Items for your Homestead – Tools for your homestead animals

Items for your Homestead

Gardening is usually one of the most important features of a homestead. You will need the right tools to undertake a successful gardening plan. There are essentials that you will need, namely: gardening gloves, wheelbarrow, shovel, rake, handsaw, garden pitchfork, watering wand, and watering can among other tools. As you grow your homestead and gardening projects your number of tools will grow.

Your animals will also demand the necessary tools to flourish. Different animals require different things, and the size of your land is the primary factor in determining which animals you select. Let’s take the example of bees, goats, and chickens.

  • Bees would be most suitable for a homestead of five acres and larger, as you don’t want them too close to your main house.
    • They would be incredible pollinators and would provide fresh honey. You can also use the leftover beeswax to make candles and other natural cosmetic products.
    • The equipments you will need to maintain honeybees are gloves and masks for protection, a hive home for the bees, a smoker, a beekeeping brush, jars for the honey, and honey harvesting supplies.
  • Goats would be most suitable for a larger homestead of over five acres as this gives them enough space to range and graze.
    • In addition, goats provide dairy and meat products, and fertilizer for your crops, and are easier to feed than their dairy and meat-producing counterparts.
    • The equipment for goats includes grains, scoops to measure feed, hay, bedding material, water trough, mineral blocks, pitchfork, milking equipment, and a housing pen with a fence to keep them safe from predators.
  • Chickens are suitable for any size homestead. They provide eggs and are even efficient for pest control.
    • The equipment you will need for your chickens is a poultry feeder and jug, straw nest box bedding, pullets, and a thermometer for the chicks, and a chicken cook to keep them safe.
    • Aside from the land plot’s size, you will be able to decide what animals are best suited for you based on their temperament, their needs, the time commitment required to take care of them, their costs, and what you intend to do with them.

Although different animals require different tools, a set of negotiable aspects is needed for your animals to thrive, regardless of their type. You should ensure that your animals have access to shelter, water, food, and medical care. When you are fencing out the areas for each animal this is a great time to figure out a way to get water to each area, like digging to run hoses or pips.

Finding vets for livestock animals

It can be difficult to find vets for livestock animals. With a single veterinarian covering a large range of the state, especially for farm animals, not every vet will see farm animals. Building a relationship with a vet is very important in case your animal is sick, and you are a two-hour drive away from your vet. In the case that you have maintained a good relationship, the vet would be able to advise you over the phone.

This is the same for cases of an emergency and a vet service is required in the middle of the night. You want to ensure that the practice you go to best suits you and your animals’ needs, so make sure to ask what hours the vet keeps, what their payment term expectations are, what their availability is to assist with animal emergencies, and how you can best contact them when and if an emergency arises.

You want to ask if they take farm animals and what kind of level of knowledge, they have on farm animals. Also, what kind they are willing to and willing not to see? You want to ensure that you have found a suitable vet before obtaining any of your animals because you don’t want to risk being caught in an emergency and not having a vet to assist you.

Fence Everything Out

Fencing is a necessary component of gardening or keeping animals on your homestead; it is even something you can do yourself. Your fencing choice should be based on what type of garden or animal you desire, the terrain of your landscape, the effort it will take to create and maintain your fence, and the lifespan of the fencing you select.

One of the best things you can do is stake everything off and observe your landscape to see if it fits.

  • You can move the stakes if they are not to your liking but moving a construction site or the goats from that shaded area will be much harder.
  • This will help you avoid selecting areas that are inadequate for your specific goals.
  • This will require time and effort, but doesn’t your homestead deserve that? In the case of family, A, you have about an acre or less, so you must be very reasonable about what you bring onto your homestead.
  • Cows and goats are probably not on the menu, but you can make space for hens, a vegetable garden, and even rabbits.
  • In a place of one or more acres, having ducks, turkeys, geese, and pigs will be doable. A plot larger than five acres can easily accommodate cows, goats, and sheep.

The animals you bring onto your plot will determine your design, and the size of your property determines your design. A general rule of thumb, however, is to keep the things you tend to most as close as possible to your home. This will save walking time on a larger land plot or allow you to be more efficient with your management daily.

It is best to write all these things on paper and lay out exactly where all your sections will be. This makes it easier for your family to navigate the space, and you will eventually reach a point where maintaining your homestead becomes more efficient.

