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Homesteading Lifestyle

Six benefits of homesteading

Hard work and a variety of skills are needed to thrive as a homesteader

Izabela H identifies some of the main features of homestead life

Recently Steve explained how he is ready to move into a new way of life. Below we will cover the basics you should know about homesteading. I mean, wouldn’t self-sufficiency be an amazing thing to implement in your life? 

What about preparing and preserving food on your own, with no preservatives?

We will explore these and more in just a moment.

#1 Preserving food on a homestead

Many people underestimate how beneficial and easy food preservation actually is. There are so many reasons why it is indeed such a fantastic thing to do that it is hard to count them all. Here is just a small list of them:

1. Saving money. It is really easy to save up when you either grow your own fruit and veggies or bulk buy from the store. That way, you get a low price and plenty of in-season fruit and vegetables to enjoy!

2. Enjoying seasonal fruit/vegetables. If you crave a strawberry parfait in the middle of winter, you are not going to get any good strawberries, as they are out of season. However, if you preserve the produce in summer, you can enjoy it all year round without any issues!

3. Healthier for you and the family. Through preserving the food yourself, you are aware of anything and everything that is in it – no hidden flavourings, colourants, or preservatives. It is much healthier to eat that way and you will feel better in no time, thanks to the decrease of foreign chemicals in the food.

4. Prolonging the shelf-life. Yes, canned food from the store can last ages sometimes, but that is mostly thanks to artificial preservatives. Home-made pickles, jams, etc. can last much longer than you think! It is a very efficient way of storing food for later use while making sure it is still as healthy as possible.

5. Minimising waste. Food preservation is not only great for your bank and seasonal cravings, but also for the environment. Reusing is always above recycling, so give those old jars, bottles, and glassware a new purpose!

Preserving food in tin cans and jars

#2 Raising Livestock on a homestead

Raising livestock does not have to be exclusive to farmers and breeders. Of course, if you want to keep cattle or larger animals, they will require a large plot of land to accommodate their needs. However, what about the other kinds of livestock?

Chickens are very popular to keep, as they do not require as much space as one might think. All you need is a coop and an enclosed run and you are ready to go! The space required is, of course, dependent on how many chickens you want to keep.

Chickens are surprisingly cosmopolitan when it comes to food and are known to enjoy a wide range of tasty treats! However, it’s super important to do your research before you get your girls as there are some foods that they definitely should not have! 

Chicken Guard

Chickens are fantastic, as they lay eggs every day (or every other day), so you will not need to worry about buying eggs ever again! They can also be kept for meat, which guarantees top-quality meat for you and your family.

Rabbits are another popular option, as rabbit meat is very healthy and has very little fat. There is a wide variety of breeds you can keep, but the most recommended is the New Zealand White rabbits, as they are very calm and grow to a decent size (9-12lb). The furs can also be used in many different manners, if tanned correctly, making rabbits a good choice for crafty people too.

There are many other animals, but chickens and rabbits are the most common amongst people with smaller gardens and not much time to sacrifice on animal upkeep. You have to be aware of proper ways of slaughtering your animals if you choose to keep them for meat, of course.

Chickens on a homestead
Various breeds of chickens are often found on a homestead

#3 Gardening around the homestead

Gardening can not only be therapeutic and relaxing but also very beneficial for you and your family. Gardening does not only involve planting and caring for stunning flowers – you can prepare your garden to accommodate herbs, vegetables, and even fruit. Here is why:

1. Exercise. Gardening provides plenty of outdoor exercise, which is a fantastic way to do something productive and stay in shape. Whether it is more movement or an increased dose of vitamin D, you will feel much better after a nice gardening session!

2. Top-quality produce. The food you grow will be much healthier and more delicious, due to the lack of harsh chemicals used on mass-grown produce. Thanks to that, you will have nutritious and fresh herbs, fruit, and veggies that you can eat in-season or preserve for later use!

3. Smaller shopping receipts. There is no denying that growing your own food is going to drastically reduce the cost of your shopping and make your receipts much shorter. Yes, gardening requires work, but it pays you back with the sense of accomplishment, saving in the long-run, and delicious food!

4. Less waste, more food preservation. As mentioned above, whatever leftovers you have from your harvest, you can preserve for later! We also covered this topic in previous blog posts when discussing the freegan community.

5. Better for the environment. Transporting produce around the country (and the world in general) produces a lot of toxic waste and pollution. By lessening your contribution to that, you will positively impact the environment and get delicious food!

Gardening on a homestead
Growing plants, fruits and vegetables

#4 Life without electric: Off-Grid Living

Living off-grid means having your own power source, water source, etc. Basically, it is living without the need to pay your bills. Sounds impossible, right? The good news is: it is entirely possible!

