Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Newbie's Guide to Homesteading

Where do I start.....
This is a very long post, go grab a coffee....and a donut.....why not. :)
As you know I moved from the city to the country.
One week ago.  Brand spanking new homesteader.

You have heard the expression "You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl"
Yes well, everyday I brace myself for the ball to drop and that I realize I have made a huge mistake.
 And that I have to move back to some sort of metropolitan, and that I have to live 5 minutes away from Walmart.

So I wait, and nothing.
I wake each day with the rooster crowing.  Each morning, cup of tea in hand I stand at my front window and look out.
I pull on my mud boots and head out to the chickens and collect my daily stash.  I coo and fuss over my sweet little adopted stray cat.
I walk around my property and see what's what from the evening before.  Nothing changed, but I still walk around anyway.

Dressed in sweatpants, something I would have never done in public before.
My hair is a messy ponytail, the wind keeps tugging at it.
And when I stroll to the front of the property, all the passing cars wave or honk.
Even with my messy hair and sweatpants.
This is my daily ritual.
Someday I will put on my best blue jeans, a pretty sweater, pull my hair in place, but today is not that day.

Google map of my property....awesome

However as much as the rooster crow, the quiet country walks and the messy hair,
there is a lot to be said about starting brand new on a small farm.
So much is going through my brain these days, it's in over-drive.
*So much to learn.
*Making a list and planning.
*How can I make revenue from this small farm.
*Saving and spending money

Let's have a look at this homesteader's beginners guide to big-time learning.

Learning - Educate Yourself
Can't say enough about educating yourself.  If you are a newbie like me, you have no other choice.
It's all about reading, asking questions and education.
 I am reading so much, I feel a bit overloaded.
However the more I read, the more I know, the more things start to make sense.
I am reading blogs.  Google research.  Pricing at my local farm/hardware stores.
Seeing what Kijiji (it's like Craigslist) has.
You don't need to implement everthing you are learning,
but knowledge is power and it is a lot easier making choices from that.

When I first made the decision to buy this property I was very interested in the chicken raising.
And from the first day I moved in here, I know I wanted more chickens.
Sell the eggs, make a bit of money from them.  And I just like them, their cool. :)

So I am educating myself on chickens.  Trial and error to be sure, but a step in the right direction.
I am looking at purchasing a few more birds.  I realize that putting them in with the current birds may or may not be a problem,
but I am going to start with adding just a few.  Try to keep them at the same age group and go from there.
I am saving for a new coop.  A bigger one with a bigger run.

So much planning, it's really all about baby steps.
And having a long-term goal.  Rome wasn't build in a day and neither will my farm.
I breakdown my planning in sections, makes it easier for me in my planning process.

The land
I have decided to just lay low on the outside of my property until the Spring.
Get a lay of the land of sorts.  See what's what with the property.
By the spring I should be able to start to make changes.
I am planning to expand my vegetable and fruit garden.  Will need to either rent or buy a rototiller.

Put in some perennial gardens.  Plant a tree here and there.
Finish the fencing around the property. Having two, maybe three separate pastures.

The Outbuildings
Either restore the old barn or put in a new one.

Two horses.  Talk with adjacent farmer and see if we can use the outside of his property as a trail.
More than likely the answer will be no, but I can ask.
Expand my chicken housing.  

Chickens and Livestock
Buy a new chicken coop. Get more chickens.  Produce more eggs.
The coop I have now is small but it works.  Just want to expand.
I am currently saving for a chicken coop from Home Hardware, it is obtainable at $215.
Maybe down the road get a bigger hen house, but for now I am saving for this one.

Although I have not consider cows, goats or any other livestock I am reading up on them.
Weighing out the pros and cons.  I think having a dairy cow is doable,
 but in doing so I would have to give up the pasture space from one of the horses.
Not something I want to think about right now.

The House
For the inside of the house, there is not much physical changes to the structure of the house I want or need to make.
I love it pretty much the way it is.


Of course the decorating is important for me and in time and money,
 I will plug away at what I want to achieve.
I have a good idea what I want to buy for each room, just need some cool cash.

 There is one scary room in the house that needs a major face-lift.
I am thinking this winter renovating it, then using it for storage.
I have a lot of junk....I mean collectibles!
I am wanting to change out my gas furnace to an electric one.  The heating system in the house is hot water boiler.
Hot water boiler furnaces are fueled by the gas and push the hot water (heat) through the pipes throughout the house.
I want to get rid of the gas and use an electrical furnace to do this.
Another goal is install solar grids on the roof.
Would love, love to put in a wood or corn burning stove but have no idea where I would put it.
I am not looking to live off the grid, just live more self-sustainable.

Google image

Revenue - Living Off The Land
And I don't mean fruit and vegetables living, I mean money.
I think everyday on how I can make all this work for me financially.
On 2 acres of land - I am determined.
I currently have a successful wedding linen business, but the physical demands are starting to be a bit much for me.
 I have been doing this for 10 years.  A long time in this industry.  Time for a change.

