Owning a homestead (AKA ‘going self-sufficient’) can be one of the most rewarding lifestyles there is, full of fresh air, fresh homegrown food and sunshine. It can be a life of learning and fun times.
It’s a slower lifestyle and all about being more self-sufficient by learning how to grow a garden with your kids. And sending them out on more adventures than you can imagine. Like chasing rainbows after a rainstorm, while jumping in puddles along the way. Or maybe chasing rabbits out of the garden, or collecting fresh eggs from your own chickens.
It will be amazing!
Here are some tips and tricks that will help to start your homestead adventure on the right foot, also answer some FAQ’s that one might have about homesteading and hopefully help to eliminate a lot of frustration that many newbies homesteaders face when getting started.
Let’s take a look!
What is Homesteading and What are The Benefits of Owning One?
If you look up the meaning of homesteading, you’ll see that it’s really just a dwelling with land that has buildings on it. Originating in America, back in the day they wanted to have people move out west so they offered people land if they would travel out west and start growing crops on it and living on the land.
If they stayed there over five years then they could keep it. Today it just means a person that lives on land and grows their own food, with some livestock. Most people living out in the country do just that, but they don’t really think of themselves as homesteaders.
Most of those people are farmers that grow crops on their land to sell, they might have some cows or pigs. They grow enough for themselves and then sell the rest. Sadly, more and more farmers are going away.
The young people don’t want that kind of life anymore. But don’t lose hope, homesteading movement is growing. And many more people are wanting to learn how to live off the land again and be more self-sufficient.
There are many benefits to owning a homestead. Here’s a list of just a few.
- Growing your own garden
- Having fresh nutritious food for your family to eat
- Chicken eggs and meat for the table
- Simple lifestyle, less stress
- Work for home, be there more with your family
- Fresh air, no pollution
- Livestock to sell and for food
- Pond full of fish for afternoon fishing fun
- Kids growing up in the outdoors, learning to be more self-sufficient.
- Being self-sufficient and knowing what’s in the food you eat
- Friendly neighbours and community
- Living on a farm with no crime
There are so many benefits of growing your own garden. Your family will be able to eat from the garden all year long from preserving the harvest. Getting out in the sun is beneficial for your health and the kids will really love growing their own food, especially if you add some cherry tomatoes in their garden. Makes delicious treats to eat while playing outside.
Raising chickens is very rewarding, not only for the fresh eggs you get to eat, but they become real pets. You might not want to eat any of your pets. But you will have that option if times are bad. Or you can grow up just a small few (that aren’t pets) to butcher in early spring for the freezer to supplement your food storage.
What It Means To Live On A Homestead
Have you heard people talk about moving to a homestead? Or mentioning that they would love to own some land so they could start homesteading?
What is a homestead anyway? Is it some kind of crazy church cult or something? Do you have to buy land in order to be a homesteader? Do you need a permit or a special license?
No, it’s nothing like that at all. And you don’t need any license or permits to own a homestead.
It’s really just a term, meaning a person who grows their own food and becomes more self-sufficient. So, they can then rely less and less on buying processed food at the grocery store that has no nutritional value. This in turn will enrich that person’s family with more nutrition from the food they are eating, not to mention the satisfaction of becoming a more self-sufficient homesteader.
Wikipedia explains that a homestead is the definition of a home with land that’s self-sufficient in nature. Preserving foods grown on the land and butchering animals for food.
In other words, a home where people grow their own food, like gardening and raising animals for meat and dairy. Nothing weird or cult-like at all.
Many people who want to homestead will buy land with a home or build one. Then they grow a garden and get a cow with some chickens.
That will provide them with all the vegetables they would need, milk, cheese, eggs and meat for their family. They will preserve the harvested food so that it will last them all year long, until the next year when they start the process all over again.
But you don’t need to own land to start a homestead or raise animals.
You can start a homestead no matter where you live, even if you live in an apartment.
Modern-day homesteading will look different for everyone. Urban homesteaders that live in a more country setting but live in town, might purchase a coop with a few chickens for the backyard. (Be sure to check with the local laws in your area, to make sure that it is allowed first before you buy any chickens.)
These modern-day homesteaders gather up eggs each day for their food. They might also have a little plot of garden to grow just a few things.
It might not replace everything they are buying at the store. But it will help out, getting more nutrition to their family by eating fresh eggs and things from the garden is a great start to any urban homesteader.
