For those that are in an urban or suburban area and looking to move to a rural area, almost right away the skills vs. stuff paradigm arises.

Quick!! We need xyz! Buy it now! I’ve been there. Some of my purchases were well thought out and others more impulsive.  I started to realize that I should learn a few more skills.  Some were easy enough to learn, but some of the more obscure skills are harder to come by, so those skills my never be fully realized.

If your not sure what you want to tackle first I would suggest that you do an assessment.  List all the things you may WANT to buy and make another list of all the things you WANT to learn.  Work on it for a few days or weeks. Think it over and over because your list will probably change.  It’s great to image, even fantasize about specific things your want to have or skills you want to learn.

A few examples are: I want to buy a chain saw, a winch/come along, and a pressure canner.  I want to learn: how to use a treadle sewing machine, how to witch for water and hand dig a well, and how to gardening for my location.

Next, make a list on all the things you ALREADY HAVE.  Same with all the things you ALREADY KNOW.  This will take several days, possibly even a few weeks because we humans tend to look over the fence and see the grass over there is greener, so of course it must be better there, and we discount what we have and know.

A few examples are: I already have a good strong back/good health (yes, this is important), a good set of mechanics tools, treadle sewing machine.  I already know: basics of canning, carpentry skills, care of chickens.

Go back to your list of thing you want to buy or learn.  You may find that you actually have or know some of the things you wanted.  It happens.  We tend to forget.  You may want to do this with your Spring or Fall cleaning.  I can’t tell you how many times I set about cleaning and found things I had ‘lost’, or due to not being organized had three or four of the same item.

Now, I’m all for self-reliance, and self-improvement!  But please, BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED!  Count your Blessings!  Realize what you HAVE! Work with what you already have! Becoming more self-sufficient is a marathon.  Really, it’s more like 100 marathons back-to-back.  Many of the gorgeous homesteads that you see have been in a family for GENERATIONS. Their great-great-grandfather bought that land, cut the trees and pulled the stumps out of the ground with a team of ox.  Used the trees for building their cabin, barns, coops, and burned the excess to put nutrients back into the ground for their garden, and used the stumps for a fence.  Once the stumps rotted, they planted on top of that hummus, or put in a regular fence.  You may NEVER see the homestead of your dreams, but you children or grandchildren may.  That should be an encouraging thought.

You may also need to assess your general type of land.  I tend to categorize them as an established farm or a backwoods property.  We are backwoods.  There are no houses around, we have to cut down trees and hack though blackberry patches to create open spaces.  The backwoods has a totally different approach, rhythm, and needs than an established farm.  With a farmstead, you have infrastructure already!  You probably have a house, barn, pasture, electric, water, hay fields, coops, etc.  These properties can be a lot more expensive initially, but once in a while you can find a good deal.  Backwoods, initially is cheaper, but in the long run may be more expensive since you become the land developer.  Maybe if you will be off-grid the price won’t break the bank, but you really have to weigh your options when it comes to which style.  They will both end up as farmsteads, but one is a much longer route than the other.

Old tobacco barn in middle Tennessee

Of course you may decide to be more of a suburban or urban type homesteader/homemaker.  That’s awesome!  The more you can do for yourself, the better! I won’t address that here since that’s not my situation, but I’m sure there are other blogs and sites that you can find out there in the interwebz. Good luck information gathering and doing an assessment.