Rookie Mistakes We Made As Beginning Homesteaders

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I’ll be the first to admit that when we first started our homesteading journey, we made a lot of rookie mistakes. We spent to much on things we didn’t need. Then we turned around and didn’t buy things we really should have. We skipped around when adding animals, buildings and tools. That is, until we learned to prioritize better. We have learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Starting a homestead from scratch, and building all our own infrastructure, is much harder than I had ever imagined it could be. Hopefully writing this all down will help you avoid a few of the mistakes we made!

Rookie Mistakes We Made As Beginning Homesteaders - Sled Dog Slow

Our biggest rookie mistake was not planning anything.

Sure we had ideas for what we wanted to do, and we wrote things down, but we never really had a set plan. There was no “house goes here, chickens go here, garden goes here” kind of plan. Not until we had already put the chickens too close to the house. So as we expanded we just threw things where it was convenient right then, rather than were we knew we wanted them permanently. If we had planned better we could have saved ourselves from a lot of the other mistakes. A homestead planning binder is necessary to keep everything organized.

Another mistake we made was jumping in to new things without preparing.

We’d get an idea and go for it. More chickens? Heck yeah. Pigs? Lets do it! Greenhouse and garden? Check! And then the inevitable fail. We wanted everything to work and be productive right away. Kyle was so disappointed to find out our chickens wouldn’t lay until the spring after we purchased them. At least we were able to push our pig order back to this summer, and have learned enough to hold off on beehives and other animals until next year.

We didn’t understand the weather in our new area well either.

Personally, coming from a desert area, I didn’t truly understand what living in a rainforest meant until we were hit by our first rainy season here. A little drowned garden and a lot of mud later, know I know how wet it can be! It also helps to know where the low spots collect so we can avoid building there. We also thought we were prepared for long winters, but they are much longer and darker than I could have imagined!

Also, we made the mistake of not budgeting from the beginning.

We have spent so much money on materials for our homestead, when we should have just invested in a saw mill from the beginning. Small purchases can add up really quickly. We should have figured out sooner that just because something is new doesn’t make it better. At least we have a few places we know to go for cheap homestead goods now!

The biggest lesson we’ve learned in starting our homestead from scratch is that it’s okay to go slow.

There is no reason to push to the point of injury to get everything done in one day. Pacing yourself in the endless work (it is endless) of beginning a homestead is extremely important. There should always be a realistic timeline for goals to be completed. This will save so much frustration down the line.

All things aside, we are still learning on our homestead journey. I’m sure there will be many more mistakes and lessons for us in the future!

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We Did Want Adventure…

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And boy did we get our adventure!

Yesterday we decided we needed to take the truck on the beach in order to get building materials to our property. We didn’t even make it to the beach before we noticed a clicking coming from our rear driver’s side tire. After looking at it a bit and calling our dad’s, we took some weight off to see if that would help. It continued to click so my dad suggested looking for a rock in the hub cap. Lo and behold, when we took off the hub cap we realized that tire was loose too! Unfortunately we’d taken the tire iron to camp to work on the 4 wheeler and forgotten to bring it back to the truck. Luckily some people had come to the park and gave Kyle a ride back to their house to borrow theirs, and we tightened all the tires. Yup, the front were loose as well! After saying goodbye to them we ran into another gentleman who owns a cabin in the area and he lent us his for the trip down the beach in case we needed to change a tire out there.

And then we were finally off!

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Aaaaand…. We only made it about 3 miles before we hit one of the sink holes that this beach is known for. One tire in mud and three on sand, pretty much the worst case scenario for being stuck off road.

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As we dug out clay and mud more kept seeping in and we got well and truly stuck, sinking up to our axles and high centering the truck on a rock. Luckily it was still light out at 10 pm when we started digging, but we were working against a 21 foot tide that could potentially take out our truck. At midnight, after I started crying (I’m going to blame that on pregnancy hormones) we decided to leave the truck and walk back to the 4 wheeler so we could at least go back to camp and feed the dogs. We were just hoping that the truck would not be to damaged by the tide and we’d come back in the morning to try again.

Just as we were getting ready to go, another cabin owner showed up! At midnight! With a big truck and all the tools needed to get us out!

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Seeing that big light come down the beach felt like the best thing that had ever happened to us! The cabin owner spent another two hours digging and towing us out (we were really that stuck) and invited us to follow him back to his cabin just up the beach from us to spend the night. We followed exactly where he drove the entire time and didn’t get stuck again!

