6 Rookie Homestead Mistakes We Made & How to Avoid Them

by HomeSteadHow

Welcome to another episode of HomesteadHow. In today's video, we will tell you about a bunch of homestead mistakes we made over the last six years. These are mistakes that you should avoid.

Male goats

1. Getting male goats

We were rookies from the city. We had a lot of pets. We got these goats. They are male goats and male goats are useless.

Now, in fairness, they are actually providing some value for our homestead, because we have an Airbnb rental. We have a lot of guests that want to experience what it’s like on a homestead and pet farm animals. They are a major attraction.

Walking male goats

Our goats also like to go for walks. Our Airbnb guests love to open the gate and take the goats for a walk on the property. The goats will follow them around like dogs. So, these male goats are providing some value, otherwise male goats are worthless. 

If you are a new homesteader, like we were, and you are moving from the city, and you've never lived out in the country, and you are all gung ho, don’t make a mistake as we did. Don’t get male goats.

Chicken coop

2. Not thinking through the chicken coop

One of the first mistakes we made six years ago was that we got all gung ho and built this chicken coop. It’s pretty cool looking but shortly after it rotted out.

Also, while it looks cute and nice, it isn’t really functional. The lid that has to be lifted to take the eggs out is really heavy. 

Chicken tractor

A couple of years after that we ended up getting this chicken tractor, which we absolutely love. If we were to do it over again, I wouldn’t have built that chicken coop. I would have built a chicken tractor or purchased a chicken tractor. 

Chicken tractors can be expensive, but you can build them inexpensively and they are portable. We were all excited about getting our homestead six years ago. We built the coop too quickly and didn’t put enough thought into it. 

Make sure you put a lot of consideration into your chicken coop. Think about what will happen five years down the road.

Homestead garden

3. Neglecting our garden

This is our homestead garden. One of the biggest homestead mistakes we made, which we are still paying for six years later, is not paying enough attention to our garden.

Moving from the city, we thought, you get a plot of land, put some seeds down, and put water on it, and you have food. 

Growing food from seeds

No, that is not how it works. It could take years to build up your soil to have the nutrients to grow food. We’ve struggled every year.

From day one, I wish we would have paid more attention to our garden: amending our soil, doing soil tests, adding worms, composting, and getting it where it needs to be.

Here we are six years later and still struggling, although we are having a pretty good year so far with our tomatoes. 

For people out there worried about prepping, who think that if things go south, and you can’t go to the grocery store, you can just plant seeds, you should think twice. It could literally take you a couple of years to get a good garden going. You want to get that going right away. 

I wish we would’ve paid attention to our garden as a priority, instead of the many other projects we were focused on.

Homestead fencing

4. Investing in inadequate fencing

Another big homestead mistake we made was inadequate fencing. We had welded wire fencing everywhere and it fell apart everywhere. 

Our new fencing is continuous steel fencing and it has been a lifesaver. The goats haven’t been able to get out since we put it up, and they were escaping all the time before. Goats were getting into the garden, and chickens were getting into the garden, all because of inadequate fencing. 

Don’t be cheap like we were, and really consider the fencing you are going to put up, especially if you have a goat. Goats are amazing escape artists.

We invested a lot of money and time putting up this terrible fending, fixing this fencing, welding in other pieces, putting boards across it, and adding on to try and get it to work. I wish we would’ve invested in proper fencing from day one. 

IBC tote for backup water

5. Not having adequate backup water

Another homestead mistake we made was in regard to water. This is our IBC tote. It collects rainwater for us. This is our backup system for water. Other than this, we don’t have any natural water on our homestead and that's a big mistake. 

Water well with an electric pump

I wish when we purchased our homestead we purchased one that had a river, creek, lake, pond, or another natural water source.

Our main water source is a well that is 100 feet underground and uses an electric pump. If there is ever a big disaster, and the electricity goes out, rainwater is our only water source. Consider your water situation strongly.

Homestead mistakes to avoid

6. Not getting solar

Another mistake we made was not getting solar. We built a small solar trailer on our homestead and it can power our dog kennel or greenhouse, but has a very limited supply of power. 

We want to get our entire homestead off-grid and running on solar. I wish that's something we invested in earlier. 

We made a big investment in our outdoor wood burner, and I’m happy we did that because we heat two properties and our water. Heat is a big expense in Wisconsin.

However, we did spend money on other large investments, like building tiny houses. I wish we would've spent that money on solar instead. In the next year I hope to put the money down and install solar, so we can get off-the-grid in terms of electricity.

Homestead mistakes to avoid

We were rookie homesteaders when we started six years ago. We made rookie homestead mistakes. What mistakes have you made in your gardens or homesteads? Let us know in the comments. 

Join the conversation
3 of 4 comments
  • Tammy Bassett Tammy Bassett on Jan 09, 2023

    I’m just starting out gardening and wish I’d started out with raised garden beds. Now I have berries at ground level and they are spreading like I had planned but the older I get the harder it is to weed and harvest

    • Macgregor Macgregor on Jan 27, 2023

      I found that my raised beds take more water and soil amending; they act a bit like large pots. In areas where you need water retention in the summer months, they dry out quickly. Perhaps I should have created larger raised beds to begin with and that might have helped. Just a caution for you ...

  • Sherry Mathews Sherry Mathews on Jan 09, 2023

    Working on plans to convert to raised garden beds...hope they will be easier to maintain and to harvest from. One of the biggest things for me is learning when to plant. It's not just after all danger of frost is gone. The night temp needs to be high enough to raise the ground temp to avoid stunting the growth of the new plants.

    I have a spring up hill from my house. Hope to be able to set up collection system.