Monday, June 15, 2015

Dumb Mistakes -- Big & Small

I started this homesteading project without much knowledge or experience. Lots of enthusiasm, big on dreams, short on know how. So it's been a fun and sometimes bumpy ride, trying to learn what in the world I am doing. Thus there are been mistakes galore. I figure that the little ones don't count for much even if they were learning experiences, but some of the big ones are more noteworthy. Looking back, some are funny. Some were costly and not to be repeated. Luckily none were deadly. 

.....Parked ATV without setting parking brake. Yeah, it was on a slope but things seemed stable. So when my attention was occupied elsewhere the ATV rolled back down and right off the driveway into a pit. Geez Loiuse!  Had to get the truck in order to tow the blasted thing out. Won't do that again. 

.....Charging around the woods looking for some wayward sheep I took the ATV through some tall grass. Right over a huge monster of a rock. Got stuck, really stuck. Took me over an hour to get the ATV off the rock with the help of a chain and come-along, plus a long string of cuss words.  Thinking back, I was lucky I hadn't plunged into a puka (hole in the ground), or hit that rock and gone flying. Now I have a rule. I don't ride anywhere that I can't see what I'm driving on. 

.....Didn't put on security  latch in pasture gate. I was only gonna be a minute as I went to get the grain bucket. Heading back to the pasture I was met by the entire flock of sheep and one smart ass horse that had opened the gate. 

....Got carried away and bought 14 trees at a plant sale. Completely didn't think about how hard and long it was going to take to dig those 14 holes. Practically killed my shoulders and back over the next few days.

.....Got a dozen ducks before I had the proper set up for them. Temporarily housed them on the front part of the farm while I created their "piece of duck heaven" in the back. Never was successful in permanently transferring them to duck heaven. I guess they had different ideas. They kept returning to the front section and wrecking havoc and destruction on my gardens and fish pond. Had to end up selling those ducks are starting out again with a fresh batch.

.....Letting the trash trees exist. All those little Christmasberry trees got big before I noticed. Once big, they are difficult and dangerous to remove.  Eucalyptus --- and to think I once loved those giant, stately trees. Well, many fell in the January windstorm. What a mess. Lots of damage. Lots of work. Many of them are now too big for us to safely remove ourselves. But 13 years ago they had been a lot smaller and would have been easier. Plus about 8 years ago we had a large excavator working here on the farm. That buggah could have knocked most of those trees down then. No, we didn't do it the easy way. 

......Bought cheap fencing. It rusted to hell, so it wasn't a savings at all because I had to replace it. 

.....Didn't put a top wire in the fence. The horse promptly bowed the fence all the way down two sides of the pasture. It took me two days to repair the fence and run barbed wire along the top. But then mistake #2 -- I didn't secure the barbed wire to the fence itself. The horse has previous experience I'm sure, because she poked her head between the barbed wire and the fence, bowing the whole fencing once again! Grrrrrr. Two more days of repair and securing the barbed between each t-post. I finally defeated the dang horse. 

.....Bought your standard pressboard and composite furniture. It's what all the stores seem to sell nowadays. I would have been better off with raw plywood set on cinder blocks. The furniture "wood" absorbed moisture and disintegrated. Just sort of puffed up and turned to mush. Were now building our own furniture out of real cedar wood. None of that modern composite that passes for wood today shall grace my home. 

.....Used cinder on the driveway when I should have bought crushed lava. That was a waste of several truckloads of cinder. 

.....Started out buying the wrong equipment for land clearing. The most powerful weedwacker would have been a wise choice. But no, I bought all sorts of other tools that were total failures. Looking back, I should have just hired a bulldozer. 

.....Didn't use the best & strongest collar and rope for tying out the goat (he does brush and grass control in specific spots from time to time) . He loved browsing the vegetable garden all night long.  It was a tough lesson to swallow. Now Bucky is on a sturdy boat rope when tied out. I learned to never, never, ever think I'm smarter than a goat. If there is the remotest possibility that Bucky might be able to do something, I can bet that he will accomplish it by the next morning. 

.....Bought kitchen and bathroom cabinets with doors. And made closets in the bedrooms with doors. Everything  mildewed. Everything made of leather turned a soft fuzzy green. The air is too humid where we are for anything to be stored behind a door. Thus every storage spot now is doorless in my house. 

.....Decided to go the route of a permitted house because we thought that's what everybody of course does...that's how things are done. Wrong. Things are a bit dfferent here. Officially yes, you must have permits. Real life is different, at least in Ka'u. We cost ourselves a lot of money, grief, delays, and made ourselves visible to the county authorities. Big mistake. Yes, there are benefits of going permitted. But there are benefits of going unpermitted too. Each person weighs the pros and cons, then makes a decision. 

Of course I've made zillions of small mistakes, but there's a big benefit behind those. With each error I gained lots of knowledge. Like the time I bought the wrong fruit trees for my elevation. The time I tried growing the wrong vegetables for my micro climate. I know now how to research new plants, where to find the necessary info before I try growing something totally new. 


  1. Ah, the good old School of Hard Knocks. I bought 19 bare root roses on sale - then worked like a lolo to plant them in one long day. I made the same fence mistakes, patching up the old grapestake sections, only to see them flop down when the Santa Ana winds hit them. Permits saved me at the time of sale, because the buyers were going to drop out if the city didn't have those permits on file. And lots more "learning opportunities".

  2. I'm saving your blog. Can I just say that you are a very generous person in that you are sharing your experience to help folks not make the same mistakes? Thank you!