What is Homesteading? A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Sufficient Living

Long before it was considered popular, homesteading was just what our ancestors did to survive. Every family had a garden, because it provided food for life.

Not until after the World Wars, did convenience foods become a thing. While it might have made life easier, it wasn’t a healthy change for society.

Homesteading is a lifestyle that involves living off the land and being self-sufficient.

It’s a way of life that has been around for centuries, but has gained popularity in recent years as people look for ways to live more sustainably and reduce their impact on the environment.

Covid was a reality check for a lot of us, and our dependence on the food system. We don’t need to have the variety available to us at the grocery store in troubling times, we need accessible food.

Homesteading involves many different activities, such as gardening, raising animals, preserving food, and making your own clothes and household items.

Most homesteaders don’t start with everything. Instead, they start practicing one skill. Often times this means keeping chickens or learning how to make sourdough. Next is adding meat birds or goats.

At its core, homesteading is about taking control of your life and living in a way that aligns with your values.

It’s about becoming more self-reliant and reducing your dependence on outside sources for food, energy, and other necessities.

I dislike the term self reliant, as I don’t believe we should be self sufficient. We want to be community sufficient, sharing skills around the table.

Homesteaders often choose to live in rural areas, where they can have more land and space to grow their own food and raise animals.

However, homesteading can also be done in urban or suburban areas, using techniques like container gardening and composting to grow food and reduce waste.

Make use of the space you have, even if its the windowsill of a small apartment.

Homesteading Basics

Defining Homesteading

Homesteading is a lifestyle that involves living self-sufficiently on a piece of land. It’s about producing your own food, energy, and other necessities.

Homesteaders often grow their own fruits and vegetables, raise livestock, and use alternative energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines.

On our homestead, we are still connected to the power grid, but recently added a woodstove to reduce our dependence on Natural Gas.

Homesteading is not just about living off the land, it’s also about being a part of a community that shares similar values. Homesteaders often participate in bartering and trading goods and services with their neighbors.

Connecting through social media is a popular way to connect with other local homesteaders in your area.

History and Evolution

Homesteading has a long history in the United States.. It began in the 1800s when the government offered free land to settlers willing to develop and farm it.

Homesteaders had to build a home, cultivate the land, and live on it for at least five years to claim ownership.

Today, homesteading has evolved into a lifestyle choice for people who want to live a simpler life and have a closer connection to the land. It no longer involves free land, unfortunately.

Modern homesteaders often use technology and modern techniques to make their lives easier, but the core values of self-reliance and community remain the same.

Homesteading is not for everyone. It is a lot of work, and it can get discouraging the amount of work is needed. Also, it costs a lot, and often there is not much of an income.

You might want to look towards making your hobby farm profitable to help with expenses.

Homesteading is a rewarding and fulfilling way of life, and is a great option for many.

Getting Started with Homesteading

If you’re interested in homesteading, the first step is to get started. Here are some tips to help you begin your homesteading journey.

Choosing a Location

When it comes to homesteading, location is key. You’ll want to choose a location that has good soil (although this can be worked with), access to water, and plenty of sunlight. Plus it needs to be affordable for you.

Look for a property that is large enough to accommodate your homesteading goals, whether that’s raising animals, growing crops, or both.

More acreage is not always better. You need to learn to utilize the land that you have instead of always wanting more. These Small Farm Business Ideas will help you turn a profit on your land.

Planning Your Homestead

Once you’ve chosen a location, it’s time to start planning your homestead. Make a list of your goals and prioritize them.

Do you want to focus on growing vegetables, raising animals, or both? How much space will you need for each activity? What equipment and supplies will you need?

Note: You need less equipment than you think.

Consider the climate of your location and the time of year.

Plan your planting and harvesting around the seasons. You may also want to consider building a greenhouse to extend your growing season.

Legal Considerations

Before you start homesteading, it’s important to consider the legal aspects. Check with your local government to see if there are any zoning laws or regulations that apply to homesteading.

You may need to obtain permits or licenses for certain activities, such as raising livestock or building structures. While this can be a pain, its necessary.

Homesteading Practices

Homesteading is a lot about becoming more self sufficient and independent.

In order to achieve this, there are a variety of practices that enable you to live off the land and reduce your reliance on outside resources. Here are some common homesteading practices:

Sustainable Agriculture

One of the main goals of homesteading is to grow your own food.

Homesteaders often use techniques like crop rotation, companion planting, and natural fertilizers to maintain healthy soil and reduce the need for synthetic chemicals.

They also prioritize heirloom and open-pollinated seeds to preserve genetic diversity. Not only is this more cost efficient in the long run (seed saving), it also ensures a more reliable food source.

Raising Livestock

Many homesteaders also raise their own livestock for meat, milk, and eggs. You might consider including animals like chickens, cows, pigs, and goats. It depends on your needs and your future goals.

You will need to remember to prioritize animal welfare and use sustainable practices like rotational grazing and natural feed to ensure healthy, happy animals. Animals also make great animal waste that will help build soil health and be used for composting and fertilizing their gardens.

Energy and Water Self-Sufficiency

Aim to reduce your reliance on outside resources for energy and water as much as possible.

This can include practices like installing solar panels or wind turbines, using rainwater harvesting systems, and implementing greywater recycling.

By generating your own energy and conserving water, you will be able to live more sustainably and reduce your need for outside sources.

Challenges and Solutions

Overcoming Common Obstacles

Homesteading can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its share of challenges. One of the most common obstacles homesteaders face is the lack of knowledge and experience.

If you are new to homesteading, you may find it overwhelming to keep up with the demands of maintaining a self-sufficient lifestyle.

However, with time and practice, you can gain the skills and knowledge necessary to overcome this challenge.

Another obstacle that homesteaders face is the lack of resources.

Homesteading requires a significant investment in terms of time, money, and effort.

may need to invest in equipment, tools, and supplies to get started.

With careful planning and budgeting, you can overcome this challenge and make the most of your resources.

While there has been a lot of innovation in the homesteading community, we need to remember that homesteading isn’t a new thing.

In fact, its a very very old thing that has not been passed down to the current generation, unfortunately.

There have been improvements made in energy resources that help todays homesteaders. And regenerative agriculture has been forefront in building back soil fertility lost due to careless actions.

Another innovation in homesteading is the use of permaculture practices.

Permaculture is a sustainable farming method that involves designing ecosystems that are self-sufficient and require minimal human intervention. This method can help homesteaders reduce their workload and increase their yield.

What is homesteading? It is a simple way of life that includes becoming more self and community sufficient while raising your own meat and growing your own food. It includes learning how to water bath can, freeze food, and dehydrate herbs.

By following these tips, you can get started on your homesteading journey with confidence. Remember to start small and build up gradually as you gain experience and confidence.