Many people are interested in homesteading as a lifestyle, and the simplicity and self-sufficiency of the lifestyle appeal to them. While the idea may be appealing, many such people who have no background that gives them a platform for this lifestyle, don’t know where to start. If this is you, then this article on how to start a small homestead for beginners should help change your desire into action!
The question of how to start a small homestead for beginners requires that you take a look at a few aspects of the lifestyle and then define your needs. What space do you have available for homesteading? What are your homesteading goals for now and the future? What is your budget for your homesteading endeavor? What are your physical capabilities or restrictions? Do you have a detailed plan of your goals and how you are going to achieve them?
Planning thoroughly and in a detailed manner is the key to the success of any project, homesteading, or otherwise! For some reason, the act of putting pen to paper helps to solidify an idea out of the ether and makes it become a tangible goal!
What is homesteading for you? Homesteading, for most people, is a radical lifestyle change that requires a solid, realistic plan. Depending on your goals, and how big you want to go with this, at some stage you will come to a crossroads which require total commitment, or a reversal of plan. Make sure this lifestyle is for you before you reach the point of no return, such as giving up other forms of income or moving to a remote area. I don’t mean to scare you out of your dream, but the outworking of your dream needs to be realistic and practical!
Let’s get started addressing some of these points so that your solid plan to start a small homestead can be formulated!
What Space Do You Have For Homesteading?
The beauty of homesteading is that it is a completely scalable activity. The scalability of homesteading allows you to practice homesteading to some degree irrespective of the space you have available. It is possible to even pursue the homesteading dream while living in an apartment!
The only homesteading activity that requires a bit of land is the keeping of livestock, but this can even be achieved if you have a small suburban plot of ground. Of course, you need to investigate the bylaws that apply to your location to figure out any restrictions on what livestock you may legally keep, but essentially, you can homestead anywhere!
How To Start Homesteading – Start Small!
Maybe, to get a bit of perspective, we should first define what is homesteading! Homesteading is not a concept; it is a lifestyle choice that includes concepts! The homesteading life means different things to different people, but at its essence, it includes the following.
- Living a healthier lifestyle.
- Living a lifestyle that has less of an impact on the environment.
- Choosing a more natural way of life.
- Growing your own food.
- Being less dependent on national and local services for your needs being self-sufficient.
A sudden change in lifestyle this huge can be a shock to some people who dive headlong into the lifestyle and are unprepared. It does take some adjustments and compromises, most of which in my opinion is well worth the effort.
The key to avoiding the shock to your lifestyle and your mental well-being is beginning homesteading on a small scale first. Before committing to the homesteading life completely, start with small adjustments to your lifestyle such as growing a food garden, cut out your use of plastic, fix things in your home rather than replace them.
Here are a few practical ideas about where to start if you are beginning homesteading.
- Start recycling. Reducing your waste footprint goes a long way to developing a homesteading mindset.
- Reuse and re-purpose rather than throw away. Once you start putting some thought into how items can be reused or re-purposed around your home, you will be surprised at what uses you can find for things you would normally discard!
- Learn as much as you can about homesteading. Attend relevant courses, talk to other homesteaders, join an online community, practice, and learn skills you will need.
- Learn the satisfying art of DIY. Make your own bread, build your own furniture, service your own car, build your own fence, pickle your own vegetables, or grow your own food.
When beginning homesteading, where to start is the biggest hurdle that most people face. Our advice is to start small, make small incremental changes to your lifestyle, learning skills as you go along. Using this tactic will give you a solid foundation to start your homesteading life and enable you to move on to bigger and changes to your lifestyle with confidence.
Beginning Homesteading – Grow With Confidence
Starting to make small changes in your lifestyle with the end goal being a homesteading life will give you the confidence that this is the lifestyle you want to pursue. You can then start taking on the bigger changes to making this lifestyle shift more permanent.
Some of the larger changes you can investigate going further down the path of how to start a small homestead can now include the following examples.
If you have your own suburban home, look into securing your resources to become more self-sufficient. Water is a major factor for a homesteader, you need water for daily life, for feeding you plants, and, potentially your livestock. Look into the possibility of rainwater harvesting and storage, starting small with storing enough water for your garden and slowly increasing the capacity to include your household needs. Install water-saving showerheads in your bathroom and recycle your greywater for use in the garden.
Electricity is another resource that you can secure for your homestead by employing new technology. Switch out your lightbulbs to the LED varieties to limit your power usage. Plan to replace your grid-tied electricity with solar energy, or other green energy systems that are appropriate for your area. This can be a rather costly project and involve some adjustments to your lifestyle, but it is worth it in the long run. After all, we are talking about radical lifestyle changes anyway!
If you live in an apartment a large scale water storage or alternative energy is not practical, you can start small scale homesteading by growing your own food. You may think you don’t have enough space for this activity, but we will explore this later in the article. You can however lower your energy use footprint by using energy-efficient appliances and installing LED lighting.
