The movement towards simple, natural living is so appealing for many reasons. But what if you aren’t able to have a dairy cow, raise poultry, keep bees, or have acres of land to farm? Here are 13 ways you can homestead anywhere and start enjoying the benefits of a simpler lifestyle.
We are fortunate to live on several acres in the hills of Alaska. We are able to have two dairy cows, poultry for meat and eggs, honeybees, and a large garden. All of our red meat and fish is harvested from the wild. We pick berries, cook from scratch, and shop locally as much as possible.
It’s a lot of work and didn’t happen overnight but we see the difference of living a simple, natural lifestyle together as a family.
But what if you don’t have several acres for animals or gardening? What if you can’t go hunting or fishing or keep bees? You don’t have to live on a farm to reap the benefits. There’s so much that you can do, no matter what your situation is, to practice a homesteading lifestyle. Here are some great ways to get started today!
You might not be able to till up any land where you live but that doesn’t have to stop you from gardening! You can have a successful garden and grow your own vegetables just about anywhere.
Look around your property and take note of areas where you can place containers. Maybe on a front porch, a back patio, or on the side of the driveway. Decide what size of a container will fit into each spot.
You can have containers scattered around all over full of vegetables! Large storage tubs, flower pots of varying sizes, livestock feed sacks, five-gallon buckets, and whatever else you can find can serve as containers for plants. Check the hardware store, thrift store, and local feed store for options as well as your own garage. You probably already have some containers to get you started.
Grab some seeds or plant starts from the local nursery as well as some potting soil to fill your containers. Research what grows well in your area and consider what your family will eat.
Gardening can be challenging (I’m not great at it!) but the important part is just getting your hands dirty and giving it a try. When you harvest your first vegetable and serve it to your family at supper, the feeling of accomplishment will be worth all of the effort!
Grow Your Own Herbs
Growing your own herbs is so easy! Not to mention the herbs that come in plastic packaging at the store are expensive and wasteful.
Seed packets are only a couple of dollars and will provide you with more than enough herbs to grow and dry or freeze for later. To start growing your own herbs, you’ll need a few small pots, some seeds or plant starts, and potting soil.
Here are the herbs that I always grow and like to have on hand in our kitchen:
We have several pots of herbs on the windowsills in our kitchen and dining room. I love having them inside, not only so they’re handy when I want to take a few cuttings to toss in the meal I’m preparing, but also because they’re so pretty!
A second herb garden sits outdoors to grow even more so that I have plenty to put away to use during the winter. Herbs are easy to store a couple of ways:
- Dry-Dry your homegrown herbs by clipping several stems, tying them together, and hanging them upside down in a dark area of your home. Once dried, store them in an airtight container to use anytime. Here are some more ways to dry your herbs.
- Freeze-You can freeze herbs as well. Cut several stems, tie them together, then place them in an airtight freezer bag. Pull a bundle out anytime you need some. This works great for putting a bundle of herbs into a stock or soup. I also like to keep a small jar in the freezer full of cut up chives. Then I can just grab a pinch when I’m cooking. Here are some more ways to freeze your herbs.
Buy Local Meat
One of the biggest impacts that you can make for your health and the environment is to buy local meat. Skip the meat sold in large chain stores because you don’t know where it came from or any other information about it. The packaging might say “all-natural” or a number of other claims but these aren’t necessarily true.
Purchasing local meat allows you to know which farm it came from and gives you the opportunity to know the farmer and their practices. You’re also supporting a local farmer instead of possibly unethical and unhealthy alternatives.
Local meat might not be available at the large grocery store in your city so you’ll have to do some digging. The best places to start are the local butcher, a feed store, or a small local market. Ask around if you’re having trouble locating what you’re looking for.
Local meat that you should be able to find will include whole chickens, ground beef and other beef cuts, ground pork and other pork cuts, sausage, bacon, and more.
My husband hunts and provides us with our red meat and we raise our own poultry as well. However, we haven’t ventured into pork yet so I buy pork sausage at the local feed store to use for breakfast and pasta dishes.
Buy Local Milk
We have two dairy cows but wouldn’t you know, neither of them are in milk right now! They were both bred and now awaiting calving so are dried off at the moment. We hope to stagger their next breeding cycle to avoid this happening again.
But we still need milk! For the moment I’m purchasing whole milk from a local dairy, actually the same farmer that we purchase some of our cows’ hay from. I pick it up in glass bottles (milk should never be kept in plastic as it is in large grocery stores) and return the bottles when we’re done.
You might also be able to find raw milk from a local farmer, depending on where you live and the laws. D
on’t forget goat’s milk, it’s often more available locally than cow’s milk. Check with your local market or feed store and find a reliable source for local milk.