An apartment dweller might start a community garden in a run-down lot in the city or grow a few vegetables in containers out on the balcony.
There’s no right or wrong way to have a homestead. It’s entirely up to the individual. Everyone is different.
Every homesteader has the same goals. They all want to be more self-sufficient and get away from all the processed foods and chemicals that are in our everyday lives. So, it really doesn’t matter where you live, you can start a homestead right in your kitchen and backyard.
You don’t need to have 100 acres of land or even an acre. Just do simple things to be more self-sufficient, by either growing foods yourself or buying them from your local farmers market then preserving them by either freezing or using a canner for storage. If you start to do this then you’re becoming a homesteader. It’s fun give it a try!
You can always work toward having that dream homestead and living out in the country. Growing your own vegetables, getting your hands in the dirt. Watching with pride as your garden grows, then picking that first ripe tomato. Harvesting your crops and preserving fruit and vegetables, then making salsa and jellies for your family to enjoy during the winter.
To buying your first cow and learning how to get milk each morning and making cheese. To watching a chicken hatch for the first time. Smelling the sweet freshly cut grass out in the pasture on a warm summer’s day.
Or waking up to the rooster crowing and the sun shining, then going out to gather the eggs for the family breakfast, stopping off to see if the mama goat had her baby yet. Then milking the cow while watching the kittens playing in the hayloft.
Living out in the country is a slower life, with simple pleasures of nature that one misses while traveling to work each day. But a life that many of us yearn for.
Benefits of Starting A Homestead
Starting a homestead with your family can give you many benefits. Living a healthier lifestyle is the goal of many homesteaders. Working outdoors with the family can be beneficial on many levels.
Most people are tired of their stressed-out life and are looking for a change to a more relaxed home and a simpler lifestyle.
They are tired of the struggle, the rushing around to get to work and the kids off to school on time, the pollution in the food they eat and the air they breathe.
That’s why homesteading is really starting to appeal to so many people. A lifestyle that’s less stressful and a little bit slower. Full of sunshine and apple pies.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Homesteading can be very rewarding. It can teach you to slow down and enjoy the little things in life. It can help you to create a lifestyle that’s much healthier and happy.
It can enrich your life with many wonderful memories and help your family become closer and more loving to each other. Creating precious memories that will last a lifetime.
Sounds pretty awesome, right?
Starting a homestead can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. It can be as simple as starting in your own kitchen by preserving vegetables that you bought at the farmers market or making jams and jellies with strawberries picked at a you-pick-farm.
Then maybe the next year grow your own garden, harvesting and preserving the things you’ve grown yourself. If that goes well, then the next year move out into the country and grow a big garden so that your harvest will last your family a whole year.
Growing your own food is the best part of being a homesteader. After that, you can start raising your own meat. The benefit of doing both at the same time is to know that the food you put on the table is free of any poisonous chemicals that can harm you and your family.
It will give you peace of mind of knowing that the ingredients in all the food you’re eating and preparing are free of anything harmful. Preserving the food, you grow will ensure your family gets the best healthy food possible all year long.
Even the cleaning supplies used around the homestead can be made with simple safe ingredients that won’t harm your family or animals.
Raising your family out in the country away from pollution in the air is very beneficial especially spending more time outside in the sunshine, taking care of the garden and farm animals give your family the essential natural nutrients they need for their bodies to be healthy.
Fresh air and sunshine are a key combination to a healthy lifestyle.
Another benefit to starting a homestead will be the special projects to work on as a family with new skills learned along the way, such as raising chickens and watching them grow, then collecting the eggs for breakfast.
It can be such a wonderful thing to share with the family. Once you start getting too many eggs each day, you can start sharing your eggs with other members of the family. Be warned they will want more of them.
Fresh eggs taste better than store-bought any day.
When you grow your own food, you’ll soon discover the delightful full-flavoured taste fresh foods have compared to items purchased at the store. The foods in the grocery store have added ingredients to make them last longer on the store shelf, most are not good for our body at all.
The ingredients added to our food can be quite dangerous over time, causing many health issues.
By growing your own food, you don’t have to worry about any of those things. You’ll know that the tomato plants you grew didn’t have any poison added to them to keep the weeds from growing around the plant.
A family that has a homestead is healthier and will grow closer in their relationship, they with have pride and confidence from their accomplishments. Learning the ups and downs of living on a farm will make them stronger and more united.
