Homesteading for Beginners: Where to Start
Candi Adams on March 11, 2017
People like to feel as if they are safe, secure and have backup plans should something go awry. For many families, they do not feel entirely comfortable with the way things are going in this world and have taken it upon themselves to become a little more independent. They want to be self-sufficient and not dependent on the government or any outside factors that are outside of their control. One way families can become more self-reliant is by getting into homesteading.
Homesteading puts a person or family’s future in their own hands. It is a trend that is growing in popularity all around the world. As things start to look a little bleaker, people realize their future health, happiness, and overall well-being are dependent on them and them alone.
What is Homesteading?
If you are unfamiliar with the term or have heard of it, but are not entirely sure of what it means, let’s break it down for you. In the old days, a homestead or homesteading was basically when pioneers or settlers found a piece of land they liked, staked their claim and made it theirs. They worked the land, built a home on the land and lived there with their families.
In today’s world, it is very similar, but you are going to have to buy the land. Homesteading means you are going to grow your own food, raise animals for food and essentially live off the land. You are not going to be dependent on the grocery stores for your food. Home food preservation is also part of homesteading. You are not only going to grow your own food, but you need to preserve it to carry you through the off growing seasons.
Many homesteaders will not hold a regular job. They make their living by selling goods they either make or grow on the homestead. Homesteading is a very humble way of life. You will often not find the biggest and best flat screen television or a lot of fancy gadgets in the homesteads. The families that live on a homestead all work towards one common goal of putting food on the table, keeping a roof over their heads and enjoying a much simpler way of life.
For some, homesteading means living off-the-grid. Off-the-grid means your home would not be connected to the city water, sewer or power supplies. A well for your water needs, a septic system and some type of alternative energy allow you to be completely independent. This is not the case for every homestead, but it is often a goal many homesteaders have.
Benefits of Homesteading
If you have just read about what homesteading is, you are probably wondering why anyone would want to live like the pioneers did when there are so many modern conveniences available. Well, simply put, this world is headed for disaster. Those that are prepared to do for themselves are going to have a huge advantage over those who are dependent on things like grocery stores, the government and the other perks in life.
So, what are some of the benefits to homesteading?
- You will feel more confident in your ability to take care of yourself and your family;
- It gives you more time to spend with your family, forming special bonds and creating memories that will last longer than anything money can buy;
- You will have more financial freedom;
- You will be independent and better prepared to handle an economic collapse or other disasters that disrupt the food, water or supply chain in general;
- You will eat better—raising your own food means you control what is put on it and what your livestock eats;
- You will learn skills that have been otherwise forgotten or ignored like sewing, woodworking, cooking from scratch and growing food;
- It is liberating to know you do not have to rely on anybody but yourself; and
- You will develop a strong work ethic and will teach it to future generations.
The benefits go on and on. You may have a list that looks completely different than this.
How to Get Started Homesteading
This may come as a surprise, but you do not need to have a lot of land to homestead. There are plenty of families who practice something called urban homesteading. You just need a small plot of land to grow food and raise some small animals, like chickens or rabbits.
Here are a few ways for you to get started, no matter if you live in the suburbs with a small backyard or already have a few acres.
- Clear some space for a garden. You may need to remove some of the lawn in the yard or get rid of the flower beds and transform them into garden space. Look into container gardening and vertical gardening as well.
- If it is legal, build a small chicken coop and get a few hens that will lay eggs. If you have space (chickens require very little space), buy a few meat birds. These are chickens that will be ready to harvest in under six months.
- Start buying bulk food items i.e. flour, beans, rice and get used to preparing meals from scratch.
- Learn how to make things like soap, candles and other household cleaners.
- Start a compost heap to use in your garden. This is the best natural fertilizer and soil additive you can get your hands on – and it is free!
- Make it a point to conserve water and electricity. Air dry your laundry, have a single light on when you are watching television or surfing the internet. Homesteading is about saving and recycling as much as possible.
- Fix things around the house yourself. Learn how to use basic tools and repair things like a broken hinge, downed fence or a leaky pipe. You need to learn to be self-sufficient.
- Be resourceful. Don’t be afraid to pick up free things others do not want and make it useful on your homestead. Homesteading will involve you finding new ways to use old things to keep costs down.
Hard but Rewarding Work
Homesteading is a lot of work, and it is not for everyone, but if you are willing to get your hands dirty and put in the effort, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever have. You will be amazed at how much you can do when you work together with your family. You will be instilling skills and a work ethic that cannot be taught any other way.