The short answer is no. You do need some money but it might surprise you that you don’t need a ton of money to start a homestead. Ingenuity, hard work and a lot of sweat goes a long way. But at the end of the day, no, you can’t start a homestead with no money.
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When we started our homestead, we had about $2,000. Considering the amount of work we needed to do? It was not a lot of money and I was panicking. I thought we needed all the things to get everything done, RIGHT NOW. Thankfully, between working a ton of overtime we have been able to slowly grow our homestead over the last year. Keyword is slowly.
How much do you need?
I would say a good rule of thumb to moderately build your homestead is $1,000 per acre to start. That doesn’t mean if you don’t have that $1,000 you can’t buy a homestead. But $1,000 is a good way to get started on a fair amount of projects without freaking out when you have to go back to the hardware store for the 15x in two days.
Also, depending on the state of your homestead, you may need to do a lot of manual labor before you can even get to work on any big projects. When we first moved in, we had to pull tons of debris from the homestead. Fencing, barbed wire, posts, random pieces of wood with nails sticking out of them, etc. Even a burned out freezer was just hanging out.
Can You Homestead With No Money: Animals
It took us a month and a half before we brought goats to the homestead to help clear land. Even though you can get goats pretty cheap, it’s not ideal. Cheap goats tend to be problem goats. Even mix breed goats can be expensive. Then there’s medication, feed, hay, shelters, and basic supplies.
Before bringing home new animals, make sure that you have shelter already figured out. When we brought home Bella and V, we thought one of those plastic dog crates would be fine…. Well, we live in the rainiest parts of Georgia and every afternoon we have a pop up shower. Which is great for the garden, but not so great for goats. Depending on your weather, a good, cheap option is a dog igloo.
I will say is this, before you bring bigger livestock (goats, pigs, donkey, etc) to the homestead, make sure you have plenty of money set aside because your first fence probably sucks. Especially if you have never built fences for livestock. I’m not knocking your fence building skills, but those animals will find the weak points. We spent two hours chasing Bella between our property and our neighbors. So make sure you either have extra money on hand or someone who actually knows how to build livestock fencing.
Can You Homestead With No Money: Gardening
Gardening doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. In fact, you could have an amazing garden on a shoestring budget. You really just need time, dirt, seed and some manual labor.
This year we put in our kitchen garden beds. While I absolutely LOVE them and I’m so glad we did it, the reality is that it cost us around $2,000 between soil, materials, trellising, etc. And we’re not even done yet. We still have to add more trellising and a better fence.
Putting in gardens is going to be hard work. You can do a lot of work by hand instead of relying on a tractor. But I feel like it’s worth it to learn how to do it manually so you know how to till (if that’s what you’re doing), amend the beds, see the soil structure, etc. However, it would be really nice to have a tractor for pulling stumps, tilling the ground, and not spending two weeks working the soil.
Can You Homestead With No Money: Get Creative
If you can get creative with what is already on your property, you don’t need a ton of money to start a homestead. We had a ton of old material from various projects we did at our old house. We made sure to bring all of that with us. Since our new garage wasn’t big enough for the 2 sets of storage shelves we had in the old garage, we used the wood for something else.
Some of the debris on the property has yielded us a couple of goat shacks, a chicken coop, plenty of roosting bars, and much more all without spending a penny. And while no it’s not pretty, it works really well. The goat shack above has about $2 worth of screws invested in it. Since it has been converted into a kidding pen it has another $10 worth of hinges and wood.
There have also been instances of numerous projects that need to be done, and we only have $1,000 to all of them. Things get really creative then but when I look around at all the things we have gotten done around here, I’m pretty impressed.
Don’t be afraid of buying a property because you don’t have a ton of money to get started. It takes time to get a homestead up and running, not money. Hard work goes a lot further than a dollar so please don’t get hung up on that part.
It Doesn’t Have To Be Insta-Worthy
With the rise of homesteading, I see tons and tons of Instagram or Pinterest boards of these perfectly curated gardens, chicken coops, barns, homes, etc. Please, please, please don’t fall into that trap! Those of us that have been homesteading for more than 5 minutes fully understand the reality of homesteading.
You will wear yourself out trying to keep everything perfect.
There is chicken poop all over my deck because we allow our chickens to free range. Before we renovated the living room, we had goat vomit on the ceiling. I have a trash pile that is almost as wide as my driveway. I have flies in my kitchen no matter what I do to get rid of them.
Is my house dirty? No. It’s a working homestead. Syringes by the sink, coffee mugs on the deck, measuring tape on the picnic table, and boxes of garden harvest on every flat surface.
It’s this life, I love so much.
Sure, you could spend your entire day chasing after kids trying to keep those baseboards white….. Or you could enjoy the laughter as that child snuggles with a baby goat.
You could spend 2 hours every day cleaning out the barn or chicken coop. Or you could spend those same 2 hours playing in the garden.
You could spend your day pulling every weed from the garden. Or you could cover it with some mulch and plant new things.
It’s all a matter of perspective. I don’t need a perfectly clean house, coop/barn, or weed free garden. My happiness means more to me than an insta-worthy picture.