There are some basic things you need to know if you are going to homestead. The first thing you need to realize is the goal is to become self-reliant. That means you can provide and care for yourself and your family with what you can grow or make yourself. While it is true many homesteaders do have jobs outside of their homestead - not all do - and the final goal is to eliminate the need for that job. The seven ways below are a great way to start on the path to a self sustaining homestead. There are also links to products that I recommend. I do have a referral relationship with these companies. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Raise Or Glean Food
There are some skills involved with homesteading, but it is not difficult to learn the skills and they are ones most of our ancestors had. Food is an essential. Raising livestock, growing a garden or planting fruit are all ways to go about meeting this need. However fruit trees can take 3 to 5 years before they begin to produce. This requires planning and some creative thinking on your part to find an alternative method of getting fruit. One option is to ask around. Many people grow fruit trees but do not harvest the crops and gladly let someone else. This is a great way to get free fruit until your trees begin to produce.
Planting a garden - and learning which vegetables do well in cold weather or are perennial - is a great option. Be sure to use non-GMO, heirloom open-pollinated seeds so you can save some from year to year. It is a good idea to plant more than you think you need. This allows for some crop failure, gives you plenty to eat during the growing season - or to share with others - and still leaves some food for winter storage. Another option is to set up a growing area indoors. Many vegetables and herbs thrive in windows or under grow lights. This is a great option for those who live in apartments or rental properties.
Adequate Storage For Food And Supplies
Speaking of winter storage - you are going to need a a cool, dark and dry area that is free of pests to store your bounty. Some homesteaders have a root cellar, others can, freeze or dehydrate their food. Whatever method you intend to use is fine, but know what your plan is before the crops start coming in because you need supplies - canning jars and equipment, dehydrators, freezers, etc.
Finding room to store the supplies you need plus enough food to last for 6 months to a year might be an issue - especially if you live in an apartment or tiny house. That is when getting creative and finding unused areas in your existing home is necessary. Check out these 10 home food storage solutions that will inspire you for some great ideas.
You also need a place to keep those seeds you saved from your garden. A simple plastic shoe box is a great storage option for seeds. Place the seeds in small plastic baggies such as those sold at craft supply stores, label them and put them in the plastic shoe box. Put the lid on the plastic shoe box and place it in your refrigerator. This saves time, keeps the seeds cool and you know where they are when you are ready to plant.
Consider raising livestock. I suggest you do your research before getting any animals. Know what you need, have their stalls or chicken coop ready as well as any fencing, feeders, milk stands or other supplies you need. Raising livestock organically is the best way to go but it does cost more and organic feed is often harder to find.
Some homesteaders grow their own feed. If you have enough land, this is a great option.
Popular homestead animals include rabbits, chickens or other types of poultry, goats, pigs and some have cows or horses. Smaller farms, such as the 2 1/2 acres I live on do better with smaller animals such as poultry, rabbits, sheep, pigs and goats. It is possible to raise a horse or cow on smaller acreage but be prepared for the extra cost of hay.
Start A Bee Hive
Some homesteaders raise honeybees. Honey has many uses and is a great sugar substitute. The bees pollinate the crops that you grow so you get a better harvest.
Before making the decision - and going to the expense - of getting into bee keeping make sure there are no rules against it where you live. I highly encourage you to raise the bees organically.
Find other local bee keepers so if you have questions or problems arise there is someone to turn to.
Clean Water Is Essential
Every homestead needs a clean water supply. You can't survive without access to clean water and buying it is expensive. One option is to set up rain barrels for water that your livestock can drink out of.
Use some of the collected rainwater to irrigate your garden.
The fastest way to collect rainwater is to set a barrel up beneath a downspout but be sure there are no potential chemical issues with the roofing on your buildings before you do this.
You should have a way to purify water as well as a way that you can store the water you collect.
If you bring the water to your homestead site from a creek or pond, then you'll need a way to transport it.
You Need A Weapon On A Homestead
Homesteaders also need a way to protect themselves and their livestock. Most homesteaders keep weapons on hand in order to protect themselves in the event of an unforeseen problem.
It is a good idea to be armed with knives as well as guns. Both of these are great for protection not to mention handy to have around for hunting or food preparation.
Education for children is a necessity. You want to make sure you have educational supplies on hand if you plan to homeschool. You can find educational supplies at homeschool stores and should stock up in advance. You can also order homeschooling supplies online.
Of course, there are many practical ways to educate your children. Teaching things like math can be done using real life concepts such how to measure items in a recipe or how to measure wood for cutting when building something.
Studies have shown that children who are educated using real life concepts often excel in life. This is what so many homestead.
Do not feel you must master everything at once to be successful. Take it one step at a time. Learning to preserve food takes time and patience. I have had plenty of seals fail on my canning jars. While it bothers me to throw the food away, I know it is contaminated and not safe to eat - not even for livestock. Instead of beating myself up over it, I try to figure out what went wrong so it doesn't happen again.
When it comes to raising livestock, expect a few animals to get sick or die. Instead of running to the vet like I did when I first started raising livestock I used each vet visit to learn what the problem was and how to solve it on my own. Yes, I still have a vet - just in case - but I am far more competent now than I was 12 years ago.
The path to a self sustaining homestead is do-able by anyone who wants to commit and put the effort needed into the task.
Do you have questions or need encouragement on your journey? I invite you to leave your comments below.
I highly recommend the following articles:
- 10 Home Food Storage Solutions That Will Inspire You
- Tips For Prepping For Survival On A Budget
- Are You Ready To Start Becoming A Survivialist?
- Survival Grocery List - First Month
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