I think a lot of people have common misconceptions about what the term ‘homesteading’ means. Many assume that you have to live on a chunk of country land with several farm animals and a large garden to be considered a homesteader.
But the Urban Homesteading movement is on the rise, giving a new meaning to the term ‘homesteading’ and new freedoms to city dwellers who thought they’d never have a chance to live more self-sufficiently where they are.
There are common characteristics between all homesteaders, no matter where they live. We all have a strong desire to eat home-grown, nutritious food; REAL food, enjoyed the way God intended.
We enjoy gardening, whether it’s on a large plot of land or in containers on our back patio; wherever we are we’re growing something.
We long for simpler living, and days gone by when people used to enjoy real company and conversations instead of being glued to electronic gadgets 24-7.
If you’ve ever wanted to homestead, but didn’t know where to begin, then this article is for you. We’re going to go over a few different ways to start a homestead and what you’ll need to get started.
Not only is it possible, anyone can do it. You don’t need to be wealthy, you don’t need to have all the knowledge at once, and you can take your time and go step by step at your leisure. Even if you’re living in a rental or an apartment, you can homestead.
Homesteading is for anyone who wishes to lead a more self-reliant lifestyle. Focusing on preparing for any unexpected event including a job loss, hurricane, cyclone, EMP, power outage, or any other unexpected event.
Those who want to be prepared for any type of event, will make excellent homesteaders, no matter where they live.
There are many great reasons to homestead. Homesteading is more about being self-reliant and leading such a lifestyle, than it is about where you do it.
The truth is, you can homestead anywhere that you’re at. In a rental house, an apartment, in the inner city, wherever you live, you can find a variety of ways to become more self-reliant and focus on a homesteading lifestyle.
We want to learn how to live without depending on others to take care of us, in every way possible. We strive toward debt free living, and spend modestly and purposefully.
We tend to shy away from man-made pharmaceuticals, and are excited to learn new ways of treating ourselves naturally. We love organic products and learning how to make them, especially homemade soap and other toiletries, cosmetics, and household cleaners.
Perhaps the main benefits of homesteading are to have plenty of healthy food at the ready for any unexpected event. Have the funds to deal with an emergency such as a car breaking down or unexpected job loss or hospital visit, and to become more self-reliant.
Homesteading is also an ideal way to get a workout in without having to have a gym membership or join a fitness club. You’re sure to get plenty of exercise in and around your homestead.
Whether it’s walking to and from a barn or chicken coop, or simply working in your garden you’re going to find plenty of ways to stay fit without having to spend money at the gym.
Learning how to harness alternative energy appeals to us. Whether that means we install a solar panel system to fully live off grid, or if it’s as simple as building a solar dehydrator, using free energy is a goal we all share.
There are so many things you can do to homestead wherever you are. If you’d like to join the movement, consider making several of these lifestyle changes, and adding more notches to your belt over time.
Things to Consider Before Starting Out
Your Family and Family Members With Special Needs
Time. If you’re excited to get started, you may be tempted to take on more than you can handle. If you have a day job or kids to raise, your time is limited. Start slowly, otherwise your plants will die, your animals will suffer and you’ll do a half-assed job.
Maybe you have kids. Kids can do a lot to help out around the homestead. Kids can take part in helping care for animals, garden, and more. It’s important to base tasks for kids on their age and abilities.
Kids will enjoy helping out and feel like they’re a part of the homestead when they work together hand in hand with parents on a homestead. If you’re homeschooling you can incorporate many of these tasks into their curriculum and further their education.
Maybe you or a loved one are disabled. Homesteading is an ideal way for those with disabilities to feel accomplished. There are many great tasks that a person with disabilities can do, from raised bed gardening to animal care or coming up with great ideas everyone can get involved.
Hardscape paths can readily be designed in and around a homestead so that wheel chairs and those who walk with a cane will have the ability to navigate through the homestead. Animal pens and gardening can all be designed with the handicap in mind.
Finding The Land
There are many great ways to finding land for your homestead. Depending on your creditworthiness and your goals you may wish to explore your options.
You’ll also want to consider how much land you’re looking for. Do you want just an acre or two? Or, are you looking for 50 to 100 acres for a large operation?
