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Homesteading is a lifestyle that requires dedication and hard work. To be successful in this way of life, it’s important to possess certain traits – and above all else – a belief in an overarching homesteading ideology that you live, breathe and believe.
Homesteading has been romanticized in recent years, and there is a fundamentally honest reason why. Many people are stressed, burned out and unhappy with their modern-day lives, and they’re looking for an escape. With the events of the last few years specifically, a lot of people I have spoken to who are new to the lifestyle have all said it was the incentive to kick them into gear and stop dreaming about something they one day hoped to achieve.
Naturally, moving out to the country to live a quieter, simpler, healthier, more affordable life away from the rat race is about as appealing as it gets. It was something that happened so organically for us and now I couldn’t manage not living in the country. Even travelling to a suburban area for appointments or meetings on ad hoc occasions spurs a level of nervousness and anxiety I can’t pinpoint. It’s a mixture of too much noise, too much traffic and too many people racing around in a mind-numbing blur.
New homesteaders can lose gusto after a year. Now that you’ve wound down and had the chance to relax, what are you going to do? I suppose for me this is where the staying power and conviction is in how true someone believes in the ideology of homesteading and whether the lifestyle is suitable for them.
Having made the move out to the country more than 12 years ago, I can tell you that moving out here has elevated my life in ways I never thought possible. For me, it felt like I finally was in a place that suited me to a T, and that aligned with the way I want to live and enjoy my life.
Both my husband, Serge and I agree that our life here is better by far than it was when we were running the rat race in the suburbs. It’s not an easy lifestyle though. There is physical work, and there is a lot of self-reliance. But is it worth it? Absolutely.
You’ve gotta be tough to be a homesteader. You’ve gotta be determined to make it no matter what. You could be the most skilled builder, gardener and homemaker there is, but if you crack under a little pressure or approach tasks with anything less than a positive, “can-do” attitude, you could still fail.
On the other hand, you could start out with none of these skills, but with the right attitude you can absolutely learn and grow and make your homesteading journey a success story.
I’ve said it in many of my other posts about homesteading and the lifestyle ideology it is, but you don’t have to have a single ‘farming’ related skill to start homesteading. And many of us sure don’t. But what you do need to have is drive, and the ability to think outside the square and on your feet. So, I’ve come up with a few main traits that you may need as a new homesteader that can help make you successful whatever part of the journey you may be.
5 Traits of a Successful Homesteader
Homesteading requires a certain level of self-sufficiency, which means that you should be able to produce your own food, energy, and other resources on your land without relying too much on external sources.
Being self-sufficient also means that you should be able to manage your own waste and recycling, as well as being able to repair and maintain your own tools and equipment.
To be a successful homesteader, you should have a good understanding of the natural resources available on your land, such as water sources, soil quality, and local wildlife.
It’s important to have a plan in place for how you will manage your resources and sustain your homestead over the long-term. This may involve techniques like crop rotation, composting, and rainwater harvesting.
While self-sufficiency is a key aspect of homesteading, it’s also important to build a supportive community of like-minded individuals who can offer advice, support, and resources when needed.
Where I think some people trip up is not having a nice equilibrium. They either are not sufficient enough, or have overdone their efficiency. And I suppose some may argue it’s better to be over-prepared than under prepared and I agree. There are systems and processes that should be used anyway to ensure that if you’ve overdone your food security for example, you can use up some of the stuff that needs to be used first so it doesn’t go to waste.
The main thing to remember about self-sufficiency is that you need to have a plan. You cannot – and should not – just wing it. You may have some success ‘winging it’, but I would argue that you’d have to have the skill already learnt to wing it successfully. If you want to be the most efficient, then have a plan.
I have several articles on how you can start preparing which may be useful:
How to prepare your homestead for short-term power outages
14 pantry basics to kick start your pantry stockpile
Prepsteading basics: an 8-step how-to guide on how you can start
Building a homestead is an exciting adventure, and while it may seem daunting at first, the rewards are immeasurable. Adaptability is an important trait to have as a homesteader and I’ll explain why.
As a homesteader, you’ve made an active decision to live in the country. You may be in a remote location, an entirely regional location with a very small hub, or a semi rural area closer to bigger amenities. Regardless of where you live, you still live in the country. And that automatically means longer travel distances to the store and amenities, potentially worse roads to travel on, weather issues and more.
Weather is one of the biggest factors that can affect your homestead. From sudden storms to droughts, it’s important to be prepared for anything. This means having backup plans for water sources, shelter, and even crops. You might consider investing in a greenhouse or other protected growing areas to help mitigate some of the risks associated with weather fluctuations.
Weather doesn’t just impact your actual dwelling either. Country roads are notorious for being banged up and rickety the world round, so bad weather has the potential and risk to increase road noise, create driving issues or make it hard to get home. The number of times we hear “if it’s flooded, forget it” from our state law enforcement agency in the wet season is mind boggling, because the number of times people go through flood waters and then need SES and Police help is also just as mind boggling.
