Homesteading primer – 4 tips for starting out!

When we started our farm in Colorado we needed help – like a homesteading primer – – 4 tips for starting out!   I wanted to learn as much as I could and try to not make a pile of ‘newbie’ mistakes in our homestead.  However, I did make mistakes in starting our farm!  I think it is part of any change in your life – you need to learn from your OWN mistakes – as they are the most powerful lessons.  Don’t be scared of that!

 Homesteading primer - 4 tips for starting out

Our first family homestead in Colorado!

 Homesteading primer – 4 tips for starting out!

Still, I have 4 tips of advice that I would like to share on starting out a homestead or farm f0r the beginners (like us) : –

1. Start small
You really don’t need 100 acres to start homesteading.  You can do it on a standard quarter-acre house block right in the middle of town.  I know it may not be the ‘dream’ you have of rolling hills and a cute homestead– but it will teach you lessons about so many things about growing food and learning to improvise.  Then, when you are ready to break free, buy something small and manageable.   My suggestion is that 5 acres is HUGE as a starting off homesteader.  Our first places was just under 5 acres, and we did not use about half of it!  We had to pay taxes and look after ALL of it….and that seemed a waste.  As a starter farm I would suggest around 3 acres is perfect.

2. Start slow
I think that the most people fail to reach their homestead dreams because they rush into everything at once – and end up with problems on all fronts.   For example, you don’t need to have chickens, goats, bees, pigs, rabbits, turkeys and cows all in your first year.  Pick one  – and see how they go.  When you feel you are successful at one animal venture, then get into the second.   Slow and steady growth with successes is better than a mad rush and loads of failures.   My advice for animals is that you can’t beat starting with chickens!

Our girls and Harry Potter

Our girls and Harry Potter

When it comes to gardening/crops it is the same principle.   Start small – you will not need 2 acres of beans!   Plant in a small area and expand from there.  Just cause you have 5 acres does not mean you need to plant the whole 5 acres in the first year!

Raised bed in action

Raised bed in action

3. Start low tech!
Another problem people fall into is the huge desire to have all the fancy mechanical equipment they can buy (and for many – things they can’t afford).   You don’t need a tractor when you are starting off! (OMG – did he REALLY just say that!).   We cleared the weeds and maintained 5 acres using a ride on lawn mower and NOT an expensive and costly-to-maintain tractor.   If we needed a tractor to do some larger jobs we rented one for a few days.

Our trusty ride on mower!

Our trusty ride on mower!

Using the rented tractor!  Jen is an expert!

Using the rented tractor! Jen is an expert!


One thing you do need is a vehicle that you can transport ‘stuff’ for your growing adventure.   An old truck is perfect – you won’t care if it gets scratched by  lumber or firewood.

Our old farm truck - has a full 8 foot bed in the back which is perfect for moving sheets of plywood etc.

Our old farm truck – has a full 8 foot bed in the back which is perfect for moving sheets of plywood etc.

4. Realize your limitations – you are  Newbie!
We can’t all be wonderful gardeners, mechanics, animal herders etc.   Some of us were born with the skills – but the rest of us have to learn.  The one thing that none of us can do is become experts of everything overnight – no matter how much we read and research.  Being a ‘newbie’ is ok though – as it can open the doors to help you learn.   Let people know you are new to the game of farming/homesteading and ask them for advice – and people will happily give it to you!  (Act like you already know everything – and people will happily watch you fail!)

So start small, start slow, start low tech and ask questions…but most of all – HAVE FUN!

Homesteading primer – 4 tips for starting out is our ida from our experience – you may find some other advice as well…but I think we have at least the first four commandments of starting a homestead!


Have you also seen the series on Rocks and soils on your farm – beginners guides?
Or what about our picture guide to Building a Pole Barn?

We hope this homesteading primer – 4 tips for starting out has helped you with your steps towards a new lifestyle!

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About Gaz

I'm an Australian transplanted to rural Maine where I live on a small property with my wife and two youngest children. Life about family, work and trying the make the planet a better place for everyone.
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One Response to Homesteading primer – 4 tips for starting out!

  1. Jody Wilson says:

    This is a great site and so, so informative. I plan to start small like you say. Gradually becoming more independent. Is there a certain starting spot? For instance, I grow all of my own root veggies and herbs and I am making a root cellar to store them. Next season, I plan to add to that vegetables that I preserve by canning and three chickens. Do you do much trading or bartering?
    Thanks for your insightful advice in this blog.

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