Maybe the current state of the world has you wondering how you can start homesteading and be more self sufficient. Or maybe, this lifestyle has been a dream of yours for a while, but you can never figure out where to begin.
A lot of people seem to think that their situation doesn’t allow them to be homesteaders. They can’t afford to buy land, or they don’t have much land to begin with, or they haven’t ever grown the first thing on their own be it plant or animal, edible or just for fun.
I’ve been there. Born and raised a city girl, it took a lot of convincing myself that this was even something I wanted to venture into. While the opportunity had presented itself more than once in my adult life, I didn’t know the first thing about gardening or raising animals.
We were, and still are, limited on funds and space. We don’t have a huge property, only an acre and some things have seemed impossible at one time or another.
Truth is, none of it has been impossible. In fact, I’ve proven that little voice of doubt wrong time and time again. From growing vegetables to raising our own meat, eggs, and even dairy.
And if our family can do this on our little one acre property and get closer and closer to self sufficiency every single year, you absolutely can, too. Even if you don’t have any yard at all. It just takes a little ingenuity.
So, I figured I would share the steps to start homesteading. Right now, where you are, with what you have. While the idea of more land and endless amounts of money to build up infrastructure and resources is great, it’s not a reality. Here’s how you can start homesteading this year and be successful.
12 Tips for Homesteading Right Where You Are
Make Do or Do Without
The thing about homesteading is, you often want to jump in with both feet and do all of the things at one time. But, you can’t for so many reasons.
Maybe you live in an apartment. Maybe you are in the burbs and have a stingy HOA cramping your homesteading dreams. That doesn’t mean you give up, and it doesn’t mean you can’t work on some goals.
Apartment dwellers can take on container gardening, learn to bake their own bread, or can produce. Pick a skill or two to learn and build on it. Learn to sew a simple garment, find some public land and go hunting, take up fishing…. The sky is the limit.
For suburban folks with limited land and HOAs, find out what you can and cannot do where you are. Create edible landscaping that looks beautiful and is functional to feed your family. You can also work on preserving your own food, learn how to fish, forage, and hunt and more right where you are.
Also, when you’re working on creating your homestead, take an inventory. What do you have at home that you can repurpose into something for your homestead?
Do you have some old boards? Make them into a small raised bed or a planter. Grab some old pallets and make a compost bin. Take an old trash can and grow some potatoes.
So many items can be repurposed instead of constantly buying new stuff. Buying new makes it expensive and unachievable for a lot of people. Tons of information online will show you how you can turn everyday items into homesteading gold.
If you don’t have it, find a way to do without it and budget so you can purchase the materials to make it later on.
Start a Garden, Anywhere
Will it be the most prolific garden, ever if you plant in clay soil that doesn’t drain well? No. But, it will produce something.
Don’t have any yard to call your own? You can absolutely still grow food, you just have to get creative, which should be a homesteaders middle name. You can utilize container gardening and grow tons of different items.
You can also grow a lot of things indoors. Will it take up your kitchen counters or bathroom vanity? Maybe. But, you can grow some of your own food regardless of where you live.
Community gardens are also a great way to get involved in growing your own produce. They’ll help you learn the basics and share the rewards with fellow gardeners in your community.
Have land but not a lot of money and don’t want to grow food in the crummy soil? Back to Eden garden beds are inexpensive to start, produce a lot of food, and don’t require much upkeep. We are actually doing an experiment this year with a few new back to Eden beds to see how successful they are for us here. I have a feeling we will be pleasantly surprised.
Moral of the story is this: anyone, anywhere can grow some vegetables. It may not be on the scale they prefer, but anything is better than nothing and allows us the practice we need to gain the knowledge to expand in the future.
When we moved to our little one acre, I saw so much potential, then I tried to do so many things at one time. Big, big mistake.
Not only did I have far too many irons in the proverbial fire, I had a newborn and my mother passed away unexpectedly. So, I had a million and one things going on here and a ton of physically and emotionally draining life experiences to deal with. It was a lot to take on… too much.
If we would have started smaller and not tried to take on the homesteading world all at once, I would have been able to handle it better. It wouldn’t have taken so long for us to get things implemented and we would actually be farther along by now instead of barely reaching our first and second year goals by the end of year four.
Will everyone have life changing events happen at the same time they’re starting a homestead? No, hopefully not. But, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and subsequently burnt out.
If this is your first year, start a garden, a small one. Maybe, if it isn’t too much, get a few chickens for eggs. You don’t need to do everything all at once. There’s always next year.
Grow What You’ll (actually) Eat
It can be so exciting to look in seed catalogues and to go to the local nursery and see all the wonderful plants. But, is it something you will actually eat?
I am often asked what people should grow in their gardens. The answer? What you’ll eat. If you aren’t sure you’ll eat it, don’t grow it… at least not yet.
Growing a bed full of turnips is great, if you will actually eat them. But if it isn’t something your family eats? It’s a waste of time and valuable soil.
Once you’ve established a garden that grows what you and your family eat, you can expand it. Whether that means you grow more of the things your family loves so you can preserve it, or you start venturing into some items you don’t typically eat and trying new things.
Maybe you have never had eggplant, grow a couple and see how it goes and if you like them. Next year, you can decide whether to expand the amount your grow or not grow any and try something else entirely. But to start, grow a little and grow what you know you can consume.
Start a Compost Pile
Composting is free to start. You can simply start a pile on the ground, water, and turn it. In fact, if you have some chickens, they’ll turn it for you, if you let them.
Don’t have ground? You can start a countertop compost or vermicomposting inexpensively, too.
