6 Steps to Starting a Homestead
Written by Daleen Cowgar
The homesteading lifestyle can look daunting when you are first starting. Veteran homesteaders seem to have so many things they do and a thousand tips and tricks for dealing with issues you didn’t even know could be problems yet. Permaculture? Breech calf? Cheese-making? Woah!
However, starting your own path to homesteading doesn’t need to scare you or overwhelm you. By taking slow, small steps, you can ease your way into the homesteading world and become a pro at it.
Step 1: Why are you doing this?
Your reason for homesteading is important. Are you here to be more self-sufficient? Do you want to raise your own food? Do you want to be less wasteful? Do you want to be more environmentally friendly? Do you want to be prepared to support yourself and your family when SHTF?
If you are homesteading with a partner or family, you need to be sure that everyone is completely on board with homesteading and the goals for homesteading. It is okay for one person to be more excited about animals and the other more excited about the garden or a different aspect of homesteading, but you need to be on the same page as to what you are trying to accomplish. Otherwise, feelings will be hurt, goals will be divided, and it will be difficult to accomplish what you want.
Once you have your goals decided upon, write them down. This gives you something to motivate you, come back to, and measure your progress against.
Step 2: Simplify your life
Simplifying your life looks different for each person. We all have different types of clutter that we carry around with us. As you are thinking about what to clear from your life, remember that homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. What is in your way of self-sufficiency?
Some people may have literal clutter filling their homes that they need to clear out. Some people may need to cut extra things out of their schedule or budget. You may need to rethink the way you organize your days.
Once you find things that are keeping you from self-sufficiency, come up with solutions so that you continue down the homesteading path to your goal.
Step 3: Get out of debt
If you want to be self-sufficient, debt is not going to be your friend. Owing someone else money ensures that you will have to put paying them back at a higher priority than your own wishes or desires. For that reason, it’s important to cut your debt out as quickly as possible. There are times when debt is necessary, but when it is, it should be paid back as soon as it can be. If you need help getting out of debt, consider resources from financial experts like Dave Ramsey.
Step 4: Make homesteading friends
Let’s face it. Things are a lot more fun with friends. The same is true with homesteading too! When you are homesteading, it’s nice to have someone who understands what you are trying to do and who can talk farm animals, gardening, self-sufficiency, and homestead life with. An even bigger plus is that as a beginner when you need help, or are confused about a subject, or your chickens refuse to roost in the pen and instead sleep in the trees—well, you have someone you can go to for advice.
If you don’t know anyone near you who homesteads, you can look for homesteading groups on Facebook. There are some based on location and others that are open to everyone.
Step 5: Plan ahead
By planning ahead, I don’t mean have every aspect of your homesteading life plotted out to tiniest detail. I do mean knowing what steps you’ll have to take for your next project. If your first step for homesteading is planting a garden, you need to know:
● What you are planting?
● What type shade or light does it need?
● What resources do you need?
● When does it need to be planted?
● How do you plant it?
● What pests does it have and what can you do to protect it?
● Do you have a garden set up, and if so, is it ready for this crop?
Working ahead allows you to make sure that everything happens when it needs to happen. You don’t want to decide the day that it needs to be planted that you want to include that particular crop in your garden! That will lead to rushed or incorrect planting, a sub-par garden if you have to quickly make it, and a stressful experience. But by planning ahead, you know what needs to be done when and how to do it. This will lead to a much better experience for you!
Step 6: Start small
When you look at all that you may want to do with homesteading, you may feel like you are about to jump into the deep end of the pool before you’ve learned to swim. The better way to swim, however, is to start on the shallow side and work your way out. This is true of homesteading as well.
Now that you know 1) your motivation for homesteading, 2) your lifestyle is ready for homesteading to be introduced, and 3) you have plans for the first things you want to do, it is time to start.
Starting small means different things for different people. It may mean that you buy your first four chickens and get a taste of animal husbandry and free-range eggs. It may mean that you build and maintain a small raised-bed garden. Or, you might just plant a couple of tomato plants in a small plot next to your house. It might have nothing to do with animals or crops; it might be putting solar panels on your roof or saving some money to buy some land that you feel is more suited for your homesteading goals.
When you start homesteading, don’t be too eager to take too much on. Overwhelming yourself will only cause you to burn out and give up on your dream. Bite-sized chunks, on the other hand, will empower you to continue farther and farther into the homesteading lifestyle.