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The desire to start homesteading is so wonderful. At the same time it can be completely overwhelming. It can be hard to know when to start or even how to start. I have compiled a list of my top 9 tips for getting started homesteading. I hope they will help and encourage you on your way.
9 Tips to Start Homesteading:
1- Mindset and Heart
This may be the single most important element to get you started. It can be hard to look at your current circumstances and believe that you can do this homesteading thing.
Once you get your mind set to the fact that homesteading is what you make it, you can get going. Getting your heart and mind set to being as self sufficient as possible where you are is the key to starting your journey. The picture that is painted from that point is all your own to create.
Read more on The Heart of Homesteading
Read more on Getting Kids Excited About Homesteading
Watch my video on Cultivating the Heart of Homesteading in Kids
2-Utilizing Your Space to Grow Some of Your Own Food
Some of you may live in an apartment, some on a small city lot, some on a larger sub-urban lot, maybe you are fortunate enough to have acreage and just aren’t sure how to use it. Whatever space you have, use it to the best of your ability to make it produce for you and your family.
If you only have access to a balcony, grow some vegetables in pots, find out what herbs do well indoors. Shop at farmers markets and local farms. You can preserve the foods you purchase, you do not have to grow your own to preserve it. If you have access to more room, build raised beds or set up a garden plot. It is up to you to get creative with what you want to grow. The satisfaction of your own fresh vegetables is a wonderful feeling!
If you have enough acreage, you can raise chickens for eggs and meat, keep a goat or cow for milk, raise pigs, or even some beef. Add a beehive for your own honey. Grow what you like to eat. Use your space well to serve your needs.
Read more on Growing a Garden
Read more on Raising Pigs
Read more on Raising Chickens for Meat and Eggs
Read more on Raising Beef
Read more on Keeping a Family Cow
3-Find Out What Your Allowed to Do In Your Zoning
Most people will probably find themselves living where there are rules and regulations. Some people will not have to worry about this because they are not bound by any zoning laws. Once you find out what you are allowed to have on your lot, you can start getting ready for it.
Chickens are probably the first livestock animal to come to mind for most of us. A lot of cities will even allow you to keep a few backyard laying hens. If you are allowed to have bees, honey is a wonderful item to produce. You will have plenty for your family and could possibly generate a little income by selling some excess honey.
If you want to raise your own meat, you can raise rabbits almost anywhere. They do not take up much space at all and have a very quick return on investment. You may be able to have a goat for milk. If you have enough land, you may decide that you want to have a family milk cow or a beef cow.
You can design your own idea for your homestead. You may give one thing a go and decide it is just not for you. That is fine, just try another.
4- Don’t Try to Do It All At One Time
You may think that you can’t be a “real” homesteader if you don’t have a little of everything going on. This is a terrible thing to tell yourself and to believe. You needn’t and in my opinion shouldn’t try to do it all at one time.
Baby steps are very important in a homestead. We are not experts before getting real experience. You can read all of the information you want about a topic but until you get some real life experience with something you really aren’t prepared to be efficient or successful at it.
I suggest starting with one or two things and move forward as you get comfortable with each one. For us it started with a garden and moved to laying hens. We then went on and added meat birds. Next in line was raising pigs and getting a family milk cow. Last year we added turkeys and started a small beef herd. We would love to add bees to the mix. All in time.
Everything on the homestead seems to follow an ebb and flow and it all comes in due time. It is easy to get impatient and want things to move more quickly. We are in our fourth year of homesteading. It didn’t happen overnight and we still have many things we’d like to add. Patience is a virtue, my friend (especially on the homestead).
5-Be prepared for failures and successes
Not everything you do will be an immediate success. Our first couple of weeks with our pigs was quite the experience. You could definitely say that it went from a failure to a success……. with a whole lot of learning in between. You may find something that seems to be the bane of your existence. Persevere and keep trying until you get it. You may have a fantastic year with your garden and the following year be
a total flop not as great. That may or may not be the voice of experience…. but probably may.
