72: Homestead Goal Setting – The 3 Stages
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Making plans and setting goals for the homestead can be exciting, but also overwhelming. Let’s talk about how to work through three stages of homestead goal setting to help you most effectively plan your next year of homesteading awesomeness.
(Don’t want to read all the words? This blog post is also a podcast—just press the triangle play button on the little black bar at the top of this post!)
These stages of homestead goal setting will work if you’re brand new to homesteading or have a new property, but will be a little different and more specific if you’ve been at it for awhile. With a little experience under your belt, you may find different ideas for stage 1—and more realistic admonishments in stage 2.
The first stage of homestead goal setting is brainstorming!
My friend Tom Domres from Small Scale Life calls this stage “The Insanity”—and that’s a great way to describe it. Because this is the stage for all the ideas.
All of them.
This is where you dream about all the options you have—while silencing the inner critic. This is when you toss a bunch of things at the wall—because some of them will stick. It’s where you think about all the things you’ve ever wanted to do along your homesteading journey.
It’s time for dreaming about things like why yes, I’d love to grow horseradish and garlic and comfrey and plant more apple trees and…
And wouldn’t it be a great idea to build a smokehouse?
And you know what chickens I’ve always wanted to raise? Black Copper Marans. Those chocolate brown eggs…
And I’ve always wanted to make a huge fenced and netted free ranging area outside the meat bird/turkey coop.
This is such a fun stage! I have a giant sheet of paper on my closet door in my office that says Homestead 2020. Some of the things on there currently:
It’s fun to do this stage with someone else, perhaps your spouse. Just make sure you’re both in stage one and that neither of you move into stage 2 until stage 1 is exhausted.
Stage 2 of homestead goal setting? It’s the Come to Jesus Talk.
If stage one was the sweet, dreamy little angel on your shoulder telling you that you can do everything your little homesteader heart desires, stage two is the devil on the other shoulder telling you that you will get absolutely nothing done.
Stage 2 is the necessary opposite of Stage 1. This is where you get really honest about:
— the resources you have available, whether that’s time or money
— what you’re willing to do
— the stage of life your family is in
— and all the other stuff that’s happening in your life that has nothing to do with homesteading.
The problem is that the new year comes in the winter. And this is the time in Minnesota where all we can think about is when the snow will finally be gone and it will be above freezing outside. Because of this, we tend to storybook things a bit. The bugs weren’t that bad last year. And I know the garden got away from me, but that’s because… (fill in excuse that you’re pretty sure won’t happen this year. Maybe.)
We’re stuck in our homes waiting for the growing season and baby chicks and we tend to gloss over the reality of some homesteady stuff that made us curse, cry, and emptied our bank accounts last year.
Hindsight should be 20-20, but sometimes the staring at the frozen tundra makes us look back over the past year with rose colored glasses.
I’m talking about things like, Amy, seriously. You tell yourself 14 times that you need to go out to the barn before you actually go out to the barn because you’re so busy with your writing.
Or, Amy you have never once in your life planted all the seeds you order.
Or, Amy, you already tried fermenting feed last year and you couldn’t keep up with it.
Or, Amy, remember that one time you had 23 dozen eggs in your garage fridge and couldn’t find people to buy them all?
This can be a great time to look through your farm journal, where hopefully you’ve been keeping notes about what works and what doesn’t.
Stage 2 is also important to do with a friend/partner/spouse when you’re done. You may know some of your limitations, but someone outside yourself may see other ones you haven’t considered. Just make sure to offer (and accept) the honesty of stage two with love. Don’t attack with judgement, and don’t take someone’s questions too personally. After all, we’re being honest here for the sake of your homestead.
Homestead goal setting stage 3: get down to business and take action!
Stage 3 of homestead planning is what happens when you take the angel from one shoulder and the devil from the other, and make them sit down together for coffee and civil conversation.
Remember how you threw a bunch of stuff at the wall in stage one? This is the stage to figure out what things weren’t pulled off the wall and hidden under the rug in stage two. Everything that is still sticking to the wall are the things you can do something with.
Sometimes the honesty of stage two means it’s not time for that on your homestead. But sometimes it means you need a kick in the pants to step up your game. The problem is, only you can make the decision about which things are supposed to make it out of stage two.
For instance, if I couldn’t keep up with fermenting feed last year, does that mean I shouldn’t try it again this year? Does the fact that I have said since we moved to the farm in 2011 that I want to grow horseradish and garlic and still not planted it mean I shouldn’t put it on the list again this year? Not necessarily. Sometimes what isn’t making it through stage two is actually a sign that I need be more committed and less distracted.
And the things that really aren’t supposed to make it through stage two right now? That doesn’t mean they’re never going to happen. They might need to go on your later list. They may make a reappearance next year when you are dreaming for your 2021 homestead. And they may survive stage two next year.
As the year goes on, homesteading can become overwhelming. It’s best to be realistic with homestead goal setting for the coming year so as not to start out overwhelmed.
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