Homesteading for Beginners

Interested in homesteading, but don’t know where to begin? This post is perfect for beginners who are just getting their “feet wet” in this type of living/lifestyle. There are many different ways to go about starting a homestead and there are many factors to consider. 

What is homesteading

According to Wikipedia homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. Per the Merriam dictionary, to homestead is to acquire or settle on land. 

While self-sufficiency is an awesome goal to strive for, it is also unrealistic for many. On the other hand, working towards being more independent from our modern food system and consumeristic lifestyle is totally do-able, realistic, and fulfilling.

Goals/What does homesteading mean to you?

The first step is to figure out your goals. Why do you want to homestead? What draws you to the idea? Are you hoping to connect more with the land? Do you want to learn some self-sufficiency skills? Are you hoping to save money? Do you want to know where your food came from. Is just being outside more enough? Are you looking for a new hobby? Looking for a spiritual adventure? Do you have a bunch of land that you want to put to good use? 

All are valid and great reasons! Take a minute and think about what you want to achieve and why. There are SO many projects you can embark on and it is easy to get distracted, overwhelmed, or feel like you “should” be doing more. 

What you need and things to consider


You do not need acres and acres of land.  In fact, you can have a very high-producing garden with just ¼ acre. f you are looking to garden, a raised bed (garden plot) is about 4 feet x feet and even 4 raised beds can produce a lot of yummy vegetables.  Many people have this space just in their backyard. 

If you want animals, you will need a little bit more land. Chickens and ducks don’t require too much, but larger farm animals definitely require more.


All homesteading adventures will take time out of your schedule. Some homesteading projects will take more time than others, so it is important to figure out what you can and are willing to do. You also want to determine if you are willing to commit long-term or if you just want to tackle projects during your spare time.

For example, dealing with livestock and animals is a daily commitment. You can’t just go away for a couple of days on a whim without some planning of who is going to take care of them. Or ignore them for a week because you are busy with work.


Most hobbies need money, and homesteading is no exception. Sure it can save you money down the road (if you are really strategic), but you will need some start-up cash. If you want to get livestock/animals you will need to purchase materials for a coop, fence, pen, feed, etc.

Unfortunately like everything, lumbar and building materials have gone up in price. You can get good deals or even free materials from sites like Facebook marketplace, Freecycle, and Craiglist, but be prepared for the price if you do need to purchase something new. Don’t underestimate the cost of soil and compost if you want to start a new garden (I was definitely surprised by how much it added up to).

I would highly recommend going to stores and figuring out prices of what you need before actually starting so you have a rough idea of how much money your homesteading adventure will require 

A can-do attitude

OK I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true! Don’t worry about what others might think or if you feel like an imposter. All homesteaders mess up and learn every day. Remember, homesteading is hard work so make sure you are up to the task.

Homesteading for Beginners: Ideas


Garden Bed

Gardening and growing food are the most natural first steps to starting a homestead. There is nothing more satisfying than preparing a meal with some of your own produce. Not only is it fulfilling, but it’s great to know exactly where your food came from, the inputs that you used, and knowing that the food did not travel thousands of miles and lost some of its nutrients during the far travel.

Like all other endeavors, start small! You will be amazed how much you can grow in just a few 4×4 garden beds. A fence may be needed to protect your plants. You may not find out that you have a large population of groundhogs until you start growing delicious leafy greens! Once we went away for a few days and came back to have all our tomato plants eaten (this was before we had a fence). 

In order to start a garden you will need space, soil, compost, a water source, sunlight, and seeds/transplants. Don’t feel bad if you are not ready to start growing vegetables from seeds. Starting from seeds will require additional equipment like plug trays, artificial lighting (if you don’t have a greenhouse), additional space, and specific soil. You can also learn a lot from getting transplants from your local nursery or farmers market by talking with the seller.  

Consider microgreens as well! We grow microgreens on our farm and they are great because they can be grown throughout the entire year! We grow about 9 different varieties and once you get the hang of them, they are easy, dependable and tasty!

Just a note from a fellow gardener, please please please don’t get discouraged if your garden does not look immaculate like in photos! Your garden will have weeds and not perfect-looking plants. Everyone just takes photos of only super healthy plants right after they weeded.


Do you want to cook more from local and seasonal ingredients (preferably ingredients you grow yourself)? Cooking more at home is a great step to homesteading. Don’t think you are a good cook? Like anything – cooking is a skill that can be learned by anyone. If you do not have a garden yet, shop the farmer’s market and start by using seasonal ingredients. Is it winter? Try rutabagas or parsnips. Is it summer? Try different dishes with tomatoes other than slicing them on sandwiches. There are many ways to get creative with cooking that can begin your homesteading journey. 

Preserving food

This would be another layer of cooking that can really help you jump-start your self-sufficiency lifestyle. Preserving can include dehydrating, canning, freezing, and pickling. Basically any way of keeping food for long-term storage. 

