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WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
You don’t have to have 10 acres of land to start homesteading and homemaking; you don’t even have to have an acre. Do you live in New York City and want to become a homesteader? This post is for you then, friend!
Homesteading is mainly about self-sufficiency and simplicity. You don’t have to practice animal husbandry or grow enough vegetables for your whole county. Full self-sufficiency in a city, or even many rural areas, isn’t always achievable but that doesn’t mean you can’t take small steps to work towards the highest level of achievement in your reach. As my motto goes: “Living simply isn’t always simple, but always worth it”. Throw away the thought in your mind that you can never achieve the homemaking goals you have and try your hand at some of these activities.
This is [thankfully] something I did not have to learn. When my husband and I met, we were attending school at ETSU getting our majors in Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies. Shortly after we met we decided to try and make money playing music than to pay money to play music so we dropped out, got rid of everything we owned, and hit the road. For almost 3 years our belongings fit completely in our 2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring. I’ll admit it was hard at age 21 to give everything away but it was one of the best lessons I’ve learned and actions I’ve done. Now every single new year I have a nice big “House Purge”! Clothes, sports equipment, cake pans, candles, toiletries, etc. If I haven’t seen it recently, it is usually moved to the purge pile and then donated.
COOK FROM SCRATCH
Cooking and baking from scratch is possibly my most favorite activity of the “home-ing” varieties. I come from a family of phenomenal bakers and cooks so the pressure was on! Since I’ve started to homestead I’ve learned to make my favorite chocolate cake, the best damn castiron buttermilk biscuits you’ve ever had (Sorry to your Grandma, but it’s true), and some of the most beautiful loaves of bread. Not only is cooking from scratch good for the soul but it can also save you a considerable amount of money.
START A GARDEN
Don’t try to use the “I live in the city” excuse on this one because there are urban gardens popping up North, South, East, and West. I will give it to you that you might not be able to plant a full-throttled vegetable garden but what about a small herb garden? In college, I had a roommate that had a nice, compact herb garden in our kitchen equipped with a grow light and little pod system; it was kind of like this one. It was so fun to have fresh herbs and such an easy thing to do. You can get a setup like that one or you can just swing by Home Depot and pick up a window seal planter and get to work! Certain vegetables also do really great in containers such as tomatoes, peppers, and even spinach and lettuce. Some good soil, water, and TLC make a plant grow, grow, grow!
LEARN TO SEW
One of the best decisions I’ve ever made, besides becoming a homesteader and giving away all my belongings, is buying a sewing machine. I have a really simple machine that I paid less than $100 for brand new. It’s great for beginners, like me, and can take a beating! In one year I’ve learned to sew makeup bags, crossbody purses, diaper bags, and (my most recent achievement) pleated skirts! It’s a lot of fun to give homemade Christmas gifts to people every year and, you guessed it, can save you a considerable amount of money…even more than cooking from scratch will save you sometimes! You may think sewing is a huge time commitment but I can honestly say that is not true. Sure, if you want to sew wedding dresses one day you might want to put in the hours, but to sew the simple makeup bag will take you, at most, two weeks.
BONUS TIP!: One of my best friends helped me out when I first started sewing and she sells her upcycled, made from love items on her Etsy store OneThingToAnother. She’s currently taking a short break but when she’s back up and running I highly suggest purchasing one of her lavender-mint aromatherapy eye pillows. I also have one of her essential oil carriers – they clip right onto your purse and the bottles fit perfectly, equipped with a nice zipper.
Another thing that can save money and get you one step closer to becoming a bonified homesteader is making your own cleaning supplies. If you haven’t already figured it out, you don’t need much (chemicals) to make your home squeaky clean. When I clean my house it’s done with baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils. I’ve also been making my own laundry detergent now for two years and I only do it once a year. YES! I make laundry detergent only once a year. Granted, I don’t have children so that might change when that time of my life arrives, but until then I use (AND LOVE) this “recipe” and you should, too! You can also make your own hand soap and hair supplies! Pinterest is gold-mine for things like that.
DO IT YOURSELF
We’ve already covered this, really. Sewing, making your own cleaning supplies, and baking and cooking from scratch all fall under a really wonderful category: DIY. The DIY projects are “where it’s at” these days and it seems that all the cool kids are doing it. You can make coffee tables out of pallets, concoct your own homemade bug spray, make soap, the list goes on and on. The best part? Becoming a DIY-er doesn’t require acreage and it’s a critical part of being a homesteader. I’d say 50% of my life now consists of DIY projects. Also…it can save you money! You can check out some really great DIY ideas on my Pinterest Board “DIY”.
My mother is the bartering queen, Y’all. I have memories of being a young girl and my mother bartering massages for things like deer meat and lawn service. Luckily, my mom was (and still is!) a wonderful masseuse so she had a great skill to barter. To this day she barters with the local fish market, local grocery stores, and she’s even bartered massages for a few friends of hers to put in some beautiful raised garden beds. I will admit if you’re not like my mom and you’re more like me, bartering can be intimidating and hard to begin so we can work towards this goal together.
Another DIY project you can learn is preserving your own food. You can dehydrate foods, can foods, and freeze foods from the comfort of your own home. Canning is on my list of things to learn to do in 2018. If you live in a city and buy in bulk, you’re a prime candidate for food preserving and if you’re looking for some really great preserving recipes and information, Pinterest is always my go-to. You can also buy some really wonderful books such as The Complete Book of Home Preserving.
This one might be a little more difficult for some folks because it can require space. Hey, I said it CAN not that it DOES. You can vermicompost! Vermicompost is composting with worms and it’s super cool. You can read about it on google and look up all kind of DIY setups that can fit in small spaces like under your sink. Composting is a great way to reduce kitchen waste and reuse those vegetable scraps. You’ll get some great soil and compost “tea” at the end of it all and you can use it to feed your beautiful container vegetables and herbs you grow! You can also practice bokashi composting, which I’ve never done, but you’re supposed to be able to compost your animals products in this format.
Thrift, thrift, thrift, reuse, reuse, reuse! Once you learn to sew all of those old, stained shirts can turn into rags for cleaning since you read my post about “5 Super Simple Ways to Reduce Waste in Your Home” and don’t use paper products anymore. You can reuse empty yogurt containers to start seeds in since you’re planting herbs and vegetables now. You can use your empty salsa jars to gift your homemade laundry detergent to friends and family alike for Christmas time!
With these ten ideas you can try you could be halfway to homesteading in no time! Simplify your life, reduce your money spent, and take a couple steps towards the goal you thought was out of reach. Good luck and happy homesteading!