The Beginners Guide to Homesteading
- Homesteading is important to our lives and our planet. We can help heal ourselves from the horrible food system we are a part of and we can help heal the planet by not using chemicals and additives and chemical fertilizers to try to grow things when we can do this naturally on not do the damage in the first place.
- Hi, I am Kelly Jeanne and I love nature, I love growing things and raising animals and children and I know enough about what our food system is doing to us to be scared. I am a master gardener who wants to take her love of nature as far as it will go. There have been cows, chickens, and lots of gardens in my life along with dogs, cats, a prairie dog, three daughters and now two boys (my grandsons). Let’s get back to where we should be as a planet and as a people. NOW WE START!
What is homesteading?
- Wikipedia defines homesteading as: a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and may also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Pursued in different ways around the world—and in different historical eras—homesteading is generally differentiated from rural village or commune living by isolation (either socially or physically) of the homestead. Use of the term in the United States dates back to the Homestead Act (1862) and before.
- Some people believe that is all homesteading is, canning some food and having a few chickens for eggs or meat, and it kinda is. It is also, if you want it to be, a bee keepers joy, or a milk emporium, or a steak house, or a vegan restaurant. Your homestead is a part of you. It is the heart and soul of your family life. You make it what you want it to be. It can start as just a plant on a windowsill or a line of large pots down the driveway. it can get a big as a cattle or horse ranch with hundreds of acres. You are the determining factor. You see your vision and you take it there.
How to get started with Homesteading
- The first thing you need is that vision.
- The second is the knowledge of how far you can take it from where you are starting.
- Then you need a plan to get there. This is the fun part because you can dream BIG.
- The plan around here is to set up the main garden (we have several planned) so we can have food to put away for winter then move on to setting up the rest of them. We will also add lots of fruit like grapes and kiwi and some strawberries for sure. We have a few apples but will add as we go.
- After the gardens are all going strong and protected we will move on to the chickens as they are smaller and easier to learn with, first egg birds and then meat birds. We will be moving them around the Salatin way. If you have read anything about homesteading you have probably heard his name.
- Beyond that we would like to have two milk cows, four head of beef cattle per year, and approximately four hogs, two guineas and two large blacks and see where that takes us. We will be selling some at the market, but mostly it will be for us.
Tips for Success with Homesteading
Successful living as a homesteader:
- Buy iron and stainless steel cookware. They are the most durable and last the longest. if you treat them nice they will be nonstick as well. They will last you a lifetime.
- Read some good books. Learn some new skills; Joel Salatin, Patricia Lanza, Lisa Steele…find the good books and read all you can about whatever it is you want to do on your homestead. Take a master gardener course or find someone in your area that does what it is you want to do and ask them if you can give them a hand.
- You need to love what you are doing. If you don’t like it you won’t get far with it. It is hard, laborious and will make you hurt in places you didn’t know you had, but if you love it you will feel better every day.
Successful gardening as a homesteader:
- Start with good quality if you can. if not then save from the good plants you get out of the less expensive seeds and up the quality.
- Spend time in your garden and homestead. The more YOU there is in it the more successful it will be.
- Grow what you love to eat. You will not believe the taste difference from the store and your own homegrown produce.
Success with animals on your homestead:
- You can start with something small like chickens to get used to the routine. Daily feeding and watering is a necessity. After you get used to the routine it is easier to add more animals to it. Just takes a little more time.
- Treat them well. Let them have the BEST life possible while they are growing up. it is a way to say thank you to them.
- Make sure all of your animals ALWAYS have fresh water no matter what else you do during the day. It is THAT important.
Common Questions/FAQ About Homesteading
Question 1: What makes a homestead?
- It does not take much to get started and can go anywhere you want to take it, from a flower bed surrounded by chives to a cattle ranch with a one acre garden. Your choice.
Question 2: What is a self-supporting homestead?
- A self-supporting homestead is a place where you make enough money from the homestead to continue to homestead.
- However; a self-sustaining homestead is a little different. This would be a homestead where there are no outside inputs, nothing from outside the homestead is brought in. No seeds or animals or foods or power, etc. Most homesteads are not fully self-sustaining in today’s times, but it is okay to be part self-sustaining like saving seeds for next season or having breeding chickens to keep the eggs coming.
- You can also do both.
Question 3: How do you start homesteading?
- By learning. Learning the skills you will need if you are not yet in the place you want to be to homestead. Budgeting to get yourself there. Purchasing what you absolutely have to have and then putting your back into it and GET UP AND GO wherever you are.
Question 4: And homestead start-up costs?
- You can go slowly with this quite easily. First year just get a few seed packets from the Dollar General and a small bag of potting soil with two or three small pots. Put a few seeds in the pots and water gently for a few days until they start growing. Not much cost; about 10 dollars or so.
Question 5: How can I save money homesteading?
- Honestly, you won’t until you start saving your own seeds and raising breeding pairs and then not a lot. The thing is homesteading will get you fresh, clean, healthy food and exercise that is right for your body, and you can make some money from it too. But saving money; a little, but not a lot.
Question 6: Homesteader versus Prepper versus Farmer?
- From my little eye a farmer is a person that grows food, sometimes for his family, but usually for the public. A prepper is someone who buys all those military type foods and rice and beans and stores years worth in the basement. A homesteader is somewhere in the middle, they grow food, but mostly for their own family and they do store some away for the winter season to get through to the next growing. One thing I know, all of them are thinking ahead and doing great things.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about homesteading
- If you have the skills you need you can start a homestead anywhere and be successful. Just get started.
- START NOW. It is never too early or too late to get started even if it is just a container on a window sill.
Thanks for the info, Kelly! I guess I’m more of a homesteader than I knew. My hubby and I grow as much as we can in our little garden out back. Hubby is the master gardener around here. He knows tons about it. We might starve if we had to depend just on my skills! However, I beat him, hands down, in the preserving department. I can, bottle, freeze, dry everything that he can grow. So, I guess we make a good team!
We have a dream to move to a place where we can have a few animals. Until then, the hubby will just have to keep hunting our meat during hunting seasons.
And you’re right. . .there is no better taste than produce you grow yourself. And I’ll add. . . fresh meat (elk and deer) straight from our beautiful mountains! Thanks for the info! I’ll be watching for more!!
Hi Jill, I am glad to hear you are growing your own food. I am learning to can and freeze and dry and pickle, but not totally there yet. We hunt here too, especially deer. I hope to see you around the homestead here and let me know if there is anything you want to learn about. I’ll be glad to write about it. I am the master gardener in this neck of the woods. I love the mountains of West Virginia. My mom’s family is from there and it is so peaceful and fresh. What mountains are you in? Thanks for the comment and come back soon. Would love to talk more.