There’s no doubt – homesteading reality shows have captivated millions of us dreaming of a simpler, more self-sufficient lifestyle.

However many of us inadvertently fall into the trap of committing costly mistakes as witnessed on these shows – blunders that can abruptly disrupt our self-sufficient ambitions.

This post exposes the top 9 pitfalls from popular homesteading shows to help you avoid repeating them.

Mistakes from “The Pioneer Woman”

Mistakes from Homesteading TV Shows That You Probably Make

Source: The Pioneer Woman TV Show

Trying to Do Everything Yourself

While Ree Drummond made ranch duties look impeccable, she self-admittedly neglected other areas like her kids’ schooling.

Unlike her, most homesteaders attempt wearing every hat themselves – from farmer and groundskeeper to chef, teacher, accountant, and handyman.

Going it entirely alone, however, is a fast track to burnout and inefficacy. One person can’t practically juggle the endless labor of a homestead while also handling auxiliary duties like:

  • Homeschooling and childcare
  • Running a side business or remote work
  • Household management and repairs
  • Gardening, canning, and meal prep
  • Healthcare, record keeping, and legal matters

Get smart about setting realistic limits. Outsource or enlist help where you lack expertise. Explore hiring farmhands, tradespeople, and teachers or even joining a local community with divided duties. Know when being a rugged individualist puts too much on one person’s plate.

Neglecting Preventative Maintenance and Upgrades

Every picturesque shot of Drummond’s charming ranch obscures one harsh reality – that upkeep on aging homestead infrastructure is perpetual and critical. Routinely deferring preventative maintenance is an Achilles heel for many off-gridders.

Areas requiring constant upkeep include:


Risks of Poor Upkeep


Livestock escapes, predator invasions


Structural failures, inefficient insulation

Power Systems

Brownouts, blackouts, hazardous conditions


Leaks, contamination from old pipes


Breakdowns, injuries from negligence

Don’t fall behind on structural inspections, repairs, upgrades, and scheduled servicing.

Skimping leads to compounding disasters and unnecessary expenses later. Work preventative tasks like fence mending and canal clearing into your schedule and budget.

Going All-In Without a Transition Plan

When we first met Ree, she had just abruptly transitioned from her city-dwelling life to becoming a full-fledged ranch wife overnight.

While her fish-out-of-water struggles make for entertaining TV, most homesteaders aren’t advised to take such a radical plunge right away.

Upending your comfortable metropolitan routine entirely for off-grid living is a recipe for burnout and remorse. Rather than a cold turkey life shift, build up progressively:

  • Start small with urban homesteading like gardening
  • Rent a rural property first before purchasing land
  • Maintain one income while the other transitions roles
  • Acquire skills like livestock care through lessons
  • Make gradual home and utilities upgrades over time

Get your feet wet slowly. Master self-reliance skills at a measured pace before fully exiting the rat race.

Mistakes From “Alaska: The Last Frontier”

Mistakes from Homesteading TV Shows That You Probably Make

Source: Alaska: The Last Frontier TV Show

Insufficient Water Storage/Access

Whether utilized for residential, agricultural, or firefighting needs – plentiful freshwater sources are a non-negotiable homestead necessity.

Yet the Kilcher family has faced continual hardships from lack of preparation on this front.

One season, extended drought, and well pump failures left them rationing every precious drop. In another episode, blazing wildfires nearly depleted their reserves for fire suppression. These scenarios illustrate how precarious life becomes without ample clean water supplies.

To avoid falling into this potentially devastating trap yourself:

  • Drill a deep, high-output well or develop spring/creek water sources
  • Install large-capacity storage cisterns to capture rainwater runoff
  • Construct containment ponds, pools, or tanks for additional reserves
  • Implement purification and water treatment systems
  • Maintain redundant pumps, power backups, and fire suppression gear

Water is the lifeblood of any homestead. Ensuring multiple reliable, renewable sources should be your first priority.

Ignoring Weather Warnings and Seasonal Hazards

In Alaska’s harsh, rapidly changing climate, the Kilchers constantly put themselves at risk by overlooking severe weather alerts and seasonal dangers.

One perilous wildfire saw them nearly trapped as flames surrounded their homestead. They narrowly evacuated just ahead of a violent blizzard in another episode. Incidents like these underscore how quickly natural hazards can turn tragic.

