Homesteading is about a lifestyle of self-sufficiency — from farm to table cooking to making homemade personal care products and perhaps making a profit out of it. It’s about taking advantage of the land you’re living in by growing your plants or taking care of your livestock.
Nothing is more deeply gratifying than living a simple, healthy, and sustainable lifestyle. You may ask yourself, “How do I start? Where do I start? How can I do it safely?”
Before you get overwhelmed with the information, here’s what you need to know on how to start homesteading safely. But first…
What Exactly Is Homesteading?
Homesteading varies from person to person, but the major goal is to “live off the land you have.” After all, everything you need is provided by mother nature, if you only knew the right steps.
Here are some homesteading projects and goals involved:
- Building a greenhouse to grow your own food for a vegetable or herb garden
- Plant fruit-bearing trees
- Start a beehive to make organic honey
- Fermenting and dehydrating pickles
- Set up a rainwater collection system
- Raise farm animals like chickens, pigs, goats, cows, and turkeys
- Make organic personal care products like soaps, oils, and lotions
- Make your own clothing through sewing, knitting, crocheting, or using natural dyes
- Making homemade staples like apple cider vinegar, sourdough, seasonings, kombucha, vegetable broth, and many more
- Make your own compost with wood ash, kitchen scraps, or grass clippings
These days, homesteading varies from person to person. Some are hardcore homesteaders that succeed in living a fully self-sufficient, off-the-grid, zero waste, and a near prepper life.
On the other hand, hobby homesteaders do gardening or raising animals, making it their favorite pastime. Then, there are some in-between.
So whichever homesteading type of lifestyle you think is right up your alley, know how to get started with these tips on how to safely start homesteading.
Tips on How to Safely Start Homesteading
If you’re starting to transition into a sustainable homesteading life or are not sure where to start, there are three words you should keep in mind — patience, determination, and eagerness to learn.
Homesteading is an ongoing process, so just take one step at a time and follow these tips:
Evaluate Your Location, Lifestyle, Job, and Space
Every property comes with its unique strengths and weaknesses. So before you start homesteading, evaluate the property you’re planning to work with. If you plan to homestead a piece of the property, make sure it’s wide enough to grow all the vegetables you need and to raise livestock.
Also, whether it’s in the urban or semi-rural environment, always consider your city’s laws or town regulations. There may be nosy neighbors who might complain about the chicken poop smell or noisy pig sounds. Also, consider your location; find out if it’s too far from your job, the nearest hospital or your children’s school (if ever you intend to live there).
Furthermore, if you primarily plan to grow crops, make sure the soil is ideal for planting, like loam. The type of soil is often referred to as black dirt or topsoil. If the soil is very sandy or rocky, it might not be ideal for growing crops; thus, the property may not be ideal for homesteading.
Observe the Property You’re Working With
Before you make any final decision on the property you’re about to work with, make some observations. Spend some time wandering the space — evaluate where the sun shines the most, how the sun’s path changes with the season, where you plan to put the animals so you won’t bear with the stink, where to set up the irrigation system, or where to keep the compost area.
As you do your initial observation, come up with a purposeful layout. You can come up with a permaculture design that you think is most conventional and functional. If you’re not quite sure how to start with this, ask advice from seasoned homesteaders to get you started.
Make a SMART Plan
You can’t start a project without making definite plans, so the next step you need to do is to make a list of projects and ideas. It should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Framed). You wouldn’t want to fantasize about homesteading and frustrate yourself in the end, right? So make sure you’re doing a SMART project.
Consider several factors you need to invest in like your skills, tools, time, money, and other resources. If you’re hyped with ideas, jot it down in a notebook, focus on the start-up, and prioritize your list. Along with that, consider researching how to grow plants and raise livestock properly.
If you have a naturally green thumb, gardening may not be too hard for you. However, if that’s not the case, enrolling yourself in a gardening class or finding a mentor would help. Additionally, if raising animals is not your forte, do your research.
What do chickens eat? How can you protect them from predators? How can you protect your animals from extreme weather? If you’re not sure what the answers to these questions are, you need to make a SMART plan.
Learn How to Raise Livestock
Speaking of animals, it’s important to remember that it’s your responsibility to do your research and educate yourself on how to take care of them. Initially, you’ll be investing money when buying livestock; then, you’ll be investing your time in raising them. You do not want your money to go to waste if you’re unable to raise the livestock safely. Remember that each farm animal has unique needs.
Also, you need to provide clean, secure, and predator-proof housing for your animals. In addition, you have to consider their dietary needs, care routines, waste management, and ranging space required. Also, make sure to comply with your town’s regulations.
For instance, in Eatontown, New Jersey, a resident is only allowed to keep five chickens in their backyard of at least a land area of 5,000 square feet. Any additional chicken in excess of five requires an additional 1,000 square feet of land space. Take note of these things before raising livestock or choosing a property for homesteading.
Building a Greenhouse
Building your own greenhouse offers flexibility. It’s also a more affordable option than buying one. If you can build your own greenhouse, you can choose any size and shape that fits your property well. By building a greenhouse, you’re protecting your plant from pests, extreme temperature, moisture, and rainfall.
With a greenhouse in your homesteading project, you can plant almost any plant from fruits, vegetables, herbs, and many more. You can grow cucumber, spinach, eggplant, squash, peaches, strawberries, and many more in a greenhouse. With this technique, you can ensure your plants are safe all year round.
Start Your Homesteading Journey
Are you ready to get started on your homesteading journey? With hard work, patience, eagerness, and lots of love for what you do, you’ll get there!
Living a sustainable lifestyle through homesteading is not that hard, as long as you follow the tips mentioned above; eating from farm to table is achievable in no time. You’ll then realize that the land you live off is the only thing you need to live a sustainable life.