Are you a beginner homesteader or someone who is considering getting into homesteading?
Well, congratulations and welcome aboard this amazing adventure. The homesteading community is one that is usually very friendly, helpful, and very informative.
So hopefully you’ll do some research and join us as we strive to lead healthier, self-sufficient, and more prepared lives.
But what goals should you set as a homesteader? That is an interesting question and one I’ve yet to answer…until now. So let me tell you about all the things I think each homesteader needs.
What Every Homestead Needs and Must Implement to Succeed
1. Growing Room
I realize not every homesteader lives in a home in an urban community, or even in a house on a farm. There are some people who try to be as self-sufficient as possible living in a small urban apartment, and I salute you for being so creative and using what you have available.
But not all of these tips will work for you. I have more tips here that are aimed for apartment homesteaders, though.
However, be sure to scroll through and see what tips you can utilize to be as self-sufficient as possible in your situation. In this article, I am planning on discussing full self-sufficiency for people who have even a small portion of land.
So my first tip for people who have around a ½ acre to an acre of land or more is to find a way to grow a garden. This can be a raised garden bed or a huge garden that takes up quite a bit of space.
But be sure to check with any HOA regulations before tiling up too much dirt. Depending on where you live, you may have to be creative by even planting a container garden.
Yet, it is feasible. If you can grow your own vegetables, then you can preserve them and you are now supplying your own food.
2. Cluck, Cluck, Cluck
Chickens are amazing livestock. The reason is, as long as you don’t live anywhere that prevents you from having them, you can raise a few hens which require very little space. You can even build them a fashionable coop like you’ll find here.
But once you begin to raise chickens, you now have a protein source in two ways. You can have eggs and raise your own meat.
Yet, the best part is that chickens require little room and little resources to feed them.
So when your garden is in full bloom, you can feed them with it. You can allow the chickens to free range in your yard for other food, and you can raise mealworms for their protein.
As you can tell, they are a great way to be self-sustained even when you have little room. Plus, they don’t require a lot to keep them fed if you want to feed them from your land as well.
3. The Herbs
You may not realize what a benefit it is to have your own fresh herbs that you can depend on returning year after year, but it is amazing.
So I always recommend people plant plenty of perennial herbs around their property. They are gorgeous, and you can use them to make your own teas, spices, or to cook with.
But if you are unsure which herbs are perennials, here is a great resource to help you know what to plant. You’ll be so glad you did!
4. Sweet Trees
When we first began homesteading it was sort of an accident. My husband and I were flat broke due to unforeseen obstacles in life. We moved to a home that was basically condemned, but a family member put up the cash for us to be able to purchase it.
Then they added $7,000 to our mortgage that we paid off over the next 5 years so we could make the place livable until we could remodel it debt free. The house was about 1800 square feet on 2 acres of land, and it took us almost the whole 5 years to remodel it inside and out.
But during this process, we realized we had 3 small mouths to feed, a house to remodel, and we had no idea how we were ever going to do both.
So I was watching a TV show one day about homesteaders in Alaska. They built a greenhouse to grow food all winter, and it sparked an idea. Why couldn’t we build a greenhouse to grow food in the winter and raise a garden during the warm seasons?
Then it all took off. We began with gardening and canning.
Next, we built a chicken coop and planted as many perennial herbs and plants than we could.
But then I learned about dwarf fruit trees. They didn’t take up a ton of space, but they’d give my family fruit in about 3-5 years if I planted them now.
So I went to my local nursery at the end of the season when all of the fruit trees were marked down and stocked up. I planted two rows of fruit trees in my front yard, so my family could have a variety of peaches, apples, cherries, and plums.
Which is why I’m telling you, if you have any sort of land at all, then buy a dwarf fruit tree. Even if you can’t have a huge variety, you can still plant a dwarf tree or two, so you know you have a fruit source on your own.
5. Big Bushes
The next thing I think a homestead needs are berry bushes. They are another fruit variety that you can plant once, and they sort of take-off and do their own thing from there.