I would highly recommend you look at at least 100 properties before deciding on one. The more you see, the better you’ll be able to compare them. You’ll soon start wanting or thinking about things you did not know you needed when you started searching!
Your goals should be defined so that you can find the right property for your needs and desires. Not all homesteads are going to require as much property. Some people have made a homestead on less than an acre of property.
It’s also important to understand that you can still make a profit on less than an acre of property for your homestead. It’s all up to you how you make that profit but step outside of the box and explore your options before you begin your search for land.
Planning Your Homestead
There are a variety of different ways to plan out your homestead and the end result will be dependent on your goals. Will you use your homestead to earn a profit? Or do you simply plan to live off the land?
Keep in mind that many homesteaders start out small, and only want to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. After a few years they decide that they’re ready to turn a profit.
If you even think for a brief instant that you may wish to start turning a profit eventually, you’ll want to plan for that as a future. By having the plans already in place you may well save yourself from having to reorganize your homestead.
A great way to get started is to start a notebook and set it up with dividers. In each section you can write out your various tasks for each area of your homestead.
Take before and after pictures and mark things off as you complete them. It’s a great way to follow this guide and will help you to stay on task.
So what should a good plan be all about? Here are the top things to include in your plan for the first year:
- amount of land and space you have at your disposal
- number of people who will get involved
- whether or not you’ll grow a garden
- whether or not you’ll raise livestock (and which ones exactly)
- layout planning (position of the house, garden, chicken coop etc.)
- things you’ll need to buy or DIY to sustain your activity (pantry, root cellar, chicken coop etc.)
- setting up a budget
- and more things you’ll figure out along the way
Now that you have a plan, what’s next? Well, you have to put it into action. Unless you don’t have any land yet. If so, you should definitely worry about this first (while continuing to improve your plan, of course).
There are a variety of ways to do your research. Depending on what you plan to grow on your homestead, you’ll want to research various ways to do it, methods of composting and fertilizing, organic gardening-if this is how you plan to garden, and more.
You can research friends, family, neighbors by asking a lot of questions regarding their experiences. You can read every book that you can get your hands on regarding homesteading. You can find videos on YouTube regarding homesteading techniques and methods.
The more specific you are the more likely you are to find the information that you’re looking for. There’s a lot of information out there, you just have to find it. Keep researching, even after you think you’ve found the ideal way to do it.
You can never have too much information regarding what you’re doing. Keep a notebook and write down your ideas. Write down what does and doesn’t work for you.
Consider your soil type, your location, your outbuildings, etc. The more detailed your information, the better of you’re going to be when you begin your homestead. Remember too that many great homesteaders started doing their research years before they actually started their homestead.
Homesteading Essentials for Beginners
One of the first things you’ll want is to have a budget. The last thing you want is to spend tons on fancy gear, only to realize you don’t need it, or that you won’t be ding that particular aspect of homesteading at all.
The golden rule is to think twice before spending money on anything. After all, homesteading is about frugality and money-saving.
You will need:
- Initial budget
- Weekly budget
- Monthly budget
- Bi-annual budget
- Budget for a year
- … as well as long-term financial goals
It’s long been said that “good fences make good neighbors” and with good reason. Your neighbors don’t want to have your cows, pigs, or chickens grazing in their yard. Your neighbors may not want to see your long johns hanging on the clothes line.
So the best solution is to build good fences (and pens) and keep your animals and the view of your laundry where they belong, on your property.
There are many great ways to build great fences. Consider the purpose of your fence and your options for construction materials and you’ll be well on your way to having some great neighbors.
Offer to help others building fences so that you get the hang of building them yourself and you’re likely to have plenty of help when you need to build your own fences. It’s a great way to get to know the neighbors and to have a great relationship with them.
Starting a homestead requires a few skills. Depending on your goals for your homestead, you’ll want to consider some of these basic skills.
- Knitting or Crocheting
- Fence building
Every homestead is different. This list helps to define different skills required for different goals of a homestead. Whether you’re new to homesteading, or have had the dream of homesteading all of your life, you may wish to consider some of these skills.
