The world is a frightening place, perhaps more so today than at any other time in history. We are dealing with issues on multiple fronts, including a global pandemic that is still not over, global warming, and political leaders whose motives and abilities are increasingly being called into question.
So, how should we react?
Well, to put it simply, we must take control of the situation.
While some people may go to their secret hideouts in the hills, many do not have the means or skill set to do so. If you fall into the latter category, don’t despair. In this article, I’ll go over a few things you can do to turn your house into a “mini homestead.”
It’s all in your attitude
Survival and prepping are all about staying alive by having food, water, shelter, and the ability to make fire and, potentially, electricity.
Contrary to popular belief, survival and prepping do not rely solely on stockpiling firearms and ammunition. To be self-sufficient, you must abandon the mindset of “someone else will do it”… because no one will do it for you.
You must consider and work toward self-sufficiency—or something close to it.
Start a garden and/or get a few chickens to raise your own food. Prepare yourself, both physically and mentally, for the need to harvest your own food.
For example, the animals you intend to raise will be used to feed your family rather than as pets. Don’t raise livestock if you and your family can’t tell the difference.
Learn to make items from the materials you already have on hand.
Water and energy should be conserved.
Think smart: Make the most of what you have and get out of the habit of relying on consumerism and plastic money. After you’ve done this, you’ll realize that you don’t need half of what you have to survive.
Even on a small scale, homesteading can be a full-time job with no days off. There is always something that needs to be accomplished. Make sure you’re ready for this level of dedication.
Also, make certain that your family is ready for this significant lifestyle change. Managing all of this work requires a collaborative effort. Sure, having a few head of livestock or a dozen chickens can be enjoyable… until you have to venture out in a blizzard to care for them.
Make a plan for your mini homestead
After deciding to be a prepper by becoming more self-sufficient, you must devise a strategy.
Understand your own limitations (money, time, space, and capabilities) as well as those imposed by local regulations. You will not be able to do what someone with 100 acres of land can do.
Local zoning and other restrictions may forbid you from keeping any kind of livestock (including chickens). This must be taken into account from the start. Set your priorities and begin small, as it is easy to become overwhelmed and lose focus. Remember that you are changing your lifestyle and habits, which should be done gradually.
Money will be an issue whether you like it or not. There never seems to be enough of it, but there are ways to make every dollar go further.
To get started, you’ll need a variety of supplies. You may, however, already have some of what you require on hand. Before you go out and buy more tools and materials, take inventory of what you have.
Can you make something you already have work for something else?
This is all part of being a homesteader: adapting, improvising, and overcoming obstacles.
Your plan should prioritize food, water, shelter, and power, but it should also include emergency measures to address risks like drought, flooding, food shortages, and power outages.
Every successful homesteader develops plans for dealing with potential scenarios for where they live and situations they may face over time.
While you can’t plan for every possible circumstance, you can be ready to adapt when things happen.
When times are good, plan for when they aren’t: Cooking and staying warm require constant monitoring of food, water, and fuel. Don’t be caught off guard.
Water for your mini homestead
“I don’t have to worry about water!” I frequently hear when people water their lawns and wash their cars during a drought. There is no such thing as an infinite supply of water, especially when you don’t control the source.
Whether you use municipal water or have a well, you should always be concerned about your water supply, especially during a drought.
Drought is a very real and visible issue throughout the country, not just in the western and high plains regions (though it is more pronounced there). Drought is a natural occurrence; however, the current massive drought is partially due to our actions. There is a direct link between our use of carbon-based fuels, deforestation, and improper water use and the current water shortages.
Regarding our mini homestead, which is intended to help us survive all types of adversity, what can we do to combat this threat?
Water waste is a good place to start. Here are a few things we can do on our mini-farms to improve our resource efficiency.
Conserve – Don’t water your lawn anymore. It’s a waste of water if you can’t eat it, so consider replacing grass with plants that you can benefit from.
Wash only when you have a full load of laundry. Water-saving devices, such as low-flow toilets and shower heads, should be used. And, do you really need to wash your car twice a week, or even once?
Recycle – According to the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems’ U.S. Water Supply and Distribution factsheet, community water systems delivered an average of 96,000 gallons to each residential connection in 2006.
That’s almost too much to take in!
Consider how much water we waste when we wash dishes and clothes, brush our teeth, and take baths and showers. This “gray water” is filthy, but it is not harmful.
Consider the various applications for this water. You should be fine to use this water in your garden if you use biodegradable or environmentally safe detergents.
Drains from sinks, tubs and showers, dishwashers, and clothes washers can be piped to water your garden or routed into a catchment system for later use. I water my garden with the water from my dehumidifiers. Make the most of the resources you have.
Storage – Collect water from natural sources (rain and snow) and store it in appropriate containers.
That water can be stored in clean, food-grade 5-gallon containers and empty plastic jugs for drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes.
Rain and snowmelt from your roof can be collected in cisterns connected to your home’s gutters. Cisterns as simple as large plastic drums can be used. This water can also be stored in water-containment ponds, which are designed to provide water for irrigating gardens, growing fish, and watering livestock.
Being self-sufficient on the mini homestead entails doing whatever you can to feed your family—ideally without having to go to the grocery store very often.
It will take some effort on your part, but you will be surprised at the benefits that even a small garden can provide.
Using the current COVID-19 pandemic as an example (and motivation), consider what happened to grocery store food supplies. Meat of all kinds was frequently in short supply, and what was available was frequently priced out of most people’s reach.
The same was true for fruits, vegetables, and other foods that could be grown or prepared at home. The more you can do on your own mini homestead, the better off you’ll be.
Make your own – Start a garden, if possible, raise livestock, hunt, fish, and forage. Plant fruit and nut trees in addition to a garden. Remember that anything you can provide for yourself eliminates the need to rely on others.
Preserve – If you must buy fresh foods, do so when they are on sale and freeze them for later use. Purchasing a chest freezer will save you money over time. Other excellent methods of food preservation include dehydrating and canning. It is not difficult to learn the canning process and it will provide you with food for a long time.
Collaborate with Your Neighbors – Survival requires a collaborative effort. Exchange extra vegetables and fruits with your friends and neighbors. Join forces with others to buy meat in bulk, such as an entire animal.
Power needs for your mini homestead
Power grids often go down, and areas often have “brown-outs” during peak usage times. In serious cases, outages can last weeks … or longer.
When there is no electricity, there is no fuel for generators or vehicles, as well as no access to everything they provide. You must be prepared for this. Even if you have continuous power, there are things you can do to reduce your consumption… and perhaps even get off the grid.
Conserve – Reduce your energy consumption by simply turning off lights and electronics when not in use. Replace inefficient light bulbs with energy-saving LED bulbs.
Replace energy-efficient or manual appliances. Use rechargeable tools and devices that can be powered by solar or other energy sources. When possible, walk or bike to save fuel for your generator and other essential homestead equipment.
Alternative Energy – Solar power generators are more affordable than ever, and wind turbines can operate continuously. These can be used to replace or supplement your existing power source. Even small portable solar panels can keep phones and computers charged.
Generators – No homestead should ever be without some kind of generator. Check that it is large enough to keep critical devices running and that there is plenty of fuel on standby.
Every family’s requirements and homestead are distinct. You’ll modify your strategy as your needs change. Because the mini homestead is always fluid, you must adapt to new challenges and opportunities as they arise. Remember to take things slowly and to see each change as a single step in the right direction.
Stephen Harris has written this article for Prepper’s Will.
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