• Nancy Miller

3 Lessons we have learned homesteading

We have learned many lessons over the last 2 years about homesteading. My husband Frank has a saying he uses ALOT. He says there are taught lessons and bought lessons. Taught lessons are ones that people share their wisdom with you and you learn through their experiences. Bought lessons are ones that you actually have to make the mistake to learn what not to do next time.

Let me share 5 of our bought lessons and give you an opportunity to make them taught lessons.

Buddy the family dog

1. If you plan on raising Livestock Guardian dogs (LGD). DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT make the puppies into members of the family and let them spend time around your family dog.

One of the first things we did when starting our farm was to purchase two beautiful LGD puppies Male and female with the plan to eventually sell the puppies as another form of income. We clearly didn't do our research before purchasing them. We brought them home, let them hang out with the family. Spent lots of time petting and cuddling them. They grew up to be super sweet dogs but they weren't in the least bit interested in protecting our livestock. They had attached to us and wanted to be with us all the time and our Labrador Retriever named Buddy (pic above). Needless to say that $300 we spent on these dogs was money down the drain. We have since learned you put the puppies In the field with the animals, you do not pet them, you do not play with them. You only feed and water them. Their sole job is to protect the animals.

2. If you are going to raise and breed sheep, never pet or play with your ram lambs. Really bad idea. Which I learned the hard way recently. This is our second breeding season with our ram which my husband named "Tom Brady". HA! He was purchased to be the superstar of our flock. He is actually quite big. The first breeding season with Tom Brady his size was still quite manageable for me and when he would rub his head against me I would scratch and rub his head. I am sure it has to get itchy, right? WRONG! That actually is how a young ram begins to show dominance. At his young size, it was quite cute. At 300 pounds, not so much. Tom Brady has grown quite aggressive. We are now in mating season and I made the mistake of not taking my stick in the pen with me. Well Tom Brady realizing I didn't have my stick charged me and head butted me over and over again before I could get out of the pen. I am okay, a bit bruised and scared but no broke bones and minor scratches. This was a big BOUGHT lesson, never play with young ram lambs and never go into a pen with a ram in mating season without a big stick.

3. Cheaper is not always better. We strive to live life with less stuff, become more sustainable and this requires us to be thrifty. So naturally we always looking for a better deal and ways to save money. We found some horse fencing that was the same size, same height and length but was at least $100 less than what we usually purchased. We figured out pretty quickly the fencing was useless. We spent days putting this fencing up, patting ourselves on the back the whole time for saving so much money. It wasn't worth a dime. Not for keeping sheep and goats from getting out. I spent more time putting animals back in the fence then we spent putting the fence up. Never again will we make that mistake. Sometimes cheaper does not equal better. Thank goodness we were able to use that crappy fencing for the chicken run.

I am sure we will have many future bought lessons to share. I hope these can help you turn a bought lesson into a taught lesson.



#homesteading #farming #sheep #rams #lambs

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