When I was beginning homesteading I had a ton of questions running through my mind. I sat down with a pen and pad and made a list. Then I went through the list eliminating duplicate questions or questions that I felt would be answered by the remaining questions.
I ended up with a much shorter list that goes back to the basics:
What? Why? How? Who? When?
For me, homesteading was about producing food that I could be assured was with only non-GMO seeds.
I wanted to have the ability to grown my own organic vegetables and raise chickens that were fed non-GMO food so that I would have organic eggs as well.
Why Start Homesteading?
As I said earlier, my main goal was to know where my food came from and how it was grown. I have grown tired of the over-processed food that most Americans consume. Not only is it not natural food but it isn’t really even good food. To me, a lot of it has no flavor and I know the nutritional value of it is pretty poor.
Since I live in an urban area I knew I did not have enough space to grow everything that I would eat but with proper planning, I figured that I could grow enough to dramatically improve my diet and my health.
What Are Homesteading Skills?
Based on that list, I needed to know what homesteading skills I would need to be successful. Since I am not on a farm I knew that I would be limited to vegetable gardening and raising chickens.
First, I verified with the county that I live in that I could raise chickens in my backyard. The answer was yes as long as there aren’t any roosters due to the excess noise they make.
I was OK with that because I was interested in egg production, not hatching and raising baby chicks to sell.
Second, I looked at my backyard and drew up a plan (OK, several plans until I finally got it to a sustainable plan) for a garden area and an area for the chicken coop and run.
I did not have to think about raising goats or cows because I don’t have enough land for them. I really wasn’t interested in raising rabbits either so I knew I had the beginnings of an urban homestead plan in place.
Now I just needed to figure out how to get started.
How to Start Homesteading Today
For me, it was pretty simple. Since my plan was for vegetables and chickens I started by removing everything from my backyard. Then, I took my plan and laid it out using some 2×4’s that I had as borders for each area. I adjusted the borders until everything not only fit but also allowed for a good workflow. I also had to work around some existing flower beds that I didn’t want to remove yet.
Once I had my areas laid out I began by building raised garden beds for the vegetables. I used some concrete blocks and steps and lumber that I already had plus I bought some additional pieces and some wire mesh screen and fencing material to get the project started.
This area has been modified many times already in attempts to make it more functional and to grow more vegetables.
I now have a much better layout with dedicated areas for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, green beans, onions, and carrots. I still have enough room to walk between the raised beds for weeding and watering purposes.
My next project for that area is going to be a watering system on a timer so that I can make sure the plants don’t get overheated during the hot summer months here. I’d also like to learn more about solar power so using a solar-powered timer might be part of this project.
After the garden area was laid out and functional I started on the chicken coop and run. I built a coop for 8 hens even though I only have 4 right now. I wanted to have room to add to the flock if I decided to do so without having to add on to the existing coop.
I fenced in a nice area for the hens to run around in. They can get plenty of sunshine but they also have shade for when it gets too hot. So far, they seem to be very happy with their environment.
How Much Does Homesteading Cost?
Let’s be honest, getting started with homesteading is not cheap. You have to buy a lot of tools and in my case lumber, nails, fencing and roofing material, chicken feeders, heirloom seeds, etc.
So far I have spent about $800 to get started but I am getting results for that money.
I am getting homegrown organic tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and beans as well as fresh organic eggs from my hens.
How to Start Homesteading with No Money
If you are good at bartering then you could probably find people to trade with to gather the materials that you need to build garden beds and chicken coops and nesting boxes.
You might even be able to trade labor for some of those items or find someone else in your area that is getting started and the two of you work together to help each other.
I used as many things that I already had laying around my house as I could when I built the raised garden beds and the chicken coop. I only bought things that I had to buy in order to keep the startup costs down.
If money had been tighter then I would have gone online and found others near me that were either already homesteading or were getting started and tried to work some trades. But honestly I suck at barter so I am probably better off that I didn’t go that route.
How Hard is Homesteading?
It is a lot of work. I have things that I have to do every day to keep things going as smoothly as possible. On average I spend about 90 minutes a day checking on the garden and the chickens.
That time goes up in the late winter, early spring when I am prepping the garden beds but I do most of that on weekends anyway so it isn’t a big deal.
For me, the benefits of homesteading outweigh the extra work.
I am eating much healthier food, I know where and how it was grown and I enjoy it.
Some of my friends have asked why I do this when it is cheaper to just go to the grocery store and buy what is there.
My answer is always the same – “Don’t buy the cheap stuff there, buy the organic and then the price difference is a lot smaller.”
Plus, you don’t really know with 100% certainty that it is truly organic when you buy it. Big companies have lied to consumers before and will do so again.
As for me, I’ll stick to what I am growing as much as possible and maybe one day I’ll move someplace where I can have enough land to have a larger garden or a greenhouse and maybe even learn to raise cows.
Chris has spent many years working and teaching in the IT field. He enjoys spending time outdoors and learning about new topics. He likes playing golf, spending time at the beach and working on classic cars and woodworking projects.