Nothing would define the 21st century better than instant gratification.
Think of anything you want to buy—clothes, food, or even animals—and there's no doubt you could get it with just a few clicks.
But, express shipping and other conveniences of modern life aren't always what they're cut out to be.
Eventually, you may feel like there's something missing from your life. Free time? A connection to nature? A sense of purpose? Whatever it is, homesteading may just be the solution you’re looking for.
In this article, we’ll tell you what homesteading is, why you should become a homesteader, and how you can start a homestead. Here are the things you need to know:
What Is Homesteading?
Different people have different ideas of what homesteading is. To give you a better understanding of the concept, we'll explain the whole picture as plainly as we can. Ready? Let’s get to it:
From a historical POV, homesteading began with the Homestead Act of 1862. Basically, this act involved handing over a piece of land (usually 160 acres) to any US citizen who was ready to live on and farm the land for a minimum of 5 years.
The Homestead Act enabled folks from all walks of life, including women, former slaves, and immigrants, to become landowners. Not bad for the 19th century, huh?
When we talk about homesteading in a more modern context, we’re talking about a simple, self-sufficient lifestyle with an overall aim to live off the land. It involves everything from growing your own produce and preserving food to raising animals and making your own clothing.
These days, being a homesteader doesn't mean being boxed under one specific category.
There are rural homesteaders with acres of land and urban homesteaders with limited space. Then, there are those who enjoy homesteading as a hobby and break from their typical 9 to 5 routine.
Last, but not least, are the hardcore homesteaders. You know the ones we're talking about—the folks who are all about living off-grid, being entirely self-sustaining, and staying as far away from civilization as possible (we don’t blame them).
If we were to put it in simpler terms, homesteading is essentially living the way your great great grandparents did. It's about baking an apple pie from the apples in your tree or making an omelet from the eggs your chickens hatched.
So, is the homesteader's life for you? Here's why you should consider adopting it:
Why Should You Become a Homesteader?
Is it worth it?
That's something many people ask about homesteading. Well, it's a good question. You see, homesteading is simple in theory…if it's all about simple living, then there should be nothing difficult about it, right?
But, to actually have this lifestyle? It's easier said than done. You have to consider the amount of effort you'll make to turn your home into a proper homestead.
Anyway, if you know what you're getting into, then yes, it sure is worth it.
These are just some of the benefits you can get out of homesteading:
Homesteaders aren’t as stressed as those unfortunate souls whose lives revolve around their corporate desk jobs.
There's just something about the look on a person's face when they grow their own food. It's the pride and a sense of accomplishment knowing that not many can do the same.
Being self-sufficient means serious fitness. Who needs a gym membership when you're constantly active?
If you want to take the leap and embrace the self-sufficient lifestyle, here’s how you can begin homesteading:
How Can You Get Started with Homesteading?
So, you want to become a homesteader but don't know where to start. That's not a problem. Even the most seasoned homesteaders had to begin somewhere.
To help you get started on that self-sustaining lifestyle, here are some basic tips:
Do Your Homework on Homestead Properties
Now, there are some things you've gotta think about before trying any homesteading project. Homestead properties are one of them.
Ask yourself what kind of property you’ll be dealing with.
- Will you stay put and operate a small homestead from your place in the suburbs?
- Do you want acreage?
- Are you looking for temporary space or something to call your forever home?
Size is also important when it comes to homestead properties…and other things.
A bigger property can mean more livestock, but it’s also harder to maintain. On the flip side, a smaller property is easier to handle. The problem? The stuff you can do on it is pretty limited. Imagine you, your family, and some cows and goats cramped in a small space. Trust us, it’s not very pleasant.
You need to spend time thinking about how you want your homestead to look and function. When coming up with your ideal layout, remember that you want it to be convenient and practical.
You’d want to make sure, for example, that your animals aren't staying directly next to the house (unless you can stomach the stench). But, you don't want them to be so far away that your legs get tired from all the walking, especially if you live somewhere with ice-cold winters.
Here’s a list of the other things you gotta consider:
- Price: Remember, simplicity's the key. And it's difficult to live simply when bill collectors like to pay you regular visits.
- Location: How far away from society do you want to be?
- Food: Will you be raising livestock, growing your own vegetables, or both?
- Water: Make sure your property is near a creek, has a well, or is hooked to city water. Otherwise, you'll need to add a water source yourself.
- Heating: How can you keep your family warm when the weather's cold?
- Power Generation: Do you want to be on or off the grid? You'll need to consider your power source.
- Road Access: Is it privately owned or state-maintained? If it's the former, it won't be cheap to maintain it.
- Internet: Even homesteaders need the internet for research, to stay in touch, and to make a living.
- Local Laws: Make sure you aren’t breaking any laws regarding livestock, noise, and the like.