So if you can shop your local nursery at the end of the season, then you might find some great deals on berry bushes.
Then you just plant them, water them, and keep them weeded. They take care of themselves from there.
Plus, when they begin to produce, you’ll be able to make your own jams, jellies, or just freeze them to enjoy all year long as a treat or in your cereal.
Basically, it is a simple and pretty way (for those that must contend with HOAs) to have a viable food source on your property.
6. Get Heated
When we first moved into our original homestead, the place had a fireplace. I absolutely hated it! It was a prefab fireplace that wasn’t big enough to heat the house. It was really more for decoration than anything.
But we tried to use it, and every time we did, the wood would roll out on the floor. This happened one day when our pipes were frozen.
Thankfully, I had some stored water to put out the coals where the wood had rolled into the floor even though I had the doors cracked on the fireplace.
Well, that was it for me. I didn’t want an astronomical electric bill from heating only with HVAC, and I didn’t want my house to burn down either.
So my husband, being the genius he is, suggested we get a wood stove. I was raised in the city so I didn’t really know what that was.
But when he explained and researched how to install it, I knew I was sold. Really, the fact that thing had a door on it is what sold me.
Then when it was installed and warmed our house so wonderfully, I knew I would never live where I didn’t have one again. Seriously, we just moved to our larger homestead about 5 months ago, and we are already gearing up to install a woodstove. I love them that much!
So whichever alternate heat source you choose, just know that if you live on a homestead it is always a good idea to have an alternate heat source. That way if the power goes out, you still have a way to cook and stay warm, if needed.
Which means you are self-sufficient in one more way.
Did you know that you can harvest water even if you don’t have a water source on your property?
Well, you can. Here is a resource about all of the ways you can harvest rainwater on your property. Some are actually very easily hidden (again, if you must contend with HOA).
But some are pretty simple and don’t look half bad either.
So we began harvesting water in barrels that were connected to gutters that we put on our buildings. That way we always had water with which to take care of our animals.
Plus, if you were in a survival situation, you always have water that you can boil and treat so you could consume it as well if you really had to. I understand this isn’t what anybody is hankering to do, but you just need to know you have it in the event you really needed it.
Also, if you moved to a homestead that has no water source, then you might be interested in these solutions so you can still be self-sufficient and thrive right where you are.
When we lived in our old house, we found ourselves without power for a few days. It became interesting really quickly because we were still new to the homesteading idea, and we had never had to function without power.
Well, the reality is, in some situations, you may find yourself needing to function without power. We have some tips here to help you along.
But you may either want to do some serious research and planning for what you’d do if you had to go without electricity.
Or you may want to make arrangements for solar panels, so you are off-grid and don’t have to worry about if the grid goes down.
Either way, if you have the knowledge and a plan that is ready to put into motion, then you are self-sufficient in yet another way.
9. Friendly Goats
Goats are great little animals. You can get dwarf variations that don’t grow to be as big as typical goats so you can have them in smaller areas.
But we decided to get a few goats for our back lot when we really wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Now, you don’t have to get goats to be self-sufficient, but our family likes dairy so I wanted a way to be able to provide that for them right on our own property.
So we invested in one billy goat and 4 nanny goats of a small variety. This has worked well for us, even on a smaller property. I know a lot of people separate their billy from their nanny goats. I have never had to do this. He is a big baby, a great father, and doesn’t mess with their quality of milk.
But just be advised you might need to have separate arrangements if you keep a billy because not all are so gentle as our billy is.
Even now that we have acres of pasture, he still stays with our girls. I prefer it because he is such a great protector of them.
Again, this is just one more way to be self-sufficient if you like dairy.
10. Room to Graze
If you are going to raise dairy animals, such as cattle or goats, then you’ll want to have room to graze. This could mean, on a small homestead, an area where you can raise your own hay. On a larger homestead, this could mean pasture for them so they always have food.
Obviously, you can purchase hay from others to sustain your goats.