Type of fence

The type of fence you select depends on your goals and what it seeks to enclose. The primary needs of fencing in a homestead are to maintain household safety, pool or water safety, animal safety, and to act as vegetable patch protection.

Your animal fences should be dependent upon what animals you will be keeping. If you plan on keeping any type of animal, ensuring that they are detained in an enclosed space is vital for their safety.

  • Keeping some chickens or rabbits will require a wooden post with a chicken wire fence that is big enough to go around their henhouse or rabbit hutch.
  • Keep in mind you need to take precautions for animals that will hunt your livestock and could fly over the fence. So, a simple waist-high wire fence may not be enough.

Some people add wire fencing to the top of the enclosed area. If the area is too big, they will run string or rope across the top at all angles. Both help with keeping flying animals from snatching up your livestock that is prey to them. If you have a larger land plot, like families B and C, you will likely want to keep larger animals like goats, cows, and pigs. You could opt for a high-tensile wire fence, a woven wire fence, or a barbed wire fence. Some examples of fences are below.

These fences can stretch over several miles and are highly durable and effective for livestock enclosures. If your landscape is hard or stony, then a high-tensile fence may be best as it requires fewer posts for installation.

A woven wire fence is the hardest to install but is also the most long-lasting and reliable. A barbed wire fence is effective but not adequate for containing goats or sheep, so keep that in mind if these are animals that you would like to raise on your homestead. A garden fence is advised if you want to undertake any gardening projects and want to keep rodents and any other hungry animals away from your produce.

Introduction to butchering animals – Day-To-Day Care Schedule for Each Season

Introduction to butchering animals

It is very crucial to do intense research on how to butcher animals. If you don’t know what you are doing you are risking contaminating the meat and it being harmful to your family and anyone else or animal that eats the meat. Then all the money, time, and effort put into raising the animal go to waste.

There is so much to butchering animals than what I can put in this book. So please do your research. If you can’t find someone to teach you hands-on. Then don’t invest too much into your chickens at first and know that you just may lose some towards the beginning and get better as you go.

  • Slice the chicken open through the breastbone to reveal its internal organs. Remove the guts, lungs and windpipe, liver, and so forth. This is when you can contaminate your meat! Then bag the chicken for freezing!
  • A simple way of bagging is with shrink wrap bags. This ensures the chicken stays safe and no freezer burn while storing. (Like what you would buy at the store if you were to get a whole uncooked chicken).
  • For this, you need the shrink wrap bags, zip ties, scissors, and another tub of hot water at 180°F. You take the chicken out of the ice water bath and put it upside down in the bag. Then twist the bag as tight as you can and zip tie it as close to the chicken as possible.
  • The bag will be filled with air, so you want to take a knife and poke a tiny hole in the bag. Preferably where the breast area is and about the same area for each chicken.
  • After you have poked the hole, you want to dip the bag into the 180 degrees water for about 3 secs, then take it out.
  • Immediately you want to put a label over the hole (make sure you dry off the area so it will stick).
  • You can have simple ones with it handwritten “chicken” with the date or have them professionally printed.
  • However, you want to do it, does not matter as long as the hole is covered, and you have labeled it, so you know what it is and when it was processed.
  • Therefore it’s important to poke the hole in the same area for every chicken and in the breast area so that you can cover it easily with the label.
  • After you have labeled it, you want to cut off the excess plastic. Then store in the freezer.

The overall butchering process for beef is a bit more complex:

  1. The slaughtering process requires a gun, bullet, and knife.
  2. The skinning process consists of a sharp knife, sharpening stone, gambrel, hydraulic tractor with a bucket, chain hoist, and hose.
  3. The evisceration process demands a reciprocating saw, meat tote, and an area where you can discard the guts (ideally a hole in the ground or a place deep within the woods).
  4. The butchering process requires more meat totes, sharp knives, a bone saw, waste buckets, a bone dust scraper, and a meat grinder.
  5. Packaging consists of butcher wraps, plastic wraps, freezer tapes, and other bags.

STOP!! Again, please do not do this unless you have done your research and can have someone help you that knows what they are doing. That way you don’t risk contaminating your meat. Beef cattle are way more expensive than chickens.

