How to Start your own Homestead

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Homestead is a rewarding, beautiful experience. It's the satisfaction of producing your own food and making your own positive impact in the world.


Deciding to begin homesteading is the moment you take the reins and begin investing in yourself, and your own quality of life. It's the time to begin making those changes you've always wanted to make and opening yourself up to opportunities you've always dreamed of.


I always suggest to those who want to take this journey to create an outline of their goals for their homestead. Sitting down and outlining your goals in a journal or planner can help you visualize and meet those goals on down the road.


Remember to be flexible with your goals, but still have an idea in mind. This is going to help keep you on track, and remind you of why you wanted to begin homesteading in the first place.


Common reasons to begin homesteading:

Producing organic, clean food from home.

There's a growing concern about the agriculture methods used to bring food to our tables. One way to guarantee the food on your plate is 100% clean, free of chemicals and fresh is by growing/producing it, yourself. It's also incredibly rewarding to know your food was produced in your own garden.


Reducing environmental impact.

Switching over to solar energy can reduce our pull on the grid, which is accountable for 90% of pollution the United States produces. Solar panels pay for their own carbon footprint within 3-5 years of production.


Concern for current state of events.

There's a growing concern for events such as COVID, unrest, food shortages and more. A self-sufficient homestead can produce food, safety and shelter during difficult time.


A want/need to become sufficient/return to the land.

There's something beautiful about the simplicity our ancestors enjoyed, away from the times of social media, cell phones and all of the modern-day luxuries that are supposed to make our lives easier.


Are you wanting to produce all of your own income, or simply produce your own groceries? Are you trying to move off-grid? Find your sustainability? These are important questions to ask yourself.


I highly suggest beginning with a journal or planner. This will help you keep track of your positives, as well as your setbacks and solutions. It's also important to keep track of things like the dates you purchase animals/price/seller, major homestead purchases like fencing and other details you'll want a record of.


Once you've outlined your goals, you can begin asking yourself questions. Does your area suite the goals you have outlined, or should you relocate? Will your current living situation support these goals?


Many homesteaders relocate for a variety of reasons. Some relocate to places with a longer growing season, while others relocate because they don't like their state's current homesteading laws. Some have grown tired of their state, period. I actually have a post, right here, where I outline the pros and cons of 26 states I've personally visited or lived in.


Each area will present its own challenges, but be forewarned, some areas are harsh. Plenty of people survive and homestead in states like Alaska, Wyoming and Montana, but with terrain and weather like that, it's dangerous and you really must research what you're getting into thoroughly before jumping into something like that.


If you haven't been following the blog, we are building our homestead in East Tennessee. There are four seasons, but it does get a little chilly in the winter here. We love it.

Tips for buying land for homesteading:

I have a post on this, here.

Water Availability

It's important to be sure there's some sort of water source available. Especially if you're buying land in a very rural area, "city water" isn't always available. If there's no clean pond, stream, river or spring, check the cost and timeline of drilling a well.


Weather Patterns

Be aware of the weather patterns for the land you're purchasing. Will it be prone to flooding? Hurricanes? Wild fires?


Accessibility

Is there a driveway? How far away is the nearest hospital or town to buy supplies? Self-sufficiency doesn't happen overnight, and these things need to be planned for.


Cost of Maintaining

Taxes are the only sure thing you'll be able to expect on this journey.


Do you even need to relocate? Don't forget, even if you're in the suburbs, you can still start a homestead. In this post, I provide a layout of a self-sufficient homestead on a small lot.


Most homesteaders decide to purchase land, and that's ok, too. It will depend on what your goals are. It's important to keep in mind 10 acres in Nevada will produce much differently than 10 acres in Florida. Growing up in Georgia, it was 1 horse per acre. In East Texas, it was several acres per horse.


The good news is there are several animal options available for even the smallest of yards. A handful of chickens can produce an abundance of eggs. At 1 egg per day, five hens will provide you with just short of half a dozen eggs per day. Throw a rooster in and the hens will produce a supply of meat!


