Monday, July 3, 2017

6 Drawbacks of Homesteading

             Hey folks! Our homesteading posts have been few and far between this year. We've just been busy with so many other things! To be honest, the “farm” aspect of my life has been on the back burner lately. I've just kind of been on auto pilot when it comes to that: feed and water the animals, mow the yard, occasionally weed eat. Lather, rinse, repeat. Not that it's anything new, but we've been majorly slacking on weeding the garden again this year too.
             With that being said, homesteading has its obvious perks: you can grow whatever you want, wherever you want, fresh food that you know exactly what is in it, and, if you're lucky, you can even make some extra money off extra produce or even livestock. However, there are some downfalls to farming too that you should be aware of before diving in. (Or relate to if you are in the same boat!)

*Being a homesteader is kind of like being a mailman. You have to get out there and do what you gotta go no matter what the weather is doing. Your animals don't care if it's raining or snowing. They still need fed!

*You can't just up and leave if you feel like taking an impromptu trip somewhere. You have to make sure someone can come over and feed your animals, water your plants, etc. If you like being spontaneous, this aspect of homesteading is kind of a pain in the arse!

*Definitely keep in mind the time commitment! The more plants and animals you have, the more time you're going to have to put into upkeep and care in general. If you still plan to work a “9-5” job, this is a very important consideration. Are you willing/able to get up earlier in the morning to care for animals? Will you have the time and energy in the evening to work in the garden?

*While animal feed is relatively cheap, depending on how many animals you have, it can add up quickly! Don't let me scare you, though. There are plenty of ways to save on feed costs. Many times you can feed your animals meal scraps too! For example, chickens love squash guts and tomatoes. Our rabbits enjoy leftovers from the garden as well as grasses and weeds from the yard more than their store bought pellets! (Can you really blame them? ;) )

*Free range animals seem idyllic, but in all honesty, there are lots of predators out there waiting to gobble them up! We let our chickens free range at first, but we were just losing too many during the day while we would be gone somewhere. Our chickens and pigs have generous pasture areas, but you should keep in mind the cost for such things. If I remember correctly, it cost us about $125 for our main pig area. (We do some rotational grazing.) While we could definitely fit more pigs in it, we built it for two and they have already eaten all the greenery in a couple of short months! (One more thing: You can save on post costs by using your own with trees from your property!)

*If you are wanting to make some extra money (or even have your farm become your sole source of income), you should know that there is quite a bit of wait time before the “initial payout”. Chickens take several months before they start laying eggs. Crops also take several months to grow. Livestock usually takes several months before they are ready to be sold as well. Not to mention, if you are like us, you add more animals a little at a time when you are able, so it may take even longer for whatever payout you are looking for. For example, we got our first American Guinea Hog, Bruce, last July. We did not get our female, Gabby, until March of this year. She is about 8 months old now, so they haven't even made babies yet and likely won't for at least another couple of months.

             I hope I have given you guys some food for thought, but not completely scared you off from homesteading! It's easy to get caught up in the romanticism of the idea without giving much thought to just how much work might go into it. Just be realistic with yourself!
             If you have a farm or homestead, what is your least favorite part?


  1. All of these things have affected us! We've never free ranged our animals, because, we don't like the idea of feeding the hawks and coyotes.

    I guess our biggest drawback is the loss of stock. The old idiom, "If you have livestock, you'll have dead stock." certainly holds true. We lost three lambs this year and (although they're destined for the pot eventually) it's still hard to lose an animal you've cared for! Thanks, for creating a place homesteaders can share and build community!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Anne! It's almost harder to lose animals unexpectedly than when you do it yourself, for some reason. We recently had one of our year old hens pass away unexpectedly (Not exactly sure what happened to her. She had some bruising on her back.) and it was kind of sad, especially since she was one of our favorites!