But if you are looking to be solely self-sufficient, then you’ll want to figure out a way to raise what they need right on your own property.
Which is why I recommend this as something to consider for a fully self-sufficient homestead.
11. Wash Day Plans
If you want to be self-sufficient, then you need to think about how you would wash your clothes if you had no power.
So this means that you’ll want to consider putting up a clothesline. You can use it now to help cut back on your power usage.
But you’ll also need a way to wash your clothes by hand if you ever needed to. I’ll be honest, I gave up my washer and dryer for a year in an effort to save money and gain knowledge.
As soon as my year was up, I went right back to my washer and dryer. The reason is, washing your clothes by hand is hard work…especially when you are washing for 5 people.
However, I am fully set-up to be able to wash my clothes by hand if I need to. This means I have a clothesline to hang my clothes to dry. I have a wringer to wring the water from my clothes.
Then I also have a bucket and the knowledge of making my own laundry soap, so I can handle the task if I need to.
But I do still love to line dry some of my clothes, though. This is why I recommend that everyone have the knowledge and the necessary items to be able to perform this task in the event that you really need to. Knowing really is half the battle of being a self-sufficient person.
12. Root Cellar
If you are going to grow and preserve your own food, then you really need to consider putting a root cellar on your homestead.
However, don’t think this has to be anything super fancy. You can make a root cellar as elaborate as digging a traditional hole into a hill and making a concrete type room under the earth.
Or you can do something as simple as digging a hole and putting trash cans in the ground.
Either way, root cellars are something that every homestead needs in order to better preserve what you grow.
13. Keepin’ Cool
When I was going through the process of giving up my washer and dryer, it made me curious. If I had to give up other modern conveniences would I know what to do?
So I asked myself the following questions:
- Could I cook without a stove?
- Could I do dishes with a washer?
- Could I keep my food cold without a fridge?
Basically, I answered yes with no problem to the first two. The last one caught me off guard a little. I wasn’t sure how to live without refrigeration.
So what did I do? I learned. I did a lot of research and compiled some ideas from all over the internet to put together a game plan for what I would do if I ever needed to create refrigeration off the grid. This is what I came up with.
Now, I am fully prepared to store what needs to be kept cool if I ever had to without power. This is something I recommend for every homesteader to be able to do.
The finishing touch for a homestead is to be able to create your own sweetener. Some people may have the room to raise cane sugar.
But when I began, I was not one of those people.
So I began brainstorming how I could grow something sweet with very little space. Then it hit me, why not raise bees?
Now, we do raise bees and lots of them. My husband enjoys the hobby so much that we have enough honey to last a lifetime, I do believe.
Either way, if you are looking for a hobby that you might enjoy, and you are also looking for a great way to raise your own sweetener, then this could be a beneficial and compact way of doing so.
So a quick recap-
If you follow each of these steps you should:
- Be able to produce your own vegetables
- Have eggs and a meat source
- Enjoy herbs for teas, spices, and cooking
- Be able to produce your own fruit
- Be able to produce your own berries, too
- Have heat that is not from the grid
- Store water or have access to a water source
- Know how you are going to function without power
- Have goats for dairy
- Pasture to feed the said goats (if you wish to produce dairy)
- Know how to wash your clothes by hand and have a clothesline
- Be able to store food in a root cellar
- Be able to store food without refrigeration
- Be able to produce your own natural sweetener
Wow, that is a lot, but thankfully most of this can be performed on a small amount of land. Especially, if you decide to do without the goats.
So being self-sufficient isn’t too far out of reach for really anyone, I don’t think. It is all about creativity.
However, I find these goals important to reach, because for myself they are the goals I look to obtain no matter what size the homestead so I know myself and my family is always taken care of.
But how about you? Do you have any other goals or ‘must haves’ that homesteaders must really strive for to make sure that their survival needs are met? Are they obtainable for most any homesteader?
We love hearing from you so please leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.
On – 07 Nov, 2017 By Jennifer