So you want to be a homesteader. Well, why aint ya? Husband, wife, kids, family, job, hair appointment, waiting to win the lottery, hoping the wife can see how getting along with the girlfriend can be beneficial. All are excuses. Yes, we all have family and work commitments, but we have to prioritize our wants and our needs. In my opinion, homesteading is a need. And it is a helluva lot more important than what most give it credit for. Unless you have a dying mother who is leaving you her millions, take care of yourself and your immediate family. Dear Ol’ Mom is probably wishing you would cut the apron strings anyhow.
The benefits to homesteading are endless. Who here remembers going to Grandma’s and eating a supper made of things she and Grandpa raised right there on the farm? If you have, those are the meals you remember above all others. Am I right? Nobody remembers eating a McCrap burger, but you damn well remember the steaks out of the beef you bought from your local farmer. You could be raising that beef yourself. Remember those pale, runny little eggs you get from the store? No? Neither do I. Everybody loves those hearty dark yellow eggs from the old lady who lives just outside town though. Why aren’t you raising those eggs yourself? How about those firm tasty ‘maters you get from the old bachelor who has the truck patch? You don’t have to have a five acre garden in the sticks to get that sort of produce. For the most part, it only takes some realistic goals and then getting up off your fat ass and going outside and doing this thing that used to be called work.
Unfortunately, we can’t all take off and head for the hills, even though we may want to. That doesn’t mean a homestead of sorts is completely out of the cards. We have to ask ourselves, “What can I realistically do?”. Some folks are blessed and can move out of town and onto few acres. And regardless of the excuses I named above, some of us do have to remain where we are for a while longer yet. For now, let’s talk about what can hopefully be done when you don’t have the ability to Head’em up and Move’em out.
In order to even jump into this subject, a person has to be the creative sort. Sitting around and waiting for the perfect answer to present itself is not going to get you very far. This goes back to, “How bad do you want it?”. Unless you are living in a convent or monestary and have taken a vow of poverty, surely you can buy a few seeds and raise a few plants. This is especially aimed at the apartment dwellers. Don’t give me the excuse that you don’t have a green thumb. If you don’t keep trying and practicing, you never will have. Get some potted plants or possibly a window box. If you have a small patio or balcony, use that as your mini farm. One or two people in an apartment can actually raise quite a bit of produce if you put forth a little effort. Start out with some tomatoes or pepper plants. Set yourself up a little trellis on the balcony and let your plants climb. Another idea is to set up a small herb garden. This can even be done in an aquarium. You don’t have to have acres upon acres to get started. And by doing this stuff, eventhough it may seem small, you are gaining knowledge that can be used later.
Another thing for you folks with severely limited space, have you thought about raising rabbits? No, I’m not talking about the cute little lop eared things. I am talking about actual meat rabbits. If you want to be a homesteader and raise your own food, learning to raise meat is part of that learning process. Rabbits are a very good first step into meat raising. A lot of folks who live in town can’t have chickens, but who is going to know if you have a breeding pair of rabbits set up in the back yard or on the balcony? One pair of breeders can literally produce several hundred pounds of meat per year. To do that takes work and effort, but it can be done. And a good by-product of that venture is all the fertilizer you get. For you folks living in the apartments, I would suggest becoming friends with folks who have yards and gardens. By doing a little networking, a good barter system can be worked out to where everybody benefits. If they have a garden and you have a couple rabbits, do some swapping. They get fertilizer and meat and you can get some fresh veggies.
I know it may sound simple, but with the right attitude and some creativity, it can be. A lot depends upon your willingness to learn and fail and then learn some more. Nobody was born knowing all of this stuff. There are way too many different aspects with way too much to know to each aspect for any one person to honestly say they know it all. Set some very conservative and realistic goals. The trick is to succeed. Even when you fail, if you learn something and then go back at it, you will eventually succeed.
I started this article with the intent of lightly going several different ways a person could get started in homesteading. Before I knew it though, things just started sorting themselves out all on their own and now it looks like this may become a little series on different ways a person can homestead right where they are. – TM