When we purchased Serenity Acres, our friends cheered for us. We were the first to accomplish home ownership. Not just owning a house, but owning land and a workshop and getting one step closer to our dreams of self-sufficiency. Many of our friends are like-minded, but circumstances make it difficult. It’s really hard to have land to call your own when you’re barely scraping by, both of your vehicles go down, you lose your job, and you get an unexpected bill. We got really lucky, and we’re fighting tooth and nail to be able to keep it.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that you don’t necessarily need acreage to start homesteading. Heck, you don’t even need a yard!! You need time and diligence and the drive to learn new skills. Here’s how.
My mother taught me this one. You don’t need land to have a garden. There are several varieties of fruits and veggies that you can grow in containers. This works well whether you are renting a house, duplex, or apartment. The best part is that you can take it with you when you move, and it doesn’t take up much space. You can also try vertical gardening. It’s something I’ve seen but never done, but it is so neat to see just a wall of homegrown food! Her very first garden was an adorable container garden of pretty flowers. Then she stepped up and planted a few veggies in a small plot off the patio. I was just talking to a friend who lives in Wyoming who said she was jealous of our garden plans, and now she’s hoping to start a little container herb garden in Spring!
This goes hand in hand with gardening. We literally toss away tons of things that can be composted and turned into good soil, including vegetable and fruit scraps, cardboard, and eggshells! While you may not have space (or a need) for one of the big, tumbling compost bins, there are some adorable countertop bins out there that are just perfect, like this one from World Market. They are super cute and handy, and even come with a replaceable charcoal filter to help absorb odors so your kitchen doesn’t stink from decomposition.
This was a big one for me long before we moved. I recycled everything I could from jars to coffee cans. Now I even take my feed bags and turn them into grocery bags. Our wrapping paper from Christmas is stored in a box near the fireplace to light fires on chilly nights. We try very hard to recycle when we can, but not in the means of actually going to a recycling plant. You can still recycle the traditional way, but look for creative ways to reuse what you would otherwise consider trash. We even make fruit fly traps out of old soda bottles!
Make your own
Whatever it is, make it. Want curtains for the kitchen? Find fabric on clearance and learn to sew. Need a new blanket for the bed? Learn to crochet or knit. I don’t know how many things I’ve needed and just made because we couldn’t afford them. Now it’s like a challenge to both of us to see what how much we can do ourselves! Even my mother-in-law has joined in!
Cook from scratch
Pre-made dinners are full of preservatives, and the ones that aren’t are sky high in price. It’s ridiculous. Stock on some pantry staples: flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar and learn to cook the hard way. It does take more time to cook from scratch, but the end result is one that you can be proud of, and your body and wallet will thank you for. Besides, you can turn dinner into a fun date night! Homemade pasta anyone?
Preserve your own food
I will never forget the excitement of finding a bushel of cream 12 peas for $25. I was ecstatic. Those things are usually upwards of $30 in our area. I put up 7 quarts of peas that day, waiting in the freezer for us to eat. Learning to can, dehydrate, and freeze can save you a ton of money each year. Buy fresh produce when it’s in season and you’ll be able to enjoy it all year long!