A Backyard Homestead, What is it?
What is Homesteading?
Hello! I am so glad you came to learn about homesteading! Although I am no expert and I am new to all this, I figured I would tell you about what homesteading is to me and my family. Why we started, and what benefits we have seen. Plus the many things we have learned. I am positive you will be as amazed as I was.
First I want to say homesteading can be anything you want it to be. It is different for every person you ask. For some it is simply making homemade or from scratch foods, like canning, making breads, and basically getting out of the grocery store as much as possible, or even just supporting local farmers. For others its living on a farm, having cattle, pigs, chickens, goats, gardens, and cooking from scratch. While others go completely off grid, no power(except solar) no water in some cases, and they live off the land and what god provides them.
Then there are us backyard Homesteaders. I would love to have huge farm, and tons of animals, but we live in a rural small town and cows are just not possible. So how do you homestead?
For our family it is starting small, and having a plan to grow larger over time. We don't want to go off grid or any of that, but we do want to live off the land we have. Eventually we would like to move to a country home and grow larger. For now its all about learning skill sets, committing to a life style change and learning how to get out of the store, learning how to butcher our own animals, and can our own food.
Lets start with skill sets, and remember you only need the skill sets you plan to use. Although it wouldn't hurt to know them all just incase. But I will mention some important skill sets and why they are important.
Gardening- Gardening is a great start. You get fresh, amazing tasting food. You can choose not to use chemicals, or fertilizers. You can buy heirloom seeds, so your not getting GMO's in your food. There are also so many types of gardens. You can do raised beds, canister gardens, lasagna gardens, back to Eden gardens, or even just your regular tilled up garden. You can learn all about the different types of gardens here. Gardening leads you to your next skill set.
Canning- Everyone loves the fresh food they get from their gardens, and if you have ever done a garden you know it produces a lot of food! So what can you do with all that food? You don't want it to go bad or go to waste, so you CAN it! The ball canning book is amazing to use for canning and all you need to know. Also another invaluable tool has been youtube. of course canning leads you to making your own foods from scratch. Once you taste the amazing garden food, and the difference in canned food you made and the store you will know why!
Making your own food- For hundreds of years people made their own food, we lived off what our land provided and we were healthy. We didn't have obesity running wild, we didn't have cancer in almost every family, and we didn't have ADHD. This is because we knew what was in our food. We didn't have all the unknowns in the food to make them last longer, or all the processed food. So get back to the basics and make your food. I have a lot of recipes in other post so check them out from on my profile page or click here to go to my profile. I will show you how to make tons of great recipes from scratch! They are easy and delicious! Also another great resource is the Amish cookbook. They have tons of them on Amazon. One of my favorite youtubers and bloggers has a great selection of homemade foods! You can find her at the kneady homesteader. She has amazing cooking on here channel. Your goal here is to get out of the stores, and away from the processed food. Plus it saves you ton of money, and its taste so good. Making and growing our own food lead me and my family to raising and hunting for our own meat.
Raising your own meat- Yes, you can raise your own meat even in a small city or your own backyard. You may be like us and not have room for a cow, but you can still raise meat for you and your family. We have to go about it a little different, but think of other animals that are small and manageable. Some examples would be Chickens, rabbits, quail, turkey,goats and of course hunting. We currently only raise chickens, and rabbits. I want to get the rest, but slowly we will get there. I tried to choose multi-purpose animals that are quiet and easy to care for. Chickens give us eggs and meat. Our rabbits give us meat, and provide us with a little money from selling and breeding them. Then we Hunt, and boy do I love deer meat. To get hamburger we buy from a local farmer. You guessed it, raising meat leads you to butchering.
Butchering- This was a hard pill to swallow for me. But I didn't want to pay someone to do it, so I had to make up my mind if we were going to do it. After weighing all the pros and cons, it was inevitable. So I took the plunge and it was not as bad as I thought. I researched a lot on how and the most humane way. That is also why I started with small animals. I needed to get my feet wet and learn. I could not imagine starting for your first time ever with a pig or cow, and the videos and research I have done on butchering pigs, I am not sure if I could do it still. Although I am sure when push comes to shove I could. Below you will see the list of butchering tools I use. I will also post some videos on how to use the tools, but do not watch the videos if you don't want to see the tools used! They will have animals in them!
Butchering tools you need
for butchering Chicken cone
Killing Cones (Poultry Processing Restraining Cones) are Stainless Steel and easy to clean, hang by nail, hook or screw to a rack, wall or tree. Birds will not back out of these cones. Sized for a 2 to 8 pound dress weight bird. The edges have been rolled for safety and added strength. There is no one size fit all cone. We recommend you may need several different size cones to accommodate the differing size of birds you have.
Chicken Butchering with the Cone
Hopper Popper combo This is a Dispatch Skinning and Dislocator Combo Tool Set.
The Dislocator piece easily dislocates the cervical cords instantly of your meat rabbits. Making this the most humane way to dispatch rabbits. Then you can use the skinner tool to hang your meat rabbits, squirrel, or small game to get the best cleaning and skinning position available.
The last thing you will need are your butchering knives and scissors. We have not went and spent money on any special expensive knives, we use what we have, and just make sure they are very very sharp!
Using the Hopper popper
I know there are many many other skills, but these are the kills we use currently, and I have actual information and experience with.
As you all can see, a homesteader can be whatever you want it to be. You can get as into it or not as you want. The main thing is doing what is best for your family and what you see homesteading providing for you. My journey started out just wanting to save money, which led me to making my own food and then I learned about homesteading. I have made my homestead what works for me and my family and where we live. I also wanted to stay home with my kids so I found other was to make money at home. like running a daycare, raising and breeding Rottweiler's, rabbits, chicken and gardening. I also make jams and jellies and during the summer I sell all these things at farmers markets. Plus the peace of mind knowing my family will never starve, and they are eating much better food.
Set future goals for your homestead. for us it is raising 1 pig a year for butcher, producing enough meat to raw feed our dogs, so we don't have to buy dog food, stocking our pantry every summer, learning to keep bees, and last getting 2 goats for milk. Goats are another manageable animal that is multi purpose. You can get milk from them, sell babies, make cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.
Also always look for ways to improve and expand. for example, adding more multi purpose animals, growing your garden, or even more ways to make a profit. Tons of homesteaders goals are to have the animals pay for themselves, and make money from them. Your not gonna get rich but always look for a need in your area and use it. I knew I wanted to stay home. I have 5 kids and had great career as a nurse, So I knew I had to make money. A daycare for me was the answer. That was my stepping stone to get animals, and start homesteading. This year I want to use my crafty side and open a Etsy store. Just always dream and set goals. I also want to start a youtube channel. Just make sure no matter what it is your vision of homesteading and not what others are doing, because there is no right or wrong way to homestead.