15 Ways to Start Your Own Homestead Journey Right Now, No Matter Where You Live!
I've written before about how I have wanted a "homestead" for such a very, very long time--almost all of my life! Actually, if I go ALL the way back to when I was a little girl, looking at the mountains in front of our house at sunset, I remember thinking that I wanted to be hermit one day and live in the mountains away from people, grow my own food, and have my own animals. I was a strange little child! :-)
I always thought you needed a place in the country with land to be able to have a homestead. When I think back on my own life, I now realize that is SO far from the truth. I think I have been homesteading for decades---only just not calling it that!
So you can begin your own homestead journey RIGHT NOW! Even if you are living in an apartment in the middle of a bustling city, you can do it! Even if you have a suburban home with a little yard, an HOA, and neighbors all around you (like me)---you can start now! Homesteading is about working toward being self-sufficient, learning new and useful skills, and having as little an impact on our earth as you can.
I've put together a simple list with some links that might help you get started too!
I'll be writing additional and longer articles on each of these skills as I continue my own journey and keep learning myself. I look forward to sharing and learning with you!
Here's my short list of things you can do RIGHT NOW to start your own Homesteading Journey!
1. Learn About Herbs and Make Your Own Plant Medicine
When I first began experimenting with plant medicine, it was due to the essential oil craze that began about ten years or so ago. Then, I ventured into learning more about using plants as medicine! Once I began experimenting with both the essential oils AND the herbal remedies such as tinctures, teas, salves, and more---well, I realized they absolutely worked for us! Honestly, they work better than OTC and prescription drugs (in my opinion.)
To start your herbal journey, here are some resources to get your started!
** The first book I ever read about using and growing plants for medicine is by Rosemary Gladstar. She has lived an esteemed life as an herbalist, and I have to say that just about everything I have tried that originates from her has worked!
In this book, Rosemary discusses many common herbs you can grow yourself, as well as several remedies using each herb. It's written in friendly, natural language, and her tips are so very valuable. If you are new to herbs as medicine or just want to find out more about the basics of plant medicine, you NEED this book:
Here are two of my favorite sources to help you begin or further your herbal education:
** Learning Herbs is a website devoted to educating people about herbs. It's seriously a wonderful resource, and I use it often! I am not an affiliate---I just find this site excellent.
** The New England Academy of Herbal Medicine is absolutely hands down an excellent way to learn about herbs! Their courses are comprehensive, interesting, easy to access, and fun! Click the link below or see my sidebar to see their many learning options.
If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, my favorite book is by Valerie Ann Worwood:
Ms. Worwood has written quite a few valuable books on essential oils, and she is indeed an expert. In the book above, she provides clear information on how essential oils affect the body, how to use them, as well as TONS of remedies you can try out!
2. Practice Gardening...In and Out
When I was living in an apartment years ago, I used to grow herbs on my windowsill. I learned that some plants can grow with very little space and little light. And some plants, like basil, sweet potatoes, and lettuce can be grown in water! Amazing!
Then I moved into a home with an actual yard! It was certainly your typical suburban yard...grass, a couple of trees, and the requisite edging with beds of shrubs along the outside. So, I decided I'd plant my edible plants among the landscape shrubs. I'm so glad I experimented with this! I ended up with all kinds of wonderful food, and the yard looked amazing!
Here are some ways to learn about gardening, whether you only have a small window sill or a large area to work with:
A quick note about Amy Stross's book below. This is the book I am currently reading, as I get ready to completely redo our front yard this spring! Amy writes in a very clear manner and covers about everything you need to know to learn permaculture techniques and apply them to your own yard! This is a real winner!
There are so very many more resources about gardening out there! I began this article thinking it would be a quick little introduction to how you can begin homesteading right now. Just two sections in, I'm realizing I will eventually have to write separately about each because there is just so much to say! And so little space....and time! :-) So from this point on, I'm just going to try my best to leave my most favorite one or two choices---please just know that there is a LOT more out there!
3. Preserve Your Own Food
Hands down, this is the one thing that you can start doing no matter where you live! Live in the city? Track down the farmers markets or join a CSA to always have seasonal veggies on hand. You will find that you have too many to use at one time because veggies often become ripe all at once.
You can learn how to can, ferment, and dehydrate your own vegetables and fruits! It's seriously a rewarding experience! Not only is it rewarding, but there is just something so fulfilling about seeing your pantry or store room lined with all those beautiful Mason jars full of food YOU preserved!
If you are new to fermentation, this book by Wardeh Harmon is excellent. She also has a great website with tons of information. I love this book, though, and even though I now have been fermenting for years, I still use it often! Her recipes really work, too!
And for dehydrating foods....this is the BEST book! I use the Excalibur dehydrator, and even though we are on solar power, have never once had an issue. Dehydrating food is fun!
4. Start Making Your Own Body Care and Beauty Products
Oh, this is seriously one of the most enjoyable things to do on your journey to becoming self-reliant! Besides the fact that you KNOW what you are using on your body and can alleviate hundreds of potential toxins, the creative process can be whatever you make it! I love making my own body butters, salves, toothpaste, deodorant, facial serums, cleansers, and more!
And guess what?! All you really need to make your own DIY products is a kitchen!
5. Get Fit and Eat Clean
Eating good food right now and paying attention to your health is something we should all be doing all the time anyway. However, if you are dreaming about having a homestead one day, taking great care of your fitness and learning to eat whole foods will make the transition even easier!