Of course, there are many advanced projects on homesteads that beginners may not consider. Here is a list to get you started:
- Raising Horses
- Shoeing Horses
- Butchering Your Own Meat (wild and domestic)
- Skinning And Tanning Hides
- Wind Turbines
- Starting A Vineyard
- Spinning wool
There are many essential tools for homesteading. Most homesteaders start with the basics such as this short list:
- Pruning Shears
- Pick Ax
- Planting Containers
The more intense you plan to homestead, the more extensive you’ll want your list of homesteading tools. This list offers you some intermediate suggestions. This list offers you some more advanced suggestions for tools.
- Gardening zones
- Soil testing and enrichment
- Companion planting
- Fruit Trees
- Berry Patches
Safety on The Homestead
Always make sure you know how to properly operate the equipment on your homestead. Don’t expect to just buy a chain saw and fell the trees. You need to learn how to properly operate your chain saw and use the appropriate safety equipment while you’re operating it.
This goes for every piece of equipment that you’re using on your homestead. Whether it’s a simple tool, or an elaborate fancy tractor, make sure that you’re always following the appropriate safety precautions, wearing the right gear, and following all of the instructions for operating the equipment.
If you’re unsure of how to use a particular piece of equipment, take the time to learn so that you aren’t injured.
Basic Food Preservation
Learning the basics of canning and dehydrating can be a great way to stock the pantry. You can also freeze some of your produce as well.
When it comes to canning, don’t hesitate to consider all sorts of foods. You can also can jams, jellies, meats, and some produce as well as the typical fruits and vegetables.
More than one homesteader has discovered that you can can such things as “chicken and dumplings”, stews, fish, and more. You’ll want to invest in a quality pressure canner and water bath canner so that you can can as many of your foods as possible.
While you can freeze most foods, you may wish to reconsider freezing all of your foods. What if there were a power outage? How would your frozen food fare then? Dehydrated foods are also an ideal option along side of canning.
- Food Storage (canning, dehydrating, or freezing)
- Food preparation
- Herbs (growing and storing)
Part of homesteading is learning to preserve the harvest. Not only should you consider a root cellar, you should also learn how to make hardtack, pemmican, and beef jerky.
Properly stored, these foods will last many years to come and can help sustain you should there ever be a drought or a natural disaster.
Smoked meats may present a bit of a challenge in the beginning but as you become more proficient at smoking meats you’re going to find that it’s a great way to preserve foods and use some fun intermediate recipes.
Don’t hesitate to try new and innovative ideas. Consider smoking cheese or fish for a nice change of pace.
Not all areas allow rainwater harvesting, for those that do, a few rain barrels will do the trick. Simply place rain barrels strategically at water spouts on houses for best use. Use this water for watering plants.
You can also furrow your rows so that rainwater will help your garden by flowing through the rows that need it most.
Simply take a few minutes when you’re planting to design furrows or “troughs” so that the water will divert if there is a flood of water that suddenly surges through the region.
Learn how to save seeds and store them for the next gardening seasons. Different seeds are saved and stored differently so be sure to fully understand how to save the particular types of seeds you’re considering so that you don’t damage your them.
Many homesteaders choose to save seeds in simple paper bags, others choose to use envelopes that is stored in a box and clearly labeled.
Regardless of the method that you select to store your seeds for next year, be sure that your they’re fully dry before you put them away for storage, otherwise you risk your seeds molding and becoming unusable.
Intermediate and Advanced Homesteading
Solar cooking is simply harnessing the power of the sun to cook. It’s easier than you think. All you need is a few simple things that most people have in or around their homes and you can be well on your way to some solar cooking.
While there are many fancy solar ovens out there. You won’t have to spend a lot of money to make one yourself.
Harnessing the power of the sun is easy and you’ll want to take some time to observe and find out where the largest concentration of the sun is before you begin your cooking project.
Chickens are the easiest livestock to raise (and probably the one you should start with). From there learn how to butcher your own meat. Backyard chickens are super common, and many urban areas now allow you to have chickens, too. And you don’t have to have a rooster to get eggs!
While a rooster is necessary if you plan on raising your own eggs for hatching or incubation, you can get a delicious supply of eggs with none of the noise a rooster might bring. Chickens can also help reduce your food costs because you can feed it to them.
To get started raising chickens, all you need is room for a chicken coop – this can be less than the size of a dog house. You might also need a covered run. Half a dozen chickens can take up less space – and cost less money – than a backyard swing set.
How you’re going to feed your animals?