  • Take the cattle to an area where you can cut when it collapses, and make a cut near the esophagus to make it bleed out as much as possible.
  • Next, remove the animal’s head with a reciprocating saw and hang the body from the gambrel with the skid steer.
  • You can also use a tractor or a chain hoist. The skinning process is done by creating a circle around the hooves into the midline area through the inside of the leg. This is when the genitals are also removed if they haven’t been already.
  • Next, bring the cow down to the plastic to reduce the possibility of gravitational swelling of the internal organs.
  • This is a great time to cut the stomach open and remove the contents within the cow’s belly for the compost pile.
  • This is when the removal of the internal organs occurs. Finally, you have the option of either wet or dry aging the meat.
  • The wet method is done in a vacuum-sealed bag and is kept at temperatures in the mid- 30°F for up to a month. This is the method that commercial producers tend to favor.
  • The dry method is more traditional and is done by placing the meat to hang in an area with airflow and controlled humidity and temperature for up to three weeks. This is generally done when the meat is butchered during the colder seasons.

Day-To-Day Care Schedule for Each Season

Just like your plants, your animals require schedules to keep them fed, taken care of, and thriving. The most important one is to give your animals water and food daily. This is what will determine their health status and ability to reproduce.

  • Make sure that you have systems set up for your animals to feed and drink, such as a built-in chicken feeder.
  • Next, you must check up on your animals and ensure that they are feeding properly. This goes hand in hand with another daily task, which is to check your animals’ health status. You don’t necessarily have to walk around with health checking equipment, but you need to keep an eye on them and be more intentional about ensuring that they are functioning normally.
  • Cleaning out the fecal matter in your animals’ shelters is another task that needs to be done regularly.
    • This will ideally be done daily; however, the frequency is largely contingent on the number of animals you have housed in a particular structure.
    • Clearing the feces more often will prevent your animals from spreading bacteria that could be consumed from droppings being present in their food and water.
  • If you have chickens, you should check your henhouse for eggs as often as possible since you want to find the eggs while they are still fresh.
    • This task goes along with taking care of the nesting boxes where the eggs will be located.
    • Although the hens don’t defecate near the eggs, it is common to find some residual feces in these areas, so replacing the pine shavings with fresh ones will allow the nest to remain clean, consequentially keeping your eggs clean.
  • For those who have animals for milk, you may wonder how often you should milk your goats or cows.
    • The answer is every day, up to twice a day. Not milking your animal can harm them and lead to sickness or injury.
    • If you don’t have the time to dedicate to milking your livestock often, you should rethink having milking animals.

The best way to ensure that the above-mentioned tasks are being handled as often as possible is to create a routine for them.

  • The morning routine of someone who has a backyard homestead like family A could have no animals and would consist mainly of chores that need to be undertaken for the garden, as they would not be preoccupied with feeding any chickens or rabbits because there could be none.
    • They would wake up, walk around the garden, and check their plants. This would be the perfect time to water the plants as well.
    • They could harvest some produce and prune some plants.
    • Their evening routine could consist of another walk, where they check to see if their plants are safely protected against predators.
    • If they do have some animals, then they would add in the care needed for them during the daily walks along with caring for the garden.

A homestead that is larger than a few acres like family B and C that could contain a few chickens and goats would have a typical morning routine like an early rise followed by a walk in the garden.

The family would likely feed their pets and then proceed to feed the chickens and the goats. They might release the animals from their shelters so that they can take the time to clean up. Their evening routine would likely involve putting their animals safely back into their shelters.

A family on a larger homestead with animals will have a more extensive morning routine compared to an urban homesteader who only does gardening. Aside from the daily schedules required to keep your animal’s taken care of, a monthly schedule can also help as it will be founded on a seasonal premise.

Again, this will vary for everyone depending on their animals and the land plot size. Let us observe three potential seasonal schedules.

January

During one of the winter months or the start of the year. Homesteaders can find themselves drafting up their goals for the new year. In the case of Family A, they could begin to organize seeds and test them for viability. They could review their garden journal and facilitate certain aspects of it.

All three families will benefit from editing their budgets and reviewing their overall financial plans. Family B and C would benefit from being particularly diligent about ensuring that their animals are healthy. Plans for new animal purchases, breeding, and culling are also practical during this time. Overall, it is a self-reflective time, and all families should prioritize addressing their current homesteading skill sets and planning to facilitate them wherever possible.