- Taxes: Who wants a piece of property that will cost a fortune in taxes?
List Down Projects and Ideas
Just think about all the great things you'll gain from homesteading—self-sufficiency, inner peace, no more sky-high energy bills.
What a life, right?
Now that you've got your property sorted out, we reckon that there are so many ideas swirling in your mind about what you wanna do with it. Our advice would be to list these thoughts down as soon as you think of them.
Check these ideas out for inspiration:
- Plant an herb garden
- Learn how to knit, sew, or crochet
- Learn how to make staples like homemade sourdough, vegetable broth, and apple cider vinegar
- Start beekeeping
- Make a pantry or root cellar
- Plant all kinds of flowers
- Adopt goats, chickens, cows, pigs, sheep, or other animals
- Plant fruit trees
- Create a rainwater collection system
- Sell your homemade goods online or locally
- Host classes or workshops to share what you know with others
So, it's great that you've listed down the stuff you wanna try. But remember, you've gotta be realistic. Take a step back, pick out one or two of the projects you've listed, and forget the other stuff for a bit.
Sure, it's possible to do every single thing at once if you're the Energizer bunny on steroids with unlimited resources.
But, if you're a mere mortal like the rest of us, it's completely impractical and, not to mention, stressful. It'll take more than a year or even a couple of years to finish all the stuff on your list. So, where can you begin?
Your priorities are your own. When it comes to starting a homestead, it all boils down to what you wanna do and when you wanna do it.
You make the rules.
Are you going to be a hobby homesteader or do you want to homestead full time? Obviously, your answer will affect the projects you'll be concentrating on.
Also, certain projects will determine the timeline or order of other stuff. You can't, for example, ferment your harvests if you don't exactly have any plants to grow. It’s common sense.
Your circumstances can also dictate your priorities. You may just find yourself learning along the way, like helping your cow give birth or preserving your surplus of homegrown veggies.
You've identified your priorities. Now what? It's time to learn.
Learning by doing can be pretty effective, but it won't hurt to at least have a background on things you'd like to do before taking the plunge.
Pick up a few books on stuff you're interested in, like composting, beekeeping, raising chickens, or gardening. Check out videos on YouTube, too. You can even attend some classes if you’ve got the time. All these will help you become a successful homesteader.
We'd also like to get one thing straight—mistakes will happen. But there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, a good homesteader is someone who isn’t afraid to learn new things, even if they do make errors along the way.
This brings us to the next section, where we'll talk about a few homesteading skills you can learn. Let's dive right in:
What Are Some Homesteading Skills to Learn?
As a homesteader, your goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible. Learning some or all of these skills can help you get there. Now, it's normal not to master these skills right away. Just keep reading up on the topics, watching helpful videos, and practicing. You'll get there in no time.
Knowing how to plant your own fruits and veggies is a key skill for those who want the homesteader's life. By having a garden abundant with crops, you can keep your entire family healthy and fed.
Food Preservation and Storage
Who needs the grocery store when you know the art of canning, preserving, pickling, and drying? These skills help keep your pantry stocked and your family's bellies full.
This article talks about food preservation in further detail.
Make your dear grandma proud and get baking.
Baking your own bread, pastries, and desserts from scratch ain’t just fun. They're also healthier and better-tasting than the preservatives-laced goods you can find at Costco.
Besides, who can resist the smell of freshly baked bread wafting around the house? We sure can't.
Raising Livestock and Chickens
Call it what you want. Noise. Music to your ears, maybe. In any case, a homestead wouldn't be complete without animals.
Even the smallest homesteads can raise a few animals if you know how to pick 'em. You can raise chickens, cows, rabbits, goats, and other critters. These animals will give you something in return, like eggs, milk, and a whole lot of company.
Obviously, you can’t raise animals right away. Unless you’re Doctor Dolittle. We suggest researching which animals are right for you first before you make any decisions.
Sewing, crocheting, and quilting aren't just activities for your grandma. These skills can come in handy around your homestead. Plus, you can sell the stuff you make online or at craft fairs for extra cash.
Making Natural Remedies
Why rely on mass-produced medications when you can use what Mother Nature has to offer? You can cure a lot of common ailments with items you can get off the land. Full disclosure, though, we’re not doctors. So, please practice caution with natural remedies.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to starting a homestead.
It all depends on your wants, needs, and goals.
So, just because someone raises a few chickens from their home in the burbs doesn't mean they aren't as good as homesteaders with acres of property and dozens of animals.
No way. Let’s be clear—their version of homesteading is just as valid.
There’s no need for you to worry about not owning homestead properties that rival the size of 30 football fields. You can start with a small acreage or even with your suburban backyard. What's important is that you start, maintain, and enjoy your self-sufficient lifestyle.
Is there anything we forgot to talk about? Let us know. Please leave a comment down below.