If you’re considering becoming a homesteader, raising livestock, or taking part in any sort of farm-like activities, let me first warn you about 9 things that are almost guaranteed to happen when you do:
1. You will become the main source of info about all things homesteading/farming to everyone you know.
You probably know several other homestead-minded people, since we tend to seek each other out, but it’s a pretty exclusive club. Only the really cool kids are allowed in, and let’s face it — most of your friends just aren’t that cool. I’m just layin’ down the facts, Ma’am, just the facts. But those of your friends who are that cool will come to you when they are getting started, aren’t very experienced yet, and need advice.
2. You will also get tagged in every video or picture on Facebook of cute baby livestock antics.
It will seem inexplicable to you, but most people actually don’t own livestock. Some people don’t even like them — shocking, I know. There’s a pretty good chance that you may be the only livestock owner some of your friends and family know. As such, you’re the first one they think of when a cute goat picture pops onto their news feed. It’s good that there’s no such thing as too many cute baby animals.
3. You will realize that the vast majority of people are uneducated about things like the facts of life, where our food comes from, and other things that will be (un)common sense to you.
I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way. It’s a huge failing of our education. Once upon a time when most people produced the majority of their own food, homestead wisdom was common place. Now it’s a rarity. The fact is that way too many people don’t know simple things like why cows make milk, where eggs come from, or that most breeds of pigs can reach a mature weight of 500+ pounds.
You will be met with a lot of ignorance, sometimes from potential customers, sometimes from people who own livestock and don’t do enough research, sometimes from complete strangers, and sometimes from family and friends. These situations will leave you scratching your head, but it will also give you a desire to educate the uninformed (and sometimes misinformed) masses!
4. You will become immune to a number of, shall we say, “unique” smells.
Ah, the sweet smell of the barnyard in the morning. Manure. Compost. Buck stank (aka eau de male goat urine and scent glands). Horse sweat. Human sweat. Hay. Straw. Dust. Fly attractant. Various medical supplies, such as salves. You will eventually stop noticing such smells, but remember that those around you will not! Here’s a helpful guide for when it’s safe to go out without showering after working on the farm (click to view larger):
5. You will constantly be learning.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing something, there is always more to learn. Just when you think you’ve got a pretty good handle on things, life will throw you another curve ball. This is a good thing, though, because you will get really good at researching and you will make a lot of connections with mentors, vets, and otherwise more experienced people than yourself who will help you along the way. No matter how smart or experienced you are, there is always someone who knows something you don’t and always something you haven’t experienced yet!
Thankfully it’s fun to learn in most cases, but some lessons will be learned the hard way. Those are the times when you just have to stick what you’ve learned in your back pocket and move forward.
6. You will find hay in unexpected places.
Your hair. Your bed. Your underwear/bra. Your shoes. I’ve even looked down to see hay floating in my water glass. It’s impossible to keep the stuff under control! This is especially unpleasant for those of us with mild hay allergies, because it also gets in your nose and on your skin. On particularly bad days you will be blowing hay particles out of your nose.
7. “Normal” food starts to taste bad.
Pasteurized homogenized milk? Ewwww. Refrigerated eggs with pale yellow yolks? No thanks. Anything that comes in a box? Homemade is so much better. And let’s be honest here — nothing will ever compare to the taste of a fresh, fully ripe melon right off the vine… All that under-ripe, shipped-in produce just pales in comparison.
This applies to other store bought items as well. There are few things you can’t make yourself (or buy direct from a person or farm) that isn’t of better quality than the goods that fill store shelves. We haven’t used store-bought soap in years!
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never order a pizza or head to your favorite Mexican restaurant for supper at the end of a long day. There will always be days when you don’t want to cook!
8. Your idea of normal conversation will not be what most would consider normal.
It’s not unusual to discuss various bodily functions, body parts, or other unusual or sometimes even gross topics. You will lose all boundaries and language filters when it comes to the things that go on with your livestock. Who cares if you’re eating that pizza we talked about earlier? If it’s on your mind, it’s most likely going to come out of your mouth. And why are people so bothered by words like “testicles” anyway? It’s just a natural body part, after all.
The good news is that if any of your friends are in the medical field, they can easily commiserate with you. They see worse things on a daily basis than you will ever see on a farm. *shudders*
9. You will realize how blessed you are to live on farm, big or small.
Whether you live on one acre or a hundred, whether you consider yourself a farmer, gardener, homesteader, or something in between…you are one of the lucky ones. That feeling of gratitude will never go away, because you have way more blessings than you can count.