Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
Homesteading has become the ultimate sign of preparedness. Many serious preppers have chosen to go the way of homesteading, whether that meant buying some land out in the country and building a true homesteading or turning their suburban home into a smaller version of that. In either case, it’s all about self-sufficiency, which is what prepping is all about.
In case you’re one of those who never tried this, homesteading is a lot of work. It’s essentially the life of a farmer, back before using power equipment to do everything. You’ve got to have a little Jack-of-all-trades in you and a healthy willingness to make mistakes.
But if you’ve got that, homesteading can be very rewarding. In the event of a major disaster, bringing about the destruction of society or even a temporary disruption, people who are homesteading will suffer less of an impact than those who aren’t.
Just think about it for a moment. In the spring of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic really hit, stores were empty, people were social distancing and everyone was trying to figure out what to do about masks. That is, everyone but those who were living on homesteads.
It didn’t matter to them if there was food in the grocery stores, as they grew their own. Nor were they all that concerned about social distancing or masks. Their life was socially distanced from others and why would they want masks anyway? Oh, that the rest of us could have had things so good.
Granted, those same benefits might not be there for any and every disaster. Natural disasters can wreak havoc on any homestead; perhaps even more so, as there is more to damage. But for TEOTWAWKI events, there’s no better way to survive.
Of course, homesteading would be a huge change for most of us, as we live a much different lifestyle. Modern society really doesn’t prepare us for living on a homestead, so if we’re even thinking about it, we need to develop some new habits. It’s a good idea to start on that, long before looking for a piece of property to make into a homestead. What sorts of habits would those be?
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Wake Up Early
The best time of the day to get outdoor chores done is early in the morning, before the day becomes hot. Getting up early gives you a head start on the day, while also allowing you to do those hot chores, before you have to get sweaty to do them. should a problem occur during the day, you’ll have all day to solve it.
Being organized can help you be more efficient. Most of us spend a lot of time looking for things, just because they aren’t where they need to be. Being organized with where we keep things can go a long way towards saving us time. Of course, that means you have to train your family to put things away as well, or you’ll be forever picking up after them.
But there’s more to being organized that physical organization; you need to organize your time and the way that you do things too. Thomas Jefferson was the first or at least the most famous person to start with scientific farming.
He kept detailed records of everything he did on his estate, what was planted, how it was planted, how it was cared for and what sort of harvest he had. That information allowed him to improve his techniques from year to year, increasing his harvest.
We could all use to take a page from Mr. Jefferson’s book, keeping track of what we do on our homestead and what results that gives us. That may seem like nothing more than extra work; but it’s the type of work that can save us time and effort in the long run.
Anyone who is going to be growing their own food needs to compost. Plants need nutrition, just as we do and they take that nutrition out of the ground, depleting the soil. Fertilizers add nutrients back in, but fertilizers cost money.
It makes no sense to throw away the nutrients that are in parts of the plants we don’t use, just because we don’t use them. Composting makes it possible to return those nutrients to the soil.
Don’t Waste Anything
It’s amazing how many useful things we just throw away, without thinking about it. My grandmother never threw away a plastic container for margarine, cool whip or anything else. She washed them out, saved them and used them for her “Tupperware.” She had a number of other habits like this, all of which saved her money and incidentally were good for the environment too.
Want to start a homestead but not sure how?
Click Here to get a FREE book, "How To Homestead No Matter Where You Live."
How much do you spend a year on paper towels? Now, how much clothing do you throw away? Once upon a time, before people started buying all those paper towels, they cut up old clothes and made rags out of the. Those rags are still better than the paper towels, as well as being reusable.
We need to take a good look at the old ways of doing things. They didn’t have a trash problem back in the Old West. That’s partially because there wasn’t all the packaging there is today; but it was also because people found ways of reusing and repurposing things. A good homestead needs that same attitude of reusing and repurposing, anything and everything possible.
Speaking of reusing and repurposing, we don’t have to limit that to things we might otherwise throw away. Other people are constantly throwing away things; many of which can be repurposed and reused. We need to develop the habit of keeping our eyes open, especially when we drive by trash cans that are put out on the street for collection day.
I used to know a guy who made his living by scavenging things from the garbage, taking it home and repairing it. He had a little shop at the flea market where he would sell his finds. If he could get enough out of other people’s trash to make a living, imagine what we can find, which will help us on our homesteads.
Developing a Routine for Chores
Trying to get everything done on the homestead can be a big challenge. But that challenge becomes much more manageable when you develop a routine for the chores.
One big advantage of this is that you waste less time trying to figure out what comes next and where the stuff is that you need for doing it. Having to look for the things you need can make chores take 30 percent more time.
Store Things Where You Use Them
Speaking of finding things, it’s a whole lot easier to find things, when you store then either right by or at least near where you’re going to use them. Keep animal feed close to their pens and things you use for weeding close to the garden.
This might mean having to buy more than one of a tool, so that you can have it in each location you need it; but that’s a cheap investment for most things, especially when you consider what your time is worth.
