“Since 1950, the number of people employed in agriculture has plummeted in all industrial nations, in some regions by more than 80 percent. Look at the numbers, and you might think farmers are being singled out by some kind of virus”
Are you among the growing number of people who would like to leave the rat-race and own your own homestead?
Leave consumerism and florescent lights behind and trade them in for the sound of a rooster crowing and fresh tomatoes?
Unfortunately, thousands of new homesteaders, like you, are already throwing in the towel because they failed.
But You don’t have to! Learn to succeed where others have not.
10 Reasons Why New Homesteaders Fail
I asked several of my Homesteading and Farming friends why they feel they see so many new homesteaders and farmers quit and go back to their city/urban lives, this is what they had to say:
10. Why New Homesteaders Fail- Bad Soil
The key to a healthy garden starts with healthy soil.
Too many gardeners just put plants in the ground and expect them to grow without giving the soil any thought.
Then they deal with nutrition deficiencies in their plants, disease and pest.
To add insult to injury, instead of amending the soil, they add topical chemicals to treat the visual issues that started beneath the plant- in the soil.
My friend John Moody recently told me,
“I always say, I am a soil farmer. I grow soil and it grows veggies for me’
Healthy soil produces healthy plants.
Healthy plants are resistant to pest, drought, fungus and produce nutritious food.
Tips to Succeed: How To Build Healthy Soil
- Before you put that first seed in the ground, get your soil tested and add whatever nutrients your soil needs.
Healthy soil will grow healthy plants.
- Add organic compost often
- Find out what grows best in your soil.
Every plant has different nutritional requirements. If you have acidic soil, pick crops that thrive in acidic soil
- How to Build Healthy Soil by Marin Master Gardeners
- 8 Steps For Making Better Garden Soil by Mother Earth News
9. Why New Homesteaders Fail- No Water
Water- the source of life. Nothing can live without it.
And yet so many new adventurers don’t think about water when buying their homestead land or when placing their house.
If you are in search for that perfect homestead land, water should be your #1 priority.
I watched a homesteading video the other day where the man built the foundation of his new home and then decided to try to drill for a well.
Guess what? They couldn’t find water.
All his money was spent because of unexpected cost, a foundation poured for his new home and no water.
Not only should you consider availability of water but equally important is the quality of water and storage.
Tips to Succeed:
- Location, location, location
Before you buy land, make sure it has a viable water source.
Determine how much water your family uses per day and per month and make sure you will be able to harvest enough to supply your demands.
- Water Testing
Contact your local health department and ask about getting your water tested.
EPA Home Water Testing Facts
- Harvesting and Collection
- 23 Awesome Rainwater Collection Systems by Morning Chores
- How to Collect Water by Bushwalking 101
- How to Find The Best Place to Drill Your Own Well by Off The Grid News
8. Why New Homesteaders Fail- Not Enough Money
Since you’re leaving the rat race, consumerism, commercialism, and all the other ism’s behind, you shouldn’t need that much money, right?
Wrong. Or at least partially.
Setting up a homestead can be very expensive.
Many, many hidden cost and unforeseen circumstances that quickly drain your homesteading nest egg.
When I asked my friend Janelle who owns a 235 acre ranch, what unexpected cost have they ran into, she said:
“What unexpected cost haven’t we run into? Everything costs twice as much and takes 3 times as long!”
Furthermore, many new homesteaders quit their job with hopes and dreams of living off the land and no outside income.
While this is your end goal, you will need an income to cover the cost of expenses while building your sustainable income.
Going into debt. Taking out loans to provide you with a simpler lifestyle could almost be considered an oxymoron.
Debt equals stress and bondage, two things you don’t want when you are building a new life.
Tips to Succeed:
- Cost of Setting Up a Homestead by Our Simple Homestead
- Keep your outside job.
Continue to work away from home until you have established your homestead and are generating a revenue.
- Don’t buy anything on credit.
If you can’t pay cash- wait until you can.
- Save, save, save.
How To Save Money When You’re Broke by Thirty handmade Days
- Consider joining a homesteading community and sharing expenses
- Leasing a farm instead of buying one.
- Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. Literally and figuratively.
Several friends have lost their summer food harvest due to weather and chemical drift.
Life is very unpredictable. The only certainties are nothing is certain.
- Have a Plan B, C, D
7. Why New Homesteaders Fail- Taxes!
High taxes ruin your ability to homestead.
You bought your land for a steal, but if your taxes are outrageous, it wasn’t a good deal.
When investing in a Homestead make sure the property taxes won’t be a financial burden.
My grandparents built their house over 70 years ago and the taxes have risen so high over the years, they are on the verge of losing it because it is no longer affordable to live there.
Tips to Succeed:
- Check your local and state taxes before you buy.
Make sure all tax assessments are up to date.
- Get a survey on your land to make sure you are being charged the right amount and request a current assessment.
- Buy in rural areas.
The closer to a city you are, the higher the taxes will be.
- Find out from your county how much your taxes will increase once you put a house on the vacant land.
6. Why New Homesteaders Fail-Being Plugged In
If you have a television (pc, phone, ipod, etc), your time is wasted and so is your homestead.
Social media has connected us to the web but has disconnected us from the land and each other.
How much time do people spend on their mobile phones in 2017?
In addition to phones, CNN reports
A new Nielsen Company audience report reveals that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media during the first quarter of this year.
Brian stated “If you have a television (pc, phone, ipod, etc) and your time is wasted and so is your homestead.”
While I admit, many of us need these items to run our business and stay in contact with our family, we have to limit our usage.
Tips to Succeed:
- Just Unplug
- Stop Checking In
- Set a Timer
- Remove all apps from your phone
- Turn Off notifications
- Set a Schedule
- Leave it behind
- Get a house phone and a answering machine
- Hire Help (va-personal assistant).
If you have to be online for your job, consider hiring a virtual assistant to handle your online needs, freeing up your time to do more important things.
5. Why New Homesteaders Fail- Lack of Knowledge…
YOU MUST latch onto folks who know
The internet is a grand thing. I have learned so much over the years, from amazing articles and how-to videos.
However, some things you just can’t learn online. Some things you have to learn in real life.
What signs do you look for in a sick animal?
What is your soil telling you?
Did your bread rise properly or how to deal with the emotions of your first butcher?
These are life experiences that can only come from personal interaction.
Tips to Succeed: Community
- Take classes or workshops at your local extension office
- Offer to volunteer at a local farm or become and apprentice
- Pay for private instruction
- Contact your library for classes or workshops
- Extended learning classes through colleges
- Try WWOOFing and visit working farms.
World Wide Organic Opportunity Farming
4. Why New Homesteaders Fail- Trying to be too big…
Trying to do it all too fast will almost certainly end in failure.
I know you want to do it all, and if you’re like me, you won’t heed this warning.
You will take on too much and get burned out the first year or two (just like me).
My brain works best when I have multiple things to do and think about.
However, this personality trait does not always bode well with Homesteading.
No family needs 200 chickens if you are not in the chicken business.
Start with the basic needs of your family and expand as time, money and proficiency allows.
Tips to Succeed:
- Start slow
This is hard advice for me to give because I have lived by the motto ‘go big or go home’.
Truth is, if you really want to succeed, become proficient at one thing before you move on to the next.
- One – two livestock per year.
In order to truly understand your animals need, you need to spend time with them.
Adding too much responsibility at one time is not only stressful on you, but also your livestock.
Add one to two types of livestock per year in order to maintain good animal husbandry.
If goats aren’t your thing? No worries, re-home them and move on.
Never feel guilty if an animal is not a perfect fit for your family.
- Start with a couple and grow from there.
Grow a couple of crops really well instead of trying to grow everything your family eats right off the bat.
Then keep adding each year and season. If you aren’t successful at growing squash, don’t grow squash.
Find crops that thrive in your soil and environment.
- Keep good records.
Breeding cycles of your livestock, egg production, weigh your produce, feed cost, expenses, tax receipts, document everything.
If you are too busy throughout the day, use your phone as a recorder and write it all down at night.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from a homesteader they didn’t know how much ____ cost to make or produce.
