I often receive emails from readers wondering where to begin their homesteading journey. And much to their disapproval, I'm sure, I always respond with the same, vague answer (which I'm sure offers them no help but I say it anyway):
I can't overemphasis the importance of dreaming for the homesteader. Because, after all, who would choose this life if it were not a dream?
I can run to the grocery store and have a dozen eggs in a matter of minutes for a handful of change.
Or I can specially order heritage fertilized eggs, spend 21 days watching and hatching said eggs, have a 70% hatch rate, feed and water the chicks while they grow to sexual maturity, have an 80% survival rate of the remaining chicks, try and keep them safe from predators, wait for the first egg, clean their coop, continue to keep them fed, watered, and safe from predators, only to have a few hens escape and be eaten by a dog or die of, frankly, no reason at all. And then, eventually, get that dozen eggs.
You've gotta want this life. You've gotta day dream about it. You've gotta spend time wandering through fields of wild flowers in your head, remembering the hard work and loss but focusing on the beautiful and the present.
I, nor anyone, can really tell you where to begin on your own homestead. Where do your dreams begin?
My dreams began in a garden. Which is still one of the happiest places in the world for me.
Even now, with all our animals, land, and gardens, I still continue to day dream. Just ask my poor husband. The thoughts of breeding, fodder, pasture, and picket fences never cease.
Want to know what I'm dreaming of right now? Care to walk a few steps in my daydream?
I'm dreaming of a place of our own. A farm that we could own, whose ground would grow our homestead orchard that we could harvest for decades to come – and much, much more.
We've been so blessed on our current rented farm – how much we've been able to grow and harvest from it's soil.
…but since we're dreaming… if I were to build a chicken coop, from scratch on my very own farm, what would it look like?
… if I were to build a garden bed that would serve us for years, what would I surround it's borders with?
… if I were to remodel an old home, how long would it take me to splurge on an old cast iron, clawfoot tub? (Hint: Probably not that long.)
What sort of permanent fencing would I put up? (Hint: I hate hot wire!)
What sort of shelter would I build for my Old Spots? My rabbits? My milking cow?
These questions that I ponder in my dream will serve me well in the years to come. They give me momentum, drive, and focus on the road ahead for our farm. I'm simply not one of those people that can sit still and watch others achieve their daydreams. If it takes sweat equity, I'm all in. If it takes vision, I'm there. If it takes money and patience… well, I'm working on those parts.
I tell you this to encourage you, my friends. Because on the homestead, there will be moments when you find yourself with your arm halfway up a pig's backside pulling out a stuck piglet. And, even worse, moments when you find yourself burying the best farm friend in the history of the world. The loss and heartache on the homestead is incessant. If you don't dream… if you don't continue to dream… you'll crumble. Because this life can have it's moments of pure hell.
So dream! Dream of small accomplishments: raw milk, fresh honey, and a good cup of home roasted coffee. And dream of huge accomplishments: learning to milk a cow, butcher a pig, and chop your homegrown tomatoes into the best bruschetta.
Got a few window boxes for herbs? Perfect. Room on your apartment porch for some potted lettuce? Yay, you! 10 acres to play on? Booya.
Wherever you are – whatever you're doing – put your phone away, turn off Netflix, leave Facebook alone, and DREAM. Spend time in your thoughts and dream.
Want me to say dream one more time?