Do you want to eat homegrown, homemade meals?
How about living a healthier, more sustainable life?
Well then read on because here is your easy guide to starting your very own homestead!
An Introduction to Homesteading
Different people relate to homesteading differently. However, homesteading refers to leading a self-sufficient lifestyle. The primary aspect of a homestead for most people is having their own lands along with the buildings built on them. It is also about having a small-scale farm and doing small-scale farming, having the goal of self-sufficiency. It is all about limiting the reliance on other sources.
The homesteading concept is typically associated with farms, but it’s also possible to live frugally and practice sustainable living techniques in the city. The definition of homesteading may be defined more by the lifestyle choices you make than whether you live in the city or the country.
A homesteader typically practices subsistence agriculture and often preserves their own food so that they can survive the winter. A homesteader must have skills such as canning and pickling. Even producing clothes, textiles, and other crafts can be a part of their lives. They can use them within their own homes or they can sell them to make a little bit of extra income.
Because of homesteading’s geographical and social isolation, it differs significantly from living in a commune or village. Homesteads usually house a single-family or their immediate family at most. On the other hand, a commune consists of people living together who share responsibility and possessions, but are only loosely connected.
Homesteaders typically live a more independent lifestyle and only travel into town for supplies or to see friends once a week or less. For homesteaders who don’t have a job and earn all the income they need to pay taxes and other expenses from work done on their own land, this is particularly true.
A homestead is significantly more likely to utilize renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy. Many homesteaders love the idea of living completely “off-grid,” in addition to growing their own vegetables and livestock.
It would be wonderful if you never had to pay another gas or electricity bill! Depending on the situation, some electrical companies can even pay you for any excess electricity that you generate and can then sell it back to the grid.
Living a homesteading lifestyle often involves a gradual transition from a typical modern lifestyle. There is no need to sell everything at once and move to the country. Take each step slowly at your own pace, and move towards being a homesteader. Here are a few steps on how to start a homestead.
1. Consider What is Included in Homesteading
When you think about how to start homesteading, it is important that you think about what each day will look like if you become a homesteader. Growing and caring for crops and livestock are both physically and mentally demanding tasks, and not everyone is capable of doing so. You must also make sure your partner or spouse is 100% on board with the idea, and that homesteading is the kind of life that you both desire.
You should sit down and have an open and honest discussion about what you are seeking. The homestead lifestyle may be difficult for you if your partner hates to get their hands dirty. Make sure you learn everything you can about homesteading before you make any commitments.
Make sure you have all the information and facts you need before making any major homesteading decisions. Become fully immersed in the homesteading mindset by watching documentaries and reading books. You can visit friends or family who already have a homestead and learn about the lifestyle by helping them out for a few days. Make sure you ask them lots of questions.
2. Set Your Own Goals
If, after following the first step, you decide that farming isn’t for you, that’s totally fine! There are still ways for you to live a sustainable life without selling everything and moving to the country. Even in the city, you can start a vegetable garden, get some chickens and learn how to preserve food. All you need to do is sit down and work out what your goals are. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you wish to reduce your carbon footprint by a certain percentage?
- Are you interested in living on the grid, partially on the grid, or completely off the grid?
- Are you interested in raising livestock, planting fruit trees, or doing other things that require more space?
Your next steps will be clearer once you’ve decided what you want.
The second step will help you choose what size property you need based on your goals. You can probably get by in an urban or semi-rural environment if you’re planning to have a full-time or part-time job while also homesteading as a hobby.
You’ll need enough space for a large garden to grow all the vegetables and fruit you need, as well as space for cows, sheep, or any other livestock you want if you plan to make homesteading your full-time job and lifestyle. Furthermore, you’ll need to establish parameters regarding the general area where you want to live as well.
Are you okay with living in a remote location, or are you looking for a location near a town? Look for land that is suitable for the type of homestead lifestyle you are trying to achieve. You will have trouble growing crops on sand or rocky terrain, for example, if you’re trying to grow crops.
Don’t forget to take travel time into account. What if you have to drive 1.5 hours every time you want to pick up something from a grocery store, or if you have to work every day (if you still plan to keep your job)?
