When Emerson and I bought our homestead, we failed to set up realistic goals. I thought it would take us a year to be self-sufficient and neither of us had the slightest idea of what we were doing.
I’ve had emails saying “Beginning homesteading, where to start?” and I always direct folks to this post (after giving some extra advice, of course).
I’m here to help you when beginning a homestead to learn how to set realistic goals so you don’t burn out as I did from doubt. Here we go!
6 realistic goals you can make as a homesteading beginner.
Starting a homestead can be overwhelming, to say the least. You can learn to thrive on your homestead sooner rather than later by setting up realistic, clear long and short term goals.
In this guide:
- Animal Husbandry
- Fruit trees
- A beautiful yard
The #1 realistic goal to make is with gardening
The first realistic goal to make for your first year on the homestead is to just grow one successful garden. My biggest mistake with having the goals I did was I moved to a different area with a slightly different climate. I had no idea what the weather and seasons would hold.
Plant the easy crops for your first season of gardening. If it’s taking place in the hotter months then put some squash, cucumbers, or beans in the ground. A little more chilly than expected? Try some kale or arugula.
Also, meet your neighbors if you have them. Reach out to your county extension office and network with some fellow gardeners. The advice I’ve received from the folks who’ve been in this area their whole lives has often been better advice than what I can find on the internet.
Take their advice, write it down, and apply it every year forward if the advice deemed itself successful. This will actually help you achieve the
Also, Goal #1.5 is to start composting! It is never the wrong time to start a compost pile and learn to successfully produce your own soil.
Realistic Goal #2 to Make is Animal Husbandry
Your second realistic goal to make for your first year is to get to know about your animals. Also, learn to properly raise and cull them.
I had goals to have goats in my first year, and many people do get goats their first year. My husband and I had no experience with any of it, though. Chickens were already a foreign animal to us and I was scared of them at first.
We had 10 too many chickens, bought 10 more ducks, and 5 rabbits within our first 3 months on the homestead. It was a problem because we never raised any of the animals in the past; we had no idea what we were in for. We had never culled an animal, either.
It’s pretty intimidating, as a beginner when you order 10 ducks and in 3-4 months half of those cute little ducks are supposed to be dinner. It was a little discouraging.
My suggestion to you is to find someone who’s raised and culled animals. I’ve culled a decent amount of animals but I still have so many questions. Also, it’s always okay to have “beginner” type goals, so keep that in mind. You can make goals that are realistic AND beginner/intermediate whenever you want.
GOAL #3 – Fruit Trees
Your third goal is to not go broke buying fruit trees. This one is not the easiest! It’s almost not even the most realistic goal to make when beginning because buying fruit trees is SO fun.
Oh man, we thought we’d have an orchard in full-throttle by the end of the first year, no doubt! We did get a head start as far as fruit trees go since we bought the land with fruit trees.
Many of those trees didn’t produce out the first year because the past owner didn’t keep up the maintenance very well. Let me tell you, you can break the bank trying to start an orchard. Good quality fruit trees aren’t cheap.
So my advice to you for the fruit trees is to get to know your local nurseries and, when they have sales, take advantage of them. Emerson and I are kicking ourselves because Tractor Supply recently had their fruit trees on sale for $14 dollars each.
We waited 4 days and that price just right back up to $35 a piece. Slow and steady grow your orchard, but don’t have it in your mind that you’ll have it together by the first year unless you are financially able to do so.
GOAL #4 – A beautiful yard
Your fourth goal when trying to make a list of realistic goals is to understand that it’s okay for your yard to not be as groomed as it was when you bought it.
When we viewed our house and property is was stunning. The yard was professionally groomed, the trees were blooming, the lots had animals in them and it looked like a dream. I still dream about the way the yard looked when we bought it!
Two years is how long it took for me to feel comfortable enough inviting people over for cookouts in our outdoor kitchen and fires in the ginormous fire pit. I’d started and stopped so many projects within the first year that the yard just constantly looked like a construction site!
The picnic table was and still is I’ll add, my workspace and it had empty pots and materials all over the place. We have 1.25 acres and that’s a large amount of space when you don’t know what to do with it. It’s okay for your yard to be a little messy at first.
You’re not going to immediately know where you want this and that and that’s totally fine. If you’re anything like myself, you won’t really know how to take care of a yard because it’s your first house and there was no yard maintenance course in school. You’ll learn soon enough, as with everything else.
GOAL #5 – Documentation
Maybe the most important and realistic goal you should make for your first year is to get in the habit of documenting everything. I didn’t document a single thing my first year or even use a garden planner. Year number two just felt like I was starting all over again! I had no memory of the weather, what sprouted when or how long it took the chicks to mature.
My second year I documented every single thing. Now, going into the Fall gardening season, I have a much tighter grasp on what I should plant and when. I understand the animals, have a set schedule for their upbringing and what date they’ll be sent off to freezer camp, etc.
Take notes, write in a diary, whatever you have to do in that first year. I wish somebody would’ve hammered this into my head when we began back in February 2016 but I learned the hard way and hope you don’t follow in my footsteps.
GOAL #6 – Patience
What is a realistic goal without patience? I’m adding this because it’s a goal I didn’t have
Be patient and know that, in time, all of these little things will fall into place. You’ll find your groove, you’ll doubt yourself less, and you’ll become a little more connected with every day that passes.
I’ve had may low ruts during my journey where quitting seemed so easy, so convenient, and so right. I promise you there are 1,000 wonderful, invigorating experiences to come for each one terrible one you’ll encounter.
Summary on realistic goals for your homestead
You don’t have to struggle in the beginning. After finding land for your homestead and moving, you’ve made the first amazing step. Next, make lists, map out where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year, etc.
Related to making realistic goals:
- Learn these 5 things first as a beginning homesteader
- Daily chores and homestead routines
- Four books for the homesteader