Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How to Homestead Where You Already Live

When I say the word homestead, what pops into your mind? Is it a vision of vast land, large gardens, and critters everywhere? For some, that is what homesteading is, but I want to let you in on a little secret....

Now this is just my opinion of course, but homesteading is a lifestyle, that can be practiced anywhere. *gasp* Yes I did just say that. My motto is “It’s not the amount of land you live on, but what you do on that land that makes you a homesteader.”

Many times people assume I live on a big old farm. Trust me, I would love to! But sadly, right now I am stuck in a tiny little rural village. People ask, but how can you homestead on ¼ of an acre in a small town!?!?

Some people look at me like I am nuts! And you know what, maybe I am! But I do more on my little plot of land then most folks who have more. We have learned how to cook more from scratch. We have tapped our maple trees to make our own syrup. We have learned how to repair and reuse things. We think long term before we act. Because you see, to me, homesteading is doing more for yourself no matter where you are. It doesn’t need to include livestock, but it can. It is about TRYING to do more for yourself and a better way of life. And I know that might upset someone who says we are just “playing.” But I don’t care what anyone else says as I look at my mason jars of food, collect my eggs every day, peek in the fridge at the bacon we made, or the country ham hanging in my kitchen curing. I love cuddling under the blankets I make and eating the baked good that come from my kitchen. Heck, my Hubby butchered a turkey for Thanksgiving. I guess someone needed to tell that turkey we were just “playing.” LOL

So how can you homestead where you already live?

Learn a Skill

One of the great things about homesteading, is learning new skills. Our grandparents knew so many useful things that, sadly, have been forget in these modern days of technology. But thanks to technology, it is easier than ever to find this information and put it to work in your own life! Whether you are in an apartment or a 100 acre chunk of land, learning new skills can be done anywhere!

Pick something that peeks your interest or appeals to you wild side! We have tried our hands at everything from making cheese to tapping maple trees. No trees you say? Why not try baking or sewing? Heck, I spent months with a ham hanging in pantyhose from my kitchen ceiling because hubby wanted to try his hand at curing meat!



Make it Yourself

One of the most satisfying things about homesteading is making thinks yourself, taking those skills you learn and putting them into practice! I love making pillow cases, while hubby enjoys making homemade bacon. So what if you first attempt isn't perfect. Who says what you make needs to look like it came from a store?!? The more you do, the better your projects will turn out. Let me tell you, our first attempt at making cheese bordered on disaster and a possible trip to the urgent care. LOL Our first batch of bacon was a little salty. My first pillow case was a little crocked. A lot of first are a little off, but if you keep trying, you might just impress yourself with what you can do, right where you are!



Get the Right Tools

As with anything you do, it is always advisable to have the right tools for the job. What to garden? Invest in good tools. Want to sew? Get a decent machine. Like to bake your own breads? Invest in good pans. Nothing spells disaster faster than trying to do a project with the wrong tools. Oh sure, homesteading has a lot of improvising in it, but when it comes to the basics, save up and get quality. You will thank yourself later on. Things like cast iron pans may cost more, but are worth every dime!


Cook From Scratch

I know, life can get hectic, fast. I have the luxury (note sarcasm) of being a stay at home mom. But I also homeschool, which takes a lot of my time. Then there are the critters to care for, the house to keep, and the daily emergencies (I don't know why we have so many, oh yeah, the country kids LOL) and there goes any extra time to prep for dinner, right? Or you work a long day on your job and when you get home there is no time to make dinner, right? Wrong!

Cooking from scratch, while slightly more labor intensive, with the mixing and the chopping, takes about the same amount of time as preheating an oven and popping in a frozen mystery box of food. And there are benefits to cooking from scratch! Not just dietary benefits, by eliminating a lot of chemicals and preservatives, but developing quality time with your family as they help in the kitchen. Seriously, give your kid a knife and have them help chop. You get quality time, a sou chef and they are learning skills that will benefit them later in life.



Grow Food

But cooking from scratch can be expensive! Yes, a trip to your standard grocery store could end up with a high bill, but think outside of the box, or shopping bag. *wink* If you eat what is in season, you can grow your own food. Not all of it of course. I mean how many people can really keep a cow these days or have the climate for banana trees, but you can grow some of your food no matter where you live.

Just because you live in an apartment, doesn't mean you can't grow your own food. Balconies and windowsills are amazing gardening spots. Your backyard is small? Grow food vertically! Who says a garden HAS to be a patch of dirt on the ground!! Have fun with you food..... Try growing something you have never tired. We grew kale one year and it only cost us the price of a package of seeds. I learned two things from that little packet of seeds.... Kale grows great in our climate, and I hate the taste of kale. LOL

Find what grows well for you, be creative in the space you do have, and enjoy the benefits of cooking with fresh ingredients!



Learn to Preserve Food

Weather you grow your own food or not, learning to preserve your own food is a great way to save money and provide quality food for yourself and your family. But what do I mean by preserving food? Of course there is canning. It is fun, relatively easy to do, and makes you smile all winter long when you see those beautiful jars full of yumminess on your shelf. But there are so many other options beyond canning that can fit your lifestyle. Be it freezing, drying, vacuum seal or fermenting. There are many ways to preserve food.


The wonderful thing about preserving food is you DON'T have to grow it all yourself. If you can grow it, great, but for many of us, there is never a bumper crop. You could buy in bulk at the grocery store, but that can get pricey! Look for locally grown items when they are in season. That is when the stores usually have the best sales. Or better yet, get to know a local farmer! Farmers' Markets are great places to get bulk, in season food items that you can preserve.