Homesteading is about learning wonderful new skills from growing different vegetables to raising chickens and preserving vegetables. It’s about working together as a family to make your homestead prosper.
So that your family can enjoy the fruits of their labour during the winter months. Not to mention berry picking in the wild and to make jams and jellies or maybe even making some wine. The options are endless. So are the rewards of a job well done.
Who knows what one might accomplish starting a homestead? But one thing’s for sure it’s totally worth it.
Common Mistakes People Make When Starting A Homestead
Homesteading for some is just a dream and when the dream comes true, sometimes we tend to take on more than we can humanly possibly achieve. That’s when things go wrong very quickly.
And the dream quickly becomes a nightmare overnight. Moving on to a homestead can be very rewarding but it can also be deadly if certain precautions are not taken into consideration from the start.
You’re not moving into a new apartment in the city. You’re starting a new life, one that must be taken seriously. You and your family’s lives depend on it.
Living out in the country on a homestead has its benefits and some downsides. Depending on how you look at things. In the long run, the benefits outweigh the little ups and downs that happen from time to time.
With a little bit of preparing and doing some homework into the area you want to live, and finding a local farmer to help you out when those little hiccups happen. You’ll do just fine.
Who knows you might be the farmer in years to come who helps the next newbie homesteader get started?
Here Are Few Common Mistakes Homesteaders Make
Starting off too big is a common mistake, like starting a huge garden only to let the whole thing go wild and overgrown with weeds because you can’t keep up with such a massive project.
Or getting too many animals at first. It gets overwhelming quickly if you have to get up 3 hours early each morning before you need to be to get ready for work, just to feed and water the animals and milk the cow. That can get quickly get old!
Now if you are lucky enough that you don’t have to work a 9-5 job then you’ll have more time for all the homestead chores.
What many people forget is that our homesteading ancestors worked day and night to gather enough food for their families. They didn’t have the luxury of buying food at the grocery store. They had to store away enough food for the entire family or starve to death.
It’s a big job having a homestead and takes many hours to maintain. Many Newbie homesteaders bite off more than they can chew. Not taking into account that they still have a 9 to 5 job. And after a long day of work and driving home. Then fixing dinner for the family.
They just might not feel like going out and weeding the garden or milking the cow twice a day.
Some advice would be to start off small. If you decide to grow a garden, grow a small garden and keep it maintained. You’ll harvest more crops from a well-maintained garden than a larger one that’s full of weeds.
Then the next year you can make the garden a little bit bigger, just making sure you can keep up with it. Doing things this way will give you more success and pride in what you’ve accomplished.
And in time, you’ll be an old pro that other people will come to for advice.
But if you try to do too many things at once. It soon gets overwhelming and you won’t want to do anything. That’s when things go downhill fast.
Below Are Some More Mistakes New Land Buyers Make
Buying cheap property, that was once a large farm that was divided into tiny lots. Not realizing that another person could buy a lot next to theirs and place a hunting cabins or other items that might ruin the looks and worth of your well-maintained homestead.
Buying a wooded property without thinking through how hard it will be to clear enough land for a road, utilities or even a garden spot.
Buying land without looking at it first, because of the fear of losing the property. Only to find out that it has no place for a home and it’s on the side of a cliff.
Buying land that is close to a river or stream, that has plenty of land for growing a commercial crop but floods too much to build a homestead on it.
Buying a beautiful piece of land with cliffs, then realizing there’s no place to put in a home or getting utilities on the property.
Buying any land that’s not developed is risky if you don’t realize that the dry creek bed next to the home, can and will get flooded during a long period of rain. Flooding everything in your homestead.
What Skills Are Needed To Become a Homesteader And How You Can Start Learning Them Now
Certain skills are needed if you want to become a homesteader and live off the land so to speak. Those skills are usually taught to the young and learned over time. But that’s not to say you can’t learn some of those skills right now.
Many newbie homesteaders have to just wing it until things start working out for them. Actually, doing something is a better teacher than just having someone tell you how to do something.
Trial and error will increase the skill level, until one day the skill is learned. Like playing an instrument in the school band. You really suck at it at first, but with practice by the end of the school year you can play that song pretty well.
Same idea with homesteading, it comes in handy to have a farmer available to call, if you get into a jam. Or a professional to do some of the more complicated tasks. But the basics can and should be learned.