If you are currently constrained by living in an apartment or have limited outdoor space, you want to consider a long term plan towards getting your own piece of ground which opens up more homesteading options. While you can homestead to some degree in an apartment, you will not be able to reach the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency in this environment.
Beginning homesteading as a lifestyle takes funding one way or another. The changes you need to make to your lifestyle will require equipment, tools, land, buying seeds, buying in livestock, building an off grid home, and the list goes on. While you can do this bit by bit, it will nonetheless require funding.
If you plan to generate an income from your homestead, it will take time for your homestead to start producing excess. This is particularly the case since you will be relying on nature for food growing and livestock and we all know nature can’t be rushed!
Start A Homestead While Working A Job
One of the easiest ways to start homesteading is to start the process while working a normal day job. Homesteading in this way becomes your hobby, and you work towards building your homestead up to the point where it can replace the income from your day job.
Beginning homesteading in this manner gives you financial stability while your homestead is being established. The steady income also helps you to get all your gear in place, build your off grid cabin if necessary or get everything you need to start growing your own food.
Another way to achieve this goal, particularly if you are a couple, is that one person concentrates on establishing the homestead, while the other continues to work a secular job to bring in steady income. Many people go this route and it seems to be a strong method to get things going!
The ideal is if the person who is working can do so on the internet, thus still being around on the small homestead to help out, and avoiding a long commute!
Growing Food When Beginning Homesteading
When most people start a small homestead, growing their own food is where they usually start and focus their efforts. But how do you start your food garden, how do you utilize the space you have available and what do you start growing?
Obviously, having more space available is an advantage, but having limited outdoor space does not preclude you from growing healthy food for you and your family!
For those with limited space, such as living in an apartment a house without much ground, you may want to explore growing in tubs, vertical grow towers, and possibly even hydroponics. Growing in tubs and pots can provide more success than many people expect. It also allows you to grow food plants indoors, or on balconies and patios. Another advantage of growing in pots and tubs is that your plats are portable; you can move your plants around to warmer parts of your home as the seasons change. In this way, you can lengthen the growing season of many plants.
Vertical growing towers can be purchased from many plant nurseries or even made by yourself with a bit of DIY ingenuity! These systems allow you to grow many plants in as small a space as possible which is ideal for apartments or small homes. This growing method can even be useful for bigger homesteads to keep certain crops off the ground and away from pests.
Hydroponics is a great method to investigate for growing food on homesteads of any size due to the scalability of these systems. You can easily plan a system you can use indoors in an apartment or scale it up to an outdoor system that grows food on a commercial scale!
If you have a bit more land available, a good planting method to use is raised bed gardening for your veggies. Planting in raised beds gives you better control of the soil you are planting in and helps reduce pests and disease for your plants.
If you have good natural soil, of course, you can always plant directly onto the ground, but most homesteaders find one of the other methods more convenient due to the benefits they offer.
Small Homesteading For Beginners – How To Start Raising Livestock
Many people who start homesteading have very little, or no experience, raising livestock animals. This doesn’t have to be a disadvantage to the beginner homesteader; you can learn the necessary skills! Information on how to take care of your animals is easier to access than ever before, thanks to the internet, forums, and many other online sources. In these places, you can source information and modern methods on how to take care of your homestead livestock.
One thing that you will discover when you learn how to homestead is that you never stop learning! This is a good thing; you will constantly be finding better, quicker, more effective, and more efficient ways to do things. The key is to have a good attitude and always be teachable in your homesteading journey!
The easiest livestock to start with as a beginner to homesteading is poultry as they are manageable as smaller animals and easier to contain and take care of. Chickens are what most people start with as beginner homestead livestock, but you can also investigate keeping ducks, quail, or guinea fowl.
If you intend to raise chickens mostly for eggs, and you are in a residential area, you may want to consider only raising hens, and not have a rooster. Some by-laws in residential areas don’t allow for the keeping of a rooster due to the noise they make but allow hens to be kept. You will need to replace your laying hens once their production starts declining by buying fresh stock from a breeder.
Rabbits are another popular starter livestock animal for homesteading that is relatively easy to manage and maintain. They can also be kept in a relatively small area, similar to chickens.
Moving on to the bigger livestock, the next logical progression is goats or sheep. Most homesteaders prefer goats since they can be meat as well as milk producers. Pigs can also be classed in this next stage of livestock keeping, as they are also relatively easy to handle due to their sedentary lifestyle!
Getting into bigger livestock such as cattle is a big commitment and requires larger tracts of land to provide enough natural grazing for the animals. Not having enough grazing will result in your having to supplement the diet of the animals with food crops that you buy-in. This can become an expensive undertaking, costing more than the value the animal brings to the homestead!
In closing, how to start a small homestead for beginners may be a daunting prospect, but it is not as difficult or out of reach as you may imagine. Once you start on your homesteading journey, you will quickly become addicted to the lifestyle and be motivated to dig deeper!