For me homesteading is simply a mindset where I look at my world and ask myself “how can I make that with….”
- Less impact on my environment
- Less dependency on systems I don’t believe in or don’t align with the world I want to create
- Fewer expenses
- Fewer resources or creatively using what I already have….upcycling.
- The strengths and resources I have available to me…in my family, on my land, within the community around me.
- A more self sustaining system that requires fewer inputs
- More creativity, empowerment, and pleasure.
I apply this concept of “homesteading” to my food, my business, my land, and my home renovations & decor.
Now that I have a bit of land and I am working through the various skills of homesteading, I realize how much I could have done long before we found our little slice of heaven at The Chittle Homestead. Most of the activities that embody our homesteading values do not require any land and are things I easily could have been doing for years!
So I wanted to write this post for anyone who wants to homestead…even if you don’t yet, or maybe never plan to, have a big amount of land to cultivate.
We may all have different motivations for our desire to homestead and different levels to which we take it on as a project in our life. However, I think the principles of homesteading can be integrated into anyone’s life whether they have land, live in the city, or work full time.
Is your motivation simply the creative, fun, and satisfying moments of DIY deliciousness in your life?
The health benefits of knowing what’s in your food?
The savings on the expense side of things?
Or are you wanting to vote for an alternative to the food system we have now that is based around doing anything necessary for convenience and profit including putting non-food substances in our foods, polluting the planet by trekking foods around the globe, and filling our landfills with endless amounts of unnecessary packaging.
Whatever your motivations are, below are 10+ ways to be a homesteader long before you have “a homestead”.
I am using the list below as my own checklist of skills to add to my daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal activities to stand for the world I want to live in through how I live my life.
Choose which activities work for you!
You can find tutorials for all of the items below plus lots more on my Pinterest Board: Homesteading Skills…
Follow The’s board Homesteading skills on Pinterest.
#1 Preserve someone else’s harvest
Last year, someone posted on Craigslist that they had a bunch of fruit trees that needed picking. Since many of our fruit trees were too young for any significant production, we went and picked her fruit trees and spent the day dehydrating, canning, freezing, and storing. And all the produce was free! You can also get large quantities of fruit at local farms, u pick, and farmers markets or just enroll in a large CSA box for the season. You can do all the homesteading food preservation without growing a thing yourself! Some ideas: Saurkraut, tomato sauce and pesto, pickled vegetables, salsa, kale chips, beet chips, dried fruits…..
#2 Grind your own spices
Many of the spices you buy at the store are expensive and filled with preservatives and anticaking agents. Instead, buy your spices in bulk and grind them yourself using a hand powered (or electric) coffee grinder. They will be fresher, cheaper, and healthier.
#3 Roast your own coffee and blend your own teas
Ian loves roasting his own coffee beans. He buys green coffee beans in bulk and then roasts a batch fresh for each day of coffee using a electric popcorn popper. Tastes deliciously fresh and saves on weekly packaging of store bought coffee or the millions of cups produced in coffeeshop purchasing. Save more packaging by buying teas in bulk and mixing your own special blends. Better yet grow your own herb and medicine garden to use in teas and tinctures.
#4 Make your own toys, gifts, home decor, clothes
Some projects may require some more advanced skills like sewing, but many are ALOT more simple then you think. Stay tuned for my DIY toys blog next week to share a few ideas that don’t require any special skills. Check out my pinterest boards for ideas for crafts, gifts, and upcycling:
Follow The’s board A crafting weekend at The Chittle homestead on Pinterest.
#5 Make a year’s worth of cleaning and personal care products (soaps, detergents, lotions, salves, toothpaste, and sunscreen)
So many of the cleaning and personal care products we use are unhealthy for our bodies and the environment. They are filled with chemicals that penetrate our skin and run into our waterways and produce tons of bottles and other containers that fill our landfills. I know it can feel overwhelming to make all your own stuff, but if you set aside a day, you can make a bunch of these products in bulk for the rest of the year. Or if you are not up for DIY but want to vote with your dollars for a more natural sustainable way to clean our homes and bodies, just buy homemade products from someone who makes them in alignment with your values. Support local makers!
