This Wednesday, I wanted to teach you some of the simple things I have learned in the past two years about how to be an urban homesteader.
Most of the time, when people think of a homesteader, they think of a family who lives on a few acres, owns a hobby farm, has a garden, maybe some animals, and they frolic through the wildflowers, knowing they are living a self-sufficient and simpler life. This is true, but a lot of people (like myself) do not have seven acres of land, a garden, chickens, goats, or even the option to frolic through wildflowers. This could be because of their location (ie., A city or large town), they are renting and cannot do all of these homesteading things, or for any other reason that prevents them from living the typical homestead life.
But, do not lose hope, as I have found that there are many things, albeit seemingly small, that you can do that can help you to be more self-sufficient, which is essentially all a homesteader is.
Yes, I have dreams of one day living on a couple of acres in the country, growing my own food, frolicking through the meadows with my dog in tow, and going inside my home to prepare homemade bread using freshly-milled grain for my husband and I. Alas, that simply is not feasible right now as we are living in a small house in a city and we do not have the financial capability right now to go out and start a typical homestead, but we are working on it!
I also have probably the worst yard right now for a garden. This is because our yard is only about 300 square feet, and it is about 90% shade for most of the day. We tried growing some potted tomatoes and peppers on our porch last year, but sadly, as much as I enjoyed it, the result was less than average, to say the least. All of the peppers and tomatoes that we harvested (which were not a lot) were about the size of a dollar coin at most. I am thankful, though, that my family lives in the country not too far from us, so we are able to enjoy some of the produce that they grow.
Alright! Enough of the chit-chatting. Let us get into it.
Bake your own bread.
I believe that most people will tell those who want to live a simple and self-sufficient life to start baking bread first. Baking my own bread is what started my desire to have a homestead, and it is such a simple thing to do. Besides the fact that it saves you money, baking your very own loaf of bread is a very rewarding thing and something I think most people would enjoy doing.
Reuse & recycle items.
I try to avoid tossing anything out that can be reused in a practical way. Now, I am not a hoarder in the sense that I keep everything in the hope that I "may use it someday" (although I do have a tendency to hoard glass jars, hehe); I decide if this item will actually be of further use to me, even though some would toss it right into the trash. I think this is a very valuable mindset to have, as it helps you save money, be resourceful, and think of creative ways to use up random items.
Make your own condiments.
This is another great way to be more self-sufficient. In fact, this year, I plan on learning how to make every condiment that we normally buy at the store. From what I have seen, salad dressings, mayo, pesto, ketchup, and any other thing you can think of are all incredibly easy to make and only take a few minutes! I could talk for hours about how deceived a lot of people are because they do not realize how easy most supermarket items are to make at home. Food companies have it designed so that people think that it requires many ingredients and large equipment to make day-to-day items, when in fact the opposite is usually true.
Get into cheese making.
As you are probably noticing by now, going homemade is one of the best and cheapest ways to live a self-sufficient lifestyle, no matter your current circumstances. Cheese making is easier than most people realize, especially soft, white cheeses (mozzarella, goat cheese, cream cheese, etc.).
I have made my own mozzarella and cream cheese before, and the taste was superb! It only took me about a half hour to make as well!
Start preserving food.
Canning, dehydrating, freezing, vacuum-sealing - you name it! There are so many ways to preserve food that fit your lifestyle, storage space, storage length, etc. Preserving your food helps save money and ease your mind knowing that you have plenty of storage food if there is an emergency.
Sew and repair.
I personally am not very good at sewing, but there have been a couple of times where my husband has popped a button off his work pants or we have ripped a hole in a coat, so knowing how to sew definitely comes in handy. Instead of heading to the trash can, first try to fix it yourself, and you will see that you can save a lot of money by simply applying an old-fashioned skill.
Start an indoor herb garden.
This is something I just started this year, and I am looking forward to seeing how my little herbs turn out! As I am writing this article, they have already started to grow roots.
I started with rosemary and thyme as they seemed to be good and easy options for the amount of light that shines in my house during the day, but you can start with almost any herb you wish.
This is a great option for those who want to grow something, but either cannot have a full garden for some reason or want to start small.
Make your own natural beauty products.