Add Livestock

Livestock!?!?! *Gulp* Now I am not saying go buy a cow! Many of us live in areas where it is not feasible to have "livestock" as people think of in the traditional sense. Of course if you live in an apartment, this aspect of homesteading may not be possible. But did you know many folks now have house chickens? LOL Seriously! They even make diapers for chickens. While we tried a diaper for watching cartoons with the country kids, our girls live outside.


Chickens are a realistic means of owning livestock. Backyard chickens provide not only eggs for your table, but bug control and entertainment. Just make sure you check your local laws before picking up some cute chicks.

While livestock may not be for everyone, raising your own meat sources can be rewarding and not just on the dinner table. Knowing that your chicken, turkey, pig or cow has had the best life possible is a very satisfying feeling. And knowing that your meat source isn't pumped full of hormones and what not is not only good for them, but good for you!



I think what is even more satisfy then doing or living this homestead “lifestyle” is that my children get to grow up learning these “lost” arts. Our oldest loves making maple syrup every year. He enjoys reading seed catalogs and planning for spring. He is learning, hands on, everyday….. important life lessons you just don’t get in a classroom. Our youngest loves to garden and care for our critters and both enjoy helping in the kitchen!

This year, why not try a little homesteading in your life? Don’t be scared, just try and who knows, you might just impress yourself! And don’t worry, I’ll be here to “play” with you, share ideas and we will try new things together!

24 comments:

  1. I love this post!! We live in the city and have started our own homestead. We currently have 15 hens, raise our own meat birds for the year. We can many different foods from the farmers market and buy local as much as possible, we have been adding solar as much as possible. It sure is amazing how much better food tastes when it's made from scratch, it makes you not like preservative filled food too much lol. This years adventure will be getting honey bees to eventually get our own honey. Thanks for sharing, I'm pinning for others to read! I hope you have a blessed week!!

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    1. I am so glad you didn't wait for "when." You are proof you can homestead where ever you are. *high five*

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  2. Mindie, this is fun to read. You remind me of my daughter-in-law. She started raising chickens several months ago. When she said my son was going to build the chicken coop I was skeptical, but it turned out well and the chickens are thriving. I don't think she has heard of chicken diapers so I will share this with her. It sounds like you have found your true calling.

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  3. I always enjoy your posts! Glad to see you are still sharing with the Thursday Blog Hop!

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    1. Well thank you. I am glad someone out there likes em. I really enjoy writing em!

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  4. Perfectly said! We all need to stop comparing our homesteading lifestyles to everyone else. Homesteading really is a state of mind and no matter where you live, what you do, or how you do it matters. Find the things you love to do ...and do them well.

    Thanks for sharing on the Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop!
    http://oursimplelife-sc.com/simple-homestead-blog-hop-35/

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    1. It is a state of mind, I know how I view the world has changed so much since we started this journey. While I would like more land, I can do almost, ALMOST everything I want to, right where I am.... almost LOL

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  5. Love this post! My parents are only on 1/4 acre but they do a lot of this including having chickens and growing so much of their own food. I think it's awesome!

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    1. Your parents sound like my kind of people :)

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  6. Great post, Mindie! I like to think of myself as a suburban homesteader. I live in a regular neighborhood in a mountain town (although I wish I had some acreage). But I garden, can, cook from scratch, knit, and make crafts from natural materials. I'd like to have chickens but my homeowners association would frown at that. Your post was very validating to me. Thanks for sharing at My Flagstaff Home.

    Jennifer

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    1. Time to change the homeowners association's mind! LOL I strongly believe you can homestead anywhere, to what ever extent you desire (or can due to homeowners association LOL)

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  7. I look forward to moving from the city into a more rural area where we can at least buy fresher foods then we are getting now. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us at the Over the Moon Link Party.

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  8. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop

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  9. Awesome post! I completely agree - I have only 2 acres but I grow as much food as I can, I get eggs from a neighbor who has way too many chickens and needs an outlet for all the eggs :) I preserve as much food as I can (I freeze, not can, although I have done some canning as well) and I cook from scratch. I can't sew....yet. But maybe someday! I burn wood to heat the house. I have an artisan well and septic and propane so I am semi-off grid. It's a beautiful thing for a girl from NYC!!

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    1. Like I said, everyone can do a little something no matter where they live. It is all about learning and trying new things. I am glad you enjoyed the post. :)

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  10. Awesome post, you are doing amazing things! It's so cool how creative we get to be. Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop, I pinned!

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    1. Awww thank you! I love trying new things. And yes, creativity is the mother of homesteading right where you are *wink*

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  11. I love learning about others who homestead like we do...on less than 1/4 acre! Thanks for adding this to From The Farm. You are one of our featured posts this week!

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  12. Not 20 minutes ago I messaged my hubby and threw out there..."Let's sell all we have, buy a teeny house, and homestead." It was a tease, mainly.....but, it did have a little bit of hope attached to it. "No" was his reply. Don't get me wrong, he's a GREAT guy and the "no" was for my own good....and his....and our family's....but, it did leave me wanting a teeny tiny little bit. So, I prayed....right there, mop in hand, and said, "Lord, if you want this, would you make it happen?" Low and behold, another FB page had a link to your article on homesteading right where you are. My gosh! That was a quick reply! Anyway...wanted you to hear that....and know what your article meant to me!

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    1. Awww, thanks for letting me know.I could never do a tiny house. To many men in the family who like beans LOL I decided I wasn't going to wait for "one day" when I had the perfect place to do everything I wanted to, but make this home the perfect place to do what I could. Would I like more land? Sure, and a mini donkey. But I have enough to keep me busy right in my own little corner of the word as it is.

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