Is it okay with you that an ambulance or police may take up to an hour to arrive if an emergency occurs? Little things like having to drive to your local post office once a week, or walking down to your mailbox every day, maybe more than you expected.
Avoid the temptation to take on too much. You don’t need 100 acres of land, or even ten, to create the homestead of your dreams. Homesteading on 5 acres, or even 2 is often more than enough for a single-family. Anything larger than that might be just too much trouble to maintain.
The following are important factors to keep in mind when planning your homestead:
- The availability of water. Is there a nearby lake, river, or pond that you can use for water? Does the property have a well? How much rainfall does the area receive each year?
- Safety on the land. If you grow your own food, you don’t want to live in a drought-prone area. You also don’t want to live in a neighborhood that has oil fracking sites or other potential health hazards.
- The community. In some cases, the community in which you live is just as important as the land you purchase. It will be necessary to network with your neighbors and to make friends with people in your neighborhood. You might have trouble fitting in with the community if they have different religious or political beliefs than you, especially in a small village.
- The school. Do you have kids? If so, is there a school nearby? If not, you might have to homeschool them.
4. Plan Your Budget
When homesteading, a thoroughly thought-out budget is important, especially if you’re planning to give up a steady income. It’s crucial not to use all of your savings when purchasing land or property. If you don’t plan ahead, you won’t have any money left to spend on improvements, equipment, renovations, or other necessities.
A general rule of thumb for homesteading on a budget is to expect any changes or improvements to your property to cost 50% more than you expected and to take twice as long. You’ll need to come up with ideas to generate income for yourself if you’re giving up your job for a more self-sufficient lifestyle.
Even if you don’t have a mortgage, you will still probably have to pay your property taxes, as well as utilities, phone, and internet bills. You will also want some savings for emergencies, such as if a family member gets sick or if your furnace breaks.
Having multiple streams of income from your homestead is a good idea. There are many things you can sell, such as wool, milk, extra produce, and even crafts like soap making. You have another income source to fall back on if all your crops die or you realize there is no demand for your one income source. It’s important not to overextend yourself. Yet it’s not unusual for homesteaders to have five or ten different income streams.
5. Starting Small is the Key
You don’t have to wait until you have your dream farm to start. You can begin homesteading right away. Homesteading is less about where you live and more about your mindset and lifestyle. If you live in an apartment, you can take steps toward becoming more self-sufficient this week, no matter what your situation is.
You can start growing your own herbs or lettuce inside if you have a sunny window. Do you have a large backyard that is primarily used for growing grass and weeds? Plant a garden or raised bed next spring so you can grow a portion of your household’s vegetables. (Make sure you choose vegetables that you enjoy and intend to eat regularly!) It would be great to have a fireplace that you’re not using right now! It’s time to clean out your chimney and buy some wood so you can get a reduction in your heating costs!
With time, you will be able to add more and more homesteading DIY projects. You will see the effects of even the tiniest lifestyle change over time, even if you do it just once or twice per year. You might even start raising chickens or bees in your backyard. If you’re unsure of whether it’s allowed in your area, check your local bylaws first!
The key to homesteading a house is to do what feels right for you. Prioritize what’s important to you and do things in the order you deem most logical. Some people may prioritize self-sufficiency in energy, so they may want to invest in solar panels immediately. Others may not care about the cost of gas and electricity. While some people may want to raise livestock for egg and meat production as soon as possible, others may want to avoid this due to ethical reasons.
6. Simplify Your Life As Much As Possible
Often, homesteading is accompanied by minimalism and a more frugal way of life. A major part of that involves breaking the cycle of always needing the latest and greatest phones, gadgets, trendy clothes, and other things that drain your bank account and don’t provide much value.
When it comes to learning to homestead, less is more, and there’s usually a cheaper and more efficient way to do things. Take an audit of your life regularly to see what drains your money, time, or energy, and see whether you can reduce or eliminate them entirely.
When you integrate homesteading into your lifestyle, you will have to give up some previous things. There are some obvious things to give up. You can probably cancel your gym membership if you do physical activity on your homestead for several hours each day now. There are other things that may seem more subtle and require more insight to reduce or eliminate from your life.
