Beginner Homesteading

What is Homesteading

When you hear the word homesteading, you might imagine the original pioneers in the 1800's or earlier making their mark on the new land. Well, that is true. But we are in a new century and that term has taken on a different meaning over the last few decades.

Beginning in the late fifties and early sixties a move toward a simplier life led many to abandon the city life and get back to their roots. Many people jumped all in. They sold all they had, bought some property, either built a home or fixed up the one on the land, and tried to work the land. This worked for many people and for some who were not prepared for the reality of it it did not.

Today, some people are still following that model of homestead which includes your own garden, plowing the land for crops, raising bees, maybe even going off the grid totally and living with no electricity. For others that desire that simplier life, that might be too much. So, on the other end of the homesteading spectrum are the urban homesteaders. They are the ones still living in the city and still managing to touch base with the simple life. They are managing to raising small gardens, make their own cleaning solutions, and washing clothes by hand.

No matter where you live, a version of homesteading could work for you.

So Why Homestead?

Why would anyone want to homestead?

There are a multitude of reasons for this.

  • Economical hardship
  • Desire to get out of the rat race
  • Go really green
  • Prepare for worse times
  • Love to make things with your hands
  • Better environment for children
  • Looking for more out of life.

Because of the various reasons a homesteader could give you, you never can tell what could be calling you.

The homesteader out there could be classified as follows:

  • All Out Homesteader - these have decided to forsake all modern conviencies and go off the grid - very much like the Amish
  • Mostly Homesteader - I see these as more like my parents were - farmers trying to earn a living off the land and making do with as little as they can.
  • Sort of Homesteader - Those that periodically take a stab at it thinking that next will be easier.
  • Gradual Homesteader - Or the Beginner Homesteader - this is us. We are going about it gradually. Might not end up as an "All Out" one, but we want to see what we can do and do it slowly.

Homesteading has several benefits:

  • Going green - many feel like this is the only way to really go green and help the environment.
  • Home grown Values - if you have children, maybe homeschooling and raising them on a homestead instills strong values.
  • Money - not making money exactly, but saving money - so many thing we can do the old-fashioned way to save that hard-earned cash.
  • Money - ok, maybe to make money - make your products and sell them.
  • Fun - a few of us nuts think that this kind of thing is fun.

How can You Homestead?

To answer that question, depends a little on where you live. You can jump in with both feet or do it gradually as you understand it.

Here are some ideas of what you can do:

  • Grow your own vegetables - you can do that about anywhere even on a patio. Don't let that be an excuse.
  • Wash you clothes by hand - doesn't cost much and can make you feel good to see those clean clothes flapping in the breeze.
  • Use hurricane lamps - keep the electricity turned off and use those lamps - it is much cheaper and gives a relaxing feel to any room.
  • Take up beekeeping - if you do enough research, this can be a lucrative pasttime - if you are not allergic (which means I will never do it).
  • Making your own soaps -another fun hobby that gives you an artistic outlet while supplying a need to your family.
  • Making your own cleaning supplies - better for the environment and your pocket.
  • Raise chickens - many homesteaders do this even in the city!!!!! Check your local laws regarding this.
  • Grow and use your own natural remedies - where do you think that the original meds came from? Scientists now are seeing value in those old foolish remedies.
  • Raise goats/sheep - you get your own milk, make some cheese, and keep your lawn mowed. What more could you ask for.
  • Spinning - take your fibers from your livestock and spin some yarn. This can go for high prices.
  • Angora rabbits - easy to raise and the fur off of them is the softest thing I've ever felt.
  • Worms - yes, worms. Worms eat your garbage (ok, the non-proten organic garbage) and give you a present back in vermipost. Give them your coffee grinds, egg shells, yard waste, newspapers and they give you some of the best nutrients for your garden. And you get to go fishing totally free once in a while.
  • Cook on a wood stove - nothing says getting back to the pioneer days than cooking on a wood stove. People are doing it. It is not just a legend.

Interested to Learn More?

Got your interest? Well here are few sites that I would recommend visiting to learn more about this new or not so new way of living.

