If you’re new to homesteading, it can feel a little overwhelming at first. Chances are, you have dreamt of living a homesteading lifestyle for a long time, but now that you’ve finally committed to it, you don’t know where to start! In fact, you can actually start implementing homesteading techniques no matter where you live. It’s important to set some small goals to keep you motivated as you begin this exciting journey. Here are a few feasible homesteading goals for your first year:
First of all, your goals should always be measurable. Don’t say something general like “save more”. Instead, say “spend $100 less than the $500 I spent last month.” You need to be able to see that you’re reaching (or exceeding) to maintain the momentum you need and to build your confidence!
Start an herb garden
Grow (and use!) at least 3 herbs
Start a vegetable garden
Grow at least 3 different kinds of vegetables. You can even start your own seeds for cheap, cheap, cheap using these suggestions.
A good place to start is zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers. These plants will give you buckets of yummy produce and they’re relatively easy to maintain.
A word of caution about zucchini…if you plant them too close together, the fruits may become hidden under the leaves. You have to regularly check your garden or you’ll end up like us with zucchini the size of watermelons that have seeds the size of pumpkin seeds. Seriously. You’ve never seen zucchini this ridiculously big in your grocery store. We grew sumo wrestler zucchini. Don’t be like us. They grow FAST so keep an eye out.
Start a stockpile
A good first year goal is to maintain at least a month’s worth of food for the entire family. Make sure you’re actually stockpiling things you’ll use and using what you stockpile or you’re defeating the whole purpose.
If you want to have animals on your homestead, chickens are a great place to start. They’re easy to care for, they give you added benefits like cleaning fleas and ticks from your yard, and they can free range on your property and cut down the cost of chicken feed.
This weekend, my husband and I saw an awesome chicken coop at Costco of all places for $150 that houses 5 hens. Chickens are such an easy and relatively inexpensive place to start as far as animals on your homestead.
With chickens come eggs (hopefully) and once they start laying, you’ll be amazed at the number of eggs even a small flock can produce. A lot of first time chicken owners think you need a rooster in your flock to get eggs from your hens. This is simply not the case.
Side note: Our rooster hated us and was mean to our hens. One day, I’ll write a post about how I honestly thought he was a hen when I picked him up from a local farm, but that’s another story for another day. It wasn’t until the stupid thing started crowing that we realized our hen was a cranky rooster.
If you have happy hens, you’ll have dozens and dozens of eggs. If you are getting more than you can reasonably use, why not sell some?
People go crazy over the taste of fresh eggs over store bought, myself included, and will pay a premium for them. With chicken feed costs around $15 for a 50 pound bag, it won’t take you many eggs before your chickens are actually paying for their own feed.
Start making your own:
Bread is a good place to start. Pick up a bread machine at your local thrift store, some flour, yeast, and salt. Before you know it, your house will smell heavenly and you’ll never want to go back to store-bought bread again.
Something we didn’t realize was that the paddle of our bread maker was going to get stuck in the bottom of our bread loaf. Lots of people just pull it out or chisel it out. In my experience though, bread maker bread is shaped like a brick and it makes it very awkward to use.
A better solution is to let your bread maker mix up the dough and rise it for you. You can then take out the dough and transfer it to a greased bread pan and bake it in the oven. You still get the convenience of not kneading and rising your dough, but you also get the attractive and more useful shape of a regular loaf.
If you have the ingredients to make bread, you have the ingredients to make lots of other things, like tortillas. Look up simple recipes for things you use all the time and try to make your own. You’ll feel so accomplished!
Consider purchases you make on a regular basis and set a goal of switching out store-bought for homemade. Good examples might be jam, soaps, household cleaners, etc.
Repurpose all items possible
Did you use a baby food jar to store your safety pins instead of picking up a small container at the store? Did you use an old t-shirt for rags instead of buying overpriced pieces of cloth you’re just going to ruin anyway? Get creative and find solutions to things you’re tempted to pay for a solution to.
“Put Up” Your Harvest
If you successfully grow some veggies, you can start to learn to save some for later when your plants aren’t giving you fresh produce. You can learn to can or even just freeze some, depending on the type of produce.
I always have chopped carrots, celery, and onions in my freezer, so those are great places to start.
You can also can tomatoes or make your own pasta sauces and pizza sauces. You can go ahead and take credit for this one twice! – putting up your harvest AND replacing a store-bought product with your own!
If you’re new to homesteading, set some goals and don’t stop until you reach them! Make your own bread products, grow your own produce, and stockpile some of your favorite items for a rainy day. You’ll be motivated and feeling accomplished before you know it!
Do you homestead with your family? What advice would you give to newbie homesteaders? Let me know in the comments!