6. Learn About Livestock, and Think About Which Animals You Might be Comfortable With
You might be living in an area where you can't really have animals---like an apartment. But you can start thinking about those animals you'd like to have and begin learning about them!
When we bought this 3/4 acre property, I hadn't done this---taken care of the learning ahead part, that is. On the spur of the moment, we decided to start with goats...and then those goats had more goats...and all of a sudden we realized we were in over our heads with all those goats! So, we had to let the goats go for the time being. If we had done our learning first, instead of trying to learn as we went in this area, we would have been a lot better off!
Even on a small property, you can keep chickens (I LOVE ours), turkeys, ducks, and rabbits and more.
7. Raise Some Animals for Meat....You Can Do this Even in an Urban Area
This section is closely related to the above section. If you are going to keep goats, rabbits, etc., you might just want to consider learning to harvest your own meat. There are a lot of tutorials on this, and I highly recommend starting right now.... Learning, that is. The Elliot Homestead is an excellent resource for learning to harvest your own meat. Most state regulations are fine with a family harvesting meat for themselves, but you probably should check just in case if you are interested in this.
8. Learn About and Raise Bees
This is still on my goal list! I've purchased several books, and every time I'm in Cal-Ranch, I'm checking out the beekeeping supplies. Now, it's just a matter of talking the hubs into building me a hive! :-) And ordering the bees of course! This will be one of those things I'll be learning as we do!
9. Learn How to Make Things....Candles, Beer, Wine, Soap, Sewing Items
Gosh, there are so many things you can learn to make...right now! Last year, I tried my hand at making beer and candles. I'm still figuring these out! And that's ok! The learning process is exciting, and every failure brings me closer to a great outcome!
I've been making soap for years, but at first, it was....well, interesting, I guess you could say. :-) I had a couple of near tragedies, but now my bars are exceptional and in great demand, too! Here are links to a couple of tutorials I've created: Learn to make my favorite hot process soap! The other complete tutorial is included with my Lavender-Rosemary-Vanilla recipe. I have several other soaping recipes on my site, but these two are very detailed in case you are new to making hot process soap.
Here is a link to one of my favorite soap-making authors. Jan Berry is the person who accidentally inspired me to begin learning to make soap when I stumbled across her website, www.NerdyFarmWife.com.
And here is another favorite book:
One area I am very weak in is sewing. I keep meaning to learn to sew. If you can sew, you own a great homestead skill, in my opinion!
10. Practice Living Frugally and Doing Without
Yes, this one is kind of hard. Especially if you live in a city where you can just run to the store any old time for just about anything....you really need to consider what life might be like if you no longer have that ability for some reason.
When we moved out of Las Vegas an hour away, to an area with NO stores or gas stations or anything at all, well, I learned really fast that making do is a great homestead skill to develop. The other homestead skill that goes along with this is being prepared. We all should be prepared for potential emergencies in the areas of medical, food, light, water, etc.
11. Begin Your Food Storage
OK---The last just flows right into this one! :-) If you are becoming a homesteader, you will want to give some consideration to keeping stores of food. Not only does this allow you to eat whole foods even when out of season, but it is also a great way to prepare.
When I started reading homestead blogs a couple of years ago, I quickly realized that homesteading and preparedness go hand in hand.
12. Have a Get Home Bag or Bug Out Bag Ready to Go in Your Vehicle
This is related to being prepared, which is a skill many homesteaders try to develop. I went years before I finally got my "get home" bag together. This is similar to a bug out bag, except that it is meant to help you deal with emergencies if you are away from home and potentially need to hoof it. It's not as extensive as a bug out bag, but it could save you and your kids' lives if something happens. You can read my article about getting my own get home bag together for more information.
13. Learn to Grind Your Own Flour and Bake Your Own Bread
Here is another one I am still working on! I look at all these delicious bread recipes, and I just know I need to do more in this regard. I used to make bread with a bread machine, and those are just wonderful, I have to say. But I really want to start making my own bread from scratch, and no machine.
I'll get there, one day.
14. Learn How to Use Essential Oils Effectively and Practice Daily
Essential Oils were mentioned briefly above in the Plant Medicine section. But I think another mention should be made here. Besides using essential oils for medicinal reasons, they can be used in your body care products, to affect and improve your mood, and to cleanse the environment in your home or office, among other things. If you are interested in learning more about using essential oils, keep following me, because I will be writing a lot more about these valuable little brown bottles as time goes on---or you can visit this site to find out more about using essential oils.
15. Buy a Gun and Learn How to Use It
Arguably, this skill is one some people might think doesn't have to be in a homesteading article or be a necessary skill to develop. But my opinion is that owning a gun and knowing how to use it are requirements if you live in an area where you may encounter predators. Gee! That could be just about any where!
I come from a long line of hunters and self-sufficient types, anyway, so having guns around has never bothered me. My husband now hunts as well. I choose not to hunt, although I have no problem cooking it up! However, you just never know when you might need to protect yourself or your family, and I'd rather be prepared now than be a victim later.
Enjoy Living and Learning Your Homestead Journey
The best advice I can give you as you begin your journey to self-reliance (or like me, are continuing it----cause it never ends!), is to have fun! Enjoy the successes, the failures, and the pride you earn when you accomplish new things! :-)
Hugs & Self-Reliance!
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and in no manner anywhere on this website is there any promise, implied or implicitly stated, of cure, treatment, diagnosis, or prevention of any health issue. Please seek medical attention from your medical practitioner.