Lately things have been getting a little crunchy around here…
We’ve always been the type that enjoyed the outdoors. I grew up in the woods, so gardening and farming was totally normal to me, but I never thought that my husband and I would be homesteaders. I will say that we wish we were more “homesteady” than we currently are, but I think it’s a safe assumption that we’re headed in that direction.
Homesteading is living a lifestyle of sustainability and self-sufficiency. To some, this looks like having a vegetable garden in their backyard, to others this may look like farming + gardening + building their own home with lumber from their own land and tools that they forged themselves in a fire that they made with sticks. Either way, it’s not about where you live, it’s more about how you live.
To us, homesteading looks like this…
10 Things We Do as “Beginner Homesteaders” (besides just recycling) :
1. Starting a food forest in our back yard. My hubby has done lots and lots of research and has started to plant edible trees, shrubs, vines, herbs and other companion plants. You can read about the start of this project on a previous post.
2. Composting all of our food scraps. We have a small coffee pot that we throw all our eggshells, used coffee grounds, banana peels, and whatever else is leftover after dinner. This usually fills up every day or every other day, then gets dumped into a sealed 5 gallon bucket that we keep in our bathroom next to our kitchen. The lid twists off very easily and keeps all the smells in, but even when I open the lid to throw new scraps in it doesn’t stink. Every week or so this bucket fills up and hubby takes it out to a compost pile that we have in the back of our yard. During the warmer months we use a compost barrel that turns and breeds black soldier flies… but that’s a story for another day!
3. Growing veggies from food scraps. Currently we have some green onions, garlic & celery that we have been nursing in our kitchen windowsill that all came from the grocery store. We’ve already put the onions in dirt because they rooted off very quickly, and the garlic was sprouting already so I stuck them in a pot as well. We left the celery in a jar of water so that it could get some really good roots on it before we put it in the ground. This is so easy to do and they require very little nurturing!
4. Eating at home. We don’t eat out unless we have gift cards for a restaurant. This is mainly to save money, but also so that we would eat better! Because we eat at home everyday, meal planning is very important! Dates for us look like cooking a fun meal together at home, watching a movie or an episode or two of Doctor Who, or going to a book store [but not buying books – ha!]. We purchase beef from a sort of local farm and we get eggs (when we can) from a friend of ours who has some backyard chickens. This doesn’t mean that we don’t also get these things from the grocery store, because we totally do!
5. Making & selling art. I love to paint and get crafty, so I sometimes sell my art. I plan on opening an Etsy shop soon!!! We don’t really bring in much money from this, but it definitely falls into the homesteading scene.
6. Gathering other people’s yard waste – for free! Hubby drives his truck around town looking for really good yard waste to use in his food forest. He has been able to find good pine straw, leaves for composting, and has even had a couple of HUGE truckloads of wood chips dumped in our back yard for free. It’s amazing what you’ll find if you’re not afraid of being resourceful.
6. Using real dishes. Instead of using paper plates and solo cups all the time, we prefer to use our real stuff so that we can cut down on waste. If we have a party at our house we always wash the solo cups and reuse them – and yes we get made fun of for this.
7. Cloth Diapering. Our one-year-old has just made the switch to cloth diapers. I’ll be posting about this experience soon, but it has been great! We decided to do this to save money because I just became a stay at home mom, but it definitely cuts down on waste too! And they’re way better for her little bum than a disposable diaper. We also are using cloth wipes and homemade wipe solution and I’ll be making some diaper rash cream soon.
8. Not buying new stuff. Well, we try not to buy new stuff anyway. Sometimes you MUST buy things new, but for the most part we get the things we need (tools, baby stuff, clothes, furniture, books, etc.) from Craigslist, buy/sell/trade pages, yard sales, and thrift stores. You can even get plant cuttings from other people – last weekend we attended a local seed swap (about 45 minutes away, actually) where we were able to get some cuttings and seeds for lots of great plants for the food forest!
9. Air drying laundry. We still use a dryer all the time, but to cut down on energy use, we air dry a lot of the heavier stuff like blankets, towels, jeans, jackets and cloth diapers before tossing them in the dryer. During warmer months we will air dry almost completely and throw in the dryer to fluff the clothes a bit.
10. Keeping a close watch on the thermostat. Our house stays cool in the winter and warm in the summer. It’s an older house that needs some more work done to keep it well insulated, so for now we keep our thermostat set to 66°F-67°F in the Winter and 77°F-78°F in the Summer. In the Fall and Spring it’s nice enough to open windows.
One day we would love to live in a tiny house in the middle of a luscious food forest with our own animals for meat, milk, eggs… but for now this is where we are and we must be content with what the Lord has provided with while at the same time working towards our goal of self sustainability.
What are you doing in your homestead? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!