Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.
You’ve got the itch but don’t know where to begin? I can relate. Everyone’s circumstances are different. I am sure you have been searching the internet, watching videos, and reading blogs about homesteading. I bet you are feeling a little overwhelmed now too. We’ve been homesteading for five years and I still get overwhelmed from time to time. Here is my advice, for what it’s worth, and maybe it’s worth something to you.
Make a Basic Plan – Why, Where, When, and How
That’s the basics. Why do you want to homestead? Where do you want to homestead? When do you want to begin? And how will you make it happen?
Nothing is written in stone. Just get something down on paper, it helps to give it form and plant the seed. I was always writing something down whether it was a list of things I wanted to do on our homestead, or a list of plants I wanted to grow, or a priority list. It all changed once I started but just get it down in writing. It is the first step of the journey; the primer.
This was our big picture plan: Move to the country, grow our own food, simplify, downsize, and be as sustainable as possible.
Where? We had land available to us in NE Oklahoma.
How? Aha! That was the toughest question based on our circumstances. My husband had been laid off and jobs were not forthcoming. We were drowning in our mortgage and barely treading water. There was an unfinished pole barn on the property and with the help of family, it was finished out in a few months. We purged about half of our belongings and moved.
With your partner, family, friends, other homesteaders. Remember, no one has THE central homesteading plan. Everyone will have different needs, interests, and goals, but it does help to talk with other homesteaders as it can inspire, answer questions, and offer stories/anecdotes for things you had never considered before that could impact your plans.
My husband and I talked endlessly about our plans for the place. At the time though, we didn’t know anyone personally who was homesteading and we wished we did because we had questions and we wanted to see what others in our area were doing and how they were doing it.
Avoid the Debbie Downers
You will find while enthusiastically sharing your homesteading dreams that there will be those who will be discouraging for various reasons. Don’t listen to them. That is not to say ignore constructive criticism or perhaps someone sharing a valuable lesson/experience, but those who, without thought, will offer nothing but negative commentary. Share your excitement with those who will be supportive.
Fortunately, we did not run into this problem except maybe once. While there may have been murmurings under breath that we were crazy, this was not said out loud to our faces.
Be Prepared to Change the Plan
The Plan will change. That’s Okay. Homesteading plans are dynamic, rather than static. You just need a starting point and that’s what the initial plan is for. Things will come up and possibly delay, postpone, or expedite the plan sooner than anticipated. Go with it.
It seemed momentum slowed once we were relocated to the homestead. We also moved during one of the hottest, driest, most brutal Summers in Oklahoma history. We had planned on living in our 600 square foot pole barn for about two years while we built a house (without a mortgage) on the property. It’s five years later and we are still in the pole barn, and that’s okay. I’ll explain why later.
Okay! So get started on that basic plan of yours. This is the first part of a series I am devoting to homesteading while sharing our experiences. As is your plan to begin, this post is just a primer; laying the foundation for the next level and the fun, nitty gritty, details.
This was the beginning for us. A tiny little pole barn on four acres. I’ll be truthful, it was a bit depressing at first but when we looked upon this space as a blank canvas for us to add life and color to and transform our vision into reality, it changed our perspective. I will share photos of the transformation as we go.