Will you grow your own crops to feed them? Will you purchase ready made food for your farm animals? How are you going to pay for all of this? All of these are important questions that you’ll want to have answers for as a beginning homesteader.
How you’re going to deal with all that poop?
Most beginning homesteaders never realized how much poop a homestead can generate. Consider turning the poop from your homestead into fertilizer. Can you bag some and sell it? There are many great options for dealing with poop on the homestead.
If you’ve never homesteaded before, you’ll want to understand what to expect as far as diseases go for your animals on the homestead.
Before you begin purchasing animals investigate on what sorts of diseases each specific animal may be susceptible to. Then you’ll want to do some research and find out how to deal with it.
In spite of all of your care, injuries can happen to animals and humans on the homestead. Understand basic first aid and what to do for various injuries so that you’ll be prepared. Don’t forget to keep a basic first aid kit in the barn, house, and your vehicle at all times.
New babies are a part of life on the homestead. However, things don’t always go as planned. Learn a bit on how to know when your farm animals or pets need a bit more help in their delivery.
You may wish to talk to a local vet or some other homesteaders so that you have a good idea of what to expect and what to do in case of an emergency.
Always start small and work your way up. Start with just one or two rabbits (keep them separated if they aren’t the same gender or you’re going to have a lot more rabbits in short order).
After you get the rabbit hutches up and going, build a small chicken coop and get a few chicks. Go slowly and build up your livestock. If you just add a few new animals each month it’s not going to be so overwhelming.
Choose your breeds carefully. Make sure that you’re choosing animals that are bred for meat or in the case of chickens, for layers if you’re planning on eggs.
Read everything that you can on how to raise your animals or ask someone who has extensive experience. The more you know, the easier it’s going to be for you to get started.
Note: We left goats off of this list for beginners. Goats are susceptible to several different diseases and you’ll need to know a bit more and be a bit more comfortable before you want to add them into your animals on the homestead.
However, goats will eat nearly anything and if you need some large areas cleared, you may wish to forgo a different animal and study up on goats and start with a few to “mow down” your large areas.
Pets On The Homestead
No homestead is complete without a few pets. Cats eat rodents so if you’re having issues with mice, get a cat for your pet. Dogs are fun to have and many breeds can be trained to help out on the homestead as well.
You may wish to determine if you want your pets to do “double” duty such as cats eating mice in the barn vs a house cat.
Dogs that help out on the homestead vs a lazy dog that lays on the porch all day greeting you as you enter and exit your home. It’s all up to you but you’ll want to consider your options.
No homestead is safe from predators or pests. Different areas have different predators consider what predators are in your area. There may be cougars, bears, raccoons, coyotes, and other predators that may threaten your chickens, life stock, and gardens.
How will you deal with predators?
You can use traps, but what if you accidentally catch your own pets in the traps? Poison could also work, but again, what if you accidentally poison your own pets? Will you design fencing that will help prevent any predators?
Raccoons and cougars are quite ingenious when it comes to navigating fencing. Give this a lot of thought and ask neighbors what to anticipate for predators before you have to deal with them. The more informed you are, the better prepared you’re going to be.
Check with your neighbors and find out what they’ve had to deal with over the years as far as predators go. Have there been issues with coyotes? What about cougars?
From fly season to mosquito season you’re going to encounter some pests. How do you plan to deal with them? You’ll want some ways to deal with them that are completely harmless to your own livestock and pets. Do your research and find ways to deal with them before they become an issue.
Take Your Garden To The Next Level
- Raised beds
- Container gardening? Or should this be a beginner concept
- Vertical gardening
- Pruning trees
- Start an orchard (note: If you plan to have an orchard, you should section this out at the inception of your homestead. Orchards take time to establish so you’re going to have a few years to wait for your trees to be ready to bear fruit).
While most homesteaders are content with a few cows or pigs and a flock of chickens, others decide to try their hand at some more unusual or more challenging animals to raise.
It’s not unheard of to drive past a homestead and spot a camel or llama out in the herd of cattle in many areas. Additionally, there are also some unusual breeds out there of commonly seen farm animals.
Permaculture is a means of gardening that utilizes the natural sources such as wind, soil, rain, and other elements that are natural to the particular area of the homestead.
Focus on using what is naturally there and making areas that are permanent in lieu of having to rearrange things and revamp the homestead frequently.
