L iving off the grid, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Little House on the Prairie, are just a few words that pop into your head when you hear the term ‘homesteading.’ But, in reality, there are numerous levels to homesteading.
All you need to get started is a few acres of land, but if you don’t have that just yet, don’t worry! Starting here and now, we’ll discuss the things you need when first starting out.
Homesteading Isn’t About Money
Homesteading can sound scary when you think about the money that can be involved, but don’t let it get you down. Homesteading is an investment now and in the future.
Simplicity is the keyword when thinking about homesteading, so don’t freak out and go and take out massive loans to buy land and build a house. Just remember to KISS it—Keep It Simple, Sweetie. That is not to say that it won’t take money to start your homestead. Of course, it will, but let’s build this house one brick at a time.
Homesteading is both time and labor-intensive, so doing everything upfront to create a homestead is unrealistic. Instead, take your time and fund things slowly. The first thing you’ll want to do is develop a plan. Homesteading is a lifestyle change. It will take time and intelligence, and you will be amazed at how much of a homestead you can create for a small amount of money.
You’ll Need Some Equipment
Light on equipment? That’s ok. You won’t need too many tools to get started in homesteading. A hammer and nails are a place to start. As you dig deeper into this lifestyle, you might want to invest in an old tiller or tractor. These kinds of tools can make your life much easier! If you raise animals, like chickens, for example, you may need specialized equipment, like a mobile range coop, to manage them more efficiently.
A famous cartoon character used to say, “Make mistakes, get messy!”. Those words are perfect for settling into your homesteading life. You shouldn’t invest too much in equipment until you know what works for you. So, just start with the basics and not much more.
Wooden pallets are a good example of simple things with tons of uses. Most businesses will give them away for free. They are cheap and can be used to build many different things, from fences to sheds to outdoor furniture and much, much more. They are excellent to have on hand when you need to build something but don’t have the cash to waste buying different materials.
Find Your Perfect Spot
The first thing you need to do is determine how far your money and your ambitions go. Are you looking to put in the money and the work for a multi-acre ranch, or are you aiming for just a ½ acre to farm and live? Either one is achievable it’s all up to your muscles and your wallet.
Your ambitions will be the ultimate driver of what you will be shooting for with your homestead. For example, if you want to incorporate livestock, you’ll need more land than if you desire just a garden and a few chickens.
Sitting down and mapping out everything you want on your piece of land is a good place to start when figuring out costs and fit. Doing your research may pay off because some places will give you land for free to homestead. However, the amount of property you actually need will surprise you since it can be done on very little land.
Something to consider at the same time that you think about how much land you need is how much house you need or want. Your housing choices range from building an inexpensive tiny house to fixing an old mobile home to building your dream house.
The most important thing is to map out everything, be sure to fit everything you want in your space, and remember to leave some room for you to grow!
(You will be amazed at how your interest level in homesteading and confidence grow together.)
Decide Your Level of Self-Sufficiency
This idea should be the most important aspect to consider before launching your homestead.
Do you want to be able to grow your own vegetables? What about raising your animals; is that your goal? Or is it your goal to live totally off the grid and be one hundred percent self-sufficient? Whatever the answer to these questions is, it is imperative to have an end game in mind before ‘taking the deep dive’ into homesteading on your own.
Once you’ve achieved your goals and decided that now is the time to act, go for it! But remember to start with the end in mind and always have a goal.
Craft What You Need
This tip can be discouraging, but don’t let it get you down.
You need functional skills as a homesteader, not perfect skills. Of course, it is important to develop skills like carpentry, but what you create needs to work, not be pretty, so don’t feel defeated if it looks worse than you imagined.
You’ll save a lot of time and money if you learn carpentry for yourself. Don’t forget you can upcycle lots of things as well. Using these two things to create your home will give it character.
Don’t Spontaneously Purchase Livestock
As a homesteader, you can choose to raise live animals, from cows to goats, to rabbits, to honeybees, and so many more! Do your research, and you will find that you can raise many different animals on your homestead!
Keeping animals as livestock is trial and error. You can have as many animals as you can sustain, but be sure to educate yourself before getting the animal on everything it needs to live successfully. For example, if you want a cow for milk, you have to buy a mama cow, a pregnant heifer, or a bull and heifer and get them to mate. This can be an expensive endeavor, so be cautious.
Develop Your Green Thumb
Starting a homestead most likely means you want to grow your own food and feed your family with little to no dependence on the outside world. This independence means you need to continually educate yourself on the best way to start, grow, and harvest your seeds. Be ready to conduct even more research on the different methods you’d like to implement.
There are lots of choices you can make to grow your garden. You can till your garden and then plant it, or you can go the no-till route where you pile compost and woodchips on top of your garden and let it degrade and then plant on top of that. You can be organic or use pesticides, the choice is yours.
Learn How to Preserve Food
Homesteading is often entered as a personal challenge. You are probably asking yourself, “Can I survive regardless of circumstances?” Whether you’re concerned about an impending apocalypse or just want to know if you can make it if finances get tight, some skills are necessary, like survival cooking, preserving, and growing your food. This makes it imperative to know how to process food safely.
Begin Your Homesteading Journey
Homesteading is a shift in thinking. You go from trying to acquire the finer things in life to making things as simple as possible.
Homesteading is now about doing more with less, not ‘Keeping up with the Joneses”. It is about surviving without modern conveniences and gaining knowledge that allows you to live. Of course, you will eventually need to invest in some new tools and equipment to get started, but doing so will give you the things you need to move off the grid and live sustainably quickly.
Homesteading is not a story with just one end. There are many ways to do it all, and you can do it!