Self-sufficiency is the main goal for homesteading—yet some people spend a lot of money getting there. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend your life savings building a successful homestead. From finding suitable land to planting your first crop, here’s a few steps on how to start homesteading on a budget.
Purchase Undeveloped Land
Owning land is the first major step in building a homestead. Finding farm land that is ready to go from the start, however, can be difficult and expensive. Instead of looking to buy an old farm, consider purchasing land that needs a little work and time to prepare for planting. With a little work, it won’t be long before you have usable soil without spending a fortune. The only requirement for the land is access to a creek or natural spring, as water will be vital in your operations.
Find Free Animals
Livestock is also at the heart of many homesteads. From providing milk and eggs to even meat, it’s important to start building up your livestock from the very beginning. Believe it or not, you can often find free livestock from local farms or online markets. Whether people are just tired of caring for animals or they are too busy, free animals are out there. If you can’t find suitable free livestock, you might be able to barter with other homesteaders.
Look Online for Building Materials
Online classified sites are great for finding free building materials. You can sometimes even find old fences, cages, and chicken coops that people are selling on the cheap or giving away. If you need a lot of wood for a project, consider using reclaimed lumber or pallets. These materials take a little more ingenuity to work with, but you will end up with a rustic look when you’re finished—not to mention that they can save you thousands of dollars on your materials budget.
Plant Native Produce
Starting a viable garden is another important step in building a successful homestead. The first thing you’ll want to do is research which plants grow well in your climate. You can also find out which edible plants are native to your region—you can dig up some wild varieties and transplant them to your garden. Once your vegetables and herbs are harvested, consider canning them to help preserve for future use.
Gardening will take up a lot of your time on the homestead. To make sure you have a good crop year in and year out, consider saving the seeds of your best plants for the following year. Not only will this save your budget for acquiring seedlings every year, but it will also ensure that you're only using the best plants at your disposal.
Make Local Connections
Other homesteaders in your area can be a great resource of knowledge and offer support when you least expect it. Make sure you explore your area and make new friends with the local farmers or homesteaders. You might even be able to score some free tips, advice, and even animals or materials that they no longer need or have the means to take care of.
Being resourceful will save you a lot of money in your homestead. Whether it’s creating a compost pile out of your garbage or reusing wood for gardening materials, recycling materials for later use will help your bottom line. For larger projects, hit up a local recycle center for used building materials, such as old windows, doors, and pallet wood. Although your project won’t be the fanciest, using recyclable materials will save you a lot money in the long run.
Earn Money Back
There are ways you can make money from your homestead. If you raise chickens, then you can sell eggs, hatching eggs, and even extra chickens. For larger homesteads, bringing your produce to a local farmers market can generate a lot of extra income. You can also sell seedlings and potted plants to potential customers.