Observe and interact with the land in and around the homestead. Utilize all natural resources for energy. Focus on renewable resources and make no waste (use composting instead).
The more you work with what is in and around the homestead and the less waste you produce the more permaculture you’re going to have. Once a permaculture is established the less intensive you’re going to have to work on that particular area to maintain it on your homestead.
Composting can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. Many homesteaders simply set a space in the garden or yard aside for composting.
Compost barrels can also be purchased from the local farm and garden shop, however, there is no real reason to have to pay for something that you can build yourself out of leftover scraps.
In fact, you don’t even need a form for your composting, you can use any area of the garden or yard or you can use old tires, a barrel on its side, or simply build a wooden box for composting.
After you’ve located an area for your compost, you can begin the process of composting. Compost leaves, grass clippings, animal manure (if it’s not fed any meat), vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, and the like.
Things Never To compost:
- Cooked Foods (except plain vegetables or fruit that hasn’t had any additives like butter, etc.)
- Weeds (the seeds can germinate in the compost pile and you may wind up with a nice weed garden)
- Potato Peels (while many homesteaders will argue this one, keep this in mind: I once had a great compost bin going and my kids threw some potato peels in. No one really thought much of it however, at the end of the season as we were stirring our compost, we began to dig up some very large potatoes. If you’re seeking large potatoes, this may be a great idea, however, if you’re trying to make a great compost, you may want to leave these out and set them aside in another area for potatoes).
There are many times that sewing is handy around the homestead. Whether you’re repairing your own clothing, or that of your family, you’ll find that sewing skills are invaluable. Small tears and rips on clothing can easily be repaired with a needle and thread.
Clothing can be made with a sewing machine or even hand sewing. Many homesteading families use scraps for quilts and other things in and around the homestead. Gifts can readily be made for holiday’s or to simply have on hand for younger children.
Fishing and Hunting
Many homesteaders not only raise all of their own food, they also fish and hunt to help maintain their food supply. These are ideal ways to help stock the pantry and there’s nothing like home smoked fish and jerky to help supplement the food supply.
Once you’ve undertaken the fishing and hunting learn how to preserve your own meats and explore options for making jerky and smoking your own meats. You’ll never look back. It’s nice to know what’s in your meat and to avoid preservatives that contain chemicals.
There are a variety of ways to find energy on the homestead. These include solar power, water power, wind power, and more. If you have a water source such as a creek, river, or stream, you can easily harness the power of your water and use it to help generate electricity.
You can also use windmills, solar power, and other means to generate energy on your homestead. More than one homesteader has started out using just solar power and created their own personalized system to ensure that they have all of the energy that they need.
Learn how to cook without electricity. Get yourself some good cast iron pans and a Dutch oven while you’re at it.
There are many woodworking opportunities on a homestead. If you have a particularly heavily forested area you may wish to consider such things as making furniture and other woodworking skills that could net you a profit.
Make and sell your handmade wood furnishings. Make trellises. There are so many things that you can do with woodworking in and around your homestead. You could even save scraps and sell them as kindling. Simply bundle them together and tie them with some twine.
Intermediate woodworking skills are invaluable on a homestead. Not only can you keep the barn repairs up, you’ll also be able to build and maintain a chicken coop, pig pen, corral and more.
Take the time to learn a few woodworking skills and you won’t have to hire someone else to make repairs when you need them. You’ll save a small fortune if you learn how to do it yourself.
If you’ve never done these sorts of tasks before you may wish to watch some YouTube videos and read up on the various processes for woodworking on your homestead. You may also wish to take a class or quick tutorial on how different woodworking projects are done.
Water Storage And Purification
There are many ways to store and purify water. From rainwater harvesting to finding unique storage methods you’ll want to have a plan on the homestead for your water storage and purifyingin case of emergency.
Many homesteads start out having to haul their water. With a holding tank of as little as 250 gallons a homestead can readily be done without a lot of undo stress. Finding a reliable water source will go far to help establish a successful homestead.
Always have a way to store water. Every homestead will benefit form a 500 gallon water storage method so plan ahead to have some form of water storage on the homestead. If you have a spring on the property you could channel the water into your holding tank.
You could also allow nearby homesteaders who don’t have clean water to get some of your fresh spring water (perhaps charge a small access fee). Even if you have running water, it’s always a wise idea to have some form of water storage in case of emergency.
