For today’s Adventures in Homesteading, I’m beyond thrilled to have Laurie of Common Sense Homesteading guest post on what homesteading is all about, and how to get started. I found Laurie’s blog a few weeks ago through my Google search and was blown away by all Laurie does – farming, homeschooling, food preserving – but she puts it all in such an approachable, real way that I knew I wanted her to participate in this series. I’m so honored she took up my offer to share a guest post for this series! With that, here’s Laurie:
“Homesteading” might sound intimidating to some people. If fact, when I was talking to some friends about naming my blog, they suggested that I should call it “Common Sense Home” instead of “Common Sense Homesteading”, because “homesteading” just wasn’t appealing to people “like them” who lived in the city.
I’m here to tell you that anyone can homestead – no matter what your budget or where you live.
On my site, Common Sense Homesteading, I define homesteading as “Seeking greater self-reliance, with emphasis on home food production.” What’s not to like about being more self-reliant, providing your family with the best possible food and health, where you are, with what you have?
Step One – Develop a Plan
If you’d like step by step guidance to planning your homestead, you can take a look at Your Custom Homestead by Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead. Your Custom Homestead is an e-book that lays out a 21-day plan to turn your home into a homestead.
In the Brainstorming section, she discusses creating a homestead binder and mission statement, setting goals, prioritizing and organizing. In the Prep Work Section, she examines structuring your finances, researching, expanding your skill sets and learning about local resources. The “Let’s Do It!” section covers planning, cooking, planting, animals and food storage, as well as planning for rest.
If you’d like to take things in smaller bites, pick one area you’d like to make a change in and start there. For instance, if you wanted to improve the quality of food your family eats, you might try the following:
- Replace a single prepackaged food item with a homemade version of that item. Continue until most things you eat are homemade or better quality pre-made.
- Eat out less (or not at all).
- Source your ingredients closer to home, either via CSA, farmer’s market or growing your own.
- Add more veggies to your family’ meals. Ditch the highly processed snack foods.
- Buy in bulk and learn how to store foods.
- Experiment with fermenting.
- Try sprouting.
There are many steps you can take, you just need to choose what’s right for you and try it. In the post “Become More Self-Reliant – Start Here“, I share a long list of suggestions from our Facebook community about self-reliance. If you want to buy a book that covers the broadest amount of homesteading information in one place (that I have found), try The Encyclopedia of Country Living.
Step Two – Develop Your Skills
What do you enjoy? What are your skills? Pick one area at a time to focus on and build your skill set. This often works best if you can “piggyback” on skills you already have. For instance:
- If you like cooking, try gardening, to grow what you cook.
- If you enjoy gardening, try new recipes in cooking, or try to preserve some of your harvest through freezing, drying or canning.
- If you sew, consider leatherworking or making more of your own clothes.
- If you enjoy animals and the outdoors, maybe it’s time for a flock of laying hens or providing meat through hunting?
- Are you the handy type? How about learning small engine repair or tackling home improvement projects such as adding a root cellar?
- Have a green thumb? Learn about wildcrafting or herb gardening to provide natural remedies for your family.
No skills? Then you’ve got the most opportunities to learn something new. Everyone is different, and most of use can’t do everything for ourselves (or at least we wouldn’t want to tackle it all), so just take it slow and start from where you are now. Which leads us to step 3…
Step 3 – Build Your Community
I think most of us would be surprised by how many excellent resources are available in our areas. The Cooperative Extension Service Offices are located throughout the United States, and their job is to help food producers – including budding homesteaders.
Scope out your local farmers markets and CSAs. Check online or search the yellow pages for groups with related interests, such as gardening, cooking, sportsmen’s clubs, woodworking, etc. Check local home improvement stores or your local extension offices to see if they offer classes or workshops. Such classes are often free or available for only a nominal fee.
It’s wonderful to find people who share your interests, and great to source food from local people you trust. You just might make some new friends, or run into a homesteading blogger.
I hope this post inspires you to give homesteading a try, no matter where you are.
Laurie Neverman @ Common Sense Homesteading lives in rural northeast Wisconsin in an environmentally friendly/energy efficient/accessible/new fangled/old fashioned home with solar panels, a root cellar and an herbal apothecary. She is a wife and mother with a background in engineering and a passion for natural healing, homesteading and gardening. She and her husband, August, homeschool their two boys, August V and Duncan. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn and YourGardenShow.com.