Any thriving homestead should develop thorough seasonal preparedness plans:

Spring/Summer Safety:

  • Reinforce structures against high winds, lightning
  • Implement fire prevention and mitigation measures
  • Stockpile food/reserves in case of flood isolation

Fall/Winter Preparedness:

  • Insulate all buildings, pipes, and equipment properly
  • Plow roads, clear debris from roofs/gutters
  • Store heating fuel, wood reserves, and cold-weather gear

By respecting Mother Nature’s power and perpetually preparing for her worst, you protect your family, livestock, and property from avoidable calamities.

Poorly Constructed Buildings and Shelters

The Kilcher family’s makeshift homesteads, outbuildings, and animal shelters frequently fail to provide adequate protection from Alaska’s punishing conditions. Time and again, the show depicts:

  • Leaking, collapsing shelters and roofs
  • Insufficient insulation and heating
  • Structurally unsound sheds and barns
  • Unsafe, code-violating living conditions

These substandard buildings leave the family vulnerable to dangerous situations like hypothermia, injury, or livestock losses.

Proper construction is crucial for both regulatory compliance and personal safety:

  • Use structurally sound framing and roofing
  • Install ample insulation and weatherproofing
  • Ensure adequate heating/ventilation systems
  • Follow all building codes and zoning laws
  • Focus on low-maintenance, durable materials

While building remote structures poses challenges, cutting corners is unacceptable. Seek professional expertise to deliver shelter you can depend on.

Mistakes from “Homestead Rescue”

Mistakes from Homesteading TV Shows That You Probably Make

Source: Homestead Rescue TV Show

Poor Livestock Management

Raising livestock like chickens, goats, cattle, and other animals is central to most homesteading operations. However, Homestead Rescue routinely discovers mismanaged herds and flocks suffering from lack of proper food, shelter, fencing, and overall care standards.

One Missouri family let their chickens roam free, exposing them to predators. In Canada, dairy cows went untended for months without milking.

These blatant examples of animal neglect, whether intentional or not, jeopardize livestock health and productivity.

To keep your homestead livestock healthy and thriving:

  • Construct sturdy enclosures and fencing to contain roaming animals
  • Erect shelters providing ample shade, insulation, and protection
  • Ensure a steady supply of quality feed and freshwater sources
  • Establish rigid milking schedules and routine veterinary checkups
  • Practice rotational grazing and humane treatment standards

Whether for sustenance, revenue, or sustainable farming – livestock are invaluable homestead assets that require attentive management.

Underestimating Labor Requirements

While the self-sufficient lifestyle can be immensely rewarding, most underestimate how grueling and physically demanding modern homesteading actually is.

Tending crops, and livestock, repairing equipment, gathering firewood – it adds up to a never-ending onslaught of labor-intensive chores.

Too many Homestead Rescue homesteaders find themselves overwhelmed and burning out rapidly from underestimating workloads.

One couple tried running their 35-acre farm entirely themselves with no outside help. Another family had so many strenuous tasks, they neglected basic property maintenance.

To prevent exhaustion and burnout on your homestead:

  • Realistically evaluate all residential, agricultural, and utility workloads
  • Split up responsibilities among all able-bodied household members
  • Look for efficiencies like multi-use tools, systems, and practices
  • Identify off-season downtimes to catch up on projects
  • Don’t be afraid to scale back operations to a manageable size
  • Hire temporary labor for intensive peaks like planting/harvests
  • Build a community to share/trade workloads among neighbors

Homesteading requires tireless commitment, but you need to accept your own limitations and capacities. Adjusting workloads appropriately lets you enjoy a self-reliant lifestyle without burning out.

Unsafe Practices and Procedures

From heavy machinery and live power lines to stockpiled fuel and structural collapses – homesteading is fraught with health and safety hazards if not approached cautiously.

Unfortunately, Homestead Rescue depicts incident after incident stemming from unsafe homesteading practices.

Severe injuries occurred when a family conducted amateur demolition without proper protective equipment.

Another homestead stored leaking gas containers inside their barn, creating a tinderbox fire scenario. These are exactly the types of preventable accidents to avoid.

To maintain a safe, secure homestead:

Safety First:

  • Learn and follow all equipment operating procedures
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times
  • Properly store all flammable and hazardous materials
  • Ensure electrical/utility systems meet building codes

With proper expectations set, homesteading reality shows can provide a general glimpse into the possibilities and challenges of our lifestyle. However, they should be viewed as inspirational entertainment pieces, not comprehensive instructional guides to be blindly followed.

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