Starting Out Small

22 Jul

I’ve been approached lately by people who are interested in homesteading, but either their current living situation, or pure apprehension keeps them from jumping in. I completely get where they are coming from. It’s a big deal. To look at the life you are currently living and deciding to turn it on its head is a big deal. You are making a huge committment when you decide to homestead.

But, instead of jumping in with your eyes closed, try wading in. Starting the small is the key to success of any endeavor, and homesteading is no different. My husband and I are most certainly in no position currently to realize all of our homesteading dreams. We live on .17 acres. Definitely no room for the 1/4 an acre garden we dream of. And definitely no room for a small herd of chickens. But we do what we can. We grow four varieties of peppers in a 22 square foot garden plot. The rest of our veggies are grown 35 minutes away on my parents’ property. So that means stopping every other day after work to tend it plus one day on the weekend. Not ideal, but it works for now.

We do what we can in the space we are given. If you don’t have a large plot of land, or any land at all, try container gardening. If you have a deck or patio, buy a bunch of containers and start planting your tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. Don’t have room for peas, beans, lettuce, and broccoli? Hit up your local farmers market. Try to remember to buy organic as much as possible. Start paying attention to exactly what it is you are putting in your body and the bodies of your family.

For me, another aspect of homesteading is starting to take stewardship  of the earth. To achieve that, I’ve started to make our own cleaning supplies out of natural ingredients, not harsh, toxic chemicals. That way, whenever I dump my bucket of dirty water down the drain, I know I’m not putting anything harmful into the water table.  If you want to start small by making your own cleaning agents, there are tons of resources out there for you to draw from. One great book is called “The Naturally Clean Home” by Karyn Stiegel-Maier.  Conserving the energy my family uses is also very important to me. On nice days I will hang our laundry out on the line, and we try to keep the lights off as much as possible, until they are really needed.

And lastly, homesteading really does start at home. Take a look around your house. Is there anything there that isn’t needed, or maybe is taking away valuable family time? Start to declutter. I’m not saying get rid of all your possessions.  But get rid of the unused things that are taking up space. That dead plant could easily make room for an art project one of your kids brought home. Make sure the things in your home reflect the values of your family. It’s a hard project to start, but I promise it gets easier (and dare I say more fun) as  you go along. Hold a yard sale, turn some of that clutter into spare change.

Most importantly, research is the best small step you can take. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.  Maybe all of it isn’t for you. And that’s perfectly okay. But who knows? Maybe you’ll find a whole new way of doing things that will bring  your family closer together, and closer to Nature.

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