April

Is the month that begins to invite the spring and is usually when the spring cleaning is done. All families would benefit from going into their basements, gardens, barns, storage sheds, and main house areas for deeper cleaning.

  • Family B and C should seek to get their chicken coops fresh bedding before the weather gets warmer.
  • Family A should continue to sow its seeds. It needs to be done under a row cover if they decide to plant outdoors. The family should prioritize sowing carrots, lettuce, arugula, radishes, and Swiss chard (while taking their specific hardiness zone into account).
  • This is the time when dairy livestock increases their production. Family B and C can benefit from this dairy-abundant season by making goat cheese.

October

Ushers in the season of the last harvest. This is when family A will collect their annual crops and ensure that their extenders are working adequately. The garden is now exposed to the harsh conditions of the elements, so it is a perfect time to begin covering it up.

Any mulching, weeding, and general tidying will make for a much smoother spring planting season. The family’s perennial plants will also benefit from added protection during this time. Family B and C can begin looking into winter-proof outdoor systems for their barns, animals, and water. It is also ideal to give the chicken coop a last deep clean before the winter arrives.

Homestead animals and their habitats – Chicken coops, Goat Pens, Pig Sty and more

Homestead animals and their habitats

After deciding what kind of animals will be a part of your homestead, you should secure them in an appropriate shelter, your homestead animals. Let’s look at examples of shelters for chickens, goats, cattle, and pigs.

Chicken coops

As a first-time chicken owner, you should first decide on the max number of chickens you want and what you’re allowed to have if you’re in an urban area. If you’re living in an urban, you may be able to have a few chickens and no rooster. So, check the law in your area. If you’re living in a rural area there might not be a max number, but you want to make sure you’re not getting more chickens than your homestead can handle. Remember the more you have the more you must care for. Knowing how many you might have will allow you to invest or build an adequate coop for their size and number. You don’t want their shelter to be too small.

  • Ideally, your coop will offer comfort to your chickens while also being practical for you. Once that is done, consider the accessibility that your coop provides to you and your chickens.
  • Being able to go into the coop, collect eggs, and clean should be a priority as it will affect the overall functionality of your day-to-day activities.
  • Make sure you read the reviews if you plan to purchase your chicken coop. Safety should also be a top concern when you search for a coop. You want your chickens to be protected throughout the night against potential predators, so you may want to invest in fencing for this.
  • Your coop setup is also a fact to consider if you are opting to do it yourself. You may think that design is frivolous, but it should be a consideration as it boosts the pleasantness of your homestead.
  • A chicken coop and fencing should be complete before you ever bring chickens to your homestead. You don’t want the chickens to show up and have no place for them.
  • You also want a small setup indoors like in the garage or basement if you’re starting with baby chicks.

Goats require pens to keep them sheltered.

They need to be contained in an adequate space as they are known to wreak havoc when left to their own devices. A pen is not only a sheltered spot for your goats but also a safety net, so they stay away from toxic plants and predators. For this reason, ensure that you have your pen set up before you bring your goats to your property. This requires planning.

  • The first thing you want to consider before constructing your pen is what type of goats you will be raising on your property.
  • Some goats are for meat and others are for dairy. This information is vital as it will allow you to determine what pen you will choose. Your property size is a factor to consider as well.
  • Goats need to roam around during the day, so you will need a considerable amount of space to keep them safely contained.
  • A single goat requires about 200 square feet, and because they need to live in pairs, you should budget 400 square feet per pair of goats.
  • Putting your goat in a pen requires fencing because this sets the boundaries for how far they are allowed to roam.
  • The main fencing options for your goat are woven wires, barbed wire, an electric fence, sheep and cattle panels, or a pallet fence.
  • Whichever fence you choose, ensure it is at least four feet tall. This is a height that guarantees that your goats won’t be able to jump over.

Cattle

You need to be on a larger homestead to have cattle, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a 20-acre plot. A few acres are sufficient for good-sized cattle sheds, so long as your infrastructure is in alignment with your goals. Having the correct facility built requires some planning.

