We asked Jared Thurmon to share some thoughts and tips on starting a homestead. He and his lovely wife, Annette from Azure Farm, moved to the countryside a few years ago and are actively homesteading today!
About 12 years ago we already knew that we wanted to move from the city to the countryside one day. We wanted to live a simpler life, taking it slower and embracing what nature gives us.
It took us 6-7 years to finally find the property we live on today. It took patience, but we knew what we wanted and wouldn't settle for anything less. We dubbed it Azure farm due to the bright blue skies.
Setting up our perfect homestead was definitely no quick fix. It took 5 years up until today to really get settled on our farm and create the homestead that we have dreamt of. There was a lot of sweat and tears, but also laughter and joy.
When we searched for a property, there were three main things we were looking for:
1. A property with a well.
2. That's secluded from people and private.
3. That didn't have many trees as we knew we would need the sun and space to grow our food and gardens.
We first planted fruit trees as we knew that these take years to grow, and then we planted our blueberry patch. Slowly but surely, we expanded our vegetable garden, starting with the basics such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and radishes.
The first animals we got were alpacas. We have to admit that this probably wasn't the wisest decision as alpacas are quite complicated animals, and we were newbies at farming! But nevertheless, we did it!
We went to see as many people as we could in the area to learn and read up on alpacas and farming as much as possible. Next, we got chickens, and then two donkeys also came along. And then it just snowballed!
In the early days!
Our top 10 tips on how to start a homestead
1.Know your why
Our biggest tip would be to decide and know your reason or desire for starting a homestead or living in the countryside. Understanding your motivations and desires will make all the work and effort worthwhile.
2.Be realistic with your dream and vision
Remember to set realistic goals. What do you have the capacity for considering resources, time, and finances? Homesteading takes a lot of commitment and patience.
Don't put yourself under too much pressure and bite more than you can actually chew. You want to enjoy the journey and ease into it. When you take on too much, too soon, you may face failure, feel defeated, and give up on your dream.
3. What's your end goal?
Determine your goal for homesteading. Is your goal to eat from your own garden? Do you want to breed with animals? Want to live off the grid and be self-sustainable? Do you want to earn an income from your homestead? Determining this will help with your planning and decision-making process.
Annette from Azure Farm
4. Search for the perfect property
When searching for a property, take your time and be patient. The right property will eventually come along. And when you have finally found the dream property, take a minute and observe the land.
How much sun will your gardening areas have?
Are there weak spots for possible flooding?
What veggies and animals will survive, adapt and thrive in that specific area?
How are the pasture and grazing areas?
What's the quality of the soil?
Consider testing and getting a complete analysis of the area's soil, forage, pastures, and diseases. Your local council and vet would be able to provide more info. Or you can search for specific experts in the area to give advice. Also, learn as much as possible about your climate.
The more research you do, and the more answers you get, the better!
5. Start small and expand as you get more experienced
The biggest misconception is that you have to start big or have a lot of space right from the start, and this is absolutely not true.
You can start with a small garden patch or just a few chickens.
Ok, maybe in the city, chickens won't be the best idea ;-)
Don't overwhelm yourself. Focus all your energy on getting one or two things right, and as you get more experienced, you can expand.
If you are ready to move to a big property, we would say that 5 acres are perfect.
6. Have a budget and costing plan in place
Do an extensive budget and costing plan of all significant initial setup and running costs. T
his includes your home, electricity, waterlines to the animals, shelter for animals, barns and storage areas, fencing, livestock and plants, feed, and so much more. Once again, research is your best friend!
7. Have shelter ready if you're going to keep animals
Think about your shelter and barn space if you want to keep animals. They need a place to feel safe, sleep, breed, and be sheltered from freezing weather conditions. It is vital to have this in place before your animals arrive to make the transition to a new environment smooth and less stressful for them.
8. Pasture and crop rotation is crucial
Learn how pasture and crop rotation works and plan how you will execute it.
Pasture rotation can prevent overgrazing of your pastures, and allow the same piece of ground to be grazed several times during the growing season.
Crop rotation helps to optimize nutrients in the soil, and combat pest and weed pressure
9. Get your fences in place
Fencing is also crucial. You'll want to make sure you have the correct fencing that will be strong enough to keep your animals in and predators out. Ensure your fencing won't hurt or cut your animals when they do try to make a run for it.
10. Learn from the locals
Learn as much as you can from other farmers in your area. Study, do research, talk to experts and your local vet. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Make homesteading friends - exchange knowledge and goods. Get starts (plants and animals) from neighbors or the local market to save on costs.
Lastly, be ready to accept and embrace a more simple life. Be willing to give up luxuries, Target, quick trips to the store, etc. You always need to be prepared and plan ahead for any unforeseen circumstances and setbacks.
Oh, and get ready to get some dirt under those nails! :-)
What excellent advice! At Country Life Natural Foods, we are all about healthy living - including a healthy mind, body, and soul! And living on a homestead sounds like a perfect way to accomplish that.
If you are ready to start your journey on a homestead or perhaps already have one and would like to expand, we have a few excellent courses for you!
From raising farm animals, to having your healthiest, most bountiful garden yet. Have a look HERE for these fantastic short courses.