Start Homesteading Today With These Hacks (And Little To No Money)
You can start homesteading today without spending a lot by using these simple hacks I’ve learned over the years.
Long before we bought our farm, we knew we wanted to start homesteading. Lifestyle is important to us, and we wanted the freedom homesteading brings.
We started from scratch, and built our farm up by taking some key steps.
That’s not to say we didn’t make mistakes – we made plenty, trust me. Probably the first mistake, and one this article will help you avoid, is to not plan out your homestead.
We’ve had to go back and fix crucial errors we made our first year in order to improve the overall functionability of our farm.
We also learned how to start homesteading with no money, and all told, we haven’t spent that much on our farm over the years.
Through my journey, I’ve learned that to start homesteading today, there’s some key decisions you should make and most of all, you should realize it’s a journey, and not everything will happen at once.
But if you want your life to look different 6 months from now, you need to start homesteading today, and not worry about making mistakes.
Here’s how we started homesteading!
First, some decisions.
While none of these are mutually exclusive (we do them all!) starting with what really gets you up in the morning is the best place to start homesteading today.
If you start with what interests you, you will be motivated to continue on your journey.
Similarly, look at what you’re good at. If you have a green thumb, start with gardening. If hunting is your thing, start with harvesting meat. When you have small successes, you’ll remain motivated.
After a while, small successes start to add up, and you’ll look back in 3, 6, and 12 months and realize how far you’ve come in your journey to start homesteading today.
For us, raising meat was really important. My husband is a “meat and potatoes” kind of person, and won’t touch vegetables willingly.
After killing myself in our garden our first summer, I realized my efforts would be better spent raising a year’s worth of meat instead.
That’s not to say growing vegetables isn’t a priority for us, but I’m much better with animals, and since meat makes up a bulk of our diet, I wanted to focus more on my strengths.
There’s that rule about 80/20 (80% of the rewards come from 20% of our efforts), right?
How to start homesteading today with livestock
When it comes to acquiring homestead livestock, my single, most important piece of advice is to be patient.
Join Facebook groups in your area, especially those pertaining to farms and livestock – invariably, people need to get rid of their animals.
Assuming you can have livestock in your area, you can easily get them for free and start homesteading today.
Of course, you still need to ensure the animals are healthy and won’t infect your other animals, but largely, we’ve had very good experiences, and met people locally that are living a similar homesteading lifestyle.
If you don’t have a lot of money, this is one way to start your homesteading journey.
Five of our rabbits came from a family that did not want them anymore. They were all healthy animals.
We’ve also gotten chickens and pigs from families that did not want them anymore.
The only thing is you can’t be that picky about breeds (if the animal is not healthy, however, pass on it). So, if raising a certain breed of chickens or rabbits is for you, then you might have to purchase them.
But, that being said, if you join Facebook groups in your area, you can usually source the breeds you want for little cost. We did pay for some of our rabbits, and we got beautiful pedigreed bucks for $12 each.
It’s also worth the wait to be patient to get exactly what you want.
I waited a year until a goat like Dahlia (the breeds I wanted and in milk) was available at the right price. Although the wait was agonizing, it was worth it because I got exactly the goat I wanted for very little.
You can usually buy goats when they are young, too, and spend much less than you would if they were full-grown. In my area, bucklings are as little as $50, and doelings are around $150.
When it comes to pigs, consider feeder pigs to start homesteading today. In my area, you can get a weaned piglet for as little as $40 (less if you purchase more than one, usually).
Feeding it regularly as you continue homesteading, you will have a good size animal in just a few months – and homegrown pork!
When it comes to butchering, you can do it at home (which is free) or you can send them to a butcher in your area.
To learn to butcher, I recommend this book. It’s thorough and takes the well-being of the animal into consideration.
Before diving head first into breeding pigs, I recommend starting with some feeder pigs for your first couple years homesteading.
Our first set of pigs came with some interesting quirks, such as killing chickens and not wanting to breed.
Raising pigs isn’t for everyone, so if you want to start homesteading today but aren’t sure of the long term commitment to raising piglets, then feeder pigs are for you.
A lot of homesteaders enjoy raising pigs in warm weather then taking the winter off from feeding a lot of livestock, when it can get more expensive.
We were also able to acquire Coturnix quail for as little as $3 each, and they were mature at 6 weeks old (to harvest and laying).
I highly recommend sourcing quail close to you. I’ve ordered both quail and chicken eggs to incubate and hatch at home, and I’ve rarely had success with mail-order hatching eggs.
You will be happier buying poultry that’s already hatched, and you’ll be able to harvest eggs and meat sooner.
