It takes time, patience and some budgeting to switch over to a more natural, slow, or homestead-ish lifestyle. I follow quite a few homestead and small farm blogs and often come away feeling... not good enough. As a retired military family, we have been fortunate to travel the world and serve our country at the same time. There are many benefits to traveling, and our travels have shaped our family in ways we will forever grateful for; however, there are some benefits to living in one space most of your life.... one of those is community connections and resources. When deciding to switch to a slower, more homestead-like, lifestyle, it takes research, those community connections, and... well.... money.
For instance, when I told Moe (the other half of Simmons Family Farm & Apothecary... oh and also my spouse) that it was time to create a garden, start incorporating more herbal remedies in our lives, and get our vintage skills on... he was 1000% on board... and then we had to discuss a budget. We were working from scratch... we didn't have any garden tools, a pickup to haul anything, a tiller to dig up the soil, raised bed material.... nothing. On top of that, Moe didn't even know if I had the skills to keep plants alive... and I was kinda with him on that. EVERY house plant I brought home... died. Every damn one. So here we are... no tools to start with, unknown skill levels (and possibly NO skills), a super small budget and a huge dream.
It was a mess. We went way over budget on our garden, my parents happened to fly in for a "vacation" and ended up working the whole time they were here to help us establish our garden, and there isn't one spot in the garden where several f-bombs weren't dropped at some point. Half-way through our garden plans, a broken tiller, dead plants, seeds that refused to germinate, I looked at Moe and said, "this is some bull sh*t man. Gardening is EXPENSIVE. I think I'm done... convenience wins."
Thankfully we didn't cut our losses and give up. I finally quit throwing a tantrum. Moe and I went for plan D or E and pushed forward. Now, I'm very grateful we didn't give up and enjoy what were were able to create; however, I learned a huge lesson on what it means to homestead. I was comparing my Step 1 to certain homesteaders/small farmers Step 100. Homesteading is an investment. Gardening is an investment. Owning chickens is an investment. And just like a range financial investment options... not every one will pan out like you'd want.
If I'm being honest, I don't see us gaining any financial benefits from our garden (such as not needing to buy certain veggies at the store because I'm growing it myself, or canned veggies and actually savings us money) for about 5 years. We plan on adding more raised beds (which requires material and soil) and adding additional rows of corn (which may require an investment in a tiller). Don't get me wrong, I understand there are way more benefits to having a garden than just financial ones! However, there is this belief out there on the interwebs that having a garden is cheap and easy... well... maybe it is if you have the skills and resources already in place.... but we sure as hell didn't!
If you are wanting to be more self-sustaining, garden, start farming, etc then know that it will take some research, time and money to initially get going! It's ok to start off small and have no idea what you are doing. Maybe you don't know how to cook or can... and this would be a great place to start making the transition. By learning how to cook or how to can, you learn what you use and therefore need to grow in your garden. Or if you live in an area with no yard, experiment with growing herbs, veggies or flowers in pots. Take an herbalism class online (I LOVE Chestnut School of Herbs, they have payment plans and message me if you'd like to learn more). See if your local County Extension Office offers any free, or low-cost, gardening classes. There are many options available, it just takes time and energy to research them out!
The important part... is to just try. Check your perfectionism at the door, expect to spend more than what you had planned, know you might want to give up... a lot, and keep trying.
Don't forget to check out our latest podcast: wellFULL