To not only save you money, but it might be a necessary skill set that’s needed to save your life one day, in the case of emergency.
Say you’re driving around out in the country with your family on some back roads. Then a violent storm comes up and you’re out in the middle of nowhere with no mobile service. And your car won’t start after a little hike. With some basic mechanical knowledge, you might be able to fix the problem, before you have to take a hike for miles to reach safety.
Simple training on the basics of all things can give you a well-rounded knowledge, just to help you out in an emergency. You can’t always rely on someone to fix your problem, but must rely on your own skillset in some situations. Better to be prepared, for when those instances arise.
This knowledge will come in handy and save you a lot of money. With no need to call someone in to fix little problems that you can fix yourself, with a quick search on the internet. Many things can be learned that way.
Like fixing a part on a tractor or lawnmower. Or learning to put in taps in the bathroom by yourself.
Here’s A Few Homestead Skills You Should Start Learning Now
Try making a few things around the house with 2×4’s. This skill will help you learn to make chicken coops, dog houses, decks on the house, cabins, garages, shelves in the house and so many other things. It’s a wonderful skill to learn.
Electrical Wiring and Plumbing
For the electric you can learn how to run the wires in a new building then have an electrician come in and hook everything up safely. But you save a lot of money off your bill by doing the basic things, like running wire, drilling holes in the stud walls and hooking up outlets. Then all the electrician needs to do is hook it all up, it will save them time from doing all the basic work, and you’ll get a smaller bill in the end.
Plumbing is a rather easy skill to learn. Start by making something out of water pipes, there are plenty of ideas online.
Learning to glue the ends of the pipes together is a really essential skill that’s needed. For the day when your water line breaks in sub-zero temperatures while you’re taking a shower and getting ready for work. Better to learn this skill in nice weather first, before trying to learn it while crawling under the house in the winter.
Safely Use A Chain Saw
A chain saw is an essential item to have on a homestead. You’ll need that for many things. Like cutting firewood for your woodstoves. Or clearing the road after a storm and cutting dead trees that might fall on the house or shelters.
Or even, clearing roads for your 4-wheeler to travel on in the woods when you go hunting wild game. But it’s really important to be taught by someone trained, a local farmer would be a good choice and to always wear safety equipment at all times.
Safely Operate A Firearm For Hunting
Owning an operating a firearm is another essential skill needed on the homestead. There will be many times you’ll need to protect your livestock from predators or protect your family from them. Also hunting on the property during hunting season can provide your family with enough meat to eat all winter.
Here’s A Few Other Skills To Learn
- Trapping Skills for catching predators trying to eat your chickens.
- Power Equipment, tractors, lawnmowers, 4-wheelers, power tools.
- Basic mechanical skills like changing oil filters.
- Home maintenance.
- Animal Keeping along with building shelter for them.
Simple Things You Can Do Now If You Want To Be A Homesteader
Homesteading is all the rage, but what if you don’t live out in the country. Can you still dream of homesteading and start practicing right now? Of course, you can!
Being a homesteader isn’t all about living out in the country is more about providing for yourself and raising your own food to eat. You don’t need acres of ground to that either.
There are many ways you can harvest and preserve food for later.
You can go to the local farmers’ market and buy fresh produce, eggs and milk from them each week. During the peak of season on fruits and veggies that’s when you can really save some money and buy in bulk.
For example, in summer you can go to a “pick-your-own” farm and pick strawberries, blueberries and much more. Depending on where you live, of course and check the local paper or online for details when the dates start for picking.
They usually have already picked items on the grounds, they will be a little more expensive but still a big savings overall, and you don’t have to spend the day picking if you don’t want to.
Getting a couple batches of berries can make some really awesome jams and jellies. Those are really easy to make, just check the web for a recipe.
Making jelly is super simple and can be great fun way to start being a homesteader. You just add the berries and ingredients in a big pot, then put on the stove to cook that down, after a few hours and the berries become bubbly, pour into jelly jars and slap on a lid. The lid pops down when it’s sealed and you’ll have some splendid jelly over the winter months to enjoy.
You can do the same thing with strawberries and even some people make pepper jelly to put on chicken, which is really delicious.
There’s plenty of free jelly recipes online that will give you more ideas on different produce you can buy to make your own jelly.
And not only jelly but when you head to the local farmers market you can pick up tomatoes and make salsa. That’s a real treat!
