If you are still on the fence before making the big life decision of going into homesteading, let us help you with these 7 questions new homesteaders should ask themeselves.
Homesteading is a lot like baking — there is no way to do it perfectly. Different people can follow directions exactly and there will always be a completely different result. Sometimes conditions aren’t right, sometimes you won’t have all of the ingredients you need and you improvise, sometimes you lose motivation and just do a half-assed job.
And all of this is completely and totally okay. Homesteading is impressively hard work, but this shouldn’t deter you from getting into it. The main thing to remember is that you have to completely forget about the concept of convenience. Being self sustainable is the complete opposite of ordering off of amazon and getting lunch from a drive-thru.
There is no rule book, and there is no right or wrong. When it comes to homesteading all there really is, is effort. It’s much better for everyone to try some level of homesteading practice, whether it be simply starting a compost bin and preserving summer fruits, all the way to raising cows and making your own cheese.
Today we’ve prepared a series of questions that every homesteader should ask themselves before getting started. This way, we aren’t telling you what to do (since you’re so unique and special and amazing), but you are asking yourself the right questions to get the results you’re looking for.
Getting Into Homesteading
As mentioned before, homesteading is going to look very different from homestead to homestead. The first goal is to create a deeper connection with your property, animals, your surroundings, and ultimately yourself. The second goal is to become as self-sufficient as is possible or comfortable for you.
Achieving self-sufficiency is not really a step by step process, but more of a series of questions you must ask yourself about your lifestyle.
1. Is homesteading right for you?
This is probably the most important question you can ask yourself before getting started. Write down a list of everything you think goes into homesteading, and then times that by 9. That is the amount of effort you’re going to be giving every day. If you really dislike getting dirty, chopping wood, getting stung, living without Cheezits, then maybe homesteading just isn’t for you. Forget about convenience, forget about ordering every meal to your door. Homesteading is about doing things yourself, and that requires work work work!
2. What can you do within your means?
This means evaluating your current financial situation. Taking out a loan to be able to create a homestead is the exact opposite of self-sufficiency. If you don’t have oodles of money to spare, that is absolutely no worries. Starting a compost requires no investment, and that is a great place to get started. Don’t make plans for things that are going to stretch the bank. That will end up creating unnecessary stress, and take away from the energy you would have given to your property.
3. Are you willing to give up aesthetics?
This is a big one for some people! When you’re an amateur, the likelihood of accomplishing something the first time and doing it beautifully is very unlikely. This whole process is about trial and error, and your first garden beds are probably going to be a disaster. Try really hard not to get discouraged, because failure and re-do’s are going to be a common theme in your life from now on.
4. Where do you live?
Evaluating your living situation is very important. No one is excluded from homesteading based on where they live, but the level to which you achieve self sufficiency is going to vary. For example, a person who lives in a condo building will not be able to live off of rain water, milk cows for their milk, and fetch some fresh eggs from the chicken coop every morning, but they are going to be able to compost, have a herb garden, and possibly tend to a small vegetable garden.
Evaluate your property. Do you have room for a beehive? What about a kennel for a couple of goats? What is the irrigation system like? Is there a barn? Do you have a root cellar? Do you want one?
Another important factor of where you live: are you intending to stay there? There isn’t much sense in investing ample money and time into a property you aren’t intending to stay at.
What’s the climate like? How many days of frost come a year? Does your property get more sun or shade?
5. What is your priority?
Obviously every aspect of homesteading isn’t going to come all at once, so prioritize what you want most, and what will be the most enjoyable to achieve. Are you super stoked on raising chickens? Are you more interested in foraging for your own natural dyes? Do you care more about planting pollinators or vegetables?
Starting small should also be a priority. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too many tasks at a time. Maybe even just dedicate your weekends to a certain homesteading activity. Ones that feels less like work and more like play, you’re probably ready to get into something bigger, or juggling more chores at a time.
Also understand what needs to come first! You wouldn’t start with raising a bee colony unless you had a well established pollinator bed. You wouldn’t cut off your water line if you hadn’t already established a rain water catch system, right?
6. What are your town regulations?
This is a big one! There are far more bylaws that vary from town to town than anyone knows how to navigate. It would be hugely disappointing to build a chicken coop and fill it with little clucking hens, only to have a city worker to come to your property and give you a huge fine.
7. What are your options?
There are absolutely endless ways to get into homesteading. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t decide what to do, here’s a list of fun chores, crafts, and activities to get you going. Starting out with the easy ones that anyone can accomplish, growing into the more time consuming and energy intensive tasks.
- establish your tool collection
- start a compost bin
- start a vermicompost
- learn how to do food preservation — canning, dehydrating, fermenting, curing, etc
- learn how to forage and get some plant identification guides
- get into making natural remedies
- making your own soaps and lotions
- build a work shed
- learn about symbiotic gardening practices
- start an herb garden (once you’ve got some nice compost ready)
- start a pollinator bed (marigolds are your best friend)
- plant a fruit and veggie garden
- plan an orchard
- build a greenhouse or hoop-house
- learn about rainwater catch systems
- install solar panels
- build a root cellar or large pantry (for cold storage)
- raise a bee colony
- think about making your own clothes — knitting, sewing, crochet, natural dyeing
- adopt some farm animals — chickens, goats, rabbits, pigs, cows, llamas, ducks
- organize a farm stand
- learn about anaerobic digesters
Just get started in any way that you can. There is really no end goal to homesteading. The goal is the journey, and that is going to vary in degrees of work, effort, enjoyability, results, and complications.
We homestead because we care about the earth, and we want to provide a haven for creatures in the area. This includes ourselves.
What books should I read about homesteading?
- The Backyard Homestead
- Country Living
- The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live it
- Back to Basics
- Mini Farming
- Essential Book of Homesteading
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
- Gaia’s Garden
Which documentaries are there about homesteading?
- Food Inc.
- Happy People
- The Biggest Little Farm
- GMO OMG
- Kiss The Ground
- The Organic Life
Is homesteading good for the environment?
Yes yes yes yes yes! If done on a larger scale, you are providing an ecosystem for a vast array of insects and animals. Especially creatures like bees, whose natural habitats are ever decreasing.
Another way in which it’s good for the environment is becoming less reliant on public utilities and industrial food production companies.
Why should I homestead?
It all depends on you, friend! If you’re willing to put the work in, it’s the best way to become reacquainted with nature. Being dependant on only yourself brings a unique sense of pride that can’t be achieved in many other aspects of societal existence.
Not to mention, if great numbers of people made the decision to start homesteading, this could potentially combat climate change and our ever-dwindling supply of natural resources.
Are there ways that homesteading is profitable?
That all really depends on how big your property and crops are. If you can yield enough produce to sell your goodies all year long, then there is a good chance. But this is a very unpredictable source of income, as there are so many variables that can determine the quality of your crop.
It may not be profitable, but you will save money on hydro, electricity, and grocery bills. Also, the likelihood of impulse buying and going out for meals will decrease.