Starting a homestead may feel like an overwhelming task.
Buying property, getting animals, learning all the skills you need (it’s a steep learning curve!) can seem almost impossible.
What many people don’t know (or remember) is that starting a homestead isn’t an event, it’s a process.
The journey of building a homesteading life is amazing and not something I’d want to give up for an already established homestead.
So if you feel like you have so far to go before you become a homesteader, chances are you already are one!
Just like the seedlings grow to maturity, a homesteader is grown bit-by-bit. –Tweet this
My story of growing a homestead bit-by-bit
When Matt and I got engaged I found myself with a part time job and plenty of student debt. Funny enough, working only part time ended up being less of a strain on our finances than we thought it would be.
As a side note: A few years later I worked with a woman who was working as much as possible to save for a road trip. She told me that all of her extra money were basically just going to convenience foods and other stuff because she was too busy to be good with her money.
It was hard but I realized that by working less I had time to cook from scratch, learn to DIY many things, and comparison shop so that we could save money. As it turns out, there really is a cost of working.
So the DIY bug bit me and I was hooked. I realized that I didn’t want to go to a job just to hand my money over to someone else for things I could make or grow for myself. I wanted to learn as much as possible and do as much as possible for myself.
Starting a Homestead: Scratch cooking and real food
I started by making some packaged food from scratch—instant oatmeal, taco seasonings, salad dressing—and then I began to read about real food and learned that there were many health reason that I should be making these things at home instead of buying them packaged. Healthier plus cheaper—I was in.
It wasn’t long before I learned why I should try to buy organic and that I couldn’t afford to buy 100% organic. I quickly discovered the value of gardening and preserving the harvest.
I read and absorbed as much as I could about gardening, scratch cooking and freezer cooking so that I could save money while eating healthy. But knowledge is a slippery slope and before I knew it I was trading in vegetable oil for coconut oil and buying raw everything from milk to apple cider vinegar.
Starting a Homestead: Healthy personal care products
When we were still living in our tiny apartment—an apartment that had horribly hard, rusty water—I started searching for an inexpensive way to lessen the impact of the hard water on my hair (it made my thick, curly hair flat and straight, but NOT in a good way).
I started reading about shampoo and then soap and then face wash and then all of the other commercial beauty products that are toxic.
Starting a Homestead: Welcoming simplicity into our lives
Though I found ways to ease the financial burden by saving money wherever I could, we were living within a tighter budget than ever before.
Necessity forced me to reevaluate how I looked at wants vs. needs. I had to face the fact that most of the things I had once believed were needs were actually wants.
I had to learn that a pair of jeans could survive a lot longer than I ever thought was possible. And you know what’s funny? I began to see the value in having fewer things.
I began to appreciate the simplicity of a small wardrobe and the joy of a clutter free room. I realized that wanting was keeping me from being happy and that being thankful and content was so. much. better.
Starting a Homestead: Adding animals
So, I was gardening and composting. I was canning and freezing. I was making my own personal care products and I was starting to really really want animals. (It’s important to mention that all of this was at rented property).
I planned for a year and learned everything I could about keeping chickens. Finally Spring rolled around and we got our first flock. We’re now happily caring for our 3rd generation of chickens and enjoying the healthy eggs they provide.
The “common denominator” in this homesteading equation…
…was knowledge! I learned furiously over the past half decade to gain the knowledge I needed to continue on my homesteading journey. For the most part I used good old Google, but as I progressed I started to see the value in spending less time researching and more time actually doing, so I took some eCourses and read many books.
How to Begin Homesteading: Starting a homestead where you are
So you’re ready to jump in? Here’s how to get started:
Just get started
The only thing holding you back is you. I started homesteading in an apartment. You can too. Pick a few things that you can start with. If you have space, try a raised bed garden, or even container gardening.
If you don’t have outdoor space focus on frugal living, starting a compost pile, making food from scratch, and preserving summer produce from the farmer’s market.
Learn, then learn some more!
The only real prerequisite for homesteading is having a students heart. You have to be a lifetime learner in this lifestyle. Google is your friend! There are so many amazing homesteading blogs out there giving away information for free.
Once you learn enough to know what direction to go in, invest in a book or course on that topic. You can also borrow books from your local library. You’d be surprised how many great ones they have.
Plan your first year
When starting a homestead, a plan can change everything. Think about your priorities, what’s important to you? Choose a few small things to try your first year. Set goals and make a plan to reach them.
Don’t forget about planning for which topics you need to learn about too!
Speaking of learning…
Do you want to win an amazing book (plus more) to get you started on the road to homesteading bliss?
This giveaway is for an over $100 prize package to celebrate Homegrown and Handmade by Deborah Niemann.
This comprehensive guide to food and fiber from scratch proves that attitude and knowledge is more important than acreage. Written from the perspective of a successful, self-taught modern homesteader, this well-illustrated, practical, and accessible manual will appeal to anyone who dreams of a more empowered life.
My thoughts on this book
The whole book is packed with useful information for beginner’s or anyone looking to expand into new areas of homesteading. I was particularly interested in the Backyard Orchard section.
My kids eat tons of fruit but it’s expensive to buy (especially organic fruit) so I’ve been thinking a lot about orchards lately. But I don’t have a “permanent” homestead yet so I was concerned about investing in fruit trees when I don’t know how long I’ll be here.
Niemann gave an excellent overview of getting started with an orchard and inspired me to plan a few trees or bushes for next year anyway.
It’s actually much simpler than I thought, and can even be done in containers! I think I’ll do some dwarf fruit trees (apples or peaches) which I could always take with me if I put them in containers.
I’ve also marked a few sections to re-read later when the time comes to act on those things. Fiber animals is one. I’d love to have sheep someday when I have a better idea of what location I’d like to have a homestead.
Which brings up a good point… I love that this book is in print form. Don’t get me wrong, I also love eBooks, but a physical book like this one, where you can look back at it when a new opportunity arises, is a great bonus!
If you’re looking for a solid overview on becoming more self reliant that is:
- Easy to digest
- Well organized
- Written by someone who has done it
Then you’ll love this book!
And the giveaway!
This book is ripe (pun fully intended) with great information to get you started with minimal time commitment or need for acreage. Chapters include gardening, keeping backyard livestock, making your own handmade items and even how to sell them. This exclusive giveaway package through Homestead Bloggers Network will have items you need to bring the book to life in your own home.
One winner will receive:
- 1 copy of Homegrown and Handmade, Revised Edition by Deborah Niemann
- 1 hand-dyed skein of yarn, 450 yards, by Blue Savannah in an exclusive Colorway “My Chicken Ate the First Tomato of the Season”.
- 1 pair of wooden knitting needles from Timber Creek Farm
- 1 $30 gift certificate for heirloom seeds from Seeds for Generations
Enter to win in the rafflecopter widget below. Log in with your name and email or Facebook account, complete the mandatory entry method to unlock optional entry forms as well.
Giveaway will close August 22nd, 11:59pm and the winner will be emailed the following day. Winners should respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be contacted. Open to US residents 18 years of age and older.