You might want to try your hand at learning how to preserve food by canning. The easiest thing to try first and the cheapest to start with is to can tomatoes. It’s rather simple and they make wonderful additions to stews and chilli in the cold winter months.
If you have a place to grow a potted plant outside, you might want to grow a couple tomato plants yourself. Cherry tomatoes are a delight to the taste buds and are very easily frozen for stews later on.
Now if you don’t have room to grow anything you might be able to contribute to a community garden. Many neighbourhoods have them going on, just check with your neighbors to see if they know of one in the area that you can help work in, if not then start one yourself.
When you’re ready to start preserving green beans, then you’ll need to buy a pressure cooker and that has a learning curve to be safe. But many people still know how to can produce and you can also watch videos online to help you learn.
Being a homesteader isn’t all about where you live but about being more self-sufficient. And just little things can make your life so much more rewarding. Not only that but you’ll be healthier eating fresh fruits and vegetables and tending a garden.
10 Essential Things Needed To Start A Homestead and Live a More Self-Sufficient Lifestyle
Living on a homestead can be a dream come true for many people. To live a more self-sufficient lifestyle can be very rewarding to say the least, but it can also be a disaster if you take on this task without being properly prepared.
That’s why it’s so important to think things through for a minute and not make any rash decisions when it comes to your homestead. Making the wrong choice can lead to failure rather quickly. And can cost you everything if you’re not careful.
Here’s A Quick List Of Essential Things You’ll Need To Start A Homestead
- Land in The Right Location
- Garden Spot
- Home for Living
- Power Equipment, Garden Tiller, Chainsaw, Tractor, 4-wheeler, Hand Tools
- Garden tools, Hoe, Seeds, Tomato Cages or Stakes (not for vampires)
- Livestock Optional, Shelter, Water and Feed
Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
Land In The Right Location
This is very important to do some research on the land you are about to purchase. If the land is not developed already then you should proceed with caution. It’s not been developed for a reason. The land might be too rough for a garden, or the sun doesn’t shine on the area long enough. Or it could even flood.
Often overlooked but essential is desire. Do you REALLY want to live out in the country and be self-sufficient? Say, your partner is really into it and wants to move out into the wild and start a homestead. You on the other hand, want no part of this crazy notion. If your heart and soul isn’t into it and you have no desire to make this huge jump into this type of lifestyle. Then you’re both doomed to fail. Homesteading is a lot of work, don’t take on this task if you don’t think you will like it. You probably won’t.
Another very important thing to consider is a nice garden spot. Is there enough sunlight on the property? At least 12 hours of sunlight is required for a good garden. Also, sun will be required if you’re going to have solar power running things on the homestead.
Home For Living
A home of course must be considered. If there’s no home on the land then you’ll need to run electric and water to the site and you’ll have to put in a septic tank and run lateral lines.
You’ll have to get the land tested to make sure you can even put one of them on the land. If you get denied, then you can never have a regular bathroom. The right planning permission is crucial!
Can you get electricity to the site? Some areas it is impossibly expensive as you’ll have to pay for running the line many miles back to your property. This happens quite often in rural areas.
A neighbour will also have to be ok with a large electric pole being put in the middle of their property and just might not agree to having one installed in their front yard, just so you can have electric. You might also not have internet and patchy cell phone service.
Water can be a big issue as many sites just don’t have it run to the property. Many large pieces of land out in the country once had crops growing on them, with no need to have utilities run to the property. Water lines are rather expensive, so this should be checked into before making a purchase of a property without running water.
Power equipment can save a lot of time on the homestead. It can make a 2-hour job last only a few minutes. Some of these things are essential, while you can get by with not buying some things until later. When you get tired of doing the task without them. Some examples would be a Garden Tiller, Chainsaw, Tractor, 4-wheeler and Hand Tools. These can be rented but not very often borrowed. You won’t want anyone borrowing your tools once you get them.
All homesteaders will need a good hoe to use in the garden to weed around the plants. You’ll also need Seeds, Tomato Cages or Stakes for plants to name a few.
Livestock is an option for the homesteader. If you’ve never had livestock, it would be suggested to start with a small animal. Learn to take care of that before moving on to something else. Chickens are the best to get started out with as they only need a small shelter. Such as a pre-fab shed would make a very nice chicken coop.
