My FIRST harvest. Not particularly spectacular; a deformed bell pepper, a few radishes, some super bitter sun scorched cucumbers, just two ears of corn that had maybe 30 kernels pollinated…but the cherry and pear tomatoes were gorgeous! It wasn’t much but to me it was a huge deal and was the high that led to be literally addicted to gardening.
Since I was a little girl I have wanted a home farm so I cannot really remember when I first thought – hey, I want to homestead – but after getting married I knew that homesteading was going to be my goal and I am just very lucky that I have a spouse who supports the madness and actually wants in on it too… provided there are fresh tomatoes for as much of the year as possible!
Sometimes they don’t turn green before the cold but thanks to the Southern states we can make pickled green tomatoes if we don’t make them fried.
So what do you do when you want to be a homesteader? Well its not often an instant endeavor and it is a lifelong learning process. You may be in a city with only a balcony, you may live in an apartment but near enough to a community garden, the suburbs may be where you call home or you may already live in the country. It doesn’t matter where you are, there are SO many things you can learn and do wherever life has you right now.
In no particular order, here is a list of things that you can do to nourish that Old Soul of yours:
- READ – I can not over emphasize enough how truly valuable your local library is. They will have all manner of books that can teach you skills and history. Our local library has a ‘local’ section where we can find books specific to our area such as managing the soil or growing a particular cash crop. One of the books that I loved so much that I bought is The Encyclopedia of Country Living [Emery] .
- RRR (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) – Our ancestors would have been outraged at the amount of packaging and “throw away” fashion or appliances we have today. But we don’t have to be driven by the consumer nature that seems to be normal for our times. Reduce how much you put into the landfill by using something as simple as a cloth bag for your groceries or switching from paper towels to washable rags. Reuse or re-purpose before you throw something out such as keeping condiment jars for storing spices or dried fruit in. Recycle by turning a felted woolen sweater into boot cuffs.
- COOK – Now I understand that everyone schedules differ but you will get immense satisfaction by making at least one meal a day from scratch and if you have this homestead bug then you probably do this already. This could be as simple as foregoing pre-flavored oatmeal in favor of making your own from plain oats and adding fruit and nuts to it yourself or it could be as elaborate as never buying anything that is not a whole food (raw and in it’s natural state).
- GROW – Get your hands dirty either in containers on your balcony and grow some herbs OR turn your lawn into a food garden (local covenants allowing). While you are learning, getting your thumbs green with a few containers will teach you a lot about gardening even if you don’t yet have an actual in-ground garden.
- YOUTUBE and BLOGS – there is a plethora of knowledge out there and book knowledge is only one level. Find some YouTube speakers and Bloggers that cover topics that you are interested in because personal experiences can fill in what reference books miss. Historically we would have learned skills from family and neighbors but many homestead skills are being lost and so like-minded people can be your internet ‘family’ and we can learn a lot from our peers.
So there are my first tips to stoking that homestead fire in your heart and you might have noticed that the key theme is knowledge and practice.
The more you know before trying to go whole hog the more comfortable you will be. The wonder of homesteading is that there IS so much to learn but if it is something you have passion about then it is not a chore.
Learning and practicing SKILLS will be the key to success on your homesteading endeavors and the more you can learn on the way the better equipped you will be.