If you want to get a little more fancy, you can make a compost bin out of pallets or make a tumbler to make it easier to do.
You can then use the compost you create to put on garden beds or in your containers to feed your plants. It reduces the amount of waste you create and provides lots of healthy nutrients for your garden.
Composting, in my opinion, is a must do project for all homesteaders, whether they’re seasoned pros or just starting out. It’s one of the first projects you should start, regardless of where you live.
Do Some Research
You don’t know what you don’t know. Right? You can glean information from individuals at farmers markets and reenactment camps. Find online groups with like-minded folks like our group, the self sufficient life.
You can also use online resources, blogs, and your library to learn about topics that interest you the most.
If you aren’t sure how to grow tomatoes, look it up online or get an organic gardening book from the library. All of this information is available for free.
While I do think that we should all have some books on hand that we can refer to when necessary in case we don’t have internet access or access to the library (like right now, when most libraries across the United States are closed), you can still definitely use other free resources and pick your favorite books to purchase used for cheap.
Put the Chicken Before the Egg
Chickens are like the gateway into homesteading and animal husbandry. We love our chickens.
So, if you can and you feel confident enough, buy a few baby chicks to raise for eggs this year.
It doesn’t have to be an expensive venture, either. While investing in chickens can be kind of pricey and add up quickly, it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes you can find farmers that have raised pullets to near laying age and you can adopt them without having to care for the babies and wait on them to become old enough to lay.
You can also hop to the feed store, after doing some research, and buy pullets to raise for laying hens.
Simplify Your Life
Right now, many of us don’t have our typical, busy, daily lives and schedules. Life has come to an almost abrupt halt all of the sudden.
And, I hope, that it gives us a bit of time to reflect and see how simplifying and paring down on the crazy schedules makes life so much more enjoyable.
Homesteading takes time. While a smaller scale operation is going to take less time than a larger one, it’s still a commitment. An enjoyable one, but a commitment.
Maybe while you have this time to reflect, if you do, you can figure out where your time is going (or money) and how it is best spent so you can figure out what to cut in the future so that you have the time to spend on your homesteading endeavors.
Get Out of Debt
Debt… a form of modern slavery that most of us have bought into… many times, far too much.
I used to think debt was this normal thing that was expected of us. Who doesn’t carry some form of debt in today’s world?
But, I’ve learned that debt is not necessary. At all.
However, it’s really, really difficult to get out of debt. It’s hard to let go of old habits and not pull out a credit card to buy a fancy new coop or tractor.
Instead of going into debt for things, you’ll have to learn how to budget and make do with what you have. It’s a mindset shift to be certain, but so worthwhile.
We made a plan to get out of debt, and while it’s a slow process, we are slowly chipping away at it while not incurring new debt in the process. We’ve learned some ways to save money on our homestead and budget for things that we do need to buy.
And buy used when you can and pay cash. Expand that garden every year to grow more and more of your own food. But don’t go into debt to homestead. It’s worth it to take your time and wait.
Function Over Fashion
I love envisioning beautiful, lush farmland with pretty red barns and big, beautiful old farm houses. Pretty fencing, fancy landscaping, the whole 9 yards.
But, the reality is much, much different. As we continue to build up our homestead, I’ve found it needs to work whether it looks pretty or not.
This isn’t about fashion, it’s all about function. We built our chicken coop (which is surprisingly large) for almost free. It took a lot of hard work, it’s not the fanciest looking coop/barn on the block. But it works and it cost us very little to build.
We’re building fences out of scrap lumber, pallets, and fencing we already had laying around. They may not look stellar, but they work, and that’s what matters.
This will help keep you out of debt and learn to make do with what you have. While we may all envision that beautiful, well maintained farm with a big, beautiful red barn, that’s not the reality for most of us. We can’t afford it and we’re trying to avoid debt.
Like I said earlier, it’s amazing what you can find to repurpose. It may not look fancy, but it works and that’s what matters most.
Set Future Goals for Expansion (and reassess regularly)
This is your dream and what you envision as the perfect small farm or homestead is yours alone.
Make a list of your future goals. What do you hope to accomplish in a year? In two years? Maybe even in 5 or ten?
Set some goals, and be willing to allow them to change with each passing season. We started out on this property with the intention of only staying 3-4 years. Well, we are on year 4 and nowhere near where we thought we would be.
So, I keep changing our goals, modifying them as necessary so that we can eventually, hopefully, expand our goals into a larger property.
But, if in another 5 years we are still here and have made the most of our one acre and are content with that, that will be okay, too. Dreams and goals change, so make them, but be willing to let things go and reassess at least a couple times a year.
This is a long-term game. It’s a lifestyle. And it’s not going to happen overnight.
I was so hopeful we would be farther than we are right now, but, we’re not. Life happened. Improving property, implementing animals, building buildings and establishing trees, et cetera all take time and money.
Learning how to live this life takes time and adjustments. Those baby chickens are going to take months to lay that first egg.
That fruit tree is going to take years to produce its first fruit. Those seedlings will take time to sprout and get transplanted into the garden.
And it’s going to take you time to learn the skills you need to be successful and make the most of where you are and what you have.
Enjoy it. Take your time. Breathe it all in. In a world so focused on instant gratification, this can be a hard pill to swallow and a difficult lifestyle change to make. But, patience is the most important skill of all.
Are you looking for a group of like-minded people that love the heritage way of life??
Me too. Join our facebook group, where we learn about growing a garden, cooking a meal, and living life like our grandparents did. You’ll be glad you did. Join The Self Sufficient Life group here.
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