Homestead Basics

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Starting a new journey can be exciting and a little overwhelming especially when it is all brand new. To help, this guide on homestead basics will get you started on the right track. What to know, what you may want to learn, and what to expect will help prepare you for.

Homesteading tips that get you ready to live a self-reliant life for the long haul.

HOMESTEAD BASICS

Homesteading is a back-to-basics lifestyle that involves self-reliance, a bit of work, and the ability to DIY the things you need. Across the country, empty nesters and midlifers are swapping the hustle and bustle of city life for the joy of a homestead. This guide will help you get through the early stages of homesteading, focusing on some of the skills and mindset shifts you’ll want to work on.

homestead basics

Not everyone who wants to live a more self reliant lifestyle lives on a sprawling property with acres to spread out on. In the past that would have been a deal breaker, but not today. Now you can homestead anywhere from the city to the suburbs and that is great news. There are many things you can do that embraces the principles of simple living and we are going to look at a few of the options in this guide.

Make more; buy less

Homesteading begins with the right mindset. It’s about rejecting consumerism and valuing the work that goes into producing the goods and resources we consume. This can mean different things to different people, but a general rule is to buy less and make more. Start by reducing your reliance on store-bought items.

  • Learn to bake your own bread.
  • Make DIY base mixes for pancakes, biscuits, and more.
  • Brew your own coffee
  • Make your own cleaning supplies.
  • Make your own snacks, both sweet and savory.

These small steps may not seem like much, but they all contribute towards a lifestyle that helps you be less reliant on the grocery stores.

a cutting board with chopped veggies on top

Frugal Living Tips

Thriving on less is an important part of homesteading. Cutting down on expenses frees up your finances and reduces your reliance on income, meaning less stress and more time to build your homestead. Consider a budget that includes saving, earning, and reducing your consumption. Work on skills that will save you money such as bartering and repurposing — more on this later.

Essential Skills for Homesteading

When it comes to homesteading, there are a few basic activities that every homesteader should be comfortable with.

Start a Garden, No Matter How Small

A vegetable and fruit garden can be the heart of a homestead. A small plot of land or even a collection of pots and grow bags on a balcony can yield a surprising amount of fresh produce. Besides providing delicious, healthy food, gardening is an excellent form of exercise and a great way to feel the pride of being more in control of what you and your family eat.

a woman preparing to plant potatoes in grow bags by a picnic table

Add Livestock Slowly

For many homesteaders, animals are an integral part. However, livestock requires time, resources, and knowledge to be cared for properly. Start with a few chickens to get a daily flux of eggs, or consider a beehive for natural pollination and delicious honey.

Homesteading Skills You May Want to Know

In addition to gardening and animal husbandry, you might want to start learning a long list of homesteading skills. These include food preservation techniques like canning, dehydrating, fermenting, making soap and other household products, and even woodworking.

You can get loads of information at your local library or start a home resource area by investing in books on homesteading skills.

The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals: Choose the Best Breeds for Small-Space Farming, Produce Your Own Grass-Fed Meat, Gather Fresh ... Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Cattle, & BeesThe Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals: Choose the Best Breeds for Small-Space Farming, Produce Your Own Grass-Fed Meat, Gather Fresh … Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Cattle, & BeesThe Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals: Choose the Best Breeds for Small-Space Farming, Produce Your Own Grass-Fed Meat, Gather Fresh ... Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Cattle, & BeesThe Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead: A Hands-on, Step-by-Step Sustainable-Living Guide (Creative Homeowner) Fences, Chicken Coops, Sheds, Gardening, and More for Becoming Self-Sufficient40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead: A Hands-on, Step-by-Step Sustainable-Living Guide (Creative Homeowner) Fences, Chicken Coops, Sheds, Gardening, and More for Becoming Self-Sufficient40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead: A Hands-on, Step-by-Step Sustainable-Living Guide (Creative Homeowner) Fences, Chicken Coops, Sheds, Gardening, and More for Becoming Self-SufficientBack to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills (Back to Basics Guides)Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills (Back to Basics Guides)Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills (Back to Basics Guides)

 

Start a Compost Area

Composting is the perfect solution to reduce waste and produce nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden. Designate an area in or around your home for composting, and make it a routine part of your waste management. You can also put a container below the sink in your kitchen to toss in scraps. When full, dump the contents onto your outside compost pile.

Read Our Backyard Gardening Compost guide here!

Repurposing and Bartering in Homesteading

Homesteading often involves a creative approach to finding what you need rather than heading out to the stores. Repurposing is the art of giving new life to something old and is essential in living a sustainable lifestyle. Learning to fix, repurpose, and re-imagine the things you have is a key aspect of living the homestead life.

Creative Ways to Repurpose Resources

  1. Don’t throw out that old wooden chair — turn it into a planter for your porch.
  2. Scrap wood can be used for any DIY projects.
  3. Remove nails and hammer them straight to reuse in other projects.
  4. Cleaned-out milk jugs are great for protecting seedlings in early spring.

Repurposing is often about finding new uses for old objects that match your homestead’s needs and aesthetic.

man screwing a board onto a chicken roost ladder

Bartering as a Community-Building Tool

Bartering allows you to exchange goods and services without the need for money. This is one of the best perks of being a homesteader. Trade your skill for the skill of another not only helps you to get projects done but also builds a strong community.

  1. Trading eggs for homemade cheese.
  2. Offering to mend a neighbor’s fence in exchange for a bushel of apples.
  3. Cutting down an old tree in exchange for the firewood.
  4. Cutting someone’s hair for a few loaves of homemade bread.

Generate an Income Selling Your Creations

Many homesteaders find that they can make a modest living by selling what they produce. Even if you do not have a large surpluss, you can still bring in money to help offset feed costs and more.

  1. Handmade crafts
  2. Surplus eggs
  3. Livestock
  4. Garden produce

Overcoming Challenges in Homesteading

While homesteading is a rewarding way of life, it does come with its fair share of challenges. Here are some common obstacles new homesteaders often face, along with strategies for overcoming them.

Dealing with Projects When You Have Physical Limitations

You don’t have to be a picture of perfect health to homestead, but it’s important to acknowledge your limitations and find workarounds. This might involve enlisting help from friends and family, using adaptive tools, or modifying your homestead to better suit your needs.

  1. Ask kids to clean out the coop as a Mother’s day gift.
  2. Plant a container garden so you can reduce time on your knees or bending over.
  3. Invest in a milking machine for your dairy goats.
a woman milking a goat in a barn

Managing Homestead Expenses When Money is Tight

Creating a budget and sticking to it is crucial when money is tight. Be strategic about where to allocate your resources, and consider what you can do without or find alternatives for. Remember, your homestead is a long-term project, so there’s no rush to achieve everything at once.

More Frugal Homestead Tips:

Balancing Homesteading with Other Responsibilities

Homesteading is a lifestyle that is called simple but requires more effort than what others are doing in this age of gadgets and technology. It can be challenging to balance homesteading with work, family, and other obligations. Prioritize your tasks and be realistic about what you can accomplish. Remember, every small step you take towards self-sufficiency is a success.

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For those new to homesteading, the road ahead can seem daunting. But with a bit of patience, a dose of ambition, and the desire to be self-reliant, it’s a path filled with satisfaction. Whether you’re starting out as a young couple or beginning a new chapter as an empty nester, homesteading is a timeless way of life that offers a deeper connection to the natural world and the rewards of hard work.

It’s never too late to start your journey with these homestead basics, and the skills and experiences you’ll gain along the way are invaluable.

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