I do not use a lot of beauty products, but I know that a lot of them can be made with simple household ingredients. Making them yourself is also healthier and cheaper than most people realize, and it does not take that much time at all.
One thing I plan on making this year is homemade perfume. It seems so easy to make, and you can customize the scents however you like!
Buy local foods.
This is a great option for everyone, not just those who cannot have a garden, because you are supporting your local farms while at the same time feeding yourself and your
family nutritious, locally grown, farm-raised products.
My husband and I like to order from Dutch Meadows, which is an online farm delivery service that delivers fresh produce, meat, dairy, eggs, and a wide range of pantry items. They are a family-owned business, and we enjoy their products and the fact that we can help support them.
Make your own natural cleaners.
If you have dish soap, baking soda, and vinegar lying around, then you have all the ingredients you need to make almost any kind of cleaner for any kind of task. I plan on writing an article soon about my favorite homemade cleaners, so check it out to get some ideas!
Wear an apron.
This is not necessary for you to live a self-sufficient lifestyle, but I highly recommend it. One reason for this is that you tend to feel more like a homesteader if you dress like one. This is not the main reason I wear one, but when I put on my apron, it motivates me to get stuff done around the house and does give me country vibes, if that makes sense.
Besides that, though, there are some practical reasons to wear an apron around the house. Number one is that it protects your clothes against dirt, food spills, and any other messes that would taint your garments. Number two is that a lot of aprons contain pockets (mine even has a towel on it!), which obviously can hold various items that you may need.
Start (or buy) a sourdough starter.
A friend of mine actually gifted me my sourdough starter (its name is Bubbles :), but I have heard that they are pretty easy to make. This is a tasty, healthy, and easy way to start doing more homesteady things from the comfort of your house or apartment.
Eat out less.
This is an easy, free, and healthy tip to start incorporating into your life. While going out to eat is a nice treat, it should be done in moderation. The reason I say this is because learning how to cook more homemade meals during the week will allow you and your family to save money and eat healthier while also improving your cooking skills.
Buying items second-hand is cost-effective, and it is nice to know that you were able to give this item a new home, so to speak. And you can find a lot of unique items when you shop at thrift stores and such.
Learn how to dry flowers.
This is obviously not a necessary skill to have if you want to be a homesteader, but it can be useful in many ways, so that is why I am keeping it on the list. A lot of flowers have many health benefits (think lavender), so learning how to preserve them for long-term use means that you will have access to homemade medicines, teas, scents, and such. It is also a cheap way to have cute and rustic decor around the house.
Make your own medicine.
I remember when I learned how incredibly easy cough drops were to make! That is when my eyes were opened, so to speak, to a world of possibilities when it comes to medicine. Let us keep it real, a lot of modern medicines out there (not all of them) do not work, quite frankly, and can even make the problems worse sometimes! So, having access to your own healthy and natural medicines is a great way to not have to depend on any medical professionals. I do want to clarify, though, that I believe that doctors do a lot of good in fixing people up, but sometimes the medicines they prescribe are useless, do not work, are unnatural, and can make the problem worse.
Hang your clothes out to dry.
This is an option that can be accomplished by almost anyone and can help cut down your electricity bill. Even if you have a small or shady yard, you can still dry your clothes inside on a drying rack (this will take a bit longer, though).
Get some indoor plants.
I have a few indoor plants, and while they do not supply food, I enjoy caring for them and watching them grow. It is as close as I can get to having an actual garden.
Grow your own food if possible.
Obviously, like I stated earlier, having a garden is just not possible for us right now, so that is why this tip is so far down the list. But if you can have a garden, then this is a very obvious choice to fulfill if you want to live a homestead life. If you cannot have a garden, then consider looking into a community garden near you.
Look into raising quails.
This is not a subject I am too familiar with, but I have heard that if you are not allowed to raise chickens in your area, most of the time you can raise quail. They are just as easy, quieter, smaller, and basically just as good as chickens, if not better.
My husband and I will not be doing this option, but I listed it because it may be a good one for some.
I do hope that this article helped you feel confident knowing that you can live a more self-sufficient lifestyle in any place or circumstance you happen to be in.
If you have any tips, ideas, questions, or feedback, do let us know by leaving a comment below or contacting us directly by email.
See you next Wednesday!