All I Want For Christmas ~ Horses & Homestead Living
By Nikki Alvin-Smith

All I Want For Christmas ~ Horses & Homestead Living

2020 has been a rough year for everyone and with the New Year around the corner, many of us are re-evaluating our future lifestyle choices. What would you love to see under the Christmas tree this year? What gift would you like to give yourself and your family?

GazeboFor the horse lovers among us the idea of keeping our own horses at home can be a tantalizing notion. Folks across the country are contemplating how they can better use their property to their advantage. Whether it be adding to the garden with gazebos or pergolas, growing fruits and vegetables, raising chickens or creating a recreational area for the kids to exercise and play.

Indeed it seems the all American homestead lifestyle is making a comeback and returning to some level of self-sufficiency and utilization of the richness and bounty that the land can provide is a great way to enrich family life.

When you consider that countries such as Britain, that still has over 70% if its land designated as agricultural use that is farmed by less than 2% of the population, you realize how far away from our traditional roots and economies folks have strayed.

Many children don’t even know what cows look like, never mind realize that cattle are a source for meat and milk. While kids delight in a plate of fried eggs and bacon, many are not conscious that eggs are produced from chickens and that pigs supply the bacon.

All I Want For Christmas ~ Horses & Homestead LivingOur families have become adrift from the realities of food production. Animal care and husbandry skills are limited within the population, and aside from equestrians that keep horses for the pleasure of ownership and riding and pet owners of small animals, the rest of the fauna and their care and keeping are a mystery.








The number of horse owners that are embracing the responsibility of keeping horses in their backyards, has seen exponential growth in the last 12 months. A small plot of just a few acres provides an amazing potential for ownership of more than just a few horses. It can also provide a resource for vegetable and fruit growing, chicken keeping, a milking cow or milking goats, a few steer or pigs for meat production.

Chicken CoopChickensEven a relatively small patch of ‘backyard’ can offer a soul-enriching backyard lifestyle, made all the more attractive my more folks working remotely from home that blesses them with extra time to spend with the family and less time spent in traffic.

If you are one of the many people that would like to develop your property into a smallholding, here area few tips that can help you achieve your goals and avoid unforeseen headaches and disasters long the way. Chock full of professional resources, this article will guide you on how to make the smart decisions as you forage forward into thebusiness of some level of self-sufficiency and/or decide to bring your horses home to live.



Housing Comes 1st, 2nd and 3rd. There is no point in bringing chickens onto your property if you can’t keep them secure from predators and sheltered with a place to lay their precious eggs.

For other critters such as goats, the need for housing is also necessary. For horses a simple run-in shed might suffice. All animals deserve shelter from inclement weather, whether that is the baking heat of the sun or the cold winter arctic blasts of winter.

Run-in Shed

Secure The Best Deal

• Consider the cost, quality and performance needs of the structure carefully. Best barn buying begins by minding your P’s and Q’s
• Do your homework when it comes to purchasing your barn. Check out financing options; warranties; types of construction, pole, stick-built or modular; discounts for stock items; discounts for multiple purchases e.g. a barn and a chicken coop from the same company; and check references.

Choosing The Site & Managing The Building Site Preparation

Foundations• Don’t take quotes written on the back of an envelope from a local contractor as the best option for site preparation. Obtain 3 quotes, each from a licensed and insured contractor. These ‘estimates’ should include quantity and type of materials to be used, timeframe for completion of work and availability of start dates. Don’t be tempted to opt for an ‘hourly rate’ quote. This type of quotation is infamous for running up into big numbers fast.
• Obtain all necessary permits for the building before you hire a contractor or purchase a structure. Modular building companies can help with provision of plans, certified by an engineer if necessary for a nominal extra fee.

Consider Establishing a Business

• Talk with an accountant about the tax advantages of establishing a home business. Opportunities for deductions of interest on loans and insurance costs, amortization and depreciation of capital expenses, and a chance to cash in on extra income may be possible under a business umbrella. Agri-tourism is a great way to develop a profit making entity.

Teach The Children Well

Greenhouse• Good mental and physical health in children can be encouraged with smart parenting that provides opportunities for fun outdoor activities. Swinging on a swing does more for your child than you might think and your backyard offers a wonderful retreat from the toils of daily life for adults too. Consider the addition of a playset for the kids and an outdoor living structure that will add to both your property value and most importantly to your own quality of life.
• Teaching children to be responsible for other beings, be they chickens, goats, or the family pets is a valuable life lesson. Kids love to grow stuff in the garden and watch vegetables and fruit grow that they have planted and nurtured and then enjoy eating. Cooking lessons in the kitchen with ingredients for meals made from homegrown vegetables and fruits are fun for the whole family. Consider adding a greenhouse to garner a longer growing season.


Should You Take The DIY Route?

The extensive range of choices for structures for livestock of all kinds in today’s marketplace make shopping online a great option that can save time and money over a DIY project.

Before taking on the DIY route consider the amount of time the project will require to complete, the tools and expertise you have to do the job, and the overall upheaval the DIY project might encompass e.g. multiple deliveries, shopping expeditions, material shortages, construction noise and mess.

Education Counts

Don’t be shy to ask for help and guidance from professionals in both the construction field and animal husbandry. Websites such as TV’s Lisa Steele’s Fresh Eggs Daily provide tons of information that can help ensure success of your homesteading project.

Happy Homesteading!!!

Horse Barn