Buy Local Eggs
Local eggs are usually pretty easy to find! Often they’re available at the farmer’s market, the feed store, or a local market. You can also find folks who keep chickens or ducks that sell their eggs directly, especially when they have too many.
Even though you might not be able to keep your own poultry for eggs, you can still enjoy the delicious taste and health benefits of local eggs. Don’t trust there claims on the grocery store egg cartons as they can be misleading.
Buy Local Produce or Join a CSA
Are you sensing a theme here?! Buying local anything is always better for you and the environment than purchasing from a big retailer. Although we can’t always do that, this is another way to make a small change that will really add up!
Buying local produce is a great way to make up for what you aren’t able to grow on your own. And I can tell you, locally grow fruits and vegetables taste so incredibly delicious compared to what you’ll find in the big retailer’s produce department.
If your area has a local grower’s farmer’s market, you can plan to shop there weekly for your produce needs. You can also join a CSA, or community supported agriculture, where you sign-up to receive weekly boxes of whatever the farmer is harvesting that week.
Buy Local Honey
Avoid the questionable honey sold in plastic bottles at the grocery store and opt for honey from a local beekeeper. It’s better for you and can even help with allergies. It’s amazing to taste the difference of honey from different areas!
Beekeepers often sell their honey at farmer’s markets or in local shops and feed stores. Beekeeping is a lot of work so expect the honey to be more expensive than the brands at the grocery store. Raw, local honey is worth the cost.
Practice Less Waste
Homesteaders are frugal and use their resources wisely. Creating habits to reduce waste is another great way to live a simpler, more natural lifestyle anywhere.
Focus on cutting out disposables and replacing them with reusables. This can include trading bottled water for stainless steel water bottles, cloth produce and grocery bags for plastic, beeswax wraps for plastic wrap, and so much more.
Find a local market in your area with the option to fill your own bags with dry goods such as oatmeal, pasta, and nuts. Avoid buying foods packaged in plastic. It’s amazing how much waste you can cut out of your life!
Mill Your Own Flour
This was a new skill for me over six years ago when I first heard about milling grain and I still do it today. Flour milled at home is more nutritious and fresh than the whole grain flour that sits on the store shelves.
A grain mill is a small investment and you will need to find a source for wheat berries (usually local markets sell them). Then you simply pour in some wheat berries and let the mill do the work!
Having a grain mill and milling your own flour takes your baked goods up a few notches in taste and health benefits. Use your freshly-milled flour to bake delicious breads, buns, rolls, pastries, and more!
Cook from Scratch
Learning how to prepare meals from scratch will help you to not rely on packaged foods from the store. Homemade foods are much healthier and more delicious than anything that comes in a box. Not to mention it will save you money!
Yes, cooking from scratch takes more time. But it’s well worth the effort. Being in the kitchen and creating special meals for your family is the reward. Use that local meat and produce, along with what you’ve grown and foraged and fill your table with amazing meals.
Find a few cookbooks to help you get started with some basic recipes and to help you learn how to prepare all types of foods. You will come to love figuring out how to make as much as you can from scratch!
Learn How to Can and Preserve
Preserving food is such an important skill to have. If food isn’t handled and stored properly, it will be wasted. As will the investment of time and money gathering that food.
Learn how to preserve food in various ways including, water-bath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, freezing, and fermenting. Take a class, ask an experienced friend to teach you, read books, or watch videos to learn how to master some of these skills.
You will be amazed when your pantry shelves are full of beautiful jars of food you canned yourself!
Go Hunting and Fishing
My husband and our oldest daughter bring home our family’s supply of red meat and fish. Here in Alaska, hunting and fishing is a way of life. We are thankful that we are able to get healthy, natural meat direct from nature ourselves.
Maybe one or more members of your family are interested in hunting and/or fishing as a way to provide food for the table. Contact your local Department of Fish and Game for information and education about hunting and fishing regulations.
Learn how to process and preserve your harvest properly, whether you pressure can or freeze it. When your family sits down for a meal together, knowing that you provided your own meat and fish makes it tastier and more meaningful!
Learn How to Forage
Depending on where you live, there might be a bounty of wild edibles that you don’t even know about! Learning how to forage can add some delicious ingredients to your meals and are far tastier than what you can buy in a store.
Wild edibles include countless varieties of berries like blueberries and cranberries, fiddleheads, dandelions, mushrooms, nettles, flowers, and too many more to name.
I suggest getting a book or even better, taking a class as I did about local foraging and what is available in your area. It is extremely important to know where you should pick and most importantly, what is safe to pick. You must be educated to the poisonous plants you need to avoid.
Gathering your family together with buckets and setting out to pick delicious food straight from nature is a great way to learn about where you live and enjoy the bounty your area provides for free!
There are even more ways you can homestead anywhere but the important part is getting started! Try one new thing at a time, get the whole family involved, and start reaping the benefits of this lifestyle together!