  • Observe your property before commencing any construction. The head of cattle you keep will ultimately determine how much space you need to fence off on your property.
  • Each head requires at least two acres of your land, and this is also contingent upon the quality of your land for feeding.
  • You could always consult a local cattle rancher to get some more advice regarding how much land you may need to set aside for each head.
  • You can boost the quality of your cattle shed by supplementing the land with grain feed and hay, as it will allow you to contain more heads in a smaller acreage.
  • Try to make the most out of your space without overcrowding it. Your cattle shed should be equipped with adequate fencing to delegate parameters.
  • High-tensile steel wire fencing is the most optimal fencing method for cattle due to its slower rusting time in comparison to the rotting of wooden board fences.
  • The cattle design you can go for is wooden sheds, metal pole barns, or open barns.
  • The interior space needs to take the weight and size of the cattle into account, as they should be able to move around, ruminate, and lie down comfortably.

Pigs

Pigs are generally placed within frames for their shelter. The A-frame is one of the most famous types for raising pigs on a pasture. This frame provides the pigs with great coverage that provides warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer.

  • Your A-frame shelter can be built from green-treated plywood. This will be used to construct the frame.
  • A-frame pig shelters don’t have floors, so you don’t need to measure the bottom part of the shelter. Instead, cut these pieces at a 45-degree angle on both sides for a snug fit to both the bottom and the top peak section.
  • You can use whichever measurements are best suited for the size of your desired A-frame, although the above-mentioned frames can accommodate fully grown Idaho pigs.
  • Add straw to the A-frame during the winter months for added warmth. Your shelter placement will be determined by how the wind blows across your property because you want to ensure that there is coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter.
  • Ducks can also have their shelters built in an A-frame format, so long as there is the addition of a pool for them to have access to water.

Tips for a More Self-Sufficient with your Homestead

Tips for a More Self-Sufficient with your Homestead

Homesteading needs storing and preserving items other than food. This included the storage of fuels, hay, and water for your homestead. In addition, this post seeks to think of other methods you can employ to become more self-sufficient in your homestead lifestyle.

Wildlife

Hunting is a widely practiced activity as it allows families that may not be interested in raising their livestock to have access to meat. Hunting is great for people who want to be either on or off the grid. Hunting provides a variety and a nutritional boost to one’s diet as there are a plethora of species to hunt in the world. It is also a physical task that provides added benefits to the hunter and increases one’s connection with nature.

Hunting also controls the animal population in certain areas. However, there are some downsides to consider, such as the dangers that come with the use of certain weapons. In some cases, the animals being hunted are not the ones who are threatening to overpopulate the area, which may then have the opposite effect and drive certain species to the brink of extinction. Therefore, it is important to hunt ethically and responsibly.

If you are new to hunting, you may wonder what animals you can start hunting for meat. There are generally two categories of meat you can go for: large game and small game.

  • Large game is composed of animals such as deer (the most hunted animal in over 40 states).
    • Deer have natural predators, including wolves.
    • Therefore, hunting them allows people to keep the deer population under control which, in turn, keeps the resources that they would’ve consumed plentiful for other animals to feed on.
    • Elk and antelopes are also extremely popular animals hunted for meat.
  • Small game includes animals like squirrels and rabbits.
    • These animals provide hunters with a meat source that is plentiful and easier to hunt.
    • Hunting birds is another way to obtain meat in the wild, with geese and ducks being the most hunted species.
    • If you decide to hunt for food, run through your respective state laws to obtain the list of animals you should hunt and educate yourself on the animals’ respective hunting seasons and local laws.

Trapping for animals

If you are new to hunting and are afraid of using the weapons required, you may want to experiment with trapping. Hunting can be dangerous and tedious with long waiting hours and no action. However, that is one of the opportunity costs of hunting that trapping can overcome.

All you must do is ensure that your traps are adequately set up, and then you can go about your other homestead chores while your food delivers itself to you. You can begin by setting up strategic traps and snares along streams, trails, rivers, and creeks, as these are areas where animals come for a drink of water.

  • For example, you can set up a rabbit snare that would trap this small game.
  • The same goes for trotlines and fish yoyos that capture fish in your absence.
  • Another great trapping method is the drag noose. It is cordage-based and lures the prey into a loop that grabs them by the neck. The animal’s movement makes the noose tighten further.
    • This trapping method is effective as it can capture larger animals like coyotes.
    • The downsides are that the animal could break free if they chew through the snare, or they could simply get caught by another animal while in the trap.

Once you capture your animals, you can begin the butchering process.

