Sometimes, I still can’t believe I’m a sort of, kind of, almost homesteader. My goals once centered around rank advancements and a new pair of heels; what do I know about good homesteading goals?
We moved to the ‘stead just over three years ago, and although we had intended to dive right in, we had not planned on getting pregnant a few short weeks later.
I know a lot of amazing women who don’t slow down one bit while they’re pregnant.
I am not those women.
It wasn’t until Spring of 2020 that we got some chickens. So maybe that’s when our “homesteading life” began?
In any case, though this might not be our first year of homesteading, I certainly still feel like a beginner.
In order to decide on some good homesteading goals, you have to know what homesteading is all about. For me, the homesteading lifestyle is all about scaling back, simplifying, preserving traditional ways of life, and really minimizing the influence of culture.
Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency.
You can imagine then, why I still feel like such a beginner. If it’s all about self-sufficiency, four chickens isn’t going to cut it!
To be successful in reaching those good homesteading goals, there are a few things to consider:
1 . Define success by your own terms. Like everything else in life, success is a matter of personal preference and perspective. Maybe to some a successful homestead is total self-sufficiency; from energy, to income, to food. To others, maybe just growing 50% of your family’s food for the year is all you’re shooting for.
2. Decide on first year homesteading goals. You can come out guns blazing and, if you have the funds, go all in during year one with every last thing needed to create the homestead of your dreams. More practically, however, is choosing just a few things to focus on each year.
3. Break down any of your good homesteading goals into bite size pieces. If you want to be providing your family with raw goat milk, you need to start a bit smaller than that. First, you will need to find a quality milk line near you. You’ll have to do your research. Then, you’ll have to prepare fencing and sleeping arrangements for them. So on and so forth.
It’s great to have that ultimate goal. But there are a lot of little boxes that need to be checked along the way!
4. Trial and error. I’m a kinesthetic learner, so I really have to get my hands dirty in order to grow in my understanding. That’s exactly how it is with homesteading. A lot of it is just doing and learning as you go. You can’t learn everything you need to learn in a book. You have to try. Fail. And try again.
When you think homesteader, these key skills might come to mind:
This list is not exhaustive, but it’s definitely some of the top ideas that come to mind when considering this lifestyle.
Like I mentioned before, our first year of homesteading didn’t quite begin when we moved to our homestead. It started mid-covid when it became more apparent than ever that becoming self sufficient was definitely the way to go.
We began our journey with six baby chickens.
We now we have four hens who lay four eggs a day during the summer and about one a day in the winter.
Not the most impressive stats, I know.
But, it was a good place to begin. Chickens are for sure the gateway animal.
The thing is, even if we weren’t tilling land and raising beef cattle, we were learning so much about our land, ourselves, and our ability to improvise, make do, and build. Lots of woodworking lessons.
Our first years were valuable, even if they weren’t super productive. And this upcoming year, our second homesteading year as newbies, we are barreling into full homesteader status. Big goals on the horizon.
Why this is a good homesteading goal: For us, goats are going to be our source of milk. We fully plan to start a breeding a milking line. We’ll be drinking raw goat milk, making goat milk cheese and yogurt, and selling goat milk soap at local farmers markets.
They will not only provide a quality dairy source for our family, but also be a source of income in the future. Anything that does double duty is worth investing in on the homestead! We’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of our first two does any day now…
Why this is a good homesteading goal: We bought half a cow this year, and got bit with the bug– the “know where your meat is actually coming from” bug. We don’t have the acreage to support our own meat cows, but we can for sure stock our freezer with chickens we’ve raised ourselves!
Why this is a good goal: Gardening is a great way, the best way, to supply your family with quality food. It’s also a great way to get picky eaters involved in the process of learning to love eating vegetables.
Being that neither my husband nor I know how to garden, really, our efforts will be small this year and grow every year after. Certainly we wont be living off our land 100% just yet… but baby steps, right?
Why this is a good homesteader goal: Herb gardening is a good way to dive into the world of gardening, you can build the garden close to your front door or even in your house, and you can utilize herbs in a variety of ways.
And when you’re ready to dry some? Instant farmhouse decor. What’s not to love?
Why this matters: It’s a bit more of a personal goal, based on where our family is coming from, but the fact is… you can’t very well raise your own meat, grow your own vegetables, and then taint all your efforts by heating this good, wholesome, organic food in cheap plastic.
Eliminating some of the worst offenders, ingredient-wise, from our pantry, and material-wise from our cupboards, is laying the ground work for a more natural homesteady life.
Why this is a good homesteading goal: Guinea hens help to deter predators (and we have a couple of red-bellied hawks eyeing our flock), and laying hens… well… lay. Have you seen the price of organic free-range eggs in the store?
After going through a winter of one egg a day, we’re realizing very quickly that four hens just isn’t going to cut it. Time to expand. What’s thirty more hens on the land, give or take?
Why this is a good one: Kitchen scraps being useful. Animal poop not going to waste. All of the things contributing to all of the things. That is homesteading, my friends.
Why this matters: This is actually a big one for me. Part of the reason homesteading appeals to me so deeply is that it’s going to help my children grow up with a sense of responsibility. Being a part of something bigger than yourself, having chores that need doing because lives depend on you doing them, this is good stuff for young kiddos.
Rhythms and systems help make chores easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable. All super important when running a homestead.
Why this is a good goal: It could seem pretty trivial compared to the rest of the list. I mean, some of our good homesteading goals involve raising animals and learning how to humanely kill them to feed our family…
And then there’s baking.
But sourdough is good for the gut and somehow, by some miracle, my family’s gut health has become a thing on my mind. And any homesteader worth her salt has a sourdough starter in her fridge. It’s a right of passage, I think.
Why this is a great homesteading goal: Playing off of the last goal, I really want to provide my family with homemade from scratch meals as much as possible. I used to be someone who felt pretty good about myself if I made a box of hamburger helper instead of picking up pizza.
Now the thought of serving hamburger helper to my family makes me cringe (although I’ll whip up a box of macaroni and cheese on a rough night like nobody’s business).
I don’t think you should feel bad about yourself if this isn’t your goal. It wasn’t mine until this year. I just think it’s a natural evolution. If you’re growing vegetables and raising chickens to butcher, then you’re probably going to want to cook with those things.
This year will be paving the way for what’s to come in the next couple of years. Long term goals include meat goats, pigs, and goat milking production. Maybe a few turkeys. Maybe an alpaca. Possibly a horse. So fencing, barn repairs, and hay/grain sourcing are all part of our goals this year to lay the groundwork for the upcoming years!