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Sonlit Acres

Encouraging sustainable living

Is Homesteading Your Dream

Is homesteading your dream? More people are homesteading, and raising most of their food and some are making a living off their land. If you long to get off the 9-5 program and onto your own land, here are some of the important steps you have to take to pursue a life of freedom

Any farmer or homesteader will tell you, unless you own a corporation with hundreds, if not thousands of acres of land, you won’t make a fabulous income living off the land. Those farmers who do own hundreds of acres and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment (along with the payment book to prove it) are struggling to make it. The secret is to live simply, be debt free and downsize. 

Sell that newer car with those high car payments and buy a used model, preferably one with no payments. Avoid fast food and cook at home instead. Learn to live on a budget and cut back on unnecessary expenses. Then use that extra money to pay off your loans.

When you're ready you can search out a piece of land that will suit your needs, being sure you have some space for a sizable garden and some room to raise some livestock. Put in some raised beds or plow up a good chunk and grow potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables. Learn to preserve your food through canning, drying and freezing, so that you go to your pantry instead of the grocery store, cutting down on cost and time. Growing food is one of the most satisfying aspects of homesteading.

Try a goat, goats will supply you with milk, meat and cheese. Control their diet only hay and grains and your goat’s milk will taste exactly like cow’s milk, only sweeter. Plus, many people are realizing the health benefits of raw goat’s milk, making it a marketable product. Get two or three female goats  or does  along with a Billy goat, and you will have enough milk for your family and some extra to sell to cover your cost. I personally have never had a milk goat but have milked and drank milk from them.

Raise some chickens; these wonderful birds will supply you with eggs, meat, and even income if you raise enough of them. Fresh chicken eggs are easy to sell. These eggs are delicious, and if they come from chickens that have eaten mostly grass and insects. Chickens that live in chicken tractors, for example are also far healthier and more valuable than the store-bought brand, and being raised on pasture or free ranged your eggs can bring a higher price.

Many people who try living off the land make the mistake of raising a single product in large supply and then selling it. But if the crop should fail, then you have trouble. Instead, raise a small supply of several things to sell. Sell chicken eggs and goat’s milk, honey and produce when it’s in season. That way if one item fails to produce, you have others to fall back on.  

A few years ago, raising emus was the rage in our neck of the woods; At least they were until those raising them realized not many people are willing to eat emu’s meat. For the homestead, it is far wiser to stick with chickens, pigs, and cattle, for example. Raising something unusual and hoping to get rich off it like many get rich quick schemes usually leaves you with an empty pocketbook and an animal nobody wants and you have to feed.

Raise only what you will or like to eat. This goes with the Emu example above. If you don’t sell those hundreds of bushels of vegetables, be prepared to eat them. If you don’t enjoy them that much, then don’t grow them.

Learn a new trade; during hard times, people might not need an insurance adjuster, but they will need someone who can fix things. Consider learning carpentry, electrical work or mechanics. Learn to make practical, useful items that you can sell or barter with. There is no better way to prepare for a life of homesteading than to be a jack of all trades.  

Do you really need three television sets? They use electricity even when they are not running. How about that large home? Do you really need all that space, and all that clutter you accumulated to fill it? Learn to live on less. Cleaning and protecting all those things simply takes up precious time and money. The life of homesteading is one of simplicity. Not look and see what or how much I have.

Pay attention how much you are driving! You won’t be able to homestead successfully if you are driving into town every day for one thing or another. If you are a soccer mom and trying to homestead, you are going to become exhausted and in a hurry. Caring for children, the garden and the livestock is a full time job that requires you to spend a lot of time at home. Plus, the fuel and wear and tear on your car is expensive. If you don’t like staying at home, the homestead life is not for you.

 Find others that are passionate about homesteading. Look at our forum e mail group or our Facebook page. . Go to your nearby feed store and see if they know who may offer classes on animal husbandry. Sign up for an organic gardening class. All of these will get you in touch with people who can share information with you and who will encourage you.

Pursuing a life on a homestead is wonderful, but it does involve a lot of hard, physical labor. You will be lifting hay bales, chasing contrary critters and moving chicken tractors and maybe even cutting your own wood or milling your own lumber.  I personally love the work (and the great sleep I get each night), but if you prefer a desk job, then naturally, the homesteading life probably isn’t for you.

If you think you can do these things. Then start working on getting out of debt and starting a life of freedom.

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