# 6 Find a source of local eggs, milk, and Pasture-raised meat
If you have watched any documentaries about our food system, I am sure you will have some level of disapproval or revulsion around the way meat is brought to our mouths through overcrowded, overmedicated livestock grazing on previous rainforests and pooping into our waterways. Whether you care about animal welfare, the environment or the health of the food you are putting in your body, there are many reasons to choose animal proteins that are produced outside of the commercial food system (and perhaps reduce meat consumption overall). Look for farmers who raise animals on open pasture and you will be eating healthier meat while taking a stand for changing an unsustainable system that is already causing severe water shortages, land degradation, and pollution. Or if you have a small yard, look into having a few chickens!
(Begin rant: Yes, pasture raised meat will most likely be more expensive unless you are doing it yourself (and possibly even if you are!). But this is the actual cost of the food you eat that is not accounted for when you buy meat in the commercial industries because they don’t pay for the environmental or health damage their practices cause. Meat production is a big cause of drought, greenhouse gases, polluted water, rainforest degradation, and the list goes on.
A note on “organic” and “free range” at the grocery store. These labels have in many ways been co-opted by clever marketing by large scale corporate producers that do not resemble the small family farms they depict on their milk, meat, and egg labels. A “free range, cage-free” egg can still be produced in overcrowded disgusting conditions where chickens have 1 small door to go outside to a barren wood floored cage. Yes it is outdoors, but nothing like the lush green pastures a chicken is meant to be roaming on. I have cracked the best grocery store eggs I can find (labeled free range, cage free, pasture raised) alongside our homestead grown eggs and the yellow of the yolks were nothing close those of our happy chickens. End rant.}
#7 Small space garden (or even a mini aquaponics system) for greens, herbs, tomatoes
Last year we did a small amount of our lettace and herbs on our deck and the truth is I almost never went into the actual garden to fill my salad bowl because it was just too easy to reach out onto my deck! I was amazed how much could be produced in a small space….all you really need along with a well-stocked homestead pantry. Bonus: use your own compost and save your own seeds! Or find a community garden where you can have a plot to grow veggies for the season. Or sign up for a CSA box from a local farm for amazing veggies throughout the season….you will be supporting local organic farming and allowing farmers to cover the costs of their harvests! If you do have (even a small) yard, how about turning that lawn into edible food! 🙂
#8 Make your own cheese and yogurt
I kept waiting until we got goats to delve into making my own yogurt and cheese. Yes, having your own source of milk makes it more financially worth it but there is no reason not to make your own cheese and yogurt even if you don’t have your own milk producers. Super simple activity, delicious, healthy, pleasurable, satisfying. If you can find a local source of pasture raised dairy, all the better! And you can make your own vegan cheeses too by the way 😉
#9 Bake your own bread.
There is nothing like warm bread made from scratch. It is truly delicious, nourishing, and absent of all the fillers store bought brands add to keep their bread shelf stable for weeks. Also, you can cater the ingredients to suit your bodies needs…gluten-free, soy free, dairy free, etc. Homemade gluten-free bread is like being released from gluten free jail. No more hard, gross, tiny pieces of bread that barely taste like anything and do nothing more then (kinda) hold your sandwich together!
#10 Make your own stocks
Stocks are some of the healthiest things you can put into your body and can make every dish you make taste richer and more special. What else can you say that about? Plus they are cheap to make, utilizing meat and/or veggie scraps that may otherwise go wasted. Store bought stock usually comes in a chemical laden container (cans or those boxes that make perishable foods somehow shelf stable and have recently been linked to cancer) which introduces more unnatural things into our bodies and ends up in a landfill. Plus, a homemade bone broth is much more nutritious then the store bought stocks on the shelf.
Bonus! Come visit The Chittle Homestead for a Farmstay
We’d love to have you out for The Homestead Farmstay Package so we can spend time together preserving food, making cheese, baking bread, stocking up on your DIY beauty and cleaning products, or any other homesteading skill you are interested in.
Check out these sneak peek videos and get on the list for pre-booking at TheChittleHomestead.com/thefarmstay.
Just take one of the examples above and think about how adopting the “homestead” mindset around it can effect the level of trash, pollution, health, and humanity it produces on it’s way into your home and body. It doesn’t have to travel in big trucks and airplanes. It doesn’t have to be wrapped in a million packages. And you can be sure it was made in conditions that serve your values and your health.
For me that is an empowering feeling! And so I am motivated to slowly add the homesteading mindset to more and more sectors of my life. One step at a time…as each new skill integrates into how you do things, it starts feeling easy and natural.
What are our favorite ways to embody the homesteading mindset and what new things would you like to try after reading this blog? Tell us in the comments below.