You can preserve food in a number of different ways, however, the concept of food preservation, in general, is becoming more and more extinct. Even learning simple methods on how to can, pickle, freeze, store in the fridge, dehydrate, or smoke can help you save money on food.
You should learn how to preserve food if you grow your own fruits and vegetables. Most likely you will have more food than you can handle at the end of the season. When you can’t preserve it, most of it will end up being wasted. During the long winter months, you will need to find a way to keep your food from spoiling so that you can feed your family.
You can buy your food in the season when it is cheapest and ripest, and preserve it so that you can continue eating it throughout the year even if you don’t grow your own food. You may be able to borrow some canning supplies to try it out from someone who has some extras. If you use your own canning jars and a food dehydrator, you can often recoup your investment within the first or second use. It is easy to start storing things in cold storage if you find a dark and cool place under your home or in your basement.
Homesteading is usually associated with hermits and people who are not very social. The fact is, many homesteaders are very friendly and eager to share their knowledge with anyone who is interested. When you have questions or concerns along the way, a homesteading buddy with more experience can help greatly.
Since they’ve probably already dealt with the weather, growing conditions, laws, and a lot of other useful information, they know all about it already. When everyone else tells you that you’re crazy, don’t underestimate the power of having someone who lives the same lifestyle as you providing you with moral support.
From a material standpoint, networking with other homesteaders makes sense as well. If, for example, you’ve grown too many peppers and your friend has got too many eggs, then you could barter for what you want. You might even set up long-term trade arrangements with other homesteaders to get food and supplies you would otherwise not be able to obtain. If you need a plow only once a year at the beginning of the season, it might make more sense to borrow one from a neighbor rather than buy one.
9. Grow Your Own Garden
So you made it this far, and haven’t started a garden yet? Just go for it! Gardening doesn’t need to be expensive at all. Well, all you might probably need is some dollars to get some packs of seeds. Sun, water, and dirt are all free, and are the only things you would need to get started!
Although you might not get as much of a yield as someone who uses fertilizer, almost any type of soil will grow vegetables if you give it a little love and care. You can sign up for a community garden, or you can borrow some land from a friend or neighbor if you don’t have land of your own. If you offer some free vegetables later in the season, most people will share some extra space they don’t use.
10. Start Composting
Homesteading family garden and composting go hand in hand. Although you may not be able to afford fertilizer or premium soil at first, you will be able to produce your own nutrient-rich soil after one year. Composting doesn’t require a lot of work to keep your garden healthy. You can throw away all your leaves, food scraps, extra plant matter, and chicken manure in it. There is no chance of it going wrong. All you have to do is let everything decompose and turn it over every now and then, and your garden will have rich soil in no time.
11. Learn How to Sew and Mend Clothes
Taking care of your vegetables or livestock will wear out your clothing while you work on your homestead. A ripped pair of jeans could be thrown away and replaced with a new one. But being a homesteader means living more sustainably! With just a little thread, you can repair your own clothes and prolong their life by months or years. Sewing machines make things easier and faster, but they are not necessary. Repairing and hemming clothes with a needle and thread will help your clothes last significantly longer, and you will save money in the process.
12. Learn How to Build and Repair
If you want to repair or extend the life of your clothing, you should learn how to sew. Nevertheless, you will want to broaden your knowledge so you can learn carpentry skills as well. Even if you’re not an expert carpenter, you should be a decent handyman who can fix the odd thing if it breaks around your house, without having to always call someone else. It’s not important that your solutions look good, but they have to keep things working. It will save a lot of money to build things yourself, such as tables, cabinets, or even a barn if you are capable of doing it.
Start your DIY sustainable home projects today,
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People see homesteading as a romantic and ideal lifestyle, and it is growing in popularity year over year. It is, however, not for everyone. Nevertheless, it is a rewarding way to live if you are willing to do the hard work and put in the effort.
Getting started on the road to homesteading doesn’t necessarily require living on a farm. As you slowly become self-sufficient and simplify your life, you will gradually move closer to your ultimate homesteading goal. And when you’ve got everything in place, you can begin making money homesteading.
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