My reply was “how do you know how much to charge or if you’re making a profit?”.
It wouldn’t be in your behoove you to raise chickens for eggs if you are only charging $3.00 a dozen but it’s costing your $3.50 a dozen to produce.
- 12 Things You Must Do Before Moving Off The Grid
3. Why New Homesteaders Fail-Work Ethic
Simple living is not easy living by any stretch of the imagination.
Homesteading and living off the land has been given this Hollywood facade.
Pretty pictures of canned produce, hugging cute baby piglets, aprons full of eggs you just collected. From nice mowed pastures to fresh country biscuits that just came out of your wood-burning cook stove, you can almost smell the homemade apple pie.
While those are all amazing byproducts of homesteading, Pinterest and other social media sites are failing to show all of the blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes.
Homesteading is a 14+ hour a day job, 24/7/365.
Remember those 2 weeks of paid vacation you used to get? Buh-bye.
Most homesteaders don’t get vacations, if they do they are few and far between.
Tips To Succeed:
- A good work ethic starts with discipline
- Set a schedule and stick to it
- Establish your short term and long term goals and work on them daily
- Good results come from hard work
- Push Yourself
- Embrace responsibility- failure is not an option
- Work on your toughest projects first thing in the morning
- Don’t be still.
Idle hands are the devils workshop ~Proverbs 16:27
2. Why New Homesteaders Fail-Not Leaving The City Behind
People are sick of the commercial life and thousands want to move out to the country and have Freedom.
Problem is, many who seek this life bring the city with them.
They move to the country, outnumber the locals (because they are moving to a rural area where population is low) and impose their way of life on the country folk.
Never leaving the city behind. Changing everything they loved about the country to begin with.
Case in point: a MHL member shared that in their country, rural, farming town, the transients passed laws you could no longer operate your tractor in the dark- only daylight.
Many farms will now go out of business because of this rule.
Another example of not leaving the city behind:
Someone buys several acres in the middle of a farming community, splits the land into parcels and adds Restrictive Covenants to the land.
Then forbids: ALL livestock, Farming, Barns, Gardening (unless it’s a small personal garden), even outside lights!
The areas are zoned Agriculture but the land owners that moved to the country from the cities are the ones attaching the new laws.
So many times I hear from fellow homesteaders that say their once rural area is now overrun with HOA’s, Restrictions, Laws and Subdivisions.
It is a very sad and discouraging fact.
Tip To Succeed
- The Reality of Homesteading by Homestead In The Holler
- Be a good neighbor
- Don’t be in a hurry
- Enjoy not having the modern conveniences you had in the city
- Forget about Starbucks, drive through restaurants, and manicured lawns.
- I beg you. If you are wanting to leave the city life behind and move to the country, leave the city life behind.
Be OK with barking dogs, an old tractor, the smell of manure, overgrown lawns, and keep the country -country.
1. The number ONE reason why new homesteaders fail is because they didn’t get up before the sun and went to bed before the job was done.
Dairy farmers are up at 3 am, tractors are in the fields hours before daybreak.
The lazy man works best when the sun sets in west.The just of it being that in the evening the lazy man who doesn’t get up early begins feeling guilty and works after dark.- Scott terry
Farmers normally have a half days work in by the time our city alarm clocks go off.
- If you are raising dairy, it is important to milk first thing in the morning.
- Watering is best done before the sun hits the plants.
- Vegetables need to be harvested fresh before the market.
Tips to Succeed:
- Night Owls Belong In the City
Unless you are assisting a birth in the middle of the night, you need to be in bed
- Work until the job is done
- A strong work ethic begins with a disciplined morning routine.
- Take respite during the heat of the day in order to preserve your energy for the evening chores.
- Enjoy this new life, embrace it, let the freedom and empowerment fill your lungs.
Homesteading is hard but rewarding beyond measure.
Anyone can do it but not everyone will, be one of the few.
A very special thanks to my fellow homesteaders: Brian Shane B for all of his suggestions and insight, Scott Terry & Janelle Veldkamp for their advice and experience.
Brain, Scott and Janelle are all Admins of our Private Homesteading Group on Facebook called
We invite you to join our group.