Homestead.org

Homesteading Today

Mother Earth News

Christian Homesteaders Association

Daycreek

Manytracks

More by this Author


Comments 33 comments

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas

"Grow your own vegetables - you can do that about anywhere even on a patio. Don't let that be an excuse." Right! I just love you people who think this is so easy! I would love to be able to grow my own vegetables and tried in vain for years and years and years! I have a huge yard, and the only thing I have grown halfway successfully in it in 12 years is miniature pumpkins, once! Even in pots, vegetables don't grow in my yard! I wildscape! Native and naturalized plants grow in my yard. Vegetables grow at the farmer's market!

Good article! I'm behind it 100% in theory. In practice, it's quite a bit harder!

;) Suzanne


pgrundy 7 years ago

Great hub, RGraf. We filled our freezer with veggies from our first garden this summer, and next year will be better. We got a late start but still got tons of beans, tomatoes, peppers, and carrots. I've always wanted to try making my own soap but have never been brave enough. Maybe this will be the year! Thank you for all the great info here and the links.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Suzanne,

I understand. I have a friend who couldn't grow anything if you held her hand and did it with her. She did find that she had a knack for growing peppers. So maybe you have to find the vegetable that has your name on it.

Thanks for stopping by the "theory" :):)

pgrundy, this last year we didn't have one because of too much travelling. This year we are planning on having one. We have the rabbits and are hoping to work with worms next year. What is really cool (or gross depending on your point of view) is that the rabbit droppings can go directly into the worm farm and be recycled. You can find a lot of ways to recycle even that.


Eddie Perkins 7 years ago

This is a subject that I’ve been interested in for some time.

A penny saved is a penny earned is still important today.

Now, seeing man in a suit and tie with a rake in his hand, that is interesting.

I’m going to bookmark these links.

Thanks for another great hub. I love your subjects. ~ eddie


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Thanks, Eddie. We got to thinking about this when we moved to 2 acres and realized what we could do with it. With everything going the way it economically, we are trying to find ways to rely on God's bounty instead of the mighty (or not so mighty) dollar. We seem to have gotten away from all that in search of a better way of life.

Thanks again for stopping by.


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 7 years ago from Arizona

I love the idea of homesteading and becoming somewhat self sufficient.  I know we'll never be able to go "all out," but we recently planted 3 fruit trees and a vegetable garden in our yard.  I guess that's a step in the right direction.

As far as making soap, does the cost of the ingredients really make it worth it?  Soap is pretty cheap...Just wondering.  Love this article!


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

I thought the same thing about the soap. The initial cost is more, but over time depending on how much soap you use, it really pays off. Some of the ingredients you have to purchase are way more than you'll need for one batch, but you'll find using it over and over lowers the cost. I created a spreadsheet to show me how much one bar of soap would cost me and it came up cheaper than buying it at the store. It just might not seem that way because of you initial investment. Plus these soaps make great gifts and you can sell them. People LOVE to buy handmade soaps.


LouiseKnittel profile image

LouiseKnittel 7 years ago from Ohio

Very interesting! I have thought of doing more on my own, but I have a bad back.. I think that it would be very hard for me to do!


blessedmommy profile image

blessedmommy 7 years ago from Oklahoma City Metro, Oklahoma

Great information.  I think every home could benefit by using these tips and/or links.  Even if a family will make one change it will not only save money but will draw the family so much closer as they participate in the task together.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

So true. Any little thing can do the trick. It is working for us.


Woodson profile image

Woodson 7 years ago from Minnesota

I've played around with making my own cheese with recipes from a homesteader. Fun.


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia

Great hub with good tips RG. My husband and I do the worm thing, and it does wonders for the garden. My father-in-law used to keep bees, and his honey was incredible. I'm bookmarking this hub for reference! :)


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Thank you for the high honors!!!! We are looking forward to doing much of this. I love honey but am allergic to bees so they are out for us unless we get property further away and my husband does it himself.


brad4l profile image

brad4l 7 years ago from USA

Having your own chickens is great. I had five and being able to go get some fresh eggs every morning is really nice. You can really tell the difference between a fresh egg and the store bought. My neighbor had a special type of chicken that laid a bluish colored egg, which he said was lower in cholesterol, but I never did any fact checking on it...