Making Money On Your Homestead
There are so many ways to make money on a homestead that many homesteaders are overwhelmed. Start small and work your way up. Remember, the longer you own your homestead the more natural some of these methods will be.
- Process Wool
- Make Furniture
- Tan Hides
- Sell Garden Produce
- Sell Animals For Profit And Meat
- Sell Milk And Eggs
- Run A Homestead Bed And Breakfast
- Run Retreats (churches and community groups love to book retreats)
- Run A Horsemanship Class
- Start A Homesteading Bakery
- Start seedlings and sell them
- Start trees and sell them
- Sell Eggs
- Hatch eggs and sell the newborn chicks
- Make and sell cheese (from cows milk or goats milk)
- Sell homemade butter
- Produce YouTube Videos about homesteading
- Sell seeds
- Sell manure for fertilizer (cattle, rabbit, chicken…)
- Sell bees as pollinators
- Sell honey and beeswax
- Make and sell candles (especially if you have bees, you can use the beeswax)
- Raise sheep and sell the wool (if you know how to spin wool, you may be able to earn even more)
- Raise livestock for meat to sell
- Make and sell soaps
- Sell homemade jams and jellies
- Sell fruit from your small orchard
- Start a “U-pick” orchard where customers can pick their own fruit
Check out our Entrepreneur Homesteader category for lots of moneymaking ideas.
The possibilities are endless. All you need is the motivation and the goal of being your own boss. Always make sure that you’re following all of the local regulations and ordinances so that you’re not fined. Homesteaders around the world are capitalizing on finding ways to earn a profit by selling something on the homestead.
Be creative and you can earn money at just about anything that you do on the homestead. If you’re tired of the 9 to 5 rat race you can find many great ways to earn a living on your homestead.
It’s important to know what the regulations are for the area that you’re living in or planning to homestead in. If you’re too close to town, there will be specific regulations regarding which animals you can have, and how many.
Before you determine the area that you’re going to homestead in, you’ll need to consider what you plan to do with your homestead (will it be for you and your family? Will you grow commercially? Will you plan to turn a profit eventually?).
All of your goals and dreams may be tied up in legality’s if you’re not careful. Asking yourself what your goals are prior to your purchase may save you a lot of headaches and heartache.
You don’t want to find out that you’re too close to town to have chickens or pigs if that is what you’re planning to raise. Find out the zoning laws and the regulations before you buy your property.
Even More Things You Can To Do
Always start your homestead small and work your way up. If you start too big you’ll quickly become overwhelmed and struggle to keep up. It can also work against you and you’ll lose your momentum. When you start small and add in a few more animals every few months you’re going to do so much better.
It’s the same with gardening. Start with 5 to 7 specific vegetables and add one or two more each year until you reach your goal. Your garden will thrive and you’ll feel so much more accomplished. Plant your fruit trees as soon as you acquire your property.
The sooner the fruit trees are planted, the sooner they are going to take root and begin to produce. It can take from three to five years for fruit trees to begin producing.
Hand Washing Clothes
Every homesteader knows that they may have to start with virtually nothing and work their way up. This includes laundry. You may have to hand wash your laundry for a time before you can afford or set your homestead up to manage a washing machine.
While this may sound like a daunting task, it really isn’t.
My homestead isn’t set up for one of the fancy machines that they have today. So, instead of buying one of those on credit, we’re simply doing laundry by hand in our washtub. I also have a washboard but we found that an old (clean) mop we have works great as an agitator.
We fill up the washtub, add some detergent (a very small amount) agitate it for a few minutes and leave them to soak for a few hours. Then, we drain it, fill it with rinse water and repeat the agitating and allowing it to soak for about 30 minutes.
We then drain it and do one more rinse and let it soak about 10 minutes. After going through a wringer (that old wringer mop bucket works wonders) we hang the laundry on the line. Voila, fresh laundry. Hand washed clothes. Oh, and our clothes tend to last longer.
Even if you only hand wash laundry for emergencies, get the hang of it because you never know when you might need to hand wash your laundry.
A good hand washing and gentle wringing out and hang your laundry to dry and you’re well on your way to the way that grandma did it. Homesteading can be challenging, but you’ll begin to set a routine and it won’t seem so daunting after all.
