If there is one lesson, word of wisdom, gem of information, tidbit of knowledge that I can pass on to a new farmer; it is infrastructure. Spend your time and money on it. Get it in place before you add new critters or gardens or crops. The time and money that you spend in the beginning will save you hours later down the road.
This homesteading/farming adventure began when Little man's father brought home seven chickens. We had discussed getting chickens to have some meat and eggs for our own personal use. Discussed it. One day he arrives home with seven of them in his car. There was no place to put them. They could have stayed in his car, anyone who knows him knows that he probably wouldn't notice livestock in the passenger compartment along with all manner of other stuff that he accumulates there. But a car is obviously not the best living situation for a chicken so we scrounged around and found some plywood and a couple of old 2x4's and we made a small chicken coop for them.
That was the beginning of the homestead style projects that have happened here. Each of the pig huts are made from salvaged materials. My shed is made from mostly salvaged material. Two of the three greenhouses that we had were made from salvaged windows, plywood and bricks. Our fencing was reclaimed from the farmer who leased this land before me and had beef cows here. And the piglet's fence (some woven wire portable fence with step in posts) was bartered for from a friend two towns over.
Our salvaged/bartered for/hobbled together fencing has not held up to 11 pigs. It has kept them in, but as they get bigger and the rains have turned their pasture into a very large mud yard, it hasn't stood up to their desire to find more palatable ground. The fence posts are beginning to rot causing sections of the fence to ground out. Woven wire without sufficient power to deter impatient piglets is nothing more than a big chew toy.
Yesterday's attempts at fixing the fence were successful until I put the fence tester on the wires. The exterior fence was plenty strong, but the woven wire was grounding out in the mud somewhere. I had traced and replaced the wire, checked for breaks and frays, and fought eight 200 lb piglets in the process. When I thought I finally had it all repaired and back in place, the wind picked up. Three to six inch deep mud is not strong enough to hold the fence against 35 mph wind gusts.
In between electrical work on the old tractor and site work for the new hoop house, I will be running new fence for the pigs this weekend. They aren't happy being all mixed together, but at least no one is in heat right now! Let's hope that between Little man's father and I, we managed to save the fence post insulators that came off the old fence posts and that at least one of the two chainsaws hasn't been beaten up too bad by Christmas tree brush that it can be used to cut fence posts.
One more thing that I recommend keeping in running order - your washing machine!