Homesteading in the City – Live Your Dream Life Where You Are NOW


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Homesteading is no longer limited to a 160 acre tract of land.

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There are a whole lot of things in our modern world to be discontent with, but where you live? That doesn’t have to be one of them. Sure, you might dream of a bigger place, but there’s no reason that you can’t embrace some traditional skills right where you are. Start slow, start now. You can tackle just about any of these homesteading, self-reliance skills from your apartment, urban dwelling, or suburban plot.

While I grew up on a small farm, I’ve lived in a condominium and in a number of urban homes over the years. Even when I lived in the condo with a 12′ x 12′ backyard (mostly concrete), I managed to grow some edibles. Not a ton, mind you, but some. When I lived in a subdivision, my pantry was overflowing with canned goods made from locally sourced produce. It is possible to adopt a homesteadish lifestyle without having a perfect homesteading location!

Making chicken stock (bone broth) at home is easy.

1. Learn to cook at home

If you’re unsure about cooking from scratch and don’t know anyone who can guide you, you might have to dig in and teach yourself. But cooking at home is bar none, the best homesteading skill you can have.

2. Make broth

Embracing the idea of using ingredients to the fullest, making bone broth (also called stock) is easy and good for you. You don’t need those boxes of broth from the store. Roast a whole chicken and extend that goodness by making broth.

Bread in Italy is baked fresh and sold at local fresh markets or the forno.

3. Bake bread

Is there anything better than a crusty loaf of French bread to go with your home-cooked meal? Yes, yes there is: Crusty French bread fresh out of the oven.

4. Learn how to cut up a whole chicken

If you’re buying chicken, it’s way less expensive. And if you ever butcher your own chickens, that’s the only way they come.

Grape jelly is a snap to make -- REALLY. And this? You can make with fresh grape juice or 100% grape juice from the s.t.o.r.e. Even in the middle of the winter!

5. Make jam and jelly at home

Most store bought jam and jelly contains high fructose corn syrup. Make it at home and you can choose fresh organic ingredients, and even use less sugar.

6. Learn about home preservation

Seek out local produce and learn how to turn that goodness into a fully stocked pantry. You can turn tomatoes into salsa or chutney with a simple water bath canning method. For low-acid produce like green beans, you’ll need to delve into pressure canning. If you’re really new to this, you’ll need a primer on how canning jars work.

Growing your own sprouts is economical, fast, and better for the environment. Sprouting your beans is also better for you.

7. Grow your own sprouts

Growing your own sprouts is economical, fast, and better for the environment.When you know how to sprout mung beans you’ll be able to sprout a variety of different beans, all winter long. They are crunchy, nutritious, and rich in antioxidants. Microgreens are a bit different than sprouts and another way to grow some salad fixings.

8. Make cheese

Of course, since you probably don’t have a cow yet, you’ll have to find milk from a local farmer or use what you have available at your supermarket.

Got milk? Making yogurt at home is really simple and eliminates a lot of little plastic cups!

9. Make yogurt

Those little yogurt cups? What a waste they are. Especially when you can easily make a batch at home. If you don’t want to send your kids to school with glass, these containers are a great reusable option.

10. Learn to use sourdough starter

Once you’ve got a healthy sourdough starter thriving, you can use it in making bread, pancakes, pizza dough, and so much more. If you care for your starter, it will live with your for years. You should totally name it.

If you're limited on space, container gardening might be the answer. But you've got to choose the *right containers.

 11. Grow food in containers

If you have a balcony, you can turn that area into a growing space! Many small space gardeners have been growing in containers with lots of success. Try growing in hanging containers, too, to make the most of your space. If you’ve got an outdoor patio or driveway, don’t discount those as places to set up a container garden. As long as

12. Compost under your sink

There are two good methods for composting with limited space: Vermicomposting with worms and and using a bokashi system. If done properly, neither of them will emit rank odors.

13. Learn to forage in your backyard

You probably walk past edible wild food every single day and don’t know it. Why not learn what’s wild foods are growing in your neighborhood and how to use them?