Don’t allow yourself to get defeated, you will succeed and those moments of success are well worth the effort.
Read about our example of a failure turned to a success
6-Simplify Your Life and Minimize Your Belongings
I am all about simplifying life. I don’t like things to be a big deal or to have places to go and things to do outside of the home very often. It is very hard to be a successful homestead if you aren’t home a lot. Learn how to do all of your errands on one day. Buy your groceries and household items in bulk so you don’t have to make a lot of trips to the store.
You will also be prepared for bad weather and such things by doing this. Do not over commit yourself to other people or entities. You might have to learn to say no and understand that your responsibility lies first in taking care of your family and animals.
Minimize your “stuff”…….. I am still working on this. We live in a world where “stuff” is everywhere. We are constantly acquiring new “stuff” all of the time. Learning to downsize everything you have to just what you need and maybe a few wants will help your life run more smoothly. I am not advocating denying yourself things, just trying to keep it to a minimum to reduce clutter and time spent doing things that wouldn’t otherwise be necessary. When you have less stuff lying around, you have less mess….. less mess equals less cleaning. I am all about that.
7-Have the Right Equipment For the Task At Hand
We definitely use a lot of ingenuity into our homesteading projects. We try to do everything with the least amount of out of pocket expense as possible. Saving money and cutting corners when possible is a must on the homestead. That being said, you do need to invest in the proper equipment for the job at hand.
Just one example is that I own two mixers. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer and a BOSCH stand mixer. I make 4-6 loaves of bread at a time. That is just too much dough for my KitchenAid to handle. I would burn the motor out in it in no time. My BOSCH mixer is a workhorse with a heavy duty motor. I use it for all of my bread making and heavy mixing. I love my KitchenAid for other things like mixing cookie dough, making butter, brownies, cakes, and other things like that. They are both of value to me and I need to use the right one for the right job.
Other items you don’t want to skimp on are thinks like hand tools, power tools, chainsaws, other kitchen equipment, etc……
Now, I do not advocate going out and paying full price for these items. I was very fortunate to buy my BOSCH from a friend for a great price. The KitchenAid was a Christmas gift from my parents several years ago. You can usually find great deal on used items in the trading post, on Craigslist, or at yard sales.
You can also keep an eye out for super sales and closeout deals. It’s a good idea to keep a look out at stores like Habitat For Humanity, a friend of ours got a very nice generator new in box for an amazing price there.
Don’t rush to get an item if you do not have the money to pay for it. Just keep saving and keep watching for a great deal. It’ll come your way.
8- Get As Financially Free As Possible
Most people find themselves with many bills and living from paycheck to paycheck. If you are able to, minimize what you have and work towards paying off debts. Most of us will find that we will have a mortgage to pay for most of our lives but if we can eliminate all other debts it will make life much easier and more affordable.
Work towards paying off credit cards, auto loans, student loans, or any other bills you may have. Once that is done you can then start saving money for things like paying extra on your mortgage, an emergency fund, or money to purchase more expensive items for the homestead.
This can be a difficult process especially for a family living on one income. We are not there yet but we do believe it is very important in life to be debt free. We are hoping to pay our vehicle off this year and have more money to put towards a mortgage
if when we find our own place.
Learning different skills so that you can do things for yourself is an essential part of homesteading. This is cost effective and can be time saving as well. Your skill set can be anything from woodworking, metal working, sewing, needle crafts, building, welding, just about anything. Also learning how to fix things like vehicles, small engines, and other useful items saves money and can bring in extra income.
We like to try to learn to do a little of each so that we can at least make an attempt at fixing something before paying someone to do it for us. You also need skills like changing oil and other basic auto maintenance. Learning new skills never goes out of fashion and will always be a good plan.
Read about Building Livestock Fence
Read about Building a Milk Stanchion
I hope this list gives you a place to start. To help you mentally prepare to jump in with both feet. Taking life one day and one step at a time when starting to homestead makes life much easier. Did I leave anything out? What is your top tip to start homesteading?
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