Prep Your Homestead for Disasters and Emergencies
In spite of the best laid plans, emergencies can happen. The power could go out due to a storm. Crops can fail. The person who brings in the most money could lose their job. Someone could get sick.
Always be prepared for the unexpected. Even if you never have to implement your emergency plans you’ll be thankful that you have them should there ever be an emergency.
- Food that can be prepared without cooking
- Job loss
- Emergency situations (cataclysmic events)
- Extreme weather (blizzard, hurricane, tornado, hail, winds, etc.)
- Power outages
There are many causes of emergencies that can happen on the homestead. From an unexpected injury, to an unexpected storm or economic collapse, it’s wise to be prepared for the unexpected.
You’ll want to sit down and determine what likely emergencies you may face for your region. Whether it be a drought, an unexpected snow storm, a power outage, or some other incident, will you be prepared?
Have “bug out” bags at the ready for everyone including pets and other animals on the homestead. The more prepared the less impact an emergency situation will have on you, your family, and your homestead.
Many homesteaders choose to homeschool. There are a variety of online programs and public school programs that they can follow, or they can set up their own curriculum. Homeschooling is an ideal way to incorporate learning about animals and gardening into a lifestyle.
Children will have the opportunity to further their educations and yet remain on the homestead and help out as desired.
Not everyone chooses to homeschool, but for those who do, it’s an excellent opportunity to help children learn in the comfort of their own home and learning style.
Learn how to bake bread from scratch. Get a second-hand bread machine to help you get an easy start.
Sourdough bread starters are easy to make, and require you to be reliant on commercial yeast. You will create a tangy, delicious dough by collecting yeasts from your environment, and you can create bread dough for just pennies.
Consider purchasing a wheat grinder and grinding your own wheat. You can grow a half acre of wheat, which is enough to make your own bread and oatmeal, along with extras from the neighbors.
Learn how to make homemade soap. Once you’ve got that mastered, maybe you can learn how to make lye from ashes! You can also learn how to make your own laundry soap. Laundry soaps tend to contain toxic chemicals, but detergent is one of the easiest products to make.
You can use basics soaps and ingredients like soap nuts to clean your clothing, saving you money and providing a more natural solution to cleaning your garments.
Get a water bath canner and start canning by learning how to make jellies. Then learn how to can other things.
Work your way up to using a pressure canner for canning your own meat and meals-in-a-jar. Water bath canners can preserve any high-acid foods, but pressure canners should be used for low-acid foods like fish and meat.
This will allow you to store food without refrigeration for years on end and is also a healthier alternative to store-bought canned goods.
Practice drying/ dehydrating foods to preserve them. Herbs, fruits, and vegetables are a great place to start, and will allow you to keep foods long past their anticipated shelf dates.
Plant a few fruit trees and berry bushes in your yard, if you are able. These may take some time to mature, but will produce yields for decades.
Learn how to milk a cow or a goat. Even if you don’t have room to own an animal where you live, there are small farms out there who are willing to “share” an animal with city dwellers. A small herd of goats is easy to maintain, and provides benefits besides a dairy supply, too.
Just two goats is enough to provide a herd with enough socializing, but will help you cut down on weeds, produce manure for compost, and even provide meat. Goats can live in the most inhospitable areas, and don’t need much space, either.
Learn animal husbandry, even if you only have room for a couple of rabbits. Rabbits reproduce rapidly, and gain weight more quickly proportionately to their size than do larger livestock, like cows. Rabbit is delicious sand easy to prepare, and takes little space.
Consider learning how to keep bees and harvesting your own honey.
Put up a clothesline and hang dry your clothes. Change your methods of doing laundry. This will help you transition to a life without – or with reduced consumption of – electricity. Line dry your clothes.
This is a great way to reduce your energy consumption (did you know running a dryer for under an hour can cost you over $1,500 throughout the lifetime of the machine?).
Learn how to make your own household cleaners. There are tons of recipes online to help you get started.
Determine to cook from scratch instead of eating expensive processed foods.
Learn to barter. Trade goods or skills for the things you need. You can trade products that you tend to throw out when you are sick of them, like clothing, allowing you to save your money along with the planet.
Become familiar with the wild edible plants that grow in your area. Learn how to identify them, and practice using them in your meals.
