Homesteading secrets – revealed. Yeah that’s kind of clickbaity. But after discussions with many friends who are getting ready to start homesteading I thought I’d share what I wish I knew before getting started. Keep in mind when I decided to homestead, I knew nothing about anything self sufficiency related. Well maybe I could cook. That’s about it.
How Much Land Do You Really Need
Probably the most important of homesteading secrets is considering how much land you really need. Many people can produce all they require to survive on a 1/4 acre. Yep, a normal neighborhood house plot. I had a neighbor at one time that grew enough food for their family of six to sustain themselves most of the year. They only had to purchase meat and grain products.
That said it probably depends on what your intent is for homesteading. If you are looking to raise animals for food you will need a larger section of land. And if you live in a northern area you will need enough land to grow feed for those animals to get them through the winter. Buying hay gets expensive fast.
What Are Your Homesteading Goals?
One of the main things, in my opinion, to think about before you get excited about homesteading would be what are your goals? Are you simply trying to raise a family and provide for yourselves? Or is your intent to start a ranch or farm? Next you need to think about sustainability. How much are you paying for the property? Can you make enough off of it for it to pay for itself? Will you have to work in addition to all of the chores a family homestead requires?
A little family farm that can be maintained by one person with a few kids to help out during the busy seasons can produce an abundance of food for that family with some to share. In the old days women had milk & egg money. It came from the “extra”. In my opinion starting small and growing presents a good option for people new to the whole idea of creating a homestead.
Homesteading Secrets Check List
What Types of Skills Do You Need
Before I made it to my first homestead, I bought a book called Country Living by Carla Emery. There is a test at the back of the book. I can clearly remember going through that test before I moved to the country and thinking it was way over my head. Between then and now, I’ve learned so much.
Here is a short list:
- Animal husbandry
- Food preservation
- Plant recognition skills
And this is just the beginning.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. I twill not lead you astray.” – Rumi
What types of animals will you raise with your homesteading family?
Chickens and rabbits are some of the first animals people add to their homestead. They are easy to care for, take up relatively little space and can provide meat & eggs for the whole family. (unless you keep kosher, then rabbits are out). Keeping chickens even in an urban environment provides an easy and nutritious supply of eggs. Don’t be duped into thinking they will be cheaper than store bought, however. If you are purchasing commercial feed, homestead chickens can get pricey. Here is an article about keeping chickens to get you started. Beginners Guide To Raising Chickens – Everything You Need To Know.
Next up – goats. I love goats. They are fun to watch, especially in the spring when there are babies dancing around. Goats milk tastes great, and is a much better alternative to cows milk for young people. Well everyone really. The fat globules are much smaller and easier to digest. With goats milk your creative options open. Things like goats milk soap, goat cheese, even whey good bread become viable. Use the sale of these products to off set the cost of keeping goats.
Gardening and bees – a perfect homesteading combination. A homesteaders life wouldn’t be complete without these magnificent creatures. Of course we all know bees main job is pollination. And, honey production. Can’t forget that! It isn’t all that hard to get started with beekeeping – just don’t make the mistakes I did in the beginning. You can read all about that here.
Raising cows for meat – not for the feint of heart. Over the years I’ve raised several steers, which are castrated male cows. Usually we get them as babies. Offspring from the dairy farms around here. Cows need space and a lot of food. Keeping them on less than a couple acres is pricey. Though I can say that if raised in a loving environment, the quality of the meat is so much better. And though you might not think so, it is easy to eat your own cows – even if you’ve named them.
Best States For Homesteading
In my opinion, the best state for homesteading is the one you are living in. Start where you are. Or as the old saying goes, “Bloom where you’re planted”. I’ve know lots of people who move every couple years who loved to homestead. The problem is that unless you stay rooted and focus on the property, you will find yourself constantly starting over. This makes it difficult to get anything established.
Homeschooling and homesteading go hand in hand. Or so it seems to me. Different states have different homeschooling requirements. During my homeschooling years The Homeschool Legal Defense Fund provided the best information to keep me on the right side of the law.
“Education does not mean teaching people what they do not know. It means teaching them to behave as they do not behave.” – Abraham Lincoln
I once read a quote – also attributed to Lincoln, that said everything a person needs to know they can learn in about two years. That little bit of information gave me so much freedom when it come to educating my children. They all graduated from high school at 16 and lead productive lives.
Homesteading off Grid
Probably my greatest dream revolves around homesteading off grid. Living a life not dependent on “the man” for anything. And to that end my husband and I are building a truck camper. We love to travel, we don’t need much. When you don’t need much, you can be happy in the moment.
I think homesteading off grid is more about minimalism than grandiose systems. Yes, you can drill wells, put up solar or wind turbines. But all of those things are expensive! Why not catch water, learn to filter it with natural things, eat closer to the earth (less meat), and go to be when the sun goes down? Burn wood you collect.
Twenty years have flown by since I first started my homesteading adventure. As a young girl, growing up in cities around the world I often daydreamed of homesteading. Living on a piece of land, raising chickens and goats. And gardening. Because of tragedies, some of the greatest blessings I’ve know happened.
Probably the single greatest piece of advice I can give you about homesteading:
Don’t be afraid of change, be open to learning new skills from where ever the information comes, live in the moment, love hard, laugh a lot.