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The next morning we unloaded the truck at our beach access and tried again, this time we made the entire 14 miles without getting stuck anywhere! Whew! We also realized driving back that the hole we had dug ourselves out of was completely gone! The tide would have ruined our truck for sure. So we headed into town to get all the equipment we should have had the first time we tried the beach, and now we’ll be loading the truck and driving out again tonight. I think we learned quite a bit yesterday, and this time will be way better prepared!

Below are the items we purchased on the recommendation of our neighbor:

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Progress!

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I feel like we’ve actually accomplished something and made progress in the past few days. After Kyle spoke with another gentleman with a cabin up in this area we gave up on finding our markers for now. He had been coming up to his cabin for 10 years and never found his property markers!

So… we used the plat map, paced off the distance and decided if we went in right in the middle there was no way we could accidentally be on someone else’s property. Which brings us to:

We have a driveway now!

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This tool was immensely helpful in clearing the brush:

It didn’t look like much when we started, but we can get the 4 wheeler all the way to the clearing that we want to put our shed up in. We also roughed out where we would be putting chickens and rabbits.

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We also bought a .22 for hunting small game, so now we can get that porcupine (and probably feed it to the dogs, they are eating a LOT).

Other good things that have happened in the last few days: Kyle met a lady who is giving us a free greenhouse and some plants to get our garden started, the dogs scared a grizzly and a moose out of camp, and today the tide leveled the beach out so driving the truck out to our access should be easier now!

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Ronan found himself a huge bone, and Link found a nest of spruce grouse eggs!

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Now to get our shed supplies up there and start building!

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Reality Check

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This sh*t is hard. We didn’t expect easy, but it is H-A-R-D.

Between there being no road to our property, to having the survey markers be buried under 40 years of growth, we feel like we can’t even start working on our property yet!

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Today we spoke to the realty company we purchased the land through and they put us in touch with a surveyor who helped us find GPS coordinates for each marker so we should be able to get up in the morning and find them easily. Hopefully. But the surveyor did say if we had trouble he’d come out and help us find them, so we will find our markers soon!

Once we find the markers then we still have to get everything out there. A 4 wheeler just does not have the towing power or weight capacity of a truck, so we may just end up driving the truck down the beach. We’ve seen plenty of people do it, but we haven’t attempted it yet. There is still frost under the beach so there are unexpected soft spots we have been hitting in the 4 wheeler and that makes me a little worried about taking the truck out.

For right now though, we are still camping at the lake, which is beautiful!

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We also did our first load of what I’m affectionately calling “bush laundry”. We will definitely be needing a wringer to go with our washboard for our next load!

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Also this week, Ronan found out what happens when you harass a porcupine! Link showed up at the pound we got him from with a face full of quills so he was smart enough to stay away, but Ronan must have actually tried to bite the porcupine because he had quills pretty far back in his mouth.

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Pro tip: clip the ends of the quills before pulling them out, it makes it much easier! Pliers like these ones make it a little easier. And also, train your dog to allow hands in his mouth. We didn’t have anything to knock Ronan out with, but he’s well trained enough with touching his face and mouth that he didn’t bite even though I’m sure he was in quite a bit of pain. We pulled quills from under his tongue, gum line, and his throat. Hopefully he won’t ever make this mistake again!

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After 30 minutes of pulling quills, Ronan was very happy to have them all out!

Kyle and I both have hunting and fishing licenses now, and I bought a .22 today so we’ll be able to hunt for some of our food. I’m honestly considering eating that porcupine if we happen across him again, they are supposed to be good eating this time of year.

Back to camping for now!

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Preparation 

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This week is all about preparation for getting out to our property and getting to building!

Our 4 Wheeler is at the Yamaha dealership being serviced and wont be done until Friday, so we are stuck floating around the area until then but….

Our crate finally arrived on the barge! We are very happy to have all our tools!

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We ended up renting a Uhaul to get everything out of Anchorage and down the Peninsula, then getting a storage unit (free with one way rental of a Uhaul right now, woo hoo!) so now everything is at least closer to our property. It’ll probably take us quite a few trips to get everything to our property as we don’t want to over load our trailer.

Hard to believe we fit our whole lives in this little box to move!

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We also picked up the shed kit we purchased that’ll be put up as a temporary home until the cabin is built.

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And we gathered a larger (legible) version of our properties plat map with surveyor notes to help us find the corner markers.

Now we will be checking out the local feed and animal store to price some chickens and rabbits!

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Isn’t Ronan so cute in his harness?!

(Purchase this harness here)

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