Most importantly, you’ll need money. You might get a loan or pay for it with a contract with the owner. Either way, you need extra money to get started. You can do this a little at a time while still maintaining your existing home or sell everything and move right on the property, building it up as you go.
Making Master Goal List For Newbie Homesteaders First Year
Starting a homestead can be overwhelming, especially for a newbie homesteader like yourself. There’s so much that needs to be done, you need to find some land, build a house, build a barn, start a garden, build a fence and so much more.
Having a master list can get you started without being overwhelmed. The big list of goals will be whittled down into “Can Do” small steps. Making the process so much more manageable in the end.
Find Out Your “Why”
First thing you’ll need to do is grab your paper and pen then head out into a nice quiet place and do some serious thinking. What’s the real reason you want to start a homestead in the first place? What are some of your “Whys”? Write them down.
Here’s some examples:
- Live a more relaxed life.
- Do you want to grow a garden?
- Raise your kids out in the country?
- Do you want to homeschool your kids?
- Become more self-sufficient?
- Be less stressed out all the time?
- Raise come chickens?
Understanding your “Why” will keep you on track, when you have to make decisions later on. You’ll be able to prioritize you goals by the reasons why you want the homestead.
Of course, your goals will change as you grow, but generally only slightly.
Set Some Goals
This list is of things you want to get done over the next year, so make that the date. One year from now. Remembering to be realistic as well.
Start making the list of things that you might want to get done over the next year, your first year of homesteading.
- Find some land
- Build a house
- Run utilities
- Build a barn
- Start a garden
- Build a fence
- Learn to “Can” Food for the first time
- And so much more
After each goal you’ll need a date of which you’ll need to start each project. Keep in mind, goals are great but just be realistic about them and don’t overdo it. Some of the tasks won’t even get started that first year. Take your time and relax.
Perhaps the whole reason for the move is to live a more laid-back lifestyle. So, start living it that way and take your time.
Getting Things Done
Once you figure out your goals for your newbie homestead, that you now have them all listed on your paper.
Then you want to make it into more of an outline, that you can work off of. You might need to start a binder, that can be more helpful as you can take pages out and move them around as you finish them.
By working off a master outline you’ll always have one place where all your goals and ideas are located. This will help you stay on task and get things done.
Once you have your main goals. Let’s start breaking them down into “Can Do” projects.
Say your first thing on the list is finding land, here’s an example of what it might look like in you binder.
Goals: First Year New Homestead Goals
1) Find Land
- a) Look at newspaper
- b) Drive to area and look for “sold by owner” signs
i)Phone number of properties
~Call about property 1
~Call about property 2
- c) Ask at local grocery store and look on bulletin boards there
2) Homestead House
- A) Build it our self
- b) Buy trailer and build later
- c) Buy Doublewide, less value later on
- d) Buy cabin, then build home later
- e) Find older home to fix up
- f) Rent home to buy with land
- g) Buy small farm
3) Run Utilities to the property
- a) Call about electric hook up
- b) Call about water hook up
- c) Septic
- i) Call and get soil tested for septic tank
- ii) Call to get estimate on cost of getting tank and lines installed
4) Build Barn
- a) Build Fence for animals
- b) Get some chickens
- c) Get a cow
- i) Buy hay and feed
- ii) Buy feed containers
iii) Buy Water Tank
See how it’s done? Take a big project and then think of little tasks you can do that will help you towards that main goal. It’s the little things over time that help you reach your goal quickly.
Then adding dates to these tasks will help you reach your goals in a timely manner.
Being realistic of timelines as well. As you get started, you’ll soon discover which way you want to go with your homestead. You can either build or buy one already established. The cost will be more for the more established one, but really over time, it might be more realistic to go that way rather than starting from scratch, especially if your new to homesteading.
A fully operational homestead, even a small one is better because the owners have already made all the mistakes, that you won’t have to endure. That’s part of the appeal to moving out in the country, to live a less stressful lifestyle. Why not get started that way from the beginning?
First Year Newbie Homestead Skills You Can Learn From Your Apartment
You’ve decided you want to start a homestead and live a more self-sustainable lifestyle. You might think it would be cool if you started to grow your own food, or maybe learn how to make your own cleaning products for your home.
That way you’ll know exactly what your family is eating and using as cleaning items that you’ve made yourself. Feeling confident that now your children won’t get sick from any unwanted additives and chemicals in their food or the things you clean with.
