Tips for Homesteading

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 14th Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Rural Living

Homesteading is when a person starts their own small scale farm for the purpose of living off the land, either to save money or out of environmental concerns for sustainability and self sufficiency. Here are some homesteading tips. Note that I tried to be a homesteader but did not get as far as I would have liked, you can learn from my errors.

Have the Start up Money

Before becoming a homesteader you need to be sure you can afford to do so. Not only will there be numerous things to purchase, but being self sufficient is not instant, you will still need money for certain things. Many people find it can be good to have a part time job while homesteading in addition to having savings in the bank.

You need money for the start up as well as a small income for all the things that cannot be grown, or raised, on your homestead. Being frugal will certainly help too.

Make Sure You Have Time

If two people (a husband and wife for example) plan on having a homestead, both may want part time jobs worked in such a way that one of them can be home at all times – particularly if any livestock are being kept. This covers the money aspect and allows time for working on the homestead. The following activities will need regular maintenance depending on each situation:

Weeding – Some weeds you can eat!
Watering – plants and animals
Feeding – animals
Birthing (calving, lambing, etc)
Collecting Eggs
Cleaning Barns/Coops
Slaughtering – Butchering
Fence and Equipment Repair and Maintenance
Chopping Wood (must be done before winter)
Protecting your Garden from Deer and Other Wildlife

Are You in Good Health?

A homesteader must be strong and healthy, able to do their own work without relying on others. Homesteading requires a lot of physical activity, if you do not do the work you will not see any benefits and paying people to help is counter productive.

Good Skills to Have to be a Homesteader

It is a good idea for the homesteader to be well versed in cooking from scratch. They should also be familiar with canning fruits and vegetables. It may also be good to know how to slaughter and butcher your own animals.

A homesteader must be reliant on themselves to build things as needed, fix things as needed, and care for their own animals as needed – this may mean giving medication, or helping an animal in labor. As such it is good if homesteaders have mechanical skills, carpentry skills, and animal health skills.

A homesteader must be flexible, accepting that things do not always go as planned, or when planned. A person who is a control freak may have a hard time adapting to things not going as planned.

Tips for Homesteading the First Year

In the first year the garden should be started, potatoes are one of the easiest things to grow in most areas, and aside from hilling them up occasionally, and checking for potato bugs (have the kids help remove them by hand), potatoes are fairly easy to grow. Additionally people can live a long time on nothing but potatoes, so this is a valuable food to grow.

Plant some fruit trees, and raspberries. These will take a year or so to establish themselves, and particularly with the fruit trees, several years until a real production is made, as such planting them as soon as possible (in your first year) is key!

Build a chicken coop and purchase a few laying hens (3-8) for egg production. The hens can be slaughtered before winter or kept for the following year, however egg laying does decrease after the hen are two years old. Some people may wish to have additional hens and sell some of the eggs (such as at a farmer's market).

Goats, or sheep, are a good livestock animal to start off with. Goats will be better for milking. Note that to get milk you must breed the animal and after she has her young she produces milk. The young animals (kids or lambs) are fattened and can be slaughtered. Some people keep and breed rabbits for meat.

Use the rest of the first year to expand the garden, get fencing, build barns, and so forth.


Make friends with other homesteaders in the area, that way you can share your produce with them and visa versa. You can also share tips, and advice, as well as physical labor when needed just like farmers did years ago.

This article was originally published by me on Gomestic.

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How To, Live Off The Land, Living Off The Land, Rural Life, Save Money, Self Sufficient, Start A Homestead, Sustainable Living, What Is Homesteading

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
14th Jul 2014 (#)

To my readers, my wife and I were never able to kill our animals, they became pets more than anything. As such we were not good homesteaders.

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author avatar Ptrikha
14th Jul 2014 (#)

Very valuable tips for people thinking on these lines.