Mason jars in a water bath canner
Waterbath canning
  1. Freezing – this is a pretty simple method that most people can do without additional equipment. You need space in your freezer and some type of freezer bag. When you freeze, it is best if you freeze food items individually first. For example, freezing berries individually on a cooking sheet and once they are frozen stuffing them in a freezer bag, vs stuffing them in a freezer bag before they are frozen. This way you can easily use a handful at a time. Try freezing the following:
    • Soups – make a big batch with seasonal vegetables
    • Most fruits – take advantage of pick your own berries!
    • Most vegetables  – make a squash puree, or freeze all those zucchini your neighbor gave you (make sure to cut it into small pieces). This is a great and quick way to take advantage of abundance from your or someone else’s garden.
    • Homemade broth or bones. I was struggling with wasting chicken carcasses because I was not able to make broth in time and then a friend recommended freezing the bones and making broth when you are ready. Brilliant!
    • Homemade pizza dough, pie dough, quiche crust. Make a big batch and defrost it several hours before you are ready to use it.
    • Tomato sauce and whole tomatoes – chances if you have a garden, you will plant tomatoes. And if your tomatoes are a success you will have an abundance. Tomato sauce is great to freeze as the quality after defrosting is not compromised at all. You can also freeze whole tomatoes – but note they will only be good for cooking (do not attempt to eat a defrosted tomato raw. It will not be enjoyable).
  2. Canning
    • Canning can seem scary and dangerous, but if you follow the correct steps it is totally safe! There are two types of canning: water bath canning and pressure canning. Water bath canning is the most popular and you probably have seen all the mason jars and equipment at local stores.
    • Water bath canning is for high-acid foods like tomatoes and most fruits. Pressure canning is for lower-acid foods like green beans, corn, squash, etc. 
  3. Dehydrating is another great way to preserve food. While you technically can dehydrate super old school by placing your food in the sun for hours, they also make electric dehydrators. Just note they do use up a lot of electricity.
  4. Pickling is a low-energy type of preserving food, but the food often does not last as long as canning of freezing without also losing quality. Note that you can pickle a lot of foods besides pickles.
Variety of pickled foods
Variety of pickled foods

Farm Animals

Backyard Chickens

Backyard Chickens

It is said that chickens are a gateway animal to homesteading. This is totally true because they are not the hardest to take care of (but do require daily TLC). You will most likely get eggs to eat in return and have great material for your compost pile. They are also so much fun to have and interact with.

A good coop is critical when thinking about chickens. Chickens are not great at defending themselves, so it is up to you to do that for them. The coop that they roost at night must be secure. Our coop is off the ground and has an attached run that is totally fenced (including above) in with hardware cloth. You can purchase coops or build them relatively easily if you are handy (another homesteading skill)! 

Common chicken coop that can be purchased or built
Common Chicken Coop that can be purchased or buit.

You will most likely need to feed them daily even if they free-range. You can definitely cut down on their feed if they do have access to green pasture and bugs, but often times they will need a bit more nutrition to lay eggs, especially during the winter or when they are molting. Just like human food, you want to get the best quality chicken food you can. Corn and soy are a big part of many chicken foods, so consider if getting organic or soy-free is important to you. 

Consider how much if any you do want them to free range. Just note if you let them completely free range, they are more prone to getting attacked by hawks, local dogs, coyotes, etc, and you will have chicken poo almost everywhere! You can partially let them free range by giving them a large fenced in area to keep them safe.

Other Homesteading animals

Ducks, rabbits, goats, alpacas, pigs, sheep, and cows. are other typical homesteading animals. Note that not all animals will have the same return on investment. With animals, it is especially important to think about your goals.

If you want some financial outcome alpacas, goats and sheep may not be the best fit. Sure you can sheer them, sell their fiber or sell goat’s milk, but the amount of money the equipment costs, your time, and the demand for what you are selling may not lead to profit  (more of a hobby). With ducks, rabbits, pigs, and cows you can more easily sell the meat, but note the cost of the equipment and how many you need to have in order to make a profit. 


Are you artsy or enjoy DIY? Not all homesteading efforts need to be food and kitchen related. People need equipment, utensils, towels, clothes,  etc.

Benefits of homesteading

There are many benefits to homesteading that go beyond personal gains. Yes, you can save money, eat healthier food, and learn a super fun new hobby. In addition homesteading also helps to create a better world and planet. It brings people/communities together and has a positive overall environmental impact.

When you start to practice more self-sufficiency skills, you develop a greater appreciation for the earth and are more conscientious of where and how materials are made and disposed of. There will be less waste and trash in the landfill and less consumerism.

Hands holding healthy soil

Homesteading is a wonderful way of life and there is no one way to do it. There is also no need to do it all – especially in the beginning or ever! It is important to go slowly and figure out what your goals are. There are many adventures you start with including gardening, cooking & preserving, raising animals, and sewing. 

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