So You Want To Homestead?

Last Updated on January 29, 2021

So want to homestead or are thinking about trying out homesteading? If so, you aren’t alone. This simpler way of living has begun gaining popularity over the last few years. There are many reasons, but so many people are tired of the hustle and bustle of city living and some just want to be closer to their food source. 

This past year we did something crazy. We decided to put our house in Tennessee on the market and move to Ohio. Although we didn’t have any property to speak of in Tennessee, our house was truly lovely. However, we wanted less house and more land. Truth be told, my husband is a snow junkie and was craving snow. After much prayer, considerations, and lengthy late-night discussions, we decided to take the step. 

The week after we listed our house, COVID hit full force. Open houses turned into virtual tours. Needless to say, our house sits vacant. In the meantime, we secured temporary housing at the Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. The week after we moved, the Governor of Ohio shut everything down. We were (and still are) living in crazy times! Luckily, the Army prepared us for such happenstances and we took it all in stride. Praise the Lord we had a small stockpile of toilet paper we brought with us to Ohio because none could be found!  

We were looking for our forever home, but couldn’t commit to anything until our house in Tennessee sold. Although we weren’t necessarily in a rush, we were also disappointed to see homes hit the market that seemed to hit all our needs. It was frustrating nonetheless! 

Even though COVID put a damper on the selling of our home in Tennessee, it did finally sell. We were elated. While the ink was still wet on the closing, we were already on the hunt for our little homestead. We knew we wanted enough property to homestead, we just weren’t sure what we could find within our price range. I also knew I needed a functional kitchen. But let me just say that the housing market in Ohio is RIDICULOUS! The house hits the market today and it’s gone tomorrow. So frustrating!

Anyway, we expanded our search and found our home way out in the middle of nowhere! We are surrounded by cornfields, soybean fields, cows, horses, and natural beauty. We also found our little homestead nestled on several acres. We were elated to find such a dream!  

While homesteading seems like an interesting and fun way to live, there are many factors to consider before jumping in headfirst. These questions are just a few that you should ask yourself before starting out.

What is a Modern Homesteader?

A modern homesteader ranges from people who grow their own vegetables or raise animals for meat to someone who is completely self-sufficient and off-grid.

When you boil it down, homesteading is about relying more on yourself instead of commercial outlets.

What Are Your Interests? WHY Do You Want to Homestead?

 

There’s a lot that goes into homesteading, so before you decide homesteading is for you, you should ask yourself if you’re ready for the work. Raising your own crops and gardens or taking care of farm animals has often been romanticized. We all see the beautiful pictures of vegetables and fruits and think to ourselves, “I can do that.” I’m sure you can because I believe in you. But know there’s a lot of work involved. Luckily, I grew up on a farm and I have years of experience with homesteading. My husband, on the other hand, didn’t. He hasn’t the first clue, but he’s eager to learn. Plus he’s handy with tools and building things. And he’s not afraid to work or get his hands dirty.  

Before you decide to jump into homesteading, you should ask yourself a series of questions. Do you like taking care of animals? Do you like working with your hands? Are you okay getting a little dirty? Could you make things like a pig or goat shelters? A chicken coop? What if you get pecked gathering eggs? Can you keep a plant alive? Are you okay with not being able to take an extended vacation?

As I said, homesteading can be hard work. Whether you like the tasks or not, they have to be done. And it will get hard and tedious at times, but you have to continue if you expect any returns on your hard work. 

Do you want to live a healthier lifestyle? Get back to your roots and closer to how your ancestors lived or, as in my case, how I grew up? Be closer to your food source? A good steward of the land? 

There are all kinds of reasons to start a homestead. I recommend having a lengthy discussion with your significant other to decide if the daily activities are for you. 

Will You Make Money or is This a Hobby?

Do you want to start a money-making homestead or do this for enjoyment? Will you sell goods to other people or is all the food you grow only for you and your family?

You have to decide if you want to set this up as a hobby, side-hustle, or full-time business. There are different models that come with all three.

How Much Time Can I Devote to Homesteading?

Once you figure out whether homesteading will be a hobby or provide your family with an income, then it will be easier to determine how much time you can spend on this new venture. 

As a hobby, you’ll only be spending a few hours a week. Basically, you’re looking at chickens and a small garden. 

If you have more time to devote and want to make an income then consider planting a larger garden and adding in more animals. Pigs and goats are excellent homesteading animals. 

 

The Half-Acre Homestead: 46 Years of Building and GardeningThe Half-Acre Homestead: 46 Years of Building and Gardening

 

 

How Much Does it Cost to Start Homesteading?

This varies depending on what you already own. You don’t need a massive amount of land to homestead. If you’re looking at a small garden, you could get by on just 1/2 acre or less. If you’re looking at adding chickens, you can get by on 1/2 acre at least. However, make sure it’s allowed in your city ordnance (we ran into this problem on our home search). When it’s all said and done, you’re looking at costs of around $50 up to $150 for your seeds and tools. It could be more for building materials if you’re creating raised beds and fencing.

You can definitely invest more with raised beds, garden hoops, and other equipment, but there is nothing wrong with starting simple. Same with animals. You can always expand later as you get more comfortable and have more funds available. 

Chickens are easiest to start with and all you need is a coop and maybe an electric fence depending on where you live. Plus you’ll have to buy the chicks. The up-front costs for this will be anywhere from $400 – $1,000+++ depending on building materials for the coop and fencing costs.

If you want to jump in headfirst and purchase a bit of land for your homestead then you’re looking in the thousands. You really only need an acre or two to start a small homestead, but if you know you want to add larger animals down the road then more land may be in order.

 

 

What States Allow Homesteading?

The laws about homesteading vary from state to state. Be sure to check with your state and local government before you begin your own homestead. In some areas, there can be restrictions on animals or tax advantages to homesteading. We made sure that there were NO restrictions on our homestead. 

There are some states that are more homestead friendly than others. Some of the best are Ohio, Idaho, Oregon, Missouri, and Tennessee.

How Much Land Do You Need for a Homestead?

As I said, you don’t need to have a ton of land to start a homestead. You can have a small garden on 1/4 of an acre! However, the average homesteader who raises animals and a garden that will feed the whole family typically has around 4-5 acres.

If you want to be completely self-sufficient then you’ll need much more than that. It depends on the type of land you will purchase – whether that’s pasture, wooded land, etc. – but you may need anywhere from 20 – 50 acres.

The amount of land that you will need is completely dependent on the goals that you and your family have. If you just want to supplement your family’s food intake with homegrown vegetables you won’t need much. 

 

What Skills Do You Need to Start a Homestead?

There are many technical skills that can be learned and are useful on a homestead. However, the most important may be the soft skills such as patience, problem-solving, perseverance, and gratitude, just to name a few. 

When dealing with the weather, plants, and animals, everything isn’t going to be perfect all the time. You have to be prepared to go with the flow and know that you will handle each problem as it arises. Then when things do go well you’re beyond grateful.

Concrete skills that are helpful include gardening (FYI you can also start a garden with kids!), construction, cleaning and butchering animals, canning and preserving food, tending livestock, first aid, mechanic skills, and the list goes on. Homesteading requires you to continually learn new things and acquire new skills. Note: you do not need to be an expert in any of these to start a homestead. Even folks who have been homesteading forever are continuing to grow and learn! So being willing to learn is honestly one of the best skills you can have. Being able to research on Youtube doesn’t hurt either. 😉 

Have you been thinking of starting your own homestead? What questions do you have?

 

 

Halfway Homesteaders