Raising Chickens for Eggs + Meat

This one is a growing trend, given the rising price of meat costs across the country. There are many factors that come into play here, but for this goal you'll most likely want a dual-purpose chicken breed.


Now, all chickens will lay and all chickens will produce meat, but some will produce a bigger breast. It just depends. If you're raising chickens solely for meat, consider a type of broiler chicken, like a Cornish cross. They're bred to grow/gain weight faster for meat purposes.


Personally, if you're raising chickens for eggs, I don't know that buying specialty chickens is that important. Pretty much all of life we've had what I call "yard chickens" of mixed breeds and sizes. They all lay, but if you would like colored eggs or you're wanting larger eggs, then consider a breed known to lay these.


My favorite breeds of chickens are the Dominique(not to be confused with the Barred Rock) and the Leghorn. Both of these are dual-purpose chickens, meaning they'll produce a decent supply of meat and/or eggs. These are bigger birds, but I personally think they're beautiful along with great producers. If you do research Leghorns, make sure you know there are two types, heritage(the colored birds) and commercial(white birds.) I love a variety of color in my barnyard!


Chickens can also bring in an income from the sale of eggs, or the chickens themselves.


Raising Goats for Milk + Meat

Goats do require a bit more space than chickens, but they're still a great animal to have for the homestead. Most of the homesteaders I know raise goats for an income, but there are plenty that utilize their milk, as well.


I have the most experience with meat goats, specifically Boers. Yes, there's a market for goat meat in the U.S., but there's also a market for milk, if your state allows you to sell it. There's also a great market for goat milk products, like soaps and lotions.


Milk goats are much more expensive upfront than Boer goats. Many homesteaders choose to go with mixed-breed to create a dual-purpose goat, or they choose a mixed herd. For example, some people will have 5 Boers and 5 Nubians, but with a Boer buck to produce more meatier goats, or mix it up to favor the milker side.


There are many different varieties of goats for many different purposes. Sheep are also an option for some homesteaders, as there are breeds of sheep that don't produce wool, only meat. Or, if you enjoy knitting, you may also enjoy creating your own wool yarn!


Raising Cows for Milk + Meat

Common meat breeds in the U.S. are black Angus and Herefords. Some other popular breeds include the Charolais, Limousin, etc., etc. These breeds are for meat and won't produce milk like Jerseys or the Holstein.


Many people will tell you not to purchase a specific breed, because they are known to be aggressive. Some breeds are known to be more harrier than others, but I will tell you this. Good breeding and handling techniques can go a long way in the temperament of cows. I have a post on meat cows, here.


I'll also tell you this. Cows are unpredictable, large animals and I do highly recommend getting some experience with them before owning them, yourself. Especially bulls.


There are also dual breeds that will produce meat and milk, like the Dexter. They're a popular choice as they're a smaller cow and have a lower butcher weight and don't produce gallons on gallons of milk, daily. They're the best of both worlds because they produce enough meat, but not so much that it can't be consumed. They produce milk, but not so much that you find yourself pouring it out.


Other Options

This post is getting long, so I'm going to make a list of other animals that are also an option:

-Pigs

-Bees

-Rabbit

-Quail

-Turkey

-Duck

-Guineas


I highly suggest drawing out a plan for containing all of your animals. Pre-plan out pastures, fields and pens before purchasing fencing materials. This can help maximize efficiency and usage of space.


Once you've decided on the animals you'd like to run, ask yourself about how you'll process these animals. Are you planning on processing all of the meat or sending to a butcher? Is there a butcher nearby?


Animals aren't your only option for fresh food, as foraging and gardening are pillars of a successful homestead.


Once you've gotten your plans down, of course you'll need to begin putting those plans into action. It will be tough, but it will be worthwhile. Research, research and research your options, and really spend time thinking and praying about them.


Homesteading is fulfilling, but it can begin at home. I began my own independent homesteading journey with tomato plants on the balcony of my apartment. The first step to homesteading, is taking a step.






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