Interested in homesteading for beginners? There is a common misconception that to be a homesteader, you must have acres upon acres of farmland with livestock to care for, gardens to tend to and a cabin that exudes a Little House On The Prairie air. While certainly romantic, this is simply not the case. Homesteading is for everyone, anywhere, in any circumstance who has the desire to be more self-sufficient. The best part is homesteading connects us to more sustainable living practices that reduce waste and promote a regenerative future. Today, we are going to break down five simple ways to become a homesteader, without the acreage.
FYI, this is a guest post written by Naturally Tess, a homesteader, low waste advocate and YouTuber. You can support her/ get more of her tips by checking out her Patreon here. All the images (including those used in pins) throughout this post belong to Naturally Tess.
Homesteading For Beginners: 5 Simple + Easy Tips
1. Create Community
Connect with your local farmers via farmers market or by discovering a local CSA box or milk share. Doing this will not only help you learn what you can eventually grow yourself if you do have a backyard, but it also immediately gets food into your home that doesn’t rely on a supermarket, which is important if the overall goal is leaning into self sufficiency.
2. Create Your Own Homestead Pillars
What three things do you already enjoy doing?
Perhaps you already enjoy baking cookies and cakes…so why not try your hand at bread to decrease that one extra thing you have to buy from someone else? Maybe you love to knit…so begin to exclusively knit socks for your family instead of purchasing them. Or perhaps you absolutely love animals and have the space and want to raise backyard chickens for your own eggs.
These top three things are your own homesteading pillars.
Continue to expand your knowledge base in your unique three pillars first. Become even more efficient at making them part of your daily life. This leads us to the next tip.
3. Don’t Try to Do It All
It is so incredibly exciting when you begin your homestead and you want to do everything you possibly can, but don’t make the mistake of trying to do it all at once. It can lead to frustration and burnout and when the overall goal is self sufficiency, neither of those things is helpful.
Instead, focus on those three pillars from the second tip, and do so one at a time.
4. Create a Larder
You just never know when you’ll need some extra beans, rice or flour – so keep some on hand at all times.
There is a common theme in the low waste community that you should only purchase enough food to last one week to ensure there is enough food for everyone. While this is wonderful advice in theory, when a weather catastrophe occurs or it is necessary to stay home for a couple of weeks, having that extra bit of food in your larder makes the difference in eating and not.
It doesn’t have to mean purchasing food in 50lb bags, perhaps you keep an extra 5lb bag of beans and rice in the back of your cupboard. Even if you live in an apartment, you can stash some extra food in a linen closet or under the bed if need be. Just be sure to properly seal your food to prevent spoilage. Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers may help keep dried goods fresh for long periods of time.
This is a topic that could be an entire blog post, so keep in mind that this is a simplified explanation of how to keep a larder.
5. Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
When you make the decision to homestead, there are more unknowns than the alternative. From learning a new craft to support yourself to unlearning what you thought you needed to survive, the process can feel a bit uncomfortable. Persevere through it.
The growth in your mindset and physical abilities that occurs when you push through the unknown is life changing. It isn’t easy at first when you make up your mind to say, scratch-cook all of your food. But once you push through the inconvenience and make it routine, it becomes just that…routine.
Putting it All Together
I want to now share my family’s three homesteading pillars and just a wee bit more information on how we began with those pillars.
⚫ Homemade food
We began by making our own hummus and bread which evolved shortly thereafter into sourdough bread. Sourdough opened up a whole new world of homemade baking and cooking. Over the course of a couple years, we stopped buying bagels, english muffins, crackers, cookies, tortillas, etc. and now make these things from scratch. We buy virtually no packaged snacks and instead, prefer to make everything in our own kitchen. The kids get involved and it’s become a huge part of our family life.
What began as a few herbs and tomatoes, has now blossomed into fruit trees, lettuces, greens, carrots and more. We buy starts from our farmer’s market (greens, peppers) in addition to sowing our own seeds of things we’d like more of (carrots, radishes, tomatoes, etc). Fruit trees are perhaps one of the easier, and often overlooked, places to begin. You can plant a tree (peaches are lovely beginner trees) and harvest fruit that same year if you buy a large enough tree. We use our homemade compost and chicken manure as fertilizer.
⚫ Backyard chickens
We’ve always loved and had dogs, so it made sense to try our hand at raising chickens. If you’re going to attempt raising chickens, first make sure you have adequate space for them. My other tip is to raise them from chicks as we’ve found buying older hens renders them more flighty and less trusting of you. We feed them daily, water them weekly, change their house’s shavings weekly and make them oatmeal every other day along with nettle tea. Caring for chickens truly is a beautiful process as they not only provide eggs which cannot be compared to store bought eggs, but their manure is literal garden gold. If you are curious and want more information, I have multiple holistic chicken care guides available on my Patreon.
Now. Let’s turn our attention to you.
You’ve decided homesteading is for you. You’re excited and ready but aren’t sure how to start. Let’s break down what it might look like to begin a homestead today, regardless of your living situation.
Say you love houseplants already…then it seems natural that gardening may be one of your pillars. Begin slowly and try your hand at growing herbs first as they’re very forgiving, then expand the following season to beans and tomatoes. Even if you only have a small window, you can grow a potted herb. This is now one less thing you have to buy from the store.
You’re on your way to self sufficiency and that is, in essence, homesteading.
What are your tips for homesteading for beginners? Leave them in the comments below!
For more tips on how to be self-efficient, be sure to check out my blog post on The Best Tips For Rewilding Yourself.
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