Last week, I wrote about what modern-day homesteading is, and why I think it’s an important movement. Check out the post here if you missed it. Homesteading is much more than a list of skills you can utilize. For many, it’s a way to save money or to be prepared for things when shit-hits-the-fan. Many think it means having acres of land and a cow to homestead. Some think it means shunning modern technology and living off-grid. There are many ways to homestead.
For me, while it’s fun to say I’m collecting zombie apocalypse skills, it’s more about adapting to a lifestyle that is more simple, in tune with the Earth, and more sustainable. It’s about transitioning from a life of consumerism to a life of personal fulfillment.
Unsure of HOW to make that happen? Here are 30 ways to embrace the homestead lifestyle, and regardless of where you live!
Ways to Homestead
Grow your own food. The very easiest way to be more self-sufficient is to grow some veggies. If you have a lawn, consider replacing it with some raised beds. Don’t have a yard? Grow herbs on the doorstep, patio or windowsill.
Cook from scratch. Instead of leaving the feeding of yourself and your family to corporations, cook at home. Make meals with whole ingredients, forgoing cans or boxes.
Eat seasonally. Don’t look for tomatoes in the middle of winter. Just don’t.
Forage for wild foods. Free food and time spent outside, what’s to loose?
Hang out your laundry. It’s better for your clothes and it’s a smart choice for the environment. No space for a line? A folding rack can easily accommodate a load and will fit on a porch or in the living room.
Mend clothes. Instead of tossing something because it loses a button, or has a small tear, learn basic sewing skills to mend items.
Repair broken items instead of purchasing something new. When buying something, think about if it can be fixed once it breaks. I recently had a knife handle crack, and while I contemplated buying a new one, I decided to find a local knife-smith to repair it instead.
Make your own herbal medicines. Don’t leave your health to the responsibility to only your doctors. Learn how to make a few herbal preparations to ward off colds or other basic ailments.
Preserve food by canning, dehydrating or fermenting. Even if you have access to fresh food year round, it’s a great skill to have, and can extend the seasons of favorite produce. Plus, you know exactly what’s in it. There is nothing like opening a jar of tomato salsa or eating dried apricots when it’s cold and raining out. Fermenting also has health benefits.
Make your own beer or wine.
Do projects yourself. Instead of hiring out for someone to do something, give it a try. We are all much more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Try to build something, fix something, or repair something. If you still can’t figure it out, then give the professionals a call.
Make your own apothecary products. Maybe making the mascara is out of the question for beginners, but it’s easy to make your own cremes, scrubs, and masks.
Help the bees. Keep your own bees for honey and pollination. If you don’t have the space for your own hives, or don’t want to make that commitment, you can still help the bees by planting flowers for nectar and pollen, and not use any pesticides or herbicides in your garden.
Reuse and Repurpose. Consider an alternative use for an item you no longer need. Or if you need something, do you have anything laying around that will work? If you don’t need it, donate an item anymore, give it away instead of trashing it. I ran out of planting pots this spring, and instead of buying new plastic ones, I used newspaper.
Raise chickens for eggs.
Get to know your neighbors. Some may think homesteading is about not relying on others, but there is great value in knowing your neighbors and building community.
Compost. If you don’t want to have your own pile or a worm bin, utilize the municipal program. Don’t send biodegradables to the landfill, they don’t decompose!
Buy less shit. Remove yourself from consumerism. Make do with what you have. It’s one thing to purchase something if you need it, but we don’t need to buy the newest and latest just because. I’m still on an iPhone 5. Sure, having the new 7 would make me feel cool and I would love the new camera, but my 5 works just fine. Stop keeping up with the Joneses (were they ever an actual person?) True story, I used to buy lots of stuff, particularly clothes. It took un-subscribing from fashion and home magazines to make me feel like I didn’t HAVE to buy the things I was seeing. I stopped watching TV to avoid commercials. Any email sales ads go straight to a junk folder that I don’t look at. If you don’t see it, you won’t think you need it.
Barter. There is another economy out there besides cold, hard cash (or, I guess, plastic). I firmly believe that everyone should have a skill or a regular item that can be used as currency. Growing up, my dad regularly traded his skill of tree work for truck parts and repairs. For me, my currency is eggs. I’ve traded them for lemons, fish, cheese, computer help, fruit, and other produce.
Be a steward of the land. Treat it with respect. Don’t use herbicides or pesticides. Don’t plant invasives.
Downsize. Give away stuff, live in a smaller house, do with less.
Harvest the rain. Put up some rain barrels!
Make soap. I recently took a class on how to make soap, and while I haven’t done it myself at home, it’s SO COOL!!! And also pretty easy, once you get over a fear of the lye.
Raise your own meat. Maybe not feasible for pigs or a cow without a large space, but you can raise a few chickens, quail or rabbits. Even if you only do it once, I think it’s very important to understand exactly where your food goes. Once you kill your own food, it’s impossible not to appreciate it.
Make bone broth. Bone broth is the backbone for most of my from scratch cooking. Keep a bowl in the freezer for bits and ends, then make a big batch once a month, and freeze.
Get outside. Observe the seasons.
Make natural cleaning products. There isn’t much that you can’t clean with vinegar, baking soda and lemon.
Become eco-aware of your area. Learn about your surroundings. Do you know where your water comes from? How about where your trash goes? What types of birds migrate through your area? What was the land like or used for before your house or development was built? What phase of the moon are we currently in? Take some time for observation and for wonder.
Make your own textiles. Whether by knit, sewing or refashioning, be involved in the production of your clothing.
Did I forget anything? Leave me a comment and let me know what homesteading skill you think is the most important to know!