wikiHow to Homestead

Three Parts:Maintaining Your HomesteadGrowing Your Own FoodDeveloping Homesteading Skills

A homesteader finds great joy in running to the cellar instead of running to the store to get something for supper. The homesteading process uses available land and resources to create a self-sustaining environment, or as close to one as possible. This lifestyle can encompass living categories from building to food to energy. Some people begin living as homesteaders for cost reasons or to focus on healthy living in their local setting. Creating a homestead will take effort, patience, and determination--but the rewards are so very worth it.

Part 1
Maintaining Your Homestead

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    Make a plan. Before you throw yourself wholeheartedly into the homesteading way of life, take a step back and really assess the situation. What are your long-term goals? Do you simply hope to live more sustainably by growing your own food and finding your place in your community? Or do you hope to become completely self-sufficient, growing your own food and living entirely ‘off the grid’? Whether you want to buy a 26-acre plot of land, or simply make your suburban home more sustainable, you will have to set goals and take time to make a plan. following steps will help you to learn the basics of homesteading, but you will also have to personalize your homestead and make it fit your goals.[1]
    • It is really helpful to talk to someone (or several people) that have already begun their homesteads. They will be able to offer you advice.
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    Consider alternative energy sources. Part of homesteading is the concept of ‘living off the grid.’ In particular, renewable energy methods are important when planning out your homestead. Consider building your own solar panels, investing in wind turbines, or various hydropower systems. Consider harvesting wood from your property to burn for heat in the winter.[2]
    • You could also consider using alternative fuel sources such as biomass, Ethanol, or biodiesel.
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    Winterize your homestead. If you are planning on living self-sufficiently, you will need to winterize your home so that your homestead is comfortable in the winter. This is particularly important for those homesteaders living in colder climates. If you do not winterize your home but plan on heating your home, you will waste a good deal of energy trying to keep your house warm.
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    Create your own organic fertilizer. A large part of homesteading is growing a garden that you can reap the benefits of (and feed your family with.) If you raise farm animals, particularly cows (which are covered in Part Two of this article) then you will have plenty of rich fertilizer to go around. However, there are other ways to make fertilizer, such as by creating a compost pile, and mulching leaves and grasses.[3]
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    Get a dog. Every good homestead should have a dog, particularly if your homestead is located far and away in the country. Dogs act as guards, both for your family and for your livestock. They are also wonderful company to have when you go about your daily farm chores.

Part 2
Growing Your Own Food

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    Plant a garden. With only the financial investment of a few seeds, you can reap a harvest that far surpasses the cost of purchasing the equivalent in goods from the store. Fresh produce not only provides the best nutrition but also growing it on your own land means you have better control over the contaminants that end up on the food you eat. Any surplus can be sold, traded, or given away.[4]
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    Build a chicken coop. Chickens are one of the easier farm animals to raise. However, rather than letting your chickens wander around willy-nilly, you will want to build a coop to house your birds. The best coops have space for your chickens to roam around in, as well as nesting areas where your chickens can lay their eggs. You could also consider raising ducks or geese.
    • You may also building a hutch for rabbits. Rabbits are relatively easy livestock to take care of. Many homesteaders believe rabbit and chicken manure work very well together, as rabbit manure is ‘cold’ and chicken manure is ‘hot.’[5]
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    Consider raising a cow. Of course, you can only do this if you have the land to properly sustain a cow. Generally the minimum amount of land you should have when raising a cow is one acre. The benefits of having a cow are endless. Your family will benefit from consuming fresh, completely organic milk products, your other animals will be healthier because of the milk byproducts, such as whey, that they will consumer, and your garden will be happy thanks to the enormous amount of fertilizer your cow will produce.[6]
    • If you have the ability and land to do so, raise both dairy and meat cows.
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    Raise other farm animals. Goats and pigs both make excellent livestock. Goats are especially good because you can supplement the dairy products you get from your cow with your goat’s milk. Pigs are an excellent food source and their meat can also be sold. They can also be used to help plow up land and make fertilizer.
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    Begin beekeeping. Beekeeping is another excellent way to become self-sufficient. Eat your harvested honey, make beeswax products, sell it, or ferment it to make mead (among other uses).[7]
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    Can your fresh produce. Nearly every fresh fruit and vegetable can be canned (though some work better than others.) If your garden has a surplus of fruits or veggies, can them and save them for a season when that produce is scarce. If you plan on doing a lot of canning, it would be wise to invest in a pressure canner, as they make canning much easier and more efficient.
    • You should also consider learning how to pickle food. Like canning, pickling food can be very useful in the winter when fresh produce is scarce.
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    Make your own diary products. If you have a cow or goat, you will need to learn how to make their milk into dairy products that can be enjoyed by the whole family (or sold at farmers markets.) Make butter, cheese, yogurt, or ice cream, and enjoy the fresh milk that your livestock provides you with.[8]

Part 3
Developing Homesteading Skills

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    Learn your way around a tool box. While building up and maintaining your homestead, you will undoubtedly come across many problems that can only be fixed by diving into the toolbox. Get comfortable with the basics--hammers, screwdrivers, saws-- and learn how to use more diverse tools.
    • You should also buy yourself a good knife and sheath that can be strapped to your belt. On a homestead, you never know when a knife will come in handy--whether its used for cutting rope or gently slicing the wool of a sheep that’s become tangled up in a briar patch.
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    Learn how to sew your own clothes. Part of being self-sufficient is not needing to buy anything from anyone else. At the very least, you will need to learn how to patch clothes up, mend socks, and sew rips. If you can create your own clothes, you will be even more self-sufficient.
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    Consider raising animals for their wool. In particular, llamas and sheep are excellent livestock to have on a homestead, as their wool can be made into items to trade or sell.[9]
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    Make your own soap and other products. Items like soap and candles can be easily made at home--all you need is a little practice. Learning how to make basic household goods will help you make the transition from being a consumer to a producer.[10]
    • You can also sell or trade your homemade products. Establish yourself as a skilled craftsperson in your community.
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    Reuse as many items as you can. Creating a cycle with your resources where you can reuse supplies or where you get to use something created from your efforts without having to go to the store to make a purchase, builds on your homesteading, making it easier and more successful. You can use the eggs that come from your chickens. You can replenish your seed stock from plants that have gone to seed. Gather and reuse rainwater.


  • Read this article as a guide to helping you get started, but adjust these tips to fit your own plan and goals.
  • Talk to people who have started homesteads before you begin your own. Chances are, they will be able to offer you many helpful tips.
  • Owning chickens for eggs is extremely helpful.

Article Info

Categories: Appreciation of Food