However, you need to be prepared to face the challenges that will come with the start of your independent life. For example, how will you deal with sewage and waste?

The first thing to tackle is power.

Solar panels are most commonly used, as they can be simply installed on your house or property. Between 2,000 – 3,000w is needed to power a standard house with a 2-4 person family. The other options include wind and water turbines.

Those two are dependent on the location of your property, as water turbines are best in bodies of flowing water, while wind turbines are not only quite big but also generate noise and can be dangerous to some wildlife (not mentioning the large upfront cost). The more “old-fashioned” thing you can use is a generator.

Those are relatively cheap to run, depending on what you use to power it (petrol being the cheapest option). Unfortunately, they produce a lot of pollution and noise, which renders them the least favourable option.

The best way to save on your power usage is to purchase efficient lightbulbs, appliances, and batteries. Grade A+ appliances are the best, especially when it comes to fridges and freezers, as those use up the highest amounts of energy in our households.

The recommended lightbulbs are LEDs, with between 8-20w of power, while batteries should be rechargeable for reusability.

The second issue to tackle is water.

Living off-grid does not mean you have to find a lake in order to bathe or wait for the rain with a bar of soap, ready to shower. The easiest way of having a steady water supply is to live by a body of water, such as a lake or a river. However, this is not always possible, so there are alternatives.

Collecting rainwater is very common, but can be quite an expensive installation – costing over £10,000. This is due to the need to store water in an underground tank and to filter it, in order to make it safe for consumption. Another alternative is to have a borehole drilled.

This, however, requires a geological survey as well as a company to drill the borehole on your land for you, which adds to the initial cost.

All of the above examples may have an initial cost that will scare your wallet or bank account, but they will save you a lot of money in the long run. It is a worthy investment, as you will not have to pay bills anymore (or at least minimise them)!

Living off grid
Solar panels can be part of off grid living

#5 Cooking And baking your own food

Cooking and baking are those everyday activities we do not really pay much attention to. Oftentimes, they just have to be done and that’s the end of the story, while we go to carry on with our busy lives. However, it does not have to be a chore.

Both of those activities are very good at relaxing you and have similar effects to meditation. They are also an outlet for creativity. Alongside reducing stress and increasing your confidence, there are plenty more benefits.

Cooking your own meals as compared to buying ready/frozen meals or ordering takeaway lets you put in only the ingredients you want – no artificial substances or preservatives!

Including fresh ingredients will allow you to cook up nutritious and delicious meals while enjoying your time in the kitchen. Cooking is a great way to bond with your children too – it is a fun way to spend time and create something together.

The same goes for baking – it is very rewarding. Baking is therapeutic and lets you try out new recipes to recreate your favourites – from basic bread to fancy cakes.

Just think: how healthy would home-baked bread be? How about homemade buns and croissants for breakfast? Doesn’t that sound appealing? Besides being much healthier, you can fully customise your baked goods. Want to put some poppy seeds on the bread? No problem.

There are so many options that make both cooking and baking incredibly versatile and better than store-bought alternatives, so why not give it a go?

baking your own food
Grow, bake, eat

#6 Building With Wood

How many times have you gone to a furniture shop, looked at this lovely, wooden table and then left the shop in a hurry after seeing its price tag? We have all been there at one point or another. Fortunately, you do not have to sacrifice your dreams of a cosy, wood-filled home – try building it yourself!

You do not have to be a master craftsman in order to create something out of (seemingly) nothing. We have all had some spare wood or furniture that can be renovated. Building with wood is not only going to save you money, allow you to experiment and try stuff out but also to reduce your waste!

With practice, you will be able to create an even better-looking coffee table – and a unique one at that. Who knows, maybe it will turn into a hobby and a potential career prospect?

You will, of course, need some tools in order to be able to measure, saw, sand, and cure the wood. Therefore, the initial cost of preparing for making your own wood items may seem high, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. For example, you can purchase a chicken coop for about 2 chickens for around £300.

However, you can purchase chicken wire, wood, and other items for either less, or purchase more to save for other projects and build it yourself. That way, you can ensure the safety of your animals and customise the structure to your needs!

Building with discarded pallets is a favourite of ours. Keep an eye out for more wooden pallet-related suggestions in future blog post entries.

building with wood
Wood is an incredible tool for homesteading

The above are some of the basic starting points on your journey to homesteading.

We thank you for reading this article because homesteading is such a beneficial and fascinating matter, especially for people who want to live self-sufficient lives.

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Do you live on a homestead or interested in this lifestyle? Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Homesteading Lifestyle

5 lifestyle and agriculture channels that I follow

YouTube has a wide variety of farming, prepping and homesteading content available

Our editor Steve W picks out his favourites

Farm life on just a few acres of land

Pete Larson lives with his wife Hilarie and their three children on “Just a Few Acres” of land outside New York. Pete quit his job as an architect after becoming increasingly miserable and dissatisfied with corporate life.

