Hey y'all. I hope you have done some big dreaming since we talked last. So what next? Now, you need to take that big dream and break it down.
I have spent a lot of time watching homesteaders on YouTube. Everyone of them will tell you to take your time. They are right. If you get too excited and do too much too soon, something is bound to fail. Your garden may be neglected. You may miss a parasite or a bully rampaging through your flock. Something will go wrong.
Why? I have spent a lot of time thinking about this question. The reality is you do not have enough knowledge or experience to have an entire farm or homestead running smoothly yet. There are things to think about for each animal: time management, money, vet bills, housing, what they are going to eat, etc.
It is very difficult to estimate time management when starting out. (You really do not know how long it is going to take you to clean a barn or chicken coop until you do it.) It is very easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of things that have to get done everyday (not to mention what will go wrong). All this must get done along with all the things you normally do. It becomes frustrating, overwhelming, and exhausting. Too much too soon will result in quitting and regret.
We started with rabbits. They are cute. I thought they were like adding a few pets to our pups. When we got them home, I found out I was wrong.
First, money is an important issue. It is not cheap to start raising anything. My simple rabbit hutch was over $700 when all was said and done. Not to mention that we have changed it up already. Things are going to change. (Trial and error is a real thing on a farm.)
Next, you have to feed them. What are you going to use for feed? Are they going to need extra minerals? All this adds up and fast. (Oh, don't forget bedding and hay.)
To feed and water them plus the clean up so we don't smell like a barn outside was 45 minutes on a good day to start. Adding the pups and their needs to that, I was spending a minimum of 3 hours just on the critters. Then with homeschool, laundry, dishes, regular everyday chores, my house was not getting cleaned in daylight hours. After 9 months with the rabbits and many changes to the routine, I can get all the critters cared for in about an hour. It has taken a lot of trial and error and changes to the routine to get here. Mostly, it has taken time to see what works for us and what doesn't.
Now, the vet. I knew we would have big bills for farm animals; however, I did not think rabbits were like the farm animals. I put them in the family pet group. They are not.
Rabbits are considered exotic animals. You need a vet that will take exotic animals. Ironically, not all vets do. Exotic animals can cost from around $30 to $300 a visit not including what they do for them. Finding this out, I knew we needed another plan.
What do you do? Give up on your dream? No, meet farmers. They are knowledgeable. Learn from them. When I asked about our fun loving Snoopy using her water bowl as a pool and getting a fungus, a sweet person that raises rabbits told me what to get. It was a $13 fix.
When they say take things slow, they are not trying to deter you from your dream. They are saying learn about that one thing at a time. Bring it home and work with it. Add it to your routine and get things running as smoothly as you can. Then, when you are comfortable, start working on your next adventure. There have been several times I have been grateful for this advice. It has kept me calm through the trying times.
Until our next adventure, have a good one and remember take it slow.