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author avatar snerfu
14th Jul 2014 (#)

Wow, this article opens a new aspect of living and lifestyle, at least for us city dwellers. All the wildlife (if you can can them that) we get to see around our houses are a couple of cats and some pigeons. It is nice to read of cows and calving and raising goats and hens. Good luck with your homesteading.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
14th Jul 2014 (#)

Thank you Mark-from these hard lesson and hours of even harder physical labor come outstanding homesteading tips...I much admire your sharing them...thanks Mark.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
14th Jul 2014 (#)

All very true, from an old farm boy's perspective.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
14th Jul 2014 (#)

Interesting read for a city dweller all my life! siva

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author avatar Retired
14th Jul 2014 (#)

Informative and realistic. Great piece!

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
14th Jul 2014 (#)

thank you so much Mark for sharing these tips and your learnings...

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author avatar Margaret Michel
14th Jul 2014 (#)

I'm with you Mark! I would fail too slaughtering the animals would kill me, not to mention that the whole childbirth thing. I even closed my eyes when I gave birth!

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author avatar Mariah
15th Jul 2014 (#)

I have a friend who kept chickens in her back yard, people would say to her 'you'll always have a chicken on tap for the Sunday dinner" and she was horrified at the thought because she was so fond of them, they all had special names, so she would answer by saying 'Oh I could never cook and eat the pets I love..
I so get that sentiment.

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author avatar chrysolite
16th Jul 2014 (#)

High five from a homesteader in Spain! You are absolutely right in all the tips you gave - this is as it is!

Back in England we already had a "city farm" where we learned a lot and going to Spain with some money and no mortgage etc., we managed well doing fleamarkets and medieval markets selling our products.

As to slaughtering, well, I have mixed feelings about that. I absolutely cannot slaughter or kill an animal that is a pet. But I can slaughter a chicken, a duck or a goose for dinner. For bigger animals like pigs, goats and sheep we called in a couple of slaughtermen and that was perfect.

I also must state here that not all animals come with a nice character. We had our share of super aggressive animals and I have no problem slaughtering them on the spot. I was injured once by one of them and have learned my lesson. No aggressive animals on my homestead.

I also studied to become a herbalist under Dr. John R. Christopher (correspondence course) because I knew that our homestead would be 40 miles away from a hospital and 12 miles from a doctor. With this knowledge I am able to help man and beast here in case of sickness.

After 11 years of homesteading here, we can probably survive even the worst of circumstances, but I do admit that I prefer it to live at least at the fringe of "normal" society - there are good things and advantages to enjoy, too!

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author avatar spirited
18th Jul 2014 (#)

very interesting read Mark.

It just shows us just how far most of us are away from being able to go back and to live like this. We are dependents on the way things are...

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author avatar Sherri Granato
1st Aug 2014 (#)

All of these things are good to know.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Mark, I love articles like this. I don't think I could be a full time homesteader but I do practice here and there. I try to save all the vegetables from our garden to use when it's very cold outside.

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author avatar Renee Beaston
3rd Aug 2014 (#)

Good things to consider before becoming a homesteader. Like you and your wife, my animals would probably be more like pets!

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author avatar Sherri Granato
14th Aug 2014 (#)

Interesting. I would love to have a small farm. For now I guess I will settle for my garden, and the rabbits and groundhogs that keep me on my toes.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
15th Aug 2014 (#)

Mark, I came back to revisit this article. I have to smile when I read it. We have a very big garden and I've spent countless hours freezing peppers of all varieties, onions, zucchini and the list goes on. It's a lot of work but winter is coming and I'm so glad I've managed to do all this work for my winter produce. I think I'm taking today off and catching up on articles. I need a rest. Tomorrow I'll be working on my tomatoes.

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author avatar Retired
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

Sounds like a great life and I'd be happy to plant and harvest crops, but killing animals would be out of the question.

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author avatar Grumpybear
27th Jan 2015 (#)

My mom grew up on a farm. She was always talking about it. She died in 2007 and I miss her so much.

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