The biggest struggle most people have when it comes to homesteading is getting started. There is no specific answer. It all depends on what it is you want to do and what activities you want to partake in.
However, if you have no knowledge going into it, you can’t plan. If you can’t plan, you won’t be successful. My answer is always the same. Read, think, and plan. Read all you can, think about what you want to do, then make a plan on how you want to get there.
This post was updated on 7/3/2017
Getting Started Homesteading
Read, read, read
It doesn’t matter if you go to the library, shop on Amazon, shop a local store, or Google the topic. You need to read everything you can. There is a plethora of information available about homesteading, from the different ways people homestead to activities they pursue throughout the day.
Reading about what others do and reading about the activities that interest you not only give you an education, but it can give you a better insight to what may be involved with the activities you are interested in.
I wanted cows. I read about cows, their care, what is involved in raising them and I researched the amount it cost to keep them. Because of what I read I decided that cows were something I would wait on when until I felt more financially stable.
Pick specific topics
You can search for different ways that people start homesteading. But, before you do, pick some ideas that interest you first. Maybe you want to raise chickens or goats, read about them and their care. Maybe you are interested in gardening. Read about seed starting, growing herbs, aquaponics, or even hydroponic gardening.
Just pick topics that interest you and learn about what is involved in the different processes, it will help when you enter the planning stage which we talk about later.
Keep a notebook
Make a list as you read. Noting which animals, skills, and activities you would like to pursue and which ones you don’t. Keep this list handy for later.
When you start making a plan for your homestead you will have a better idea of what you need in these areas. Write down things you want to remember about each one. Keep track of things like where to find supplies, suggestions for recipes, project information or instructions on how to do something.
I bought a notebook and added tabs for each of the areas I was interested in. When it came time to make a plan, I had everything in one place and somewhat organized.
Another option is to Make a Vision Board for your Homestead where you can visually represent your homesteading dreams.
After a while, your notebook will become full of all the information you wrote down or copied. I’m sure your personal library is fuller now too. I must have bought 20 books on different topics I was interested in, and my notebook was slammed full of notes.
Make sections according to the subject area
When getting started with my plan, I first decided on the areas of homesteading I wanted to be actively involved in. I chose Gardening, Animals, Buildings, Food. and Household. Now that I had my main headings I put the title at the top of a blank sheet of paper. Under each title, I added the things I wanted to encompass into my lifestyle.
Here are some examples of what I wrote:
|Compost Bin||Chickens||Potting Shed||Canning||Outdoor Kitchen|
|Vegetable Garden||Goats||Tool Shed||Dehydrating||Woodstove|
|Fruit Trees||Rabbits||Chicken Coop||Freezer Cooking||Clothesline|
|Berry Patch||Pigs||Barn||Pantry||DIY Candles|
|Herb Garden||Cows||Goat Pen||Juicing||DIY Cleaners|
Decide your priorities
Once you have a basic list of things you want to accomplish you need to take each column and put a number next to each item on that list. Use 1 for the most important activity and work your way through however many items in each column.
For example, my list for gardening went like this:
As you can see, I listed out the activities according to priority. I placed the deep mulch method and organic in with the vegetable garden because they fit together. Now I have a list of prioritized goals, all that is left is to break them down a little further.
Start getting detailed
For each item on my list, starting with the item marked with a one, I sat and thought about what I needed to do, purchase or acquire to get this item completed. Knowing I had to make a compost pile for my gardens, for example, I made a list of materials, figured out where I thought I should put it, and the steps in order to start it.
It looked like this…
Need to do:
- clear the area by the woods in back
- set up pallets (3 per bin), from Ace Hardware
- Connect with metal straps
- wrap chicken wire around bins on 3 sides
- start filling first bin til full, then proceed with next bin
- Pallets 9 total
- chicken wire 25ft.
- metal straps to hold bins together (4)
Of course, I added a drawing I made so I had something to follow, and I included some articles I found on what types of materials can be used in my compost pile. Now I had a plan, a material list and a written set of instructions. I repeated this for all my first priorities followed by all the number 2’s, 3’s, and so on until I completed my chart completely.
This stage takes work, and a lot of time, but it was definitely worth all the effort I put into it. Some priorities and projects were very detailed and included a lot of information, some like the composting plan was fairly simple. If I could, I also added a column for a budgeted amount I thought it would take to complete the project.
Write specific goals with dates
This stage of planning was the hardest for me when getting started homesteading. It also took me the longest time to write out. And it has been updated and changed a million times. I’ll use the composting goal again as an example here.
I knew I would need almost a day to clean up and clear out the area I wanted to build the compost bin in. And I also figured I needed to set a time to get the pallets, which I had to purchase from Ace Hardware. They don’t always have them available.
There needed to be a plan to go and buy the metal pieces that would hold my bins together and of course the screws too. I allowed a day to assemble the pallets. Then I set a reminder on my phone for each morning to go off and remind me to save anything I could for the compost bins. So my first written goal looked something like this:
Goal: Compost Bin
Date of Project: 1st week of September 2014
Plan of Action:
- Monday: Call Ace about pallets, start clearing area
- Tuesday: Finish area clean up if needed
- Wednesday: Pick up pallets, purchase screws and fasteners from Lowes
- Thursday: Start assembling pallets
- Friday: Finish bins if not complete, start wrapping with chicken wire
- Saturday: finish wire if needed, start piling material inside
I continued in this manner until I set a goal for each of my first priorities on my list. Then I worked through completing these goals. Finally, I would start planning out all the 2’s, 3’s and so on until I had everything planned. Doing it this way allowed me to plan for the rest of my goals. You can read how I planned my 2017 homestead goals here.
Sometimes things overlap each other. I remember building a chicken coop while harvesting the last of my garden. I also canned on those days in the evenings. It’s okay to combine things or do more than one thing at a time as long as you don’t overwhelm yourself.
Advice on getting started
Take your time, accomplish one thing at a time, one day at a time. But the best piece of advice I can give to you on getting started is this; read everything you can, then read some more!
Plan out what you want to accomplish and be realistic about what you want and need. Needs should come first. You shouldn’t build a shed before you have a house. Then when you figure out what you need to do, write out your goals, and be specific.
Just like a business can’t succeed without a business plan, neither can your homestead. You can read about the Lessons I Learned While Homesteading. And check out 5 Skills Every Homesteader should Learn to get more advice on getting started with homesteading.
Did you start planning and setting goals for your homestead? Can you share some suggestions on how to plan and set goals? Please share them in the comments below so we can help others who are getting started.