De parvis, grandis acervus erit. “From small things, there will grow a mighty heap.”
October 26, 2017 BY Cassie Let me know what you think! Leave a comment below:
I’m not sure when the term Homesteading came into vogue…
But when my grandparents were growing up, living off the land and providing for your family with the bare essentials wasn’t called “Homesteading” but merely survival. With 11 hungry siblings beneath her and a family to feed on a coal miners wages, my grandmother learned early and learned well, the fine art of creating a meal from anything available and making do with what you had. When I think about the life my grandmother led only 2 generations ago, I feel downright gluttonous at times when I consider the abundance and easy access I have now-a-days to food, supplies, and resources. I think I must have a little bit of that mountaineer spirit still in me though, as there is something within me that craves a connection back to the land and providing for my family in a way that I can’t purchase from a store.
That is why as I settle into my new home, creating our very own mini-homestead is near and dear to my heart. Here are some suggestions below for starting your own homestead lifestyle no matter where you are or what you have to start. Now, let’s get going together!
First Things First: Take Inventory
Now, everyone’s version of a homestead is different and mine will be a work in progress for many years to come. With that said though, no one starts with nothing. The first step in establishing a new homestead is to evaluate and list the resources and skills that you currently posses. When I make my list I include things such as; 2 acres of usable land, 11 chickens and a coop, gardening skills, and baking skills. When making your list, brainstorm resources and skills that you can utilize to produce necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and/or utilities for yourself. Include anything you can think of on your list to give yourself an accurate picture of where you are beginning.
Now onto Immediate Tasks:
Once you have a clear picture of where you are starting, It’s time to tackle the tasks that need to happen in the near future to get you moving forward on your homesteading journey. When we moved into our new home, that included tasks such as purchasing a new mower to take care of our much larger lot, designing a run for our chickens, and starting a compost pile.
When making your list of immediate tasks, list them by level of priority so you know where to budget your time and resources. The current season will make a big difference in making your immediate list as well. Since we moved in September, my initial priorities included things like getting a leaf blower and filling the gas tank as opposed to starting my garden beds and investing in seeds. Allow what season you are in to guide your Immediate Task List as well.
Make a Longer Term Plan
Now, this is the step for me that can feel overwhelming. I want to do it all and do it all yesterday, so sitting down and trying to lay out a longer term plan can leave me itching to bite off more projects than I can chew. I’ve found it essential though, to get all of my plans out of my head (and off of my Pinterest boards!) and onto paper so that I can realistically plan on what can get done and when. Your longer term plan can be for any length of time that you want to tackle.
My current plan for our new Homestead is for the next 2 years, and it is full! Next spring we need to invest in a lawn barn, build raised beds, start on the kiddos outdoor play area and enlarge our chicken run. The summer includes maintaining our garden, preparing an orchard area and clearing some more of our land. By fall I hope to have a nice size harvest to put up for the winter and plan on doing lots of research into which meat animals I want to raise the next year (I can’t decide!) so I can begin to build the housing necessary. Winter will be time to really dig in and research what animals I hope to invest in and plan the next year’s garden. All of that is just in one year’s plan and I know it will have to be edited and adapted over and over. Don’t be afraid to update your plan as your life and homestead grows and changes!
Once you’ve made a realistic long-term plan for your homestead the goals you hope to achieve, it’s time to carve out a chunk of time to settle down with a cup of tea and allow yourself to dream. Make a list of the things that you would absolutely love to have on your homestead, or goals that you dream of achieving. This time of dreaming will motivate you to bigger and better things, and will encourage you when the day-to-day tasks on the homestead start dragging you down. Creating a new homestead is work, and sweat, and you receive little external accolades, but when you look back over your “Homestead Dream List”, hopefully, you’ll be excited and invigorated anew!
My own personal dream list includes creating a pond from our little creek, having a home orchard complete with berry bushes, and owning at least 1 milk producing goat or even cow! While I know these goals are longer reaching, they excite me and give me motivation to do the work now to get to where I want to be!
Now, Go and Start Somewhere!
Remember, when starting your own homestead, don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture, just start somewhere! This year I was excited to find that our new land had several established and producing walnut trees. The boys and I have taken a few afternoons to gather, hull, and lay the walnuts out to dry so that we can crack them and store them this winter. Is it a big step? No, but it is one step closer to living a life connected to our land, each other, and the seasons, and isn’t that what homesteading is all about…
Are you in the process of starting your own homestead, or do you have some tips to share? Please leave a comment below!