How to Start a Homestead
When I first heard of homesteading I had no idea what it was or even where to start. The more research I did and pictures I saw (i’m a visual person) the more I fell in love with the idea of homesteading. Even before finding homesteading Jamie and I had a 5 year plan that moved us south to a piece of property that had a little more room and less neighbors. Homesteading fit into this who plan that we had. BUT… I wanted to start homesteading now!! So I did some more research on things that we could start now that wouldn’t cost too much money and we could even take them with us when we moved.
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Here are some things that you can do right now to start your homesteading journey!!
Where to Start
There are so many different projects that go along with homesteading. I suggest picking one project and sticking with it for the next month or so until you feel comfortable and you have a good foundation. For example, you might want to get a few chickens to provide your family with fresh eggs. You’ll need to research how to raise chickens, find out your local laws to make sure it’s legal, plan for a chicken coop and then buy/build one, and order baby chicks or buy older hens. This is will give you plenty to do over the next couple of months.
If this seems like too much then start smaller. Do you have a fireplace? Consider putting in an insert for wood heat. Or if you have a sunny windowsill grow some lettuce and herbs for salads and cooking. You can also put in some raised beds and plant a veggie garden. This does require some more research and some hard work.
Google, YouTube and Pinterest are going to become your best friend. Read everything you can about homesteading. I picked a few projects that I knew we wanted to pursue and started reading/researching about them, but you could all get books on everything homesteading and pick projects from there.
The Weekend Homesteader is a great place to begin, as it breaks down projects into tasks that can be completed in a weekend, and you’ll find projects that are a good fit if you are living in the suburbs.
You might like- Raising Chickens for Beginners, Composting for Beginners, and Start a Tomato Garden.
Also know that as a homesteader you will consistently be learning and researching. No one else grows carrots in the same soil in the place place on earth with the same climate and the same sun exposure as you. So when things don’t work out how you want them too you have to become a researcher and figure it out.
I love listening to audio books and podcast by other homesteaders while I am working in the garden or taking a walk around the property. They often share about their struggles on the homestead and give me different ideas of things to try.
Incidentally, did you know that starting a homesteading life as an adult can actually be good for the longevity of your brain? This lifestyle seriously gives your brain lots of things to mull over!
The winter is often slow on a homestead and a great time to get some reading in. My amazon cart is always full of different books that I want to read and winter is the time that I get to check a couple of them off my list.
No homestead is alike and no two homesteaders are a like. Find what works for you!! You don’t have to be good at everything. Pick a few things and become an expert on them and do them well. For me right now my focus is in Monarch Butterflies and growing/preserving tomatoes.
Once you’ve soaked up as much information as possible about how to homestead, you’ll be itching to start planning your homestead, but you’ve got to get your priorities in order. There are many facets to homesteading: growing and preserving your own food, raising animals (or not), and producing your own energy are among the bigger goals that most aspiring homesteaders have.
You’ll want to consider which of these is most important to you so you can focus your energies appropriately. For example, if energy sufficiency is at the top of your list, you might choose to convert a diesel car and begin running it on waste vegetable oil or outfit your suburban home with solar panels before even buying land. If you know your heart is with raising animals for meat and egg production, and you’re okay living on-grid for a few years while you do that, this information is going to dictate your next steps.
Plan the First Year
Planning your first year on your homestead, whether you’re doing that in place, in the suburbs, or city. If you can look ahead to a move, whether it’s a work in progress or still in fantasy land, that can help you move from dream to reality.
If you want to get overwhelmed, discouraged, and burned out, try turning your entire property into a garden in your first year! Gardens look simple and quaint on paper, but maintaining them can be hard work.
My philosophy: Start small and see how it goes. Plan out your projects but know that they might take longer and cost more than you initially thought. BE FLEXIBLE AND GIVE YOURSELF GRACE!! Once you get into this homestead lifestyle things become second nature and you could do them in your sleep.
Jamie and I sit down after Christmas each year and plan out our projects. We start by looking at how much money we have to invest in the homestead and then at our project list. From there we prioritize the projects. The list of projects stays in my planner and we add to it throughout the year so we don’t forget anything.
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Identify a Property
For many of us, finding that “place in the country” is a key part of homesteading. Buying land may have made it to the top of your list of priorities. If so, start looking. It can take time to find a good piece of land suitable for homesteading. Remember that you don’t need 40 acres, or even 10, to have a homestead. Even a small acreage such as 2 or 4 acres can provide for a family. However, if you want to use the land as a woodlot, 20 to 40 acres may be more appropriate.
When you are looking for land there are a couple of things that you want to consider when picking your perfect property for homesteading. What to Look for in a Homestead Property will tell you everything you need to consider when picking property for your homestead.
Find a Mentor or a Homestead Buddy
Homesteading and gardening will challenge you mentally and physically. A mentor can guide you through the ups and downs and successes and failures. Meanwhile, a buddy is essential for commiserating when the squirrels eat all your tomatoes.
I can’t tell you how many other homesteaders I have connected with on Instagram. We share our ups and downs on homesteading and even entrupriel life. If you haven’t already done so, start an instagram account follow me (@hummingbird.acres) and the accounts I follow. Then start posting your homesteading projects and connecting (commenting & messaging) with others. I would love to hear what project you are starting this year and what struggles you are trying to overcome.
A word of caution- Don’t compare yourself or your homestead to others. No two homesteads are the same just as no two homesteaders are the same, we each have different goals and priorities. Enjoy your journey and don’t compare your year one to someone else’s year ten!
Get Out of Debt and Start Saving
Living a self-sufficient lifestyle is only possible if debts are out of the picture and a bit of money is saved for emergencies. This ensures that you don’t have to worry when the going gets tough. Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover was a game changer in our life.
We would never have been able to save for our dream homestead if we hadn’t followed his plan to get out of debt. Be prepared: This is a long-term goal—no instant gratification here!
Jamie and I also worked when ever possible to earn some extra cash that we could tuck away. After closing the daycare, I started my photography business. If we had time each month I would take on a couple extra clients so that I could add that extra money to our “homestead” savings account. I also would babysit for friends here and there to add to our savings.
Starting a new homestead can seem overwhelming, but it can be done, even on a busy schedule with a tight budget. Start small, enjoy the learning process, and celebrate the small successes. You’ll have a productive homestead in no time!
Get Your Kids Involved
We strongly believe that it takes a family to run our homestead, and that includes the kids. When it comes to getting the kids involved the first step is educating them and giving them a why and something to be curious about. And since I love books this often starts with reading. Here are some of our favorite homestead”ish” books for your kiddos.