Reduce Energy Usage
While there’s no requirement to go off-grid if you’re going to homestead, many people do. But even if you don’t, saving energy usage will save money, as energy costs are one of the larger bills for most families. Reducing energy can also help with your survival planning and execution, as you won’t need to generate as much energy, should the grid go down.
You’re going to use a lot of water on your homestead; much more than typical families need. On top of that, you’re likely to be getting that water from your own well or from rainwater capture. Water conservation will likely be necessary, especially when you consider how much drought the country has been facing.
You can make a big difference in your water consumption by utilizing greywater capture, collecting the water from your sinks, tubs, showers and washing machine for use elsewhere. All of this water can be used for cleaning, as well as watering your trees and garden, saving you extensively in the long run.
Repair Things Yourself
Things break and getting them fixed can be expensive, especially considering that there are fewer and fewer repair shops that we can take things to. We live in a disposable society, where things are thrown away and replaced; but that can be more expensive than fixing it, especially if you can fix it yourself.
With the information available on the internet, there’s little you can’t repair if you’re handy with tools and have the tools to work with.
Join a Homesteading Group
A local homesteading group is a great way to learn more about homesteading, including what works well in your area (and what doesn’t). Experienced homesteaders can provide a wealth of information to help you, teaching you the lessons they had to learn the hard way.
On top of that, being part of such a group provides considerable encouragement, which we all need from time to time.
Preserve Your Own Food
If you’re going to be growing your own food, then it only makes sense to preserve your own food too, canning, dehydrating and curing fruits, vegetables and meats. Food preservation has become more common in prepper circles, with more and more preppers growing at least some of their own food.
For those who are homesteading and growing even more food, preserving that food will help you to make best use of it, rather than having some of it go bad.
Cooking from Scratch
Most people today never truly learned to cook. Oh, they can follow a recipe or work from a boxed meal; but to take raw ingredients, and prepare and season them, so as to make an enjoyable meal is rapidly becoming a lost art. For those of us who are growing our own food, it only makes sense to cook from scratch, using fresh ingredients, rather than working from something boxed.
Cooking is chemistry, so requires understanding the purpose of each ingredient and how they mix together. It also requires a good understanding of herbs and spices, so that you can recognize which ones go with what you’re cooking, how they will taste together and what you need to use to produce the taste you’re looking for. It takes time to learn this, but it’s worth the effort.
Although many people think of baking as a part of cooking, it’s really a separate skill. Many great cooks can’t bake. But if you’re living out in the country on a homestead, it might not make sense to drive into town, just because you need a loaf of bread.
Besides being able to bake your family better bread and other baked goods than what you can get a the grocery store, baking is a good survival skill. Roughly 50% of our diets is made of carbohydrates and if anything, that will go up in survival. Where are those carbs going to come from? Likely from baked goods. Those don’t store well, so we’re going to have to be ready to bake them as we need them.
Want to start a homestead but not sure how?
Click Here to get a FREE book, "How To Homestead No Matter Where You Live."
Self-sufficiency is all about doing things for yourself, rather than expecting others to do them for you. Ultimately, that’s usually considerably cheaper than paying someone else to do everything. But it’s also an important part of homesteading.
By and large, most homesteaders are pretty good carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics and all around do-it-yourselfers, much like most farmers are. With the availability of teaching videos online, there’s no reason why any of us can’t learn how to make things for ourselves.
Develop a Positive Attitude
If you’re going to homestead, you’re going to need a positive mental attitude. Things will go wrong, there’s no doubt about that. The question will end up being… how are you going to react to those things?
If you’re going to react with a negative attitude, then it will ultimately defeat you; but if you’re going to react with a positive attitude, then you’ll find that you can learn from everything that goes wrong, turning the bad into good and improving your homestead.
Keep a Weather Eye
The weather plays an important part of homesteading, much more than working in an office all day. Most of us just put up with the weather; but a homesteader needs to learn how to use the weather to their advantage. Rain is an important factor for growing anything; but it’s also important to know when you’re going to have clear skies, so that you can get other things done as well.
Building a homestead takes time and effort. It’s not the type of thing you can do overnight or even in one year. To be successful, you’re going to want to establish one area of your homestead and get it working well, before adding the next area.
Trying to do too much at once will overload you, preventing you from spending the time necessary on each stage of your homestead’s growth. Besides that, each new thing you do will require learning new skills, which takes time.
You’re going to need to establish a series of goals for your homestead, both the larger goals of adding each new area (vegetable garden, chickens, fruit trees, etc.) and intermediate goals within those areas.
For example, you probably don’t want to start out growing a 400 square foot vegetable garden. While that is possible, you’ll be better off starting off smaller and then adding another section to it every year. That will help reduce your loss and you will find that you can much more easily handle the incremental increases in the amount of work that your garden requires.
Simplify Your Life
Finally, always keep your eyes open for ways to simplify your life. The decision to homestead is a major one, as it takes a huge commitment. That means simplifying other areas of your life, so that you have time for the homestead.
Look for things that are taking time and energy, but aren’t providing any real benefit for your family. How many of those do you really need in your life? What would happen if you removed them? How much better off would your homestead be, if you didn’t have those taking up your time and energy?
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