what still needs to be done.
Try to be realistic on your to-dos and keep your daily list simple and attainable. It is easier to accomplish 5 things instead of 25!
Not everything you plant grows as it should!
I spent $200.00 on seeds one year. I was so excited to see all those veggies and herbs! Out of like 1000 seeds, not even 1/2 of them grew. What a disappointment for me and a total waste of money.
I learned a few things about seeds.
- You should not buy them from the local retail stores, their germination rate is terrible. Buy them from a reputable seed dealer. I use Bakers Creek Seed Company and I will never buy anywhere else.
- The soil you are planting in needs to be healthy and fertile from the start. Seeds don’t prosper in crappy soil.
- Watering routinely is mandatory. Install a sprinkler system to make it easier.
- Plants need the sun, but there are many that will grow in the shade.
- Don’t plant what you won’t eat or save, it is a waste of money.
It won’t all happen at once!
Homesteading takes time. It takes planning and preparing. It does not happen overnight. This was another one of the biggest homesteading expectations I had, and boy was I off.
Don’t expect everything to be accomplished in one year. The most successful homesteaders will tell you that it took them 5 plus years to get where they are currently and they are still working on it. Take the time to plan the big picture first then break the plan down yearly and monthly and weekly for each year.
I sit down around November or December and start planning my new year. You can read about that process here. Then each season I plan again, based on my yearly plan. I even have monthly plans. Just be accepting that not all your plans will work out.
I have been homesteading for 3 years now and I am nowhere near where I want to be, but I am plugging along at a great pace, and I am happy with that. Homesteading can’t be rushed.
The Next Steps
Understanding these homesteading expectations now will allow you to plan better and be more aware of the changes that may happen on your homesteading journey. Armed with this information, you won’t regret your decision to start homesteading. You will appreciate more your accomplishments and worry less about what isn’t done and finished. You will expect the changes that take place and you will be prepared to make changes when they are needed.
Homesteading is an awesome adventure to be on with new things happening every day! Be realistic about your homesteading expectations! Dive in, enjoy your journey! I’m sure your gonna love it! Happy homesteading!
Did you have these false homesteading expectations? Are you a seasoned homesteader that can contribute other advice? Let me know in the comments below.
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Very good. With open eyes. Plain Truth.
Amen, Amen, and Amen! I also had that ‘Farmetectural Digest dream, and quickly figured out I would get dirty, things would get left undone and I haven’t had a consistently clean floor since we moved here. This is a perfect post for new homesteaders!
THank you Julie!
We have been homesteading for just over six years. Only now do I feel as if we make progress. My husband and I, and, son and daughter-in-law sold our houses and bought a place together. It has been a great journey with lots of learning and growth. The one thing my daughter-in-law and I had to give up fast was “Perfection”. Now perfection is – nothing died today!
Homesteading is a journey and it takes time to figure it out. Perfection, however, is not part of that journey. The sooner we let the idea of perfection go the smoother seems to go! Thanks for stopping by!
That is so true! I have always known that starting a homestead life will drain my energy and hardly be any free time even though it seems fun.