I recently asked my Facebook friends for some suggestions, how to make a full-time salary from my small farm.
These folks are brilliant.  I took pretty much every suggestion and figured out a way that could work for me and my little farm.

Let's look at my planned revenue from the farm.
What I have so far, excluding the linen business, and my projected revenue from the farm.
1.  Investment revenue.  Not farm related, but I am including it in my revenue - I currently provide a 2nd mortgage for a family that purchased a house.  No I am not rich, just clever.
2. Horse boarding.  In the spring take in horse boarders.  I wanted three, but it was suggested that that number was to high.  So I will start with two.  Can't do just one horse, they are companion creatures and like to live two by two.  Don't we all!  :)
3.  Storage rental.  Rent out my garage for winter storage.  At this time it is sitting empty.
I may use it this winter or may not.  If I can make money from my garage than this first year I will rent it out and park my vehicle outside.
4.  Bale and Breakfast.  Offer a bed and breakfast service to over-night travellers and also for those travellers attending horse or animal related actives in the area.
The Olde Barn Inn, sounds so pretty!
5.  Farmers Market.  Sell my eggs and produce that grow on my property.
Getting my feet wet, I recently put a small advertisement on Kijiji selling eggs.  I received a reply for a standing weekly order for 6 dozen.
Yippee, thank you, thank you, thank you!  It's a start.
6.  Other.  A wedding venue was suggested, and I thought it a great plan, however I decided not to entertain the idea at this time.  As I said above, I have been in the industry so long, time for a change.
The above are just my thoughts thus far.  Am always thinking, thinking so maybe down the road I will add on to my revenue from the farm.

 Spending and Saving Money
Two rules I am learning at a rapid speed is, there is always something to spend money on,
and there is always work to be done on this little farm.
 Big or small, I think this applies to any and all homesteads.
I have read and agree with most all homesteaders, saving the money for something you either need or want on the farm is the best plan.
Other than my mortgage, I refuse to go into debt with this property.
So it is saving each penny, shopping for the best price and waiting until I have the money.
And when I do buy, buy good quality.
In some ways, it is a bit cheaper for me and my little farm because it is just me.
However there are areas where I will have to invest, and I want to do it right.

 Without a doubt if I could do it over again, I would roll back time and do this when my kids where little.
I don't regret anything in my life, but I am starting to regret this.
I wish I had given them a country upbringing.  I knew I wanted this lifestyle back then, I should have just done it.
Yes we spent time in horse barns, but I wish I could have given them it all.
I just did not think it possible.  Real estate in the area I was raising my children was ridiculously high.
So I dropped the thought like a hot potato and continued on struggling.
  Now, I have learned that in some areas of South Western Ontario there are cheaper priced small hobby farms.
If I only knew then what I know now....huh, famous last words.

I talked about this with my daughter, she told me that she would not have had a problem relocating high schools back then....go figure.
I think back then I just was not mentally or emotionally there yet. 
But I'm here now and so grateful for it.

Let's stay connected, follow me on 

 I will be linking up with
  The HomeAcre Hop at Our Simple Life SC


  1. I love how *ready* you are making yourself and your farm. Every success!

  2. Hi Diane, Love hearing about how the wheels are turning. Our first chicken coup was the same as the one you are considering from Home Hardware except we built ours from scratch. One thing to consider is using hardware cloth to prevent any predators from digging their way into the run. Also heating your home with electricity is expensive. I would definitely consider a wood source of some type for heat. Also helps when there are power outages especially when you are out in the country. Our first old house we bought a pellet stove. They are great but will not run in a power outage unless you have generator back up. In our current old home, we opted for a wood stove. We also had a generator panel added to our electrical panel so we would have some power during an outage which is nice especially during a blizzard. Happens a lot in Nova Scotia. Isn't country living the best?

  3. seems like you have some great possible will all fall into place - it might be too early to see everything clearly as you just moved in, but its waiting for the right time to show itself...hang in there and enjoy!

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

  4. I love how you are considering so many options....when the right one comes along you'll know ..enjoy each as it comes...

  5. congratulations! That's a big move....We have never looked back...moved from the city to the country 22 yrs ago. Even opened my own country store!!! That only lasted 3 years but at least I tried. So whatever life brings you ...reach out and grab will never regret it.

  6. You are right where you are supposed to be at this time. Don't second guess yourself. And stop looking back.

    Moving about planting lavender bushes and selling bags of dried blossoms. You could also plant other things to dry and have a roadside stand. Buying and selling antiques has always been my dream......perfect barn for that!!! Check your local zoning codes to see what you can and cannot do and if you need permits. and......have fun!!!

  7. You know you're a country girl when..... There are lots of things to think about to keep yourself going and bring in some extra money. I like the comment from Sweet Violets, above. Good ideas there. And don't buy or rent a tiller. I expect there is someone in the area with a tiller - big or small - that would do the job for you for a moderate price for the first year. It depends on how big your garden will be and how successful it is I guess. Have fun! Pam

  8. What a great new adventure you have embarked on Diane! Enjoy every minute getting things just right... The possibilities are endless!