Homesteading is an idea many people are entertaining in our declining economic environment, but many don’t know where to begin. This post is the first in a series I will be writing over the next few weeks to help you get started if you are leaning in this direction.
First, I want to point out that where you are is where you start. Please don’t think you can’t start learning or helping yourself unless you have 20 acres, a barn, and an old house. The first mistake I think people make is not learning to use what they have before moving on to something bigger. Even apartment dwellers can begin homesteading right where they are.
Here is how to get going. Sit down with a pad of paper and a pencil. Now, you are going to decide what your reasons are for wanting to homestead and what your dreams are, then write them down. This will help you set goals. After you complete this, take the rest of the day to mull over what you wrote, and add or change things as needed.
Okay, you have a list of reasons about why you want to homestead and your up-in-the-clouds dreams outlined. Now, today I want you to look around you and write down everything you have available to you. Look at your living space, yard, bank account, and personal skills. Do you have a savings? Is your home paid for? Do you garden or have experience in food preservation and animal husbandry? These things will give you a starting place and help you evaluate steps you will take next. Again, take a break after doing this to let it simmer in your mind.
Now that you have had a break, get your paper and pencil back out and set some goals. Yours may be different from mine, but to me the most important thing to consider in homesteading is debt. Unless you are doing it as a hobby, you will most likely be considering monetary decline and possible job loss and the need to be self-sufficient. Unless your home is already paid for, you should consider finding a way to get out of debt as quickly as possible. This may mean paying extra an your current property, or down-sizing to something you can pay for immediately. It’s generally not a good idea to go out and spend a fortune on some huge tract of property if you have to go into debt to do it.
Another good goal is to find areas about homesteading you are not experienced at and put yourself in “homesteading school”. Here are some basics every potential homesteader should learn about: animal husbandry (chickens, geese, ducks, pigs, cows, goats, etc.), gardening, home repair, food preservation, and land management. If possible, get hands-on experience from someone who is already doing these things. If nothing else, get a few books and start reading and taking notes.
This is your first step. Next week I will share how to start gaining hands-on homesteading skills, even if you live in an apartment.