Homestead living is no longer limited to a 160 acre tract of land.
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 homestead living 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!
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.
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.
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. Homestead living at its best!
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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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 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
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?
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.
16. Learn to plant a seed to start homestead living
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 for homestead living and will help you lower your energy bill.
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 homestead living.
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!
It’s a simple homestead living 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
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. 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!
Small steps toward homestead living
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!)
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.