Foraging is a great way to find nutrient-dense foods, and while these items are often considered weeds, they are delicious and easy to prepare.
Make sure you are knowledgeable about identifying different plants before you go out, however, because some have toxic look-alikes that can make you sick.
Consider what you can make or grow yourself and sell your goods at a local farmer’s market.
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Build your home library with books on gardening, animal husbandry, preserving food, soap making, and anything homesteading and self-sufficient living related. (The Encyclopedia of Country Living is hands-down the best homesteading book available.)
Install rain barrels to catch water for your garden or for emergency drinking water.
Use alternative energy, like solar, wind, and hydro power. By dedicating a single room in your house to being off the grid, you can make an easy transition into full-blown homesteading.
Use DC power to operate a light, or add an inverter that runs off AC power. This will help you transition to alternative ways of fueling your home without feeling you have to take a major leap.
Build raised beds. These are easy to construct and take very little land or space. You can grow a ton of food in a small area, and weeding and other maintenance tasks are much easier because the planting space is higher.
You will have better drainage and higher yields, and these can be built for free or incredibly inexpensively by using scrap lumber, rocks, or other materials you have lying around.
Grow plants in containers. This goes along with building raised beds, but honestly, plants grown up off the ground are much easier to maintain.
You can move these containers around, put them inside when the weather changes, or use their portability to accommodate changing needs and goals.
Many people reserve container gardening for things like flowers and tomatoes, but you can even grow enough potatoes, peppers, and herbs in containers to sustain your entire family.
Start vermicomposting. Vermicomposting, or composting with worms, is a great way to recycle your foods craps and to create nutrient-dense soil without having a stinky outdoor compost bin.
The microbes found in worms’ digestive systems turn kitchen waste in fertilizer, which can then be used directly on your plants.
Build a root cellar. A root cellar will keep your food at a consistent temperature throughout the year, and while these structures used to be household staples before refrigeration and grocery stores, they have gone by the wayside.
However, a root cellar is a great way to preserve garden produce and canning jars.
Your root cellar can be as basic as a hole dug into a ground, or you can repurpose an old shipping container for a more elaborate and solid structure.
Install a greywater system. Water is a valuable resource, and it’s nonsensical to use clean water to flush a toilet. This allows you to reuse water from the sink or shower to flush toilets or water plants.
This sanitary way of conserving water is a great way to lower your home’s water usage and to do your part to preserve the environment.
Start an aquaponics system or dig your own pond. If you don’t have access to a body of freshwater in which you can fish and draw clean water, then this is an item you must consider.
Digging your own pond is an inexpensive way to draw wildlife to your property, as well as to provide a habitat for fish and other edible species, like ducks and waterfowl. If this is not an option, consider an aquaponics system.
This is essentially just fish farming, and allows you to raise animals like crayfish, prawns, snails, and of course fish in an inclusive, integrated system.
Educate yourself on basic repairs. It’s not difficult to fix the brakes on your car or change the oil in a machine. You can quickly learn how to sharpen a chainsaw or repair broken appliances in the home.
A little bit of mechanical knowledge will save you tons of money down the road, and also increase your safety.
By removing the need to call a repairman out to your remote homestead, you increase the likelihood that your equipment, tools, and machinery will be fixed quickly and easily.
Offer classes. This is a more advanced option, but is a great way to make some extra money once your homestead is up and running.
Just as you should consider taking classes to brush up on skills you might not yet have, offering classes is a great way to promote self-reflection and to market your skills to others.
Learn how to knit or crochet. If you have fiber animals, like sheep or alpacas, you can learn how to spin your own yarn. This can be sold, or you can weave it into a finished product.
Ready to Get Started?
Homesteading is a way of life. It’s a lifestyle. You can start as small as you wish and work your way up to a huge homestead if you want to. It’s all up to you.
These ideas should help you from the moment you decide that you want a homestead and beyond. Many homesteaders keep an outside job for the first year or so to help supplement the income of the homestead.
Just remember to start small and go from there. You’re not going to have a huge fancy homestead overnight. It takes hard work and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. The more determined you are, the more likely you are to succeed.
So, whadya think? Are you ready to call yourself a homesteader now that you know a little more about how to homestead? Which of these things are you already doing, and which can you work toward where you are right now?
And what other things can we add to this list? How are you homesteading today?
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.