I see a lot of posing on Instagram and other places on the web, which I think is indicative of our time. This is the era of crafting a lovely persona on the web, when in real life things are very different. I think that we all want to be perfect and look just right, that's understandable. But as a homesteader, I don't want to give others the immpression that homesteading is easy, romantic, uncomplicated, or that anyone can just pick it up like a new hobby. It takes real work. I feel that it's my obligation to communicate the reality so that others contemplating this lifestyle can get a truthful picture.
Maybe it is just my personal experience and there are none others that have gone through this. Zach with An American Homestead on Youtube refers to the first 3-5 years as just Survival Mode, which really resonates with me. I think it depends on your personal situation, of course. I have twins that were babies when we moved to our land, and a 7 year old. We homeschool and cook from scratch, so all of those things factor into making things more challenging. You're just juggling a lot of balls with our situation. This year especially we made a lot of mistakes and the stress of running a homestead in bear country almost broke us.
Many people have physical limitations, health issues, or financial constraints which can make things just as hard as it has been for us (if not more so!).
We started off with no equipment (tractor, brush cutters, skidsteer, four-wheeler, etc). We just had a chainsaw and an electric hedgetrimmer. It was very tough to get anything done, and we are remote, so we couldn't rent equipment.
We had to clear about 12,000 feet of extremely thick brush to put up a new 9 wire electric fence to keep out bears, deer, wolves, and cougars. The largest Grizzly bears in the world and 500lb black bears regularly walk through our area. We started small and just put a fence around our house (using a tulip bulb auger for 2" posts!), then in year two we tackled the 12,000 feet. Overall we cleared around 100,000 fq ft of brush for the fence (we measured our property on Googlemaps). It was still hard, felt hopeless at times, and took a lot out of us. But we accomplished it, so the victory was pretty sweet. If we had chosen to hire someone, the cost would have been astronomical.
We have consciously chosen to do many things ourselves, from figuring out how an electric fence works, experimenting with how many wires would work to keep predators out, and of course, doing the dirty work of clearing brush and digging holes. We also do our own plumbing and construction on our home. Our situation is pretty unique, we live 6 hours away from a medium sized city. I think most new homesteaders pick a location near a big city, which is really wise for anyone who thinks they might need help and assistance with building projects or fencing.
However, I still think that DIY is smart, within a person's capabilities. We build our own bed frames, kitchen countertops, make our own bread and yogurt, and are always coming up with ways to reuse items in our house. Yogurt containers become mixing bowls, pots for plants, and toy boxes. Coffee cans are always reused (and fought over!), as are salad clamshells (when we're not growing our own lettuce outdoors). My intelligent husband is planning on building our own sawmill, solar dehydrator, and poly tunnels this spring!
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Thanks for reading! Have you found me on Instagram yet? @rosemarypureliving