How To be a Homesteader on 40 Acres or in an Apartment

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I love this definition of Homesteading I found online: “Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and may also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craft work for household use or sale.” Essentially it is a way of living that connects you more closely to all that is in and around your home.  Homesteading is being self-sufficient as well as being interconnected with your environment and neighbors. It is an empowering and satisfying existence.

And you can homestead on 40 acres or in an apartment in downtown Phoenix.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

HOMESTEADING

SELF-SUFFICIENCY

SKILLS

PERMACULTURE

Now that we know what HOMESTEADING is, how does it look in real life? How can we apply the principles even in an apartment with no yard, and maybe not even a balcony?

Well let’s break down that definition a little to see:

  1. Self-sufficiency
  2. Subsistence agriculture
  3. Home preservation of food
  4. Self-healing (I added that one)
  5. Small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craft work for household use or sale

Self-Sufficiency

I believe that the biggest part of homesteading’s appeal is that we want to feel like we have control of our lives. We want to know that no matter what, we can provide for ourselves and our family. If all electricity fails or if we lose our income or are somehow unable to purchase what we need, we want our family to be safe with food, shelter, clothing and medicine. Another part of Self sufficiency is about simply being capable of doing more. We want the knowledge and skill to make and do things ourselves. Just like a toddler who refuses your hand when they are trying to walk or try a new thing. We crave empowerment and capability.

Subsistence Agriculture

Producing food for your family is what subsistence farming is about. This could be a garden in your backyard, chickens for eggs and/or meat, honeybees for honey, and a goat or two for milk. It could also mean that you have a plot in a community garden, forage mushrooms in the woods, grow microgreens, and ferment sourdough, kombucha, and kefir on your counter. Providing for your family in these ways rather than purchasing them in the store is the ultimate in satisfying. This is homesteading life and it is a healthy way of living no matter how you look at it.

pressure canning beans

Home Food Preservation

Once you start producing your own food, you need to find ways to both supplement what you make and be able to preserve food to use throughout the year. You can make your own spaghetti sauce, salsa, pickles, fruit rollups, canned meats, soup mixes, seasoning mixes, herbal teas, sauces, jams, jellies, candy, and so much more. If you can buy it in the store prepackaged, then most likely you can make it at home from ingredients you grow, forage, or buy from places that offer surplus at a discount.

The best part of preserving your own food is that you know exactly what goes into it and can leave out things that you don’t like. If you want no sugar or salt, you can do that. If you want only organic ingredients, you can do that too!

Home food preservation does take some tools and skills that you may or may not have acquired in the past. I can absolutely help you with this! It’s what I’m here for. I offer classes here at Blooming Ranch, and online courses as well. Look for them on the home page as they are scheduled.

Here are some basic tools you will need:

Waterbath Canning for jams, jellies, pickles, and other high-acid foods

  1. Large canning pot
  2. Various sizes of mason jars and lids with seals
  3. Jar lifter, large mouth funnel
  4. Knowledge of your elevation
  5. Books and links with recipes and canning instructions
  6. Stove
  7. Candy Thermometer

Pressure Canning for meats, dry beans and other low-acid foods

  1. Pressure canner
  2. Various sizes of mason jars and lids with seals
  3. Jar lifter, large mouth funnel
  4. Knowledge of your elevation
  5. Books and links with recipes and canning instructions
  6. Stove

Food Dehydrating

  1. Food dehydrator like the Excalibur, Cabella, or Nessco
  2. Food dehydrating sheets (or make your own)
  3. Vacuum sealer and bags
  4. Jars for storage
  5. Vacuum sealer for jars
  6. Silica gel packs (optional) for long-term storage
calendula, beeswax

Self-Healing

Part of taking care of ourselves and our families is being able to deal with sickness, wounds, and other ailments. Yes, we have doctors and pharmacies for this, and I am grateful for this. However, not all healthcare aligns with our philosophy or ideals. And besides that, we want to know that we can find alternatives to the corner drugstore if we have to. Plants are all around us, and they have healing qualities that have been known and used for thousands of years. All we need to do is tap into that knowledge to use it.

  1. Herbal medicine: teas, salves, poultices, and powders are easily made from things we grow and forage.
  2. Skincare: infused oils, masks, and soaks are simple solutions we can make from things like honey, eggs, and herbs.
  3. First aid: skills learned from books and classes can ease your mind and help you in case of emergencies.
  4. Honey and bee products: bees produce powerful medicine for our bodies, both inside and out.
  5. Traditional and Homeopathic remedies: these are also things you can learn in order to enhance your healing abilities.

Look deep within to see what things you fear simply because you don’t know what to do or how to deal with it. There is an answer. Our ancestors knew them and they are there to be learned.

Small scale production of household goods

Homesteaders are by nature, makers and creators. There is a sense of great satisfaction knowing that you have the ability to make what you need. Because of that, we look at everything in our homes with an eye for self-sufficiency. We are closer to the earth and closer to the systems that we live in. If we can make something ourselves, then we know what is in it and the very making of it empowers us. We ask questions and find the answers:

  1. How can I make a rug or towel, or hat? Learn to knit, crochet, or sew.
  2. How can I make household and personal cleaning supplies? Learn to make soaps and vinegar solutions.
  3. How can I help my garden without using chemicals? Learn to make compost, vermicompot, or liquid fertilizers.
  4. How can I make toys that last and aren’t full of chemicals or plastic? Learn felting or woodworking.
  5. How can I…? 

Everything becomes an adventure with the hope of making life better, safer, connected. Homesteaders are trailblazers while being tradition-holders at the same time.

Are you a homesteader? It’s not WHERE you live. It’s HOW you live.