Farmer and Homesteader Jesse Frost joins me to talk about his journey into homesteading and farming. How and when did it go from homesteading to farming, and what was that like? Jesse also hosts the No-Till Growers Podcast https://www.notillgrowers.com
What were the financial considerations that made you consider going from homestead to farm? (6:40)
When our first son was born that shook us a bit. We wanted to afford him karate lessons, put aside money for college, and save for bigger picture stuff. We lived in what I called the middle of nowhere and while that was great it did cost us a lot – we didn’t have electricity, we had to start a fire to cook every meal, for 3-4 years. After that time we realized we needed to set up systems to take care of ourselves. We installed a gravity-fed ramp pump, got electricity, finished our cabin. We had no money, we crowdfunded the money for our cabin and our neighbors let us use their land.
My wife is level headed about this time, saying we learned a lot, but I feel like it was more of a hobby and in some ways wasn’t necessary. I wanted to just homestead and sell the extra food, but that never worked since we couldn’t afford the expenses. And just surviving took all the time you had.
Eventually, we moved. We were on this original property from 2012-2016. We wrote out our holistic goals and realized we wanted to be closer to family, to markets, to have enough space to grow more crops.
“We realized we didn’t want to fit our goals to the property, we wanted the property to fit our goals.”
What made you ask these deeper holistic questions? (15:20)
Getting older, realizing my body couldn’t do such hard work for another 20-30 years, and being inspired by the Farmer to Farmer podcast interview with Dan Brisebois.
“You are always younger than you think you are. You can always start a farm faster than you think you can. Take your time to get it right.”
What would you tell a farmer looking to get started with a dream farm that has start-up requirements of $15,000 when they only have $1,500 available? (19:30)
The first thing I’d tell someone to do is to get more experience from another farm. Take a year and really figure it out. Read the books while working and save up the capital. That $1,500 really isn’t enough, and even $30,000 can be spent quickly. Be wary if you are only starting with a small budget it’s likely all of the money you have and failure becomes extremely stressful. If you don’t have the capital then you’re not starting a farm, because you’ll always be trying to catch up. You’re going to need cash flow and you’re going to need it quick.
You can’t feel what older is like when you’re young, and I don’t think my older self could’ve ever convinced my younger self to have not started right away. We are often paying the price of our younger selves’ decisions. We aren’t willing to listen when we’re young. I had a mentor that wanted to show me his books, and as important as it was I couldn’t have thought of anything more boring. We have to also consider making a way to make the information appealing. It’s on the teacher to convey it to the student in a way they understand. I found out how to find the artistic part of farming and focus on that as it’s what resonates with me.
How would you compare the lifestyle of the homesteader to being a farmer? (43:45)
I found homesteading to be very stressful. I gained a lot of skills and endurance. I had to be working from sun up to sun down taking care of essentials like moving water and cooking. If we had electricity and running water a lot of that would’ve changed. We love our farm now. One thing we miss is not having to worry about the turmoil that other people suffered from. When terrible weather came through my mother wouldn’t be calling us, she was worried about her less resilient friends but not us.
Does the farm life-style now feel more secure, less fragile? (49:00)
It doesn’t feel a lot different, mostly it feels the same. There’s more financial security but that’s about it. I still value being able to cut my own firewood if I need to. There’s something more satisfying about doing something yourself, and not going to the grocery store where the doors just open for you.
How does content creation fit in with farming? (51:20)
Content creation satisfies the creative side of me. I’ve always been an early riser and a high energy person so I get up at 3:30 am and can get 3 hours of content done before needing to start on the farm. There’s a lot of satisfaction for me getting to explore all sides of a subject.
“I enjoy teaching because it’s such a great way to learn.”
What advice would you give to someone looking to create content? (55:30)
You should try and treat it like a business, but realize you might not make money at it. Do it and speak about what resonates with you and add value where you can and people will watch it. Realize it takes a lot more time than you anticipate. Approach it with an abundance mentality, aspects of what you are sharing can be exactly what a viewer is looking for since growing conditions can vary so much.
There’s a lot of lessons Jesse has learned along the way, transitioning from homestead to farm – some you might consider gleaning without having to live it for yourself. Thankfully, learning these lessons from him doesn’t have to stop with this interview. Jesse has a lot of content out there. The best place to catch up with him and follow along with what he’s doing at NoTillGrowers.com.