Market conditions are another aspect of homesteading that requires adaptability. Whether you’re selling produce, livestock, or handmade products, you’ll need to stay up-to-date on market trends and be willing to adjust your offerings accordingly. Consider networking with other local farmers and homesteaders to share tips and insights on how to navigate market fluctuations.
Unexpected events can throw a wrench into even the most well-laid plans. From equipment breakdowns to health emergencies, it’s important to have contingency plans in place. This might mean having backup tools and supplies on hand, or having a network of trusted friends and neighbors who can help out in a pinch.
As Carla Emery says in The Encyclopedia of Country Living, “coping with natural disasters and living a deliberately simple life have some similarities, if you’re prepared for them.”
Overall, adaptability is a crucial component of successful homesteading. By staying flexible and open to new ideas and approaches, you’ll be better equipped to handle whatever challenges come your way.
When it comes to homesteading, being resourceful is key. Having the ability to upcycle, reuse, repurpose, recycle or give new life to something someone doesn’t need can save you lots of money on a homestead.
Homesteading often requires a DIY approach, meaning you’ll need to be able to problem-solve on your own. You may not always be able to call on an expert to come out and help, and often times they want to charge significantly more than they’d charge others for the same service, or they just refuse to service your area.
Being a Mr Fix It is bound to develop naturally as you need to find ways of solving problems on your own.
Making the most of available resources doesn’t just mean using what you have, but also being able to repurpose items for different uses.
Being resourceful can also save you money in the long run, as you’ll be less reliant on purchasing new items.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your homesteading community for advice and tips on how to be more resourceful. Sharing knowledge is a great way to learn and grow as a homesteader.
Regardless of the weather or any plans you may have for the day, as a homesteader there are certain tasks you have to do every day or few days in order to keep on top of chores.
As a homesteader, you’re responsible for lots of things – the animals, the property maintenance, and yourself. And all of the nuances that come under those very broad themes.
You may not have a traditional 9-5 as a homesteader. And that is something you need to grasp very quickly. And even if you do, you may have to get up earlier to deal with daily tasks like animal feeding or keeping the fire in the fireplace going BEFORE you even think about going to work.
Maintaining a positive attitude is paramount to homesteading. Staying optimistic can help you weather difficult times and find creative solutions to problems. This can be especially helpful when dealing with weather-related setbacks, failing crops, or unexpected expenses.
There’s a woo woo saying that what you say and think is what you project and what manifests for you and I believe that. If you start your day in a shitty way, then that is how your day will progress.
Building a support system and a network of helpers and allies is vital for homesteading success. Homesteading can be isolating, so it’s important to have a network of people you can turn to for help or advice. This might include other homesteaders in your area, online communities, or friends and family members who are supportive of your lifestyle.
Staying flexible requires a few different elements, including the ability to think on your feet, problem solve and work with what you’ve got. Some people cannot do that, so if this isn’t one of your strong suites I’d say pracctisiing for imperfection should be smething you focuus on.
Because nothing in homesteading is ever perfect or works exactly as you wish it to.
Homesteading often involves a lot of trial and error, so it’s important to be open to change and willing to adapt your plans as needed. This might mean switching up your crop rotation, trying a new animal husbandry technique, or exploring alternative energy sources.
By developing these skills and traits, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that come with homesteading and find long-term success on your land.
Homesteading requires dedication, hard work, and a strong sense of purpose. A deep passion for this lifestyle will keep you going through the challenging times and make the rewards all the more satisfying. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work, but rather a fulfilling way of life.
But it’s also undestandable and probabl expected, that making such a huge life change may wear you out. You may get to a point a few months later and think, oh my gosh what have I done?
We all go through those steps when making huge life decisions but I think the most important thing is to remind yourself why you did it in the first place.
My first point would be to sit down and write about it. Do a pros and cons list or some gratitude journaling to help you remember what drove you to make that decision. Often times once you go through that process you feel less anxious about the decision and remember what drove you to that decision initially.
There are many other ways to keep your homesteading passion alive. Because let’s be honest sometimes it does get overwhelming and sometimes you need to take a break from it. In those down moments, you can do the following:
- Connect with other homesteaders in your community or online to share tips, advice, and stories.
- Learn as much as you can about homesteading practices, from gardening to animal husbandry, to continuously improve your skills.
- Take time to appreciate the natural beauty around you and the benefits of self-sufficiency.
- Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, to stay motivated and inspired.
Remember, homesteading is not just a hobby or a job, it’s a way of living that requires dedication and passion. If you have a true love for this lifestyle, you’ll find joy and fulfillment in every aspect of homesteading.
Adopt the traits of a successful homesteader and the skills will follow
I’ve said it before, but you don’t need the skill to live the lifestyle. The skills will come later as you progress further into your homesteading journey. The most important factor is that you have the traits and belief in homesteading ideology to get you through those tough moments.
Got these 5 traits already? Then check out this list of 100 essential skills you should know as a homesteader!
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