Now the couple farm the land, keep cattle and livestock, run a farm shop and much more. Pete clearly knows what he is doing and (dodgy jokes aside) watching each episode is always an education.

The Neals’ Homestead

The first thing that stands out about the Neals is their vibrant zest for life. They are constantly active. I’m not completely sure about the family dynamics but the family matriarch does most of the talking.

She is often accompanied by “old guy”, who clearly holds decades of experience and can tell a yarn or two. These happy homesteaders offer a wide variety of skills and are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

Bush craft gets bush radical

Hanging around in the chilly woods of Alaska may not be everybody’s cup of tea. Off-grid experts Dave and Brooke Whipple have turned it into an art. Dave openly discusses life issues such as accumulation of material possessions and debt.

His story has been picked up by many media outlets. He is clearly very talented at building strong structures. The couple were originally discovered on American reality TV.

Growing Hazelnuts in Ireland on Gubb Farm

One of my more recent discoveries and closer to home too. Gubb Farm is based on an island in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

The channel is designed for those interested in organic food, hazelnuts, regenerative agriculture, soil biology and learning how to generate an income from a small farm holding.

It’s farm life – unfiltered.

Survive the apocalypse with essential prepping

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the term “prepping” for some reason. The media often uses it as a loaded term to describe people who run from zombies or load up on ammo and tins of dried beans to avoid government restrictions.

Dave from Prepping Essentials seems disappointingly normal. There’s not a firearm in sight. All he focuses on is good old fashioned hard work and plenty of ingenuity to make his small holding dream a reality.

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Homesteading Lifestyle

Is it time to live on a homestead?

Changes to worldwide circumstances are making prepping essential

By Steve W

To say it’s been a strange year would be an understatement. Goodbye 2020. Good riddance. We never want to see you again! Unfortunately, we have a slight problem. The early stages of 2021 are shaping up to be much of the same.

Unless you’ve been stationed under a very large rock for the past 12 months you’ll know that the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe. As masks, social distancing and financial furloughs become part of everyday life, we are truly entering an uncertain era.

Covid-19 has made for a strange 12 months

My introduction to Homesteading

Throughout the entire pandemic I’ve been working as usual in my regular job. The hours might be slightly reduced and the circumstances different but I’ve had to travel each and every day to a physical location. At the end of each shift it has been a great comfort to return home to a place that is more or less isolated.

No longer a functioning farm, our property is set off-road, barely visible from the surrounding lanes, beautifully barricaded by a fortress of trees, fields and hedges. Streams trickle gently around those fields. An enclosed glen, affectionately named “the enchanted forest” by my children, lies just a five minute walk away.

Despite living on a former farm, and adopting many of the daily practices congruent with a homestead, I’ve never actually considered myself as a homesteader. Livestock has come and gone, fruits and vegetables get planted each year, wood is chopped, winter prepping takes place every October/November. This is what I’ve always done, never thinking too hard about the labels.

The accidental homesteader

As the madness persists and a desire for self-sufficiency grows, I am starting to think it might be time to come out of the hay shed and become a part-time “homesteader”. While I previously categorised anyone diligently preparing stock and supplies as one of those types who waited for a zombie apocalypse or were creating some sort of military bunker, I now realise it could soon become a necessary activity.

The zombies are coming – and they want your toilet rolls!

Happy Preppers

Indeed, people were queuing and fighting over toilet rolls just months ago. Therefore, stocking up on beans, rice, porridge and some dried goods, as suggested by Dave from Prepping Essentials, might not be the worst idea in the world, given the current situation.

Will the shit hit the fan? Yes, quite possibly. If becoming a homesteader can help mitigate the potential impacts of a worst case scenario then I am well placed to take on such a challenge and embrace the homestead lifestyle.

I have a few decent skills, but will need to brush up a lot more if I am to retain any kind of self sufficiency. Baby steps at first, but here my journey begins.

A tractor for homesteading
Tractors can be very useful for homesteading

I am not going to be tough on myself. It takes time and years of failure and experience to get to where I need to be. While I am pretty underprepared at present -lacking in certain skillsets- I have picked up a few tips and tricks over the years.

After scribbling down my “assets” on a piece of paper I’ll end with a short list of things I have in my favour…

  • I’m not afraid of hard work.
  • I can light and sustain an indoor and outdoor fire.
  • I have moderate growing experience and plenty of space to grow food in.
  • I have a good set of tools and equipment, including a tractor at my disposal.
  • I am a decent cook, with experience in preserving, canning and baking from scratch.

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Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Do you think I’m bonkers?! I might be. Either way, continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.