Benefits Of Homesteading
If you live in the city and are dreaming of owning your own little patch of land in the country, you're not alone. There's people that do Urban Homesteading, but this Hub is for those that want to leave. I'm going to be honest and list problems along with the benefits.
First of all, you'll need to find a place for your homestead. This can be tricky, but if you are willing to settle for less than perfect or you have enough in savings to build a home, you can find dirt cheap land with nothing on it. There are many tutorials for buying cheap land, but be aware that finding this land can be difficult. Some owners will not want to sell, sometimes the land is hard to get to, and even if you find a great bit of land – you may be stuck building a home there.
Building a house isn't as difficult as you may think. My first cabin was built around a shed. You couldn't tell, the back of the kitchen had a door that opened into the storage shed! It was pretty neat, as we used it for, well, storage. I lived on a farm and received free rent for taking care of business.
After choosing your land and making your purchase, if there is a house already there, this next part isn't for you. If there isn't a house, you'll need to check into building permits, speak with the electric company about having electricity run out to your place, and think about having a well put in. Wells are not cheap, so start saving your dimes and dollars now. From there you can work on building your dream home, then homestead. Any building can double as a home – metal outbuildings, straw bale houses, and more. An empty patch of land is nothing but potential. Build as green and cheaply as possible without compromising on quality.
For those that have a house on their property – I'm counting mobile homes, too – you're a few steps ahead. Unless the home is in bad shape. House in bad shape can be even more costly than building a new one! Try to do as many repairs yourself as you can. Do it yourself doesn't mean 'done wrong'. (excuse the grammar there)
Learn about small home repair. A homeowner can add new outlets, install lighting, put on siding, repair basement cracks, and more. You don't always need a contractor to do your work. Sure, a contractor takes the load off for many, but the enterprising homeowner can do almost everything a contractor can do – at a fraction of the cost. The only thing I would warn against is certain electrical repair. Big jobs should be left to an electrician. All the money you save on other repairs can be put toward hiring an electrician.
At the end of it all, you'll be ready to begin the homesteading portion of homesteading!
Building and running a homestead is hard work. It can be expensive, unless you're shrewd. You do not need to buy expensive pre-fabricated chicken tractors, coops, brooders, or any other number of pre-fabbed items marketed to homesteaders. Our great-grandparents built everything, so can we! Shop around for the best deals (clearance) or scour CraigsList for people giving away free lumber, firewood, animals, and more. You can built almost all of your outbuildings with scrap wood. Greenhouses are easy and cheap, too. Old windows, scrap lumber, and scrap doors/hardware.
Once you have your outbuildings, plan on the type of animals (if any), that you want on your homestead. The most popular animal for small scale homesteading is the chicken. I will cover choosing chickens in another Hub soon! Pigs are also great, if you have th room. Building a pig pen takes special consideration due to how pigs are well known escape artists! You can also add a cow if you have enough room. Cows need room to wander and plenty of fodder. Don't forget about goats, these little guys give milk and can keep weeds at bay.
For the new homesteader, start small. Six to 12 chickens and one milk goat is perfect. Chickens will provide eggs and meat, while the goat will provide milk and cheese once you learn how to make it. You can even make butter from goat's milk with some practice!
Gardening is another bit of work (ok, a lot of work). There's nothing like watching your seeds grow into seedlings, the adult plants. Bringing in your harvest is not only fun, it is satisfying! Want to see something amazing? Watch picky kids eat a tomato they've grown. Previously non-veggie kids will chow down on stuff that tastes fresh, plus they can't help but want to sample things they watched grow (or helped grow).
So, what do you get out of all this work?
You'll gain quite a few benefits from homesteading, not least of which is savings. When you grow your own food you're saving money. You can grow things that cost a pretty penny in the grocery store. Just by growing vegetables and herbs, you're going to see a significant change in your grocery bill.
Add chickens and a goat into the mix and those savings grow exponentially. Once your chickens are old enough to lay, you have eliminated buying eggs (though your chickens will need feed). You can also eat some of the chickens – those that are not laying, extra roosters, and any meat chickens you add to the flock. Fancy some fried chicken for dinner? Go out and grab one. Milk goats will add milk to your homestead fridge and as noted before, cheese and butter. You can also use the cream as, well, cream.
Living on a homestead can cut out other bills, depending on how you have built or retro-fitted your home. Adding solar power will cut down on your electric bill, sometimes eliminating it in very sunny areas. Wells cut out water bills. Using firewood to heat will cut out gas or propane bills, but keep in mind you will need to cut or buy firewood.
The largest benefit is the sense of self sufficiency you cultivate. It is empowering to look at your food stores, then walk outside to add more to it or go into you pantry and grab something you've preserved. Learning skills that will keep you and your family warm, safe, and fed during the worst economic times is invaluable.
Remember – baby steps. While today you may live in an apartment in the city, all it takes to become a homesteader is a dream and determination. There are financial barriers, but careful planning can bring about your dream faster than you think.