  • The advantages of butchering your meat are the savings, peace of mind, sense of control, and education you obtain from the practice.
  • An overall sense of satisfaction comes from working hard for your food, even after the hunt has occurred.
  • An initial investment needs to be made for butchering supplies that can total up to $1500, but the benefits of butchering your own game far outweigh the disadvantages.
  • You will need to purchase a grinder, butchering tools like Victorinox knives, a meat mixer, a butcher table, a vacuum sealer, and bags for your butchering processes.

Foraging in Nature

Most homesteaders do not place foraging on the top of their list, but it can still prove to be an incredible asset. Foraging allows you to comprehend the natural resources that surround you and can help you provide sustenance for your family while simultaneously taming your fears.

  • If you have a lot of land on your homestead or can be choosy about the land you purchase, then try to get a land plot that is close to the woods or has woods on your own property.
  • So, you would be able to commence a foraging practice with your family. Foraging can be intimidating due to our innate fear of the unknown.
  • Therefore, research before starting will help clarify some of your doubts and fears.
  • You want to be as safe as possible and be able to identify products that may be toxic or look-alikes. It is also important to maintain a level of respect when you go foraging, as you may come across hunters or other foragers if you’re not on your own property.
  • This will allow you to continue to return to these areas and forage more often with the knowledge that your neighbors are doing the same.
  • Finally, if you choosing land that is not yours, make sure you know whose land you may be on and if it is permissible for you to forage in those areas.

One of the most popular forage goods is mushrooms, and they have been unfairly demonized. Some mushrooms can be toxic and, in certain cases, even deadly, but others are not. Learning about mushroom identification becomes a key feature of successful foraging habits. Foraging can help you gain access to products you may not have access to on your homestead, making it a viable source of nutritional acquisition.

Trading With Other Homesteaders

Trading has been a common human practice since the conception of locales and civilizations, and it is not reserved only for businesses and corporations. If you have a homestead, you are likely producing something of great value from it. Those goods can be traded with other homesteaders. This is where fostering excellent neighbor relations comes into play. If you cannot house a specific animal or plant in your garden, then you may be able to trade some goods that your fellow homesteader lacks in exchange for the ones you need.

  • Trading can be an enjoyable practice to engage in. No money is involved, and an item’s value is solely determined by how much you need it.
  • This makes it a more intimate exchange and can truly facilitate the fortification of the relationships you forge with those you trade your goods with (farms, friends, homesteads, and neighbors).
  • Trading goods is almost like doing a favor for one another (which is lost when money is involved), and it can help you foster deeper connections.
  • Trading is also a great way to allow you to fulfill your household needs without requiring money to make that happen.

You may be wondering what the best things are to trade with others, and the answer is anything that you need and is appropriate.

  • For example, if your neighbor asks for you to raise their chicken for about three weeks, you may be able to come to a trade agreement where you do them that favor, and they thank you by purchasing six chicks for you.
  • You can also trade with the one-to-one swapping method. An example of this would be swapping rabbits for chickens, jam for chicks, honey for chicken eggs, and so forth. This is great if you have extras as you can use them at a higher value by exchanging them for products you don’t have and need. Trade can extend to animal breeding and labor.
  • You may get people offering to breed your females, and you can negotiate a trade agreement. Your friend or neighbor may require assistance as they fix their house or fence. You can trade by requesting that the next time you need a technical favor, they help too.
  • Trading can be an effective way to help one another with your homestead goals.

Note that borrowing something from a fellow homesteader does not classify as trading. Try not to borrow anything unless it has been stipulated that it is okay for you to do so. Borrowing should be done with the knowledge and consent of both parties and correctly labeled as such.

The last thing you want is to enter a situation where you borrow and, worst-case scenario, break something that belongs to another homesteader. This could end up transforming a budding relationship into a sour affair. You and the person you are asking are allowed to say no to a trade if it is not something that you or they want to do.

  • The fundamental premise of a trade is that it should be a win-win for both parties involved. If you feel like a particular trade does not benefit you, you are more than entitled to decline the offer and offer a different trade.
    • For example, your neighbor asks for help and offers eggs to you for that help. But you don’t need eggs, so you decline and tell them you would help for a vegetable that they have but you don’t.
    • This should be extended to friends as well. Trading can occur in the short term for immediate purposes, but it can also be a long-term arrangement.

There are no temporal rules to the trading system.

