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10 Reasons Why New Homesteaders Fail- Plus tips to help you succeed!

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New homesteaders fail everyday. The cities are full of those who gave up on their dreams.

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 how to succeed where others have not.

10 Reasons Why New Homesteaders Fail & Tips To Help You Succeed

“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”

More on Shrinking Farm Numbers

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. Homesteaders Fail Because of 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.

“I always say, I am a soil farmer. I grow soil and it grows veggies for me’
John M~

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

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: Have Water On The Homestead

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: Budget and Plan

  • 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: Prepare For Taxes Ahead of Time

  • 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. New Homesteaders Fail Because They Are Too 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 2022?

According to Insider Intelligence

In 2022, the average time spent on mobile devices increased 2.5% year-over-year (YoY) to over 4.5 hours per day.

Our member 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.

It is a proven fact that social media is addictive and we are lured in for hours a day.

Precious time we could be spending time with our land and family.

Homestead And Farm Apps

In the world of technology, we fight between keeping up with the times and tending to the homestead and farm chores.

We have a list of homestead and farm apps that can actually make your recordkeeping life a little easier.

Tips to Succeed: Unplug

  1. Just Unplug
  2. Stop Checking In
  3. Set a Timer
  4. Remove all apps from your phone
  5. Turn Off notifications
  6. Set a Schedule
  7. Leave it behind
  8. Get a house phone and a answering machine
  9. 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…

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.

YOU MUST latch onto folks who know what you want to learn.

  • 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: Build Your Homestead Community

  1. Take classes or workshops at your local extension office
  2. Offer to volunteer at a local farm or become and apprentice
  3. Pay for private instruction
  4. Contact your library for classes or workshops
  5. Extended learning classes through colleges
  6. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

There is no fatigue so wearisome as that which comes from lack of work. – Charles Spurgeon

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.

The Problem

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: Lave The City Behind

  • 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..

They wake too late to get the job done.

But it’s not their fault! We are accustom to clocking in at 8 or 9 am then punching out at 5 or 6 pm at the latest.

“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

Dairy farmers are up at 3 am, tractors are in the fields hours before daybreak.

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.

You may be working longer, harder hours but your rewards are daily by the fruits of your labor.

 Tips to Succeed:

  1. Night Owls Belong In the City. Unless you are assisting a birth (livestock of course) in the middle of the night, you need to be in bed.
  2. Work until the job is done.
  3. A strong work ethic begins with a disciplined morning routine.
  4. Take respite during the heat of the day in order to preserve your energy for the evening chores.
  5. Enjoy this new life, embrace it, let the freedom and empowerment fill your lungs.
10 Reasons Why New Homesteaders Fail & Tips To Help You Succeed

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Lori M.

Friday 14th of December 2018

Thanks for this excellent article!! I particularly liked the reference to only being up late to catch babies... I'm a midwife :)


Tuesday 29th of August 2017

Great post and I couldn't agree more with starting small!

I think homesteading on a small scale or backyard farming is on the rise so people can start small and learn new skills like beekeeping or growing vegetables whilst still having a secure income.

Thank you for sharing how would be homesteaders can succeed.

Amber Bradshaw

Tuesday 29th of August 2017

Hi Emma and thanks for leaving a comment! Yes, starting small and gaining knowledge is a great start. I've learned by soooooo many mistakes on our tiny homestead. I just visited your site and I can't wait to share Zucchini Wine on my FB page! Not very often I see something for the first time- this was it. Kudos!