But what if you don’t own property out in the country? How can you possibly start a homestead in an apartment? You still can, just starting small the first year, taking your time to learn some new skills will make your transition more enjoyable.
You can do this! And more power to you, for deciding to make this change for your family.
It honestly doesn’t matter where you live, be it an apartment or the suburb. You can start to transition your family into becoming more self-sufficient by doing little things at first then growing them over the next year.
From eating fresh produce and learning how to preserve food so you won’t have to rely on buying your food from box stores quite as often.
Then slowly wean your family away from buying premade food in boxes that contain many things that are bad for you, to switching over to more “Made from Scratch” food that you make yourself.
You can start right now! It’ll be fun! And something the whole family can enjoy, doing these projects together.
The skills you can learn your first year will help you become more self-sufficient. These skills were passed down from generation to generation and taught at a very young age to be learned over a lifetime.
Though most of them are not taught anymore, with convenient stores at every corner, those lessons aren’t needed as much. But the convenience has come at a cost.
The lifesaving skills have become lost, and we are consuming more and more harmful chemicals in our body from various locations, like the food we eat to the products we use in of our home.
You’re making the right choice to learn these necessary self-sufficient skills. Not to worry, you won’t have to learn all of them overnight. You can take your time and learn a little bit at a time, with the things you’re interested in first.
A year from now you will feel proud of all that you’ve accomplished. And be more prepared for when you do get to move out into the suburbs or countryside.
First, you’ll need to set down some goals. Think of some things you’d like to learn to do, such as growing a garden, preserving food, and maybe making some of your own cleaning products.
These are simple fun projects that will teach you basic self-sufficiency. As your skills grow, you will be able to preserve more and more food each year. Learning as you go, before long you’ll be a pro and people will be coming to you for advice.
What wonderful skills to learn together as a family?
If you set some goals you can learn many skills within a year, before the lease comes due next year then you’ll be ready to move into a more urban area and maybe get your first chicken.
Let’s get started then!
Here’s A List Of Things You Can Learn In A Year
- Growing tomato plant in container
- Grow herbs for cooking
- Go to a You-Pick-Farm for veggies and fruit
- Preserve food by “Canning” your first tomatoes and make salsa
- Start driving to the country and buying fresh meat from a meat market from the local farmer
- Buying locally made milk from the store, not generic brand. Support local farmers.
- Built a closet just for preserved food
- Start stocking up on a month’s worth of food, then two months, then three months.
- Buy a freezer if you have room
- Start cooking from scratch, dig out your grandma’s recipe
- Make your own bread each week
- Make jam and jellies, try making hot jellies for adding to grilled chicken
- Make pickles
- Learn to build shelves out of wood
Growing A Garden
You might think you can’t do this, but you can. You can grow food from containers out on a patio. If you can’t grow outdoors, then check if there is a community garden around. If not, you can always grow a few things inside with a South facing window. Herbs grow very nicely indoors.
You can always go to the farmers market to get fresh produce for your family and buying organic will help. It won’t teach you to grow food, but it’s a start.
Just growing a simple tomato plant in a big container will produce you enough food that you’ll be able to have plenty of fresh tomatoes on the dinner table and also have enough that you can preserve some and make salsas or canned tomatoes for stews in the winter months.
Doesn’t that sound amazing?!
Learn To Preserve Food
If you don’t have room for a garden, then you can go to a You-Pick-Farm and pick your own produce. This can be fun for the whole family. Then preserve that food by canning or freezing.
There’s a lot you can learn in a year, with proper goals set you can make your homestead dream come true right now, then making off the skills you learn over the year. Before long you’ll be a proud Modern Homesteader with a much healthier, happier family.
How To Start a Homestead No Matter Where You Live
What does homesteading mean anyway? Wikipedia says it’s living a life of self-sufficiency.
It’s where a person lives off the land as our great grandparents did back in the day. Having a milk cow for milk and meat. Home preservation of food, like growing a garden and then storing that food away for a rainy day. The reason our great grandparents grew a garden was that’s just what they did, it was cheaper to grow food than to buy it in the store.
Also, so that in the winter months there would be food on the table.
The old-timers would grow gardens with green beans, corn, tomatoes, then harvest them by canning things in jars that sealed, so the food could safely be stored away for later. Potatoes were grown and stored in cellars under their homes.
