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What is a Homestead?
If you’re asking this question you’ve likely heard that term around. Maybe you want to homestead, or maybe you want to understand what it all means. Many people envision a homestead with pioneer living or Little House on the Prairie books. Homesteading is a lifestyle choice that changes the dynamic of where your food and products come from.
What a homestead looks like changes depending on what your goals are.
Often skills are progressed over time (and by making mistakes!).
A homestead is a means of some food security from gardening or keeping animals on a piece of land.
That land can be a small urban one, to a large acreage. Homesteads vary from focusing on eggs and vegetables, to keeping meat animals or dairy for cheese and milk. Your land size, finances and location will change what you can do with it. If you have a mountainside piece of land, keeping a cow will likely not be optimal. Goats on the other hand, could eat up the bush for you and are better suited. You might have a small urban lot and can grow a decent size garden, but can’t keep chickens.
What your homestead looks like also depends on your time to devote to it
Some people are part time homesteaders, or they give their life to it.
It’s not easy. Making things from scratch, milking an animal at 5 am or cleaning out a chicken coop, all require hard work. We’ve been trying to grow enough food to feed a family and it’s a challenge. Depending on the season, weather can through a drought your way, babies are born, mistakes made.
Thank goodness for grocery stores to supplement the learning process.
Planning your Modern homestead and learning skills
Here are some ideas and list of skills you can learn over time. Remember a lot of what your homesteading is will depend on your finances and location. Buying a cow and feeding it, milking equipment, it all costs money. Starting a garden costs a lot upfront with soil, amendments or building materials. I love using my homestead planner printable sheets to create a budget and write goals down.
Creating goals based on your financial budget helps!
Check out my homestead planner
Urban & Kitchen Skills
Here are some ideas if you want to start an urban homestead. A lot of the skills you need for a large piece of land, can be practices in an urban setting. Learning basic gardening skills or preserving, even making food from scratch, is important modern homesteading.
- Keep kitchen herbs
- Grow microgreens indoors
- Learn home baking skills and making food from scratch
- Start a garden (use small space saving tips)
- Buy seasonal fruit or veggies and learn how to preserve food
- Practice home canning, dehydrating, or fermentation
- Growing a herbal tea
You might have an urban piece of land where you’re allowed to keep chickens or have bees. You’ll need to check in with your local town or city, and state to find out the laws of what you can do.
Using and Designing a Larger Piece of Land
Remember animals require safe housing and feed. Large animals will require storing large amounts of feed over the winter months. If you have a dairy animal, you will need a clean space for milking and equipment. I’ve talked in-depth about how to design and homestead land and farm plans.
Homestead skills for an acreage
- Keep chicken breeds for eggs
- Goat or cow for home dairy
- Start a beehive for your own honey and beeswax
- Detailed garden planning for more yields.
- Planting a modern victory garden or even a self-reliance garden
- Plant a medicinal herb garden
- Grow a large homestead garden for lots of preserving
- Lots of preserving for the off-season
- Year-round gardening with season extenders adds more harvests
- Fruit trees or permaculture food forests
- Consider growing larger fields of your own hay or animal feed for self-sufficiency
Do you homestead?
What does your homestead look like?
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.