It's tough being an urban homesteader. You want to become self-reliant, but instead of being surrounded by acres of farmland, you see nothing but acres of cement. So what is a poor city dweller who yearns for the rural life to do?
The good news is there are ways you can be self reliant, even when living in town. The secret is to have a heart for homesteading, start cutting costs and save money for that day when you really will own your acreage in the country. In the meantime, here are six ways you can live the self reliant lifestyle now:
1. Container Gardening
Think you really need a patch of dirt to grow vegetables? Think again. Growing vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, squash and potatoes can be done just as easily in barrels, pots or even a burlap bag or bale of hay. Better still, container gardening is ideal for those new to gardening. You have fewer plants to deal with, less weeding and less upfront expense and time. With proper planning you can grow quite a few things in a small space, even if all you have is a balcony. Grow zucchini and strawberries from hanging baskets and keep patio tomatoes in small tubs.
2. Make and Use a Solar Oven
This is a great way to cut down on utility costs, especially in the summer when turning on the oven puts an extra strain on your air conditioner. Solar ovens are easy to make; very effective ovens can be made out of a two cardboard boxes, some plastic, foil and glue.
3. Keep a Small Handful of Chickens
A friend of mine hatched chicks from fertilized eggs using an electric skillet set on low, a small cup of water to keep the air inside the skillet moist and a towel to cushion the eggs. Three of the eggs hatched and two of the birds survived to adulthood. She now keeps these two hens in her backyard. When they are old enough these birds will supply her with eggs on a daily basis. Check the rules and regulations of your city, but most will allow city dwellers to keep up to six hens.
4. Live Simply
A good idea for anyone, but essential for an aspiring homesteader. Learn to cut back now, and while you are at it, get rid of the extra clutter in your life. Homesteaders learn to make do with what they have instead of running to the store all of the time. Do you really need those three television sets? How about that large wardrobe of clothing? Being creative with items on hand now will prepare you for the day when you live in a rural area that is far away from the discount store.
5. Buy in Bulk
Another great way to stay away from the grocery store, where you are likely to make impulsive, extra purchases of items you do not really need. Buy a grain mill and then go online and order a sufficient amount of wheat and other grains to last you a year. Better yet, find a local coop that sells organic grains in bulk and save on shipping costs. Store that grain in the closet you just emptied of all those extra clothing you never wear anyway.
6. Make it Yourself
I used to make soap all the time. It wasn't fancy, but it got the job done. Instead of buying processed food, make things from scratch. Look for simpler ways of doing things without spending a lot of money.
Follow these tips, start saving a little each month, and you'll be moving to the acreage of your dreams in no time.
Sue Merriam is author of the website, Organic Gardening and Homesteading.
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