  • You only need to ensure that you are satisfied with every trade conducted, and so is the person you are trading with since it is a two-way street. If you begin the trading process, then ensure that you are reciprocal.
  • Make sure to communicate that it’s a trade. Some people may think it was you being nice or just offering help. That they don’t need to reciprocate.
  • No matter if it’s a trade or lending a helping hand, make sure you communicate. Not communicating can also damage a relationship for future trading or even helping.
  • If you request something, then offer something else in return and stick to the agreement no matter what. If you trade with someone, and the other person simply does not reciprocate (yet keeps asking to trade), then that is not a trade relationship you want to maintain in the long term.
  • Ultimately, aim to have as much fun as possible during the process, acquire items of value to you, and build solid and stable trade-based relationships that could be immensely valuable for the functionality of your homestead.

Make a choice for homestead That’s the Best for Your Family.

Make a choice for homestead That’s the Best for Your Family

You decided that you want to begin living a more self-sufficient life and consider giving homesteading a shot. You must figure out what your options are, and which one would suit your family best. You want to ensure that your goals and the resources you can acquire for your homestead are as congruent as possible.

  • Suppose you live in the city and don’t wish to completely forgo some of the conveniences that it offers but want to grow your food and have a few chickens lying around Like family A in New York.
    • In that case, you may want to consider staying in your current neighborhood and having a backyard homestead.
    • This would allow you to change your lifestyle in the areas that matter most to you (in this case, self-sufficient nutrition) while not having to necessarily forgo the things that are productive and conducive to your desired lifestyle.
  • Suppose you want to immerse yourself in the full homesteading experience, perhaps with larger animals, gardens, and alternative energy sources like family B and C.
    • In that case, you may want to consider doing a homestead in a less urban or more rural area, as these would provide you with your land requirements.
    • You want to guarantee your family’s well-being.

Deciding to start a homestead when you just had a newborn child may be an adventure to some and a complete disaster to others. Uprooting your life and taking your teenage children to Wyoming after living in New Jersey may or may not be the best thing to do at that time.

  1. Sit down with your family and gauge everyone’s needs. Decide what would work best at that given moment and what would be beneficial in the long term.
  2. Once you have laid out your plans, pick what type of homesteading you will be doing, and decided where you will be staying, you can begin to organize your finances.
  3. You want to be in a place where you are saving enough for the purchases you intend to make and try to be as debt free as possible.
  4. A person deciding to move across the country to build a homestead from scratch will have a vastly different budgeting plan compared to someone who wants to start a backyard homestead.
  5. This is a different journey for everyone, and about your brand of self-sufficiency. Do what benefits you and your family, and make sure you are making decisions that are fueled by practicality and passion.

I. How to Set Up Your Home

You have started your homesteading project and are excited about all the animals and plants you will introduce to your land.

  • Ensure that you have moved in completely before beginning any long-term projects that will require your time, dedication, and effort.
    • Growing a garden and bringing animals onto your land is a journey, and you want to be able to dedicate as much of your time to learning and perfecting yourself in your new lifestyle.
    • The last thing you want is to figure out that you did not take enough time to contemplate the design and functionality of certain areas in your household because you were too preoccupied with getting seeds and buying chickens.
  • If you already live in a house that you simply have added a homestead to, then you may need to give yourself some time to make your house more homestead friendly.
    • You will likely have access to more food, and this food will require storage spaces.
    • You want to be able to get creative about where things can go so that your produce and animals blend in seamlessly with your current setup, as opposed to making everything highly confusing.
  • If you have moved into a new homestead, with a home or without, you want to either build or renovate areas like the kitchen, where most of the food would be laid out.

In both scenarios, you want to scope out as much space as you can for your animals, make their shelters, and secure their safety before bringing any home.

  • You want to observe your land for at least a year and become genuinely acquainted with how your landscape functions.
  • You want to get to know your neighbors and forge supportive connections with them.
  • You want to build your fences and get your family involved with everything.
  • You want to settle in slowly but intelligently, allowing yourself and your family members to acclimate and learn how to manage their newfound way of living.

II. Planting the Garden

You have finally started your garden and want to get started growing.