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

I'm not claiming to be an expert but we have been doing a TON of research on this. The color of the shell has very little to do with what is actually in the egg itself. Those eggs might have come from what they call Easter chickens. We are looking to get a few of them just for the fun of getting those eggs.


billnad profile image

billnad 7 years ago

I did not even know that homesteading was really even posible anymore. This is a great hub with info that I am excited to find. The idea of a simpler life even if it could be difficult is a really exciting thing for a lot of people including me.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

It is more than possible today. Many people are doing it in the city and the countryside.

Glad it was useful!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

The Homestead Act was originally a way for the government to get people to move into undeveloped areas in pioneering times by giving them free land if they would stay and develop it. These laws are no longer in affect un the U.S. You have to buy your own land

The use of the word has changed to mean "living off the land". And this idea is still alive. Thanks for all the good information


darlkay52 profile image

darlkay52 7 years ago

We live in a home the was built by my husband's great, great grandparents when they homesteaded here in Kansas in the mid 1800's. I love gardening and living a simple country life. However, we do love our electricity and satelite TV! I have an old washboard that I found in the basement hanging in my laundry room above my washing machine! I expect I could use it in a pinch! :)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

About the bluish eggs-- we have an Aurucana (sp?) a South American breed-- pretty feathers and blue eggs. The Big Rhode Island Red gives big brown ones.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Darikay, that sounds like fun. I agree about the electricity. Don't know if I can live totally without it.

Rochelle, I've heard that in some areas you can still get free land. Not too sure of the details. It could be land that is hard to farm or something.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

Just came back upon this from your blog-- which is very attractive.  I'm still interested in all of this and getting more self-sufficient.  Really looking forward to the gardening season, after a season of more snow than we have ever seen in the foothills.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Thank you. Good luck with it. We are hoping to be able to do more this coming spring and summer - if I ever see green grass under all this snow again!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

You know, I am kind of burning out here in the city where I have been most of my life - and right now I am looking for something completely different from concrete, cars and crowds. This may do it for me.

Thanks a lot!


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Good luck! Hope you get a chance to and it works out


Kendra at New Life On A Homestead 6 years ago

Great info! We have just begun homesteading on an acre of land out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but trees. It is so nice! I'm a California girl, but I'm learning to do stuff like gardening, raising chickens and goats, using herbal remedies, canning and preserving food, growing fruit trees and bushes... pretty much everything you mentioned (except for bees!). We even did a home birth!!

I'm blogging all about our journey, the crazy mistakes we seem to keep making, and the valuable lessons learned!!

newlifeonahomestead.com


homesteadpatch profile image

homesteadpatch 5 years ago from Michigan

It's too bad that it takes hard economic times to make people remember our homesteading roots. All the gadgets out there being gobbled up by our consumer culture won't make your life any better. If you stop to think we really haven't gotten anywhere. We depend on other people for our mere survival (food is a good example). If more people don't get on board, we as a people will be in for some really rough water. Great post!


Dusty 4 years ago

Here's a series you might find helpful on how to make money homesteading or farming.

http://www.farm-dreams.com/profiles/blogs/how-to-m...


LittleHomestead profile image

LittleHomestead 4 years ago from Illinois

Glad to see an article on Homesteading on Hubpages! Thanks for sharing our way of life with the world :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great hub! We are considering this four years down the road and it was useful reading about it from someone who is doing it...thank you!


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

I am a wannabe urban homesteader. We are trying to raise as much veggies as we can in the extreme Georgia heat. We have already had days that have reached 114 and nearly lost a large portion. It is hard but it is worth it when you know you are living better.


tobint44 profile image

tobint44 4 years ago from North Carolina

My wife and I are in the process of building a home on her family farm. I am looking forward to being able to dabble in homesteading as I have always been intrigued by the idea.


Pico Triano profile image

Pico Triano 2 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

We are kind of homesteading. It would be easier if I didn't have to work a full time job somewhere else. We hope to continue improving on what we've already accomplished.

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