Homesteading for Beginners: Start with Why

Many of us dream of creating productive homesteads and breaking free of our urban or suburban existence.  Where do you start?  My friends Greg Burns and Jay return to the podcast and we discuss Homesteading for Beginners. Greg recommends we start our journey with a different question before we begin: why.

Download (70.3 MB, 1 hr 16 mins)

Introduction to Homesteading for Beginners

Homesteading for Beginners, Homestead, Urban Homestead, fruit trees, edible landscape, Sustainable Life, Rural Living, Rural Life, Frugal Living, reduce debt, living simple, simple life, simple living, tribe, community, tradition, mentors, Small Scale Life Podcast

Many of us are dreaming of a rural homestead like this one – May 2017

As I drove through southern Minnesota this week, I saw a lot of great farms and homesteads on my journey.  Some of these folks lived on Century Farms (100-year old family farms) while others were just starting to homestead.

My friend Jay and I can relate to those new homesteaders: we both purchased properties in 2018.  We want to create new homesteads on our respective properties, and we figured it would be great to talk with someone who actually had a homestead and was further down the rabbit hole on this journey.

Fortunately, I know a few people who do some great things due to this little podcast and blog!  I called on my friend Captain Lumbersquatch Greg Burns, and he agreed to bring his contrarian perspective (and jar full of fermented goodness) to the discussion.

Each property is completely different than the other:

We are all in different places and different stages in our journey, and this is why this Homesteading for Beginners podcast is so important.  Always begin with the end in mind, and don’t be afraid to stop your frantic activities, take an inventory and ask that basic “why” question.

You might stop your current trajectory, correct course and continue on with your journey to developing a simple, small scale life.

Homesteading for Beginners – Topics


While Jay and I thought we would be working up a “how to” plan from Greg’s cookbook, we suddenly found ourselves in a deep discussion about the following Homesteading for Beginners topics:

  • Properties – Discussion about our properties
  • Family – Different stages of families; kids are the main crop
  • Cocktails while Podcasting – From water to homemade wine to other goodness in a Mason jar
  • Goals – Growing food; livestock
  • Initial Feedback – The Burns Family over the past 3 years experimented using a scattered approach to counteract the romantic view of homesteading and see what works.
  • Getting to Why
    • Crucial stepping stone, be super intentional
    • Understand why you are heading this direction and doing these things
    • Don’t forget why; don’t get caught up in the romantic vision of it all
    • Write that reason down and put it up on the refrigerator if you need to. Remember the why
  • Things that needed to be jettisoned: relying on “the Experts”
    • Need to get the real honest feedback by experimenting
    • The Experts are trying to exploit others because the information about homesteading has been lost
    • Things aren’t always what they seem
    • Everyone is looking for shortcuts to being successful. There are none.  There are shortcuts to finding success, but there are no shortcuts to being successful.
  • We are currently in a Back to the Land Movement
    • Humans go all in on something and cannot see the drawbacks until they are further down the road
    • It is ok to read books and watch videos
  • Mentors and Old Timers
    • Don’t be too proud to knock on the door of that old timer’s door and ask them about something you are doing
    • There is nothing new in any of this; there is nothing better to learn than working with a person who knows how and wants to see you succeed
    • Bringing the old timers to Hogtoberfest to tells stories and talk about The Old Ways
    • Reverence of the old timers and why things are they way they are today
    • Understanding that some of these aspects of homesteading were not just to be trendy; they were a way for families to survive during lean times, war and The Depresssion
    • We talk about ourselves and make it the most important thing; we need to be quiet and let the old timers share about how and why things were the way they were
  • Traditions, the Old Ways and the Simple Life
    • Slaughtering the pigs, have a pig roast with your community
    • Leaving the rat race; making experiences; living a simple life
    • Build a family and tradition
    • Build a community around you
    • Build a life that is full of substance and not immediately rewarding; you are making an investment in your soul
  • Life happens to us all and creates a tipping point
    • Tom – Market Crash of 2008
    • Greg – Car Crash
    • My brother – Car Crash
  • What’s left from the last back to the land movement?
    • Mother Earth News
    • Smoothie King
    • We try to get back to the land, and some find that it is too hard
    • Keep that reverence for those who came before us
  • Understand why things happened; then we can understand how
    • Put something together that works for your specific location and context
    • Everything is context specific
  • Check yourself before you wreck yourself
    • What do you want to do
    • Set the clear goals
    • Make it happen
    • Celebrate the victory
    • Learn about yourself; check your ego

Notable Quotes

Real Estate; Debt; Dave Ramsey; Paying off Debt; Homestead; Goals; Vision; Sustainable Life; Jack Spirko; Rural Living; Rural Life; Property; Podcast; Tribe; Ritual; Greg Burns; Natures Image Farms; Homestead; Homesteading; Mead; Podcast; Small Scale Life Podcast

There were some great quotes pulled from this podcast.  Here are just three of the many quotes that you might want to remember as you start your Homesteading journey:

“The more experience we get; the more we know we don’t know. We keep trying to fine tune a system that works for us.” – Greg Burns

“It is really easy to get caught up chasing all these things and constantly working through and battling the how to do all this, and you lose the most important aspect of it all is why to do all these things.” – Greg Burns

“Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” – Greg Burns

There was a reason we brought Captain Lumbersquatch to the party: he is full of practical hillbilly wisdom that so much of society could use today!

Homesteading for Beginners Links

Barn north of Wyeville, WI – June 2018

The following links were discussed on the Homesteading for Beginners podcast:

Links for Greg Burns

Small Scale Life Podcasts with Greg Burns

Greg has been on the Small Scale Life Podcast before, and we had a great conversation about community and homesteading.  Check that podcast out using the link below:


Contrarian Beekeeper Podcast

I am pleased to announce that Greg has a new podcast coming out this week!  The Contrarian Beekeeper Podcast is rolling out this week on a number of platforms, and you can find it here:

If you like this Homesteading for Beginners Podcast, I bet you will really enjoy the conversation between three beginner beekeepers from Ohio talking bees, apiaries, mead and a host of other topics.  Check them out!

Small Scale Life Podcasts with Jay

I started the Small Scale Life Podcast on January 2015, and my first show had my friend Jay as my guest.  He has been on a few more times since the start of the show.  It is interesting looking back and listening to the shows: you can see the progression of his (and my) journey to developing a Small Scale Life. You can catch the shows with Jay using the links below:

Small Scale Life Podcasts with Daniel Bokros

At the end of the Homestead for Beginners Podcast, we talk about Daniel and Christie Bokros.  They are part of the Ohio GSD Group and close friends of the Burns Family.  I interviewed Daniel recently, and you can find out more by using the following link:


Putting It All Together

There is a lot to think about after listening to this show.  If you are dreaming about starting your journey, taking the first tentative steps or have traveled many miles down those twisted and interesting paths towards simple living and a small scale life, you might want to take a minute. Think about where you have been, what you are doing, and where you want to be in the future.  Ask yourself:

  • What am I doing?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • What is the ultimate purpose?
  • Is this working for me and my family?
  • How can I improve myself and my process?

Always “check yourself before you wreck yourself.”  Even if you have gone down this Homesteading rabbit hole and made mistakes, there is always a chance to make corrections.  There is time.  There are always opportunities to adjust.

Let me know what you think about this podcast and what you are doing on your property.