Thursday, September 29, 2022
Essential Oils

Homesteading 101: How I Began Homesteading

Homesteading is becoming more and more common these days, especially after all the lockdowns and crazy mandates from Covid-19. If you are looking into how to begin homesteading, you have come to the right place. I want to talk with you about how I began homesteading and the basics, so you too can get started no matter where you live.

Homesteading

What is homesteading? Many definitions go along with a homestead, but my favorite is any dwelling with its land and buildings where a family makes its home. On that homestead is where you will do your homesteading. Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency including but not limited to subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and the small-scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. In my opinion, anybody can homestead, but we are lucky enough to have 50 acres to grow on.

Getting Started

When thinking about homesteading, you need to decide where you would like to get started. Do you live in an apartment, do you live in a subdivision, do you have an acre or two, or are you ready to buy a farm in the country and jump in headfirst? No matter where you live, as long as you make it a home, you can homestead.

For those living in an apartment, do you have a balcony or a window that gets lots of sunlight? That is going to be your gold when wanting to start your homestead. You can easily start a small garden with pots and grow lots of different herbs and veggies. If you are lucky enough to have a larger balcony, you could even set up a small greenhouse. If this is not an option, you might want to look for a community garden in your area. Either way, you can start growing and preserving your own food with a little sunlight.

If you live in a subdivision or have access to several acres, I would figure out what kind of garden would work best for you. Raised beds are always a great option and you can make all kinds of sizes depending on your available space. If you are looking for something year-round, you could also look at setting up a greenhouse. There are so many options for a greenhouse, so don’t think that your amount of space is an issue.

Once you have your garden figured out, you will want to decide how you will start your plants. Do you want to grow from a seed or purchase plants at your local greenhouse/market? I have done both of these options and honestly, I love starting my own seeds. I will do a post soon on how to start your seeds off right and be prepared for Spring to plant them outside. Be sure to check back soon.

homesteading garden
Our garden from 2020

The Next Step

Yay! You have your garden figured out, and you are on your way to homegrown food and herbs. Let’s just pause for a minute and take some time to congratulate you on starting your homestead! You will be a pro before you know it.

Now that you have your crops growing, you need to think about the next steps. You will need to harvest your hard work and decide how you would like to preserve it. Depending on what you are growing will depend on how you preserve it. Herbs can be stored in many different ways. Check out this post on 9 ways you can preserve your herbs. Veggies and fruits also can be preserved to enjoy year-round. There are several ways you can preserve these as well, but some of my favorites are canning, freezing, and dehydrating.

canning tomatoes
Canning and preserving tomatoes

You should have plenty of time to do some research on how you want to preserve your crops while they are growing. Whatever method you use, I am sure you will enjoy those homegrown goodies all year long and know that they were grown and harvested with your own two hands.

How I Got Started

Growing up, we always had a garden and lots of animals. I was, in a way, blessed to grow up and experience both living in the city and country at the same time (parents were divorced…I do not recommend that experience though). This taught me early on that I belonged in the country, and I dreamed of owning my own farm someday.

While experiencing these different ways of living, I got to see the work put into having a garden and preserving food while also caring for animals and benefiting from their meat. I was lucky enough to marry a country boy, that grew up on a dairy farm, and just recently we moved to his childhood farm. We started with a small garden at our old house where we were able to grow tomatoes, peppers, green beans, sweet corn, and strawberries. Now it has turned into so much more.

Living on 50 acres with some family (my brother-in-law’s family joined us on the homestead) allows us to grow even more crops and expand our homesteading life. We now have a very large garden that is shared between families, and I preserve a lot of the food and store it for year-round use. We also raise our own steers for meat and recently brought back milking to the homestead. This provides us with our own milk, cream, butter, and buttermilk, and we also provide for local families through our Herdshare program.

herdshares for raw milk
Cara one of our Brown Swiss cow

Just recently we expanded again with the purchase of chickens. I am currently raising both meat and laying chicks to provide eggs and meat for our family and hopefully for local families soon as well. I will have my own breeding flock, so I will not need to depend on buying new chicks every year. This expansion has been in the works for years as we have talked about getting chickens but never had the chance to have a pasture-raised set up at our old home.

Our next project that will help expand our homestead will be a greenhouse. I currently start my seeds in the house and then move them out to the garden in late spring. Having a greenhouse will allow me the extra room to start seeds for other families and provide them with plants and also provide us a place to grow certain crops year-round.

I hope this has helped paint a picture of reality for you, that you too can have a homestead no matter where you live. With times changing and lots of people focusing on their health, I think the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn the art of growing your food and learning what the earth can provide for you. I wish you the best in your homesteading journey, and I hope to hear some amazing success stories!

homesteading

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