Having a homestead can provide a lot of economical benefits and environmentally friendly perks. Of course, you have to start somewhere. These are a few tips to help get your feet wet in the world of homesteading.
Count the Cost
You don’t want to have your dream of being ecologically independent crushed by running out of money in your budget before you’re able to have a profitable return. You need to know what you’re going to have to do to make your current living situation compatible with your goals. It’s a good idea to learn about the land you plan to work on. The quality of the soil can help or hinder your efforts. Water drainage and soil erosion are factors that can affect your strategy.
If your property already has dense foliage, you may consider using the trees as firewood, for building fences (to keep deer and other wildlife out of your garden), or even for building. Using the wood for heat can help out in the winter if you’re trying to minimize your presence on the grid, plus bundles of firewood can fetch a good price if you decide that you want to sell it locally.
Speaking of firewood, learning to swing an axe and other construction skills wouldn’t be the worst idea for starting a homestead. It’s possible to make a fence from scratch using wire. A thicker gauge like 12-14 is good unless you’re going for a chicken wire pattern. Some homesteaders have home made wooden boxes that are used as raised garden beds that you can fill with choice soil. These types of beds tend to cut down on weeds and are easier on the back.
No homestead would be complete without a garden. If you don’t have land to grow on, you can garden in containers quite effectively. You’d be amazed by how much you can grow on a balcony or patio!
Using cement bricks as a foundation for your enclosure can discourage pests and you can use sticks that are too small to use as firewood or lumber as posts. If you’re into reusing grey water you can install an irrigation system that will trickle downhill and cut back on what you spend watering your garden in dry spells.
Be sure to choose organic and heirloom seeds where possible. Look for local seed swapping groups! You may also want to include flowers that bees love, like Cosmos, Sunflowers, Lavender, Zinnias, and Calendula — just to name a few.
Don’t Be Afraid to Raising Chickens (or Other Animals!)
Raising chickens may feel like it’s out of your comfort zone but the payoff is worth it. The biggest hurdle is discouraging predators. This can be done by burying chicken wire below the ground and fanning it away from the chicken’s area. Before investing, or getting your hopes up, you will also want to make sure that keeping animals on your land is legal, since laws vary from state to state, city to city, and township to township.
Ask for Help (and Be Willing to Give It, Too)
It can be very helpful (and encouraging) to remember that you are not alone, especially when you feel overwhelmed. Talk to people around you that are trying to do the same thing — you may be pleasantly surprised! People that are reaching out to help the environment are usually willing to help you too. Many homesteaders even have a trade and barter system, so if you have a surplus, try offering it for something you need. If no one else is doing it locally, there are countless blogs and websites about strategies and personal experiences of successful homesteaders.