14. Make your own laundry soap

Commercial laundry detergent contains some harsh chemicals. And then there’s the packaging. You can make your own using simple ingredients that are gentler on the environment and eliminate skin rashes for people with tender skin.

seedling

15. Learn to plant a seed

If you’ve never planted a garden, it’s possible that you’ve never planted a seed at all. Time to learn! Even if you don’t have garden space, you can tuck some seeds into a planter on the windowsill.

16. Learn to save seeds

By saving seeds from your heirloom or open-pollinated veggie plants, you can keep the growing cycle going. No need to spend money on new seeds every year!

Seed saving is easy and it allows you to maintain a continuous supply of heirloom or open-pollinated seeds, thus increasing your food security and decreasing your garden expenses.

17. Know how to store dry goods

One of the tenets of back-to-basics cooking is cooking from scratch with simple ingredients like flour, dry beans, and grains. If you don’t store them properly, though, they can go bad.

18. Dehydrate 

A dehydrator is simple to operate. If you can slice things, you can dehydrate things. I use an Excalibur dehydrator, but you can also use a low oven to preserve local produce. Here’s how I dry bananas.

Build a rocket stove, even in a tiny backyard.

19. Build a rocket stove

Even if you have a tiny backyard you can put together this easy rocket stove and spend some time under the night sky.

In it's simplest form, mead is a fermented alcohol drink made with honey and water, also sometimes called "honey wine."

20. Learn to make booze

Fermenting foods is gaining in popularity, but did you know you can also ferment your own booze? Not the hard liquor kind, but check out this recipe for homemade mead.

21. Dry laundry when the power is out

Sure, you know how to hang a brassiere so it doesn’t get all wonky in the dryer. But learning how to hang clothes to dry (it’s not hard) is good practice and will help you lower your energy bill.

Quail Eggs: A perfect small space solution

22. Raise quail

Sound crazy? Maybe. But quail are small. People even raise them inside their homes. They don’t take much space, making them the perfect egg-laying bird for urban and suburban homesteaders.

23. Make soap

Can you imagine not buying soap? I mean, we’ve always bought soap! (I have vague memories of a rock hard bar of lye soap at my grandma’s, but that was an anomaly.) Turns out, it’s a homesteading skill we can all learn at home. Again with the saving money!

24. Sew on a button

It’s a simple skill, but one that not many people tackle these days. Instead of tossing out that pair of pants when you bust a button, learn to sew it back on!

Find inspiration in Your Custom Homestead

Your Custom Homestead

Early on in her book, Your Custom Homestead, author Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead makes the point that these days, homesteading is no longer 160 acres and a sod house. Instead, it’s more of a mindset. I couldn’t agree more. You may not think of yourself as a homesteader. You might prefer the term urban farmer. Or micro-farmer. Or survivalist. Or you might just be thinking about taking steps toward a more self sufficient lifestyle. No matter how you identify yourself, Winger’s book in an inspiring read. And at $8.99, this e-book is a bargain.

I’m impressed with Winger’s encouragement to use creative problem solving in figuring out how to make the homesteading lifestyle work for various situations. This is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor!

The meat of the book includes actionable items that will help move you forward in your quest to live the homesteading life. While these sound simple—set goals, prioritize, expand your skill-set—the author spells out why these actions are important, suggests ways to implement these changes, and shares an anecdote from her own homesteading efforts for each activity. After reading this book, I’m reminded again at how sorely lacking I am in my organizational skills. (Adding to list: Start garden journal!)

Excerpt:

Busy seasons on a homestead seem to come in phases. The majority of our work load occurs in the summertime, but your own busy times will depend on your climate and what types of animals and plants you keep. Regardless of what type of custom homestead you are creating, I cannot fully express how important it is to keep an eye on the calendar for upcoming events.

You might assume that it will be easy to remember when the garlic needs planted in the fall, but don’t be surprised when December rolls around and you have yet to even think about purchasing your seed garlic. When you are homesteading, years seem to fly by at lightning speed.

Your Custom Homestead is an e-book that can be read on your computer, Kindle, tablet, or phone.

I received this book for review purposes.

 

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