It’s about the small wins when you’re starting to homestead.
What if you don’t have much space?
If you want to start homesteading today with livestock, but don’t have much space, then I recommend going with quail or chickens and rabbits.
You can keep many, many quail in a small space (they only need 1 square foot of space each).
Similarly, rabbits require little space. I’ve seen rabbits kept in individual cages in a garage, and with a couple tweaks, you can stack and/or hang the cages to maximize your vertical space.
Breeding your livestock
Another way to start homesteading today is to breed your livestock for a sustainable source of meat.
Rabbits are easy breeders, with a 31 day gestation cycle. They mature in as little as 6 months.
They can have both large and small litters, and the size of the litter depends on the individual rabbit and the breed. We’ve had litters with as few as 3 and as many as 10 baby rabbits.
If one of your homesteading goals is to eat rabbit twice per month, then you will need 24 rabbits on that you can harvest.
If your goal is to eat chicken once per week, you will need 52 meat chickens to harvest and you can hatch eggs at home to reduce your costs.
Similarly, for continual eggs, you can hatch laying breeds at home to expand your flock for free (or only spending pennies on electricity.)
I’ve also found that by making a few simple but important tweaks to your feeding regime, you can feed your chickens for much less when you start homesteading.
If you have space in your garden, by growing as much food for your livestock as possible, you can save a ton of money to start homesteading today.
Wheat, for example, is the basis of most livestock diets, and you can easily grow a lot on a very small space.
Foraging is another option, particularly for rabbits. In addition to a good feed, by offering greens, you can save a ton of money.
You can also let your rabbits graze your garden between seasons to save on feed costs. Stay away from tomato leaves, however.
Learning traditional skills
One of the simplest ways to start homesteading today is to learn traditional skills, such as baking bread and canning.
I’ve personally derived a lot of satisfaction from improving my bread making skills, and I love knowing that no matter what, as long as I have water, salt, and flour, I can make wonderful breads.
Next on my homesteading journey, is to improve my sourdough skills .
Canning is another skill you can learn to start homesteading today. Even if there are certain foods you need to purchase at the store (like beans) then buying in bulk and canning will not just save you money, but is usually healthier.
Here’s 40 traditional skills you can learn by video to start homesteading today.
I’ve started to learn about preserving meat and love making my own sausage (which also saves a ton of money). This is something anyone, anywhere can do with just a meat grinder and a few simple tools.
Starting a garden
For a lot of people, learning how to start homesteading from scratch goes hand in hand with gardening.
If you have a patch of land to start growing fruits and vegetables, then you’re well on your way to start homesteading today.
Only grow what you like
If you dream of growing your own vegetables, my first piece of advice to start homesteading today is to grow only what you’ll eat.
Your first couple years, growing only a few types of vegetables will make it easier, and you’ll have a better experience.
My first year gardening, I grew way too much. Now, I’ve scaled it down to tomatoes, beans, peas, and squash.
If you want to start making food from scratch, then tomatoes are a good place to start.
They’re the basis of many things you can make from scratch, such as pasta sauce, salsa, tomato paste, and soups.
Beans, which are full of protein, are another vegetable (legume, actually) that are good to grow since they’re so versatile.
Of course, your list might differ from mine, and you can do anything you like as you progress with homesteading.
Another option with beans is to sprout them, which increases the amount of nutrients you’ll get from them and makes them easier to digest.
To sprout beans, simple place them in a mason jar and dampen them with water.
Another option is to sprout them in a plastic container that can drain in order to reduce the chance of mold – mist them with water often to clear away any potential for mold to grow.
You can then use them in salads, on sandwiches, etc.
Growing wheat & sprouting grains for bread
If you’re interested in growing wheat to try to start homesteading today, you can do so in area as small as 20 feet by 50 feet.
In that tiny of an area, you can grow enough wheat to last you for a year.
You can then use your wheat berries to make your own flour. One option is to sprout the wheat seeds before grinding.
Using sprouted wheat to make bread increases the nutrients you’ll consume, and makes for a healthier bread.
If you want to grow leafy greens, but don’t have a lot of space or want to try something different, then growing micro greens might be for you.
You can grow a lot of these vegetables in a small space, in dirt or in some other substrate.
You only let the seeds sprout for a few days before harvesting, but they’re full of nutrients, and you harvest the leaves when they’re at their sweetest, most flavorful, and tender.
If you want to start homesteading today, there’s many ways to begin. Figure out which parts of homesteading are most attractive to you, and start there. You can always add extra skills later.
I’d like to hear from you!
Do you want to start homesteading today? Which parts are most attractive to you? Where do you struggle? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below!