Even some urban homesteaders would usually have a milk cow and would have that cow impregnated by a veterinarian. Then they would grow up the calf and send it out to the meatpacking place to have it processed for the family to eat all year.
A lot of people did this back in the 1950s even if they lived close to town.
Nowadays a person can get in contact with a local farmer and buy a young cow from them. Many families will buy a cow and split the meat between them. This saves money for all parties and saves the homesteader from having to have a cow on their property.
So how can you start a homestead if you live in an apartment? Easy, just start growing your own vegetables. A tomato plant is the easiest to start with and one plant can produce more tomatoes than you can possibly eat. You can share them with your friends and family or start learning how to can them up in jars for eating later.
You can also start growing an herb garden in pots around the house or patio. Many herbs can be used in cooking and also for home remedies. Start with some easy ones first. Impress your friends with some homemade soap you made up with some of your herbs in them.
Being a homesteader doesn’t mean you have to live out in the country and dig in the dirt all day. Just do some planning on the simple things you can make for yourself. Food is an easy one.
Learn from your friendly squirrels who store up nuts all summer long for that long winter. You don’t even have to grow a garden at all. Just head to the local pick-your-own fields out in the country and pick fresh blueberries and make jelly and store them in the freezer for bread and cakes.
Buy a bushel of green beans or a bunch of tomatoes from the farmer’s market. Then learn how to can them yourself. You’ll then have a cabinet full of beautiful jars of food. That you stored away yourself. You’ll know exactly what you’re eating. And Wow! You’ll really impress your in-laws when they come over for a visit.
How To Be Prepared Like a Homesteader Even If You Aren’t One
It’s funny how homesteaders think differently than everyone else. When I say homesteaders, I mean people living out in the country. They live out there for a reason. They like the quiet life, being more self-sufficient. Raising crops to sell or cows. Having a big garden to feed their family and friends.
Their big mowed yard invites plenty of wildlife to visit. Turkeys run free and deer like to come munch on the apple trees with their young ones in toe. You can smell fresh cut grass when you pass a farmer cutting his field for hay.
And the sweet smell in the spring when the honeysuckle comes in bloom on the chicken coop fence out back. Or when you hear the wonderful sound and see the tiny “V” in the sky of geese returning home after spending their winter down South.
The kind of life many people dream of living. But with the good there’s bad, just like everything in life. And homesteaders learn from hard knocks, to do a little planning ahead of time will make life so much easier when hard times come a-knocking.
Bad weather is almost certain each year. Be it floods, tornadoes or winter weather. Some type of storm each year usually has the power off for days at a time. That means no way to cook or electricity. And if you have a refrigerator-freezer full of food you stored up from that year.
You’re going to be in trouble. If there’s winter weather you might not be able to get out to the road for weeks to go to the grocery store. Or downed trees might be blocking the road and uprooting power lines.
The list goes on and on. One thing most people do that live out in the country is to be more prepared. You can do the same thing even if you don’t live out in the sticks.
Having enough food to last for a month at least, with non-perishables like rice. Canned veggies and soup. Enough meat for a month’s worth of food. Toiletries and First Aid. The essentials need to be stockpiled. If you run out of coffee or cream, refill that with an extra one. Then just replace the used one. You’ll always have one that you’re using and one on hand for later.
But it’s not just the food you need to worry about. Water is essential, many country homes have the water turned off from time to time. With a water break that might take a day or two to fix. Try running a couple of empty containers of water on the shelf is a good idea. Then use them up each day and refill.
Pretty easy to get used to doing that, if you leave the lid open then, some of the heavy chemicals evaporate in the air if you leave the lid off.
Don’t forget the animals. If you have chickens, be sure to have a month’s worth of chicken feed on hand. Using two large plastic garbage bins. Keep both full, when you use one up. Then refill, using the other bin up and then refill. You’ll always have plenty of food for them.
Dog food the same way or any other animals your feeding.
Hay is another thing to think about. If you decide to buy goats in the spring but don’t buy enough hay for the winter months. You might run out of hay. Farmers don’t usually do bales of hay any more.
No kid wants to help do that anymore, so they cut the field and make huge round bales. That you can’t just take your car and pick up. Plus, where would you put that thing in your small goat pen?
They would eat it all in a few days. Those crazy goats.
So be sure to buy enough hay bales you need in the summer when it’s plentiful and store it away where the rain and mice can’t get to it.
In Part Two I’ll tell you how to get started with homestead living.