Many people across the country are concerned with the state of the grocery stores and supply chain. People who previously thought they could get anything they needed from a store, have quickly come to realize that is no longer the case. Shortages of basic necessities are becoming more common and leading many people to think about starting a homestead.
But how do you start a homestead? Most people don’t know where to start. Welcome to the club. If you were not born into the lifestyle, and many of us weren’t, starting a homestead can be a daunting task. The good news is when you dive into the world of homesteading you will realize that it looks very different to everyone.
I talked in another posts that homesteading is a spirit, not a set of hard fast rules. I know homesteaders that live in a subdivision on less than an acre and others that have hundreds of acres. Some people love keeping pigs and some that don’t. There are no rules to homesteading because it’s about independence, not acreage, livestock, and gardens.
You can read how we homestead on 5 acres here.
I suggest really thinking about the why. Why do you want to homestead? What does homesteading look like to you? Can you do the things that you think a homestead is? What are your current capabilities and disabilities? Can you overcome them?
Our dream of homesteading started as a cabin in the woods ten years ago. As the world around us has changed, so has our dream. I wanted a garden for fresh produce, now I want a garden that will fully sustain us. Livestock? Nah, I’m good with my dogs and cats. Until we saw what the price of meat was doing. Your dreams can evolve and devolve and that’s just fine.
Let’s Start With Animals
Every new homesteader thinks they have to have pigs, cows, chickens, and other livestock when they start homesteading. We almost fell into this trap and thankfully cooler heads prevailed before we dove in head first. However, we have had our share of Uh-Oh’s and it has been a very expensive lesson to learn the hard way. We weren’t ready for goats and it has been a very steep learning curve. But worth every penny and heartbreak. So start small and grow from there.
Chickens are a great way to have that homestead feel, without all the extra work of a homestead. They are relatively easy creatures that don’t require around the clock work. Our chickens are set it and forget it. Once they were out of the brooder and into their coop, they had feed in the morning and night, and free range during the day. They also had access to plenty of water throughout the property. They don’t require a ton of upkeep.
Raising dual purpose meat chickens is also a great way to reduce your dependence on the grocery store without breaking the bank. You can have a steady stream of fresh eggs from hens and butcher the roos for meat.
Meat rabbits are another good animal to have on the homestead. It allows you to close gaps in your food security and they don’t take up much space. Since it’s hard to automate their care, they are more work than chickens. But once you get used to what they need, it should only take about 10-20 minutes in the morning and evening. We will be adding them to the homestead this fall when its a little cooler. The biggest downside of rabbits is the cuteness factor. Many people will struggle to butcher than because they are really cute.
Goats are cool critters for the homestead. Unfortunately, I don’t recommend them for beginners. I say this as a beginner that had no clue what was happening and we have paid a hefty price for not knowing what I was doing. The value of learning about them mixed with the milk they give, possible meat, and income from breeding make them a good creature to have when starting a homestead.
What About Gardens?
You do not need a acre garden when you are starting out. Yes, I am currently reminding myself of this right now as I am looking at my garden space, which is almost a full acre. You don’t need a green houses or other large, expensive purchases. Start small. Get your tomatoes and peppers to make your salsa. Plant herbs and keep them alive. Make sure whatever you are planting you have a plan for. If you do not like cucumbers, do not plant 20 plants just because you think you should. Once you have a handle on what your family needs, what your land can produce, then you can start growing the size of your garden.
Learn how to preserve your garden so that you can enjoy your harvests well past summer. If you don’t know how to can, you can check out our canning page or go to YouTube, Pinterest, and Google for amazing resources. Also make sure that you have good storage for your jars of food. There is nothing worse than spending tons of time canning just to have your plastic shelves fail. If you don’t want to can and have some money to burn, invest in a freeze dryer.
Starting a homestead with no money is just not feasible. Whether you decide to make it your fulltime job or simply a way to live more independently, you need to make sure your finances are in order before you start. Our first year homesteading cost us over $20,000 between buying fencing, animals, lumber, and vet bills. So make sure you have the ability to cover those expenses.
When everything is all said and done, you have to remember that starting a homestead comes down to your goals and your ability. You are only limited by your resourcefulness and imagination. There are no rules to what you have to do to be a homesteader. You don’t have to have or know everything to start a homestead. A dream, drive, and determination are all you need to start a homestead. Don’t get hung up on the details.
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