  • Figure out what types of foods your family would enjoy eating and start planting them.
    • You can also plant things that would be great to sell since this could provide you with an added income stream, whether from microgreens or perennials (plants that grow annually).
    • You want to get acquainted with the knowledge of knowing your hardiness zone and learn what you can plant in your specific zone and when.
    • You want to know when the last and first frost occurs in your zone so that you can plant your produce at the optimal time.
  • The process of growing your garden is exciting because you can begin exploring what garden type you want or, in some instances, need for your product to thrive.
    • You want to invest in a cold frame and learn how to grow plants throughout the winter, so you have an ample supply of produce throughout the colder months.
    • Learning how to care for your garden becomes an extremely important skill to acquire. It will help you maintain its quality while keeping potential pests and other unwanted elements away.
    • This is the time when you will learn how to fertilize your soil for optimal growth and adopt strategies to keep animals out of your garden, such as growing certain herbs that keep them away or fencing your space appropriately.
    • Gardening is a process that requires maintenance and consistency, so you want to craft a schedule that will help you stay on top of all the monthly, weekly, and seasonal chores that are required to keep your garden thriving.

III. Getting the Animals

Bringing animals into the homestead can be one of the most exciting experiences, but you want to ensure that you are ready to adopt the responsibility.

  • First, it’s important to figure out what kind of animals your homestead’s acreage will allow.  Your land plot and location will determine what animals you can keep and what those animals will be able to provide for you that is of value.
  • Once you have established what animals you will be able to homestead, figure out how you will go about providing shelter for all of them.
  • Different animals will demand different housing, food, and space. Which should be factored in from the beginning.
    • Creating shelters may require fencing in the case of goats, a coop in the case of chickens, and A-frames if you intend on raising pigs.
    • You also want to explore the different ways that you can save money with your animals by growing your feed. If you have a larger land plot, then creating a separate garden that is strictly for animal produce growth may be helpful.
    • You may even want to think about how you dispose of your kitchen scraps, as these could prove to be more useful as animal feed than compost material.
    • You may want to look into growing fodder as well. If you raise animals for meat, then you will want to get acquainted with the butchering process because it is cheaper to do it yourself. Make sure you learn from an expert.
  • Animals like chickens, beef cattle, and ducks can provide excellent sources of meat protein for your family. You will need a day-to-day and month-to-month schedule to take care of your animals. This list of chores will vary depending on the time of the year.

IV. Harvesting and Preserving

The purpose of having a garden is to have it bear fruit. Once you start harvesting, you might find that you have a lot of products that won’t be consumed within the necessary time frame. This is where the preservation of foods can come in handy.

Growing food (at least outdoors) is not feasible when the winter months come around. You want to preserve as much from your harvest as possible, as well as the meat you have acquired from the animals on your farm. This is where a big portion of the creative process of food happens in a homestead.

You can learn to preserve your produce by fermenting, making jams, freezing, infusing, drying, pressure canning, and water bath canning. Learning how to preserve your products will help you make the most out of your garden.

However, preserving is not simply for consumption, as you can also make hygiene products with what your garden provides. Engaging in product creations that bring you joy, and satisfaction makes the process more sustainable, to the point where you can find yourself doing it consistently and generating an extra income source from the sales of your harvest.

V. Think Long-Term

You have your homestead set up, and it’s up and running. Your garden is established and provides your family with food. Your animals are in their designated shelters, and everything seems to be functioning accordingly. It is a great place to be, and you should be proud of yourself for having undergone such a transformative process in your life. However, you want to continue thinking long-term.

The point of having a homestead is to live a life of self-sufficiency. It would be ideal if you could continuously ameliorate your homesteading situation as the years go by to make it as self-sufficient as possible.

Picture a family that raises their cattle and has a plentiful garden.

  • They have become close to 100% self-sufficient in terms of their dietary requirements.
  • They could easily boost this by beginning to use the fruits of their garden to create homemade products or to sell their harvest at a farmer’s market.
  • If this family has a plot of unused land, they can begin renting a portion of their property to other farmers who will gladly pay rent to further their business.
  • This family could decide to prioritize making clothes from the yarn generated by their sheep’s wool. They can find ways to boost their self-sufficiency even further by storing their fuel and water.
  • This would help them buffer against the potential power outages that may occur in their areas and potential droughts.

Nothing screams self-sufficiency like a barter system, in which a homesteader can engage in trade with other neighboring families. This would take away the family’s prioritization of actual money and bring back the focus to the product’s value from a subject standpoint.