If you have decided you want a simpler, quieter lifestyle and started your homestead, you’re already on track. There are some misconceptions about homesteading that should be addressed. When most people think of homesteads, they may imagine a Little House on the Prairie lifestyle with a small cottage on large swathes of barren land.
Homesteading is like a spectrum, in that there are many levels you can choose. Consider what your goals are in terms of how self-sufficient you’d like to be, if you’re willing to grow your own crops, and spend your time on the simpler things, starting a homestead may be great for you.
Once you formulate a solid plan, find suitable land and build a home, you’re going to want to add some upgrades and improve your homestead.
1. Improve Your Soil
Most homesteads have gardens or crops. Aside from water, the substrate is the most import aspect of determining if your crops will grow or not.
Use compost, mulch, paper products; anything that breaks down and provides nutrients for the soil and layer it on the ground and wet it. Over time, you will notice richer, healthier soil that is fertile and abundant for planting.
If you’re living on a homestead, the odds are you have access to a natural water source like a freshwater pond or stream. Natural water sources are excellent for providing irrigation to the crops in your garden, your livestock, bathing and even drinking.
It may not be a bad idea to have an alternative water source or two to make sure you have fresh water to provide for your family and your livestock in the even your natural water source were to become contaminated or compromised in some way. It’s hard to say what may find its way into your water supply, from microbes to a decomposing animal, you don’t want to be without fresh water.
For water collection, there are a few routes you can go. Budget permitting, you can elect to go the more traditional route and drill a well. A well is a tried and true source of water granted you have the electricity to power the pumps.
Depending on the local and state regulations, you can acquire a rainwater collection system and couple it with a water purifier. The issue with rainwater collectors is they can become contaminated if the water sits for too long and like all systems, they can break. If you live in an area with little to no rainfall, there’s no need.
You should make an effort to store as much water as you can, you can never have enough in the event of a water shortage. You can invest in a large water storage tank, or buy a few BPA free 55 gallon drums and store them in a dark area for up to a few years.
3. Defensive Measures
If you have a homestead, there may come a time where you need to defend it, be it your livestock from a wild animal or someone trying to break in, security is paramount if you’re in a secluded location with help a long ways away.
Defense encompasses a wide variety of methods. You can erect physical barriers such as a fence or tall dense shrubs to ward of predatory animals. Dig out trenches in areas where someone who is unfamiliar with the property may not be aware of and would cause a lot of noise if they fell in, or something as simple as motion sensing lights and motion activated cameras that turn on as soon as its sensors are tripped.
Firearms are great tools to keep around in the event of the need to assume a defensive posture. Buy a gun safe or two and put them in places where you can get to them and acquire a weapon in a hurry.
Research the type of wildlife you may encounter as well as the crime rates in the area you live and base your decision on the type of firearms will best suit your needs.
Shotguns such as the Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 are great for both hunting big game and home defense. Semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 or AK-47 are good for hunting and engaging something far off, they can be used in defense, but there are more practical measures like semi-automatic rifles.
In addition, mid-sized to full-sized pistols such as the Glock 17 or 19 are great to keep on hand if you will be working on the homestead and make excellent tools for home defense as well.
4. Power Sources
Electricity is a vital aspect for a functioning homestead. If you live in a secluded area, the grids may not be very reliable in the eventuality of severe weather, having secondary power sources to keep crucial functions of the homestead running,
If a powerful snowstorm or thunderstorm hits and the electricity goes out, it’s hard to say when the lights may come back on by themselves. You may lose heat, running water, or the ability to communicate with the outside world.
Investing in a secondary power source is a preventative measure, so its best to choose a method that’s sustainable given the climate and availability of resources to keep it powered on.
If you live in a flat and particularly windy area, you may consider investing in a wind power generator. They can be pricey, but you can get a quality model for about the same price as an iPhone. It may not be enough to power the entire homestead, it will be enough to keep specific devices running.
If you live in an area which receives a lot of sunlight, solar panels can be enough to power a significant amount, if not the entire homestead. One of the downfalls of solar panels they can’t independently store power, so you would need to get batteries to store the generated electricity if you’re not using it right away.
Livestock is an excellent source of both food and a great asset for your homestead. Aside from milk, eggs, and meat; livestock grazes and keeps the grass and shrubbery in check as well as providing an excellent source of compost to be used in gardening and improving the soil quality.
Keep in mind, you have to provide food, water and shelter for livestock in order to keep them healthy, so plan ahead on how many animals you can sustain and how many you will need to keep you fed for prolonged periods of time.
6. Shed and Workshops
Maintaining a homestead requires a lot of equipment, equipment you probably don’t want to leave out in the elements or for someone to take. It’s always the best bet to have somewhere to keep everything locked up.
For gardening tools, mowers, and anything else you can think of, a good shed is relatively easy to build or buy and you can get a few the more equipment you collect. Be aware that sheds can easily become infested with rodents and invasive species, so you will want to build them with preventive measures already in mind to keep away pests that could spread disease and destroy crops and property.
Workshops are great for project minded people who need a place to work with flower pots, do a little carpentry, or fix a broken engine. You can do just about anything you want in a workshop or some spacious sheds, and you can use just about any structure you want.
7. Natural Flora and Fauna
Homeostasis is the balance within a system. A homestead itself serves as a functioning ecosystem, so you don’t want to clear the entire area of natural plant life.
Insects and birds are important for pest control, keeping a garden free of parasitic organisms, and pollination. Keep some of the key aspects of the surrounding wildlife intact in order to keep the natural inhabitants happy.
Plus, the entire point of a homestead is to build a home outside of the suburbs, nature is an important place for anyone to spend as much time as you can in. No forest or tree is the same, they provide the key ingredients to a vast amount of life in the area. The more the natural ecosystem flourishes, the better the balance you will find on your homestead.
This improvement is easy because mother nature provides it and all you have to do is manage to find a way to live and work around it. If most of it was already cleared out, no worries, you can introduce species native to the area and within a decade of a little TLC, you will have quite the little forest going.
A homestead is one of the best ways to take control of your life and break free of the constraints of the worlds and society. There is nothing like growing your own food and maintaining your own corner of the world.
Sure, it’s hard work and may seem costly, but the secret is to start small with essentials and improving and upgrading as you go and before you know it, your improved homestead will become home.
This article has been written by Sam Bocetta for Prepper’s Will.