A Few Of My Homesteading Mess Ups


As I set here and ponder writing a blog post the thought has been crossing my mind “what makes you an authority on these topics, you mess things up all the time” and it’s true, I have had plenty of mess ups on this homestead journey, some minor and some were whoppers. Most of my mistakes were really just from a lack of research and yes some were caused by a temporary disconnect between my brain and the task I was working on, but I think it is those mess ups that actually give me something to write about. I want to help others have a better experience and learn from my mistakes and even my knowledge about something even if that knowledge did come about by way of the school of hard knocks. So I thought this post could be sort of a written blooper reel where I share a few things I did the wrong way, some aren’t a big deal and others are sort of embarrassing so i’ll just take a big gulp, swallow my pride and play the reel.


Don’t Under Estimate The Size of Hole A Rabbit Can Get Through.2015-01-18 16.52.42

I raise my rabbits in a colony rather than individual cages and it works pretty well, but when I first got my rabbits they were already a few months old and the pen I built worked great for them. The funny thing is though baby rabbits are smaller than full grown rabbits, Huh who woulda thought, It isn’t as though I didn’t consider this at all but it is amazing how small a hole a baby rabbit can fit through. This probably wouldn’t have been a big deal because my rabbits are in a building, but it does matter if there are things in that building that can cause there life to end if they get into it. Not gonna go into the details but it was sad. My mistake did cost an animal it’s life so I put this one in the big deal column. Lesson learned!


You Can’t Grow Lettuce Under Christmas Lights.

Technically that isn’t true because I did grow lettuce under a string of Christmas lights but as anyone reading this would know who has some knowledge about starting seeds under lights, it won’t turn out very well. The lights are not bright enough to grow the lettuce (or anything else) correctly. The plants will grow tall and thin because they are reaching to get as much light as they can and it just wont turn out well. This one I chock up to a lack of research and not a big deal, I just didn’t have an understanding of Kelvin and Lumen and what it all meant and how it affected plants. If you don’t know either here is a good video explaining it.



images (1)You Shouldn’t Put A Compost Pile Next To Your House.

How bad does a compost pile smell? I guess it depends on what’s in that compost pile. I can tell you this though, on a hot day just a few feet from an open window and the breeze blowing just right, it can smell pretty bad. Seems obvious enough but again some things I just have to learn the hard way. It’s a minor thing and nothing a shovel a wheel barrel and little bit of time can’t fix but it’s just better not to make that mistake in the first place.


Close The Gate, Even If Your Wife Yells Out “Suppers Done”.1506527_10152784535847921_4611870268092342726_n

Every homesteader has done this right, at least that’s how I justified it in my own mind. No livestock got out but we have a couple house dogs, little black miniature Schnauzers, and we love them but they are not the brightest dogs around. When these dogs get out of our fenced in yard they run like they just broke out of prison. This happened about 7 years ago the first time and we ran an ad in the paper and 7 days later someone called us and said they were in their barn about 10 miles away. Just last week I left the gate open again after my wife yelled out the door and said it was time to eat (this is my way of blaming it on her) and of course the dogs got out but this time they were only gone for 3 days. This time social media came to our rescue, by getting the word out on Facebook we were able to get them back. They were only a couple miles away this time.


Make Sure The Feed Gets Put Up, Not Left Outside.

I get distracted way to easy! That’s what I have observed about myself lately. I will be doing one thing then notice something else that needs done and instead of finishing the job I will jump on something else and then sometimes forget to finish the first job. I know – Squirrel! You know those bags feed comes in…Yeah those. They are water resistant but not water proof and feed ain’t cheap. Another lesson learned.


Even The Handles Of Cast Iron Skillets Get Hot When They’re In The Oven.

DSC_0695-2Finally, one that wasn’t done by me but by my wife. Sometimes she likes to store her cast iron pans in the oven and that’s fine but sometimes she forgets to take them out when she preheats the oven. I don’t think she realizes how fast iron heats up but even after five minutes you can’t just grab those pans and take them out bare handed, I know this … and now she knows this too. Hard lesson learned!


A Raccoon WILL Come Through A Dog Door.

Our dogs rule us. A few years ago I put a dog door in our back door so the dogs could go in and out whenever they wanted to, this was more for us then them because they would wake us up in the middle of the night wanting out. I remember it took a few days of training them before they would use it (as I said earlier they are not the downloadbrightest). My wife was concerned that other animals would come through the door at night, I reminded her of how our dogs wouldn’t even go through it without training. A few nights ago as we were setting on our couch watching tv we suddenly became aware of the fact that raccoons are much smarter than dogs because with no training at all one walked right through the back door. Luckily the loud gasp and scream from my wife made it retreat quickly before the dogs noticed it but now after several years of not getting woke up in the middle of the night with dogs wanting out  it  has once again become part of our lives. I know there spoiled but like I said our dogs rule us. This really isn’t a mess up per say but my wife suddenly thinks the dog door was a big mistake.


fruit-treesEnough Dog Urine Will Kill A Sapling Fruit Tree.
Last year I planted a few fruit trees on the property and they seemed to be doing great. I had read that some people put small fences around them to protect them from animals but I was proving that it was just an unnecessary step in the growing and orchard process. I would be working in the garden and noticing that those trees seemed to be the favorite bathroom spot for my dogs. My wife noticed it too and even asked me if I thought it was going to hurt those trees as much as they were going there. Being the man of the house I replied with as much authority and assurance as I could muster “Those dogs aren’t hurting those trees!” Now I can’t be sure that’s why those trees died but I don’t have the same assurance I had last summer that those dogs weren’t hurting those trees. I am planting some more in a couple weeks, I think I’ll put some fence around them.


I’m sure I could go on and on with mistakes I’ve made on the homestead but I think you get the idea, we ain’t perfect around here, not even close. So if your looking for a blog to go to where the professionals are and can tell you perfectly and clearly how to do everything on your homestead then move along, there is nothing to see here. However if you want to read the stories and get advice from folks who are struggling along and figuring things out as they go and then sharing it to the best of our ability, you are at the right place. Join us in our journey and be a part of what’s happening on our homestead and allow us to be part of your journey as well. God Bless and Happy Homesteading


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Homesteader, Blogger and Podcaster at Small Town Homestead
I am a husband to Mary and father to three daughters. My family and I are striving to become more self sufficient everyday as we grow our own food and pursue a more natural and organic lifestyle.

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  1. Greenhouses made from poly will NOT withstand a Maritime winter. Whole grain feed will sprout and mold if water gets in them. Chickens will decimate a garden. So will goats. One female cat plus one male cat equals a colony. Every foot between the house and barn feels like a hundred during a long, blizzard-filled winter. When the locals say the driveway on your new property “gets a bit wet in the spring” it means you’ll sink to your axles and need a tractor to pull you out. Dogs love, love, love fresh chicken eggs.

    😀 How do you think we *get* to be experts?

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