Fifteen Steps You Can Take to Get Out of the Cubicle and Onto Self-Reliance
Want to live off your land? More people are pursuing a lifestyle of self-reliance, depending upon themselves for their food and making a living by homesteading. If you long to get off the office treadmill and onto your own land, here are fifteen crucial steps you should take to pursue your life of freedom:
As any farmer will tell you, unless you own a corporation with hundreds, if not thousands of acres, you won’t make a fabulous income living off the land. Those farmers who do own hundreds of acres and thousands of dollars worth of equipment (along with the mortgages to prove it) are struggling to get by. The secret is to live simply and downsize. Sell that newer car with those high car payments and buy a used model, preferably with no payments. Stop eating out as much and use that extra money to pay off your loans.
You don’t need hundreds of acres, but if you want to live off your land, you will need at least five. You will want enough space for a good sized garden, along with some farm animals. Live in town? Consider selling or renting that house and buying a used manufactured home set on a small acreage instead. Many people do it and live quite comfortably – and debt free.
Put in a lot of raised beds and grow potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables. Learn to preserve your food through canning, drying and freezing, so that you go to your pantry instead of the grocery store, cutting down on cost and time.
These wonderful birds will supply you with eggs, meat, and even income if you raise enough of them. Fresh chicken eggs are easy to sell. These eggs are delicious, and if they come from chickens who have eaten mostly grass and insects – chickens who live in chicken tractors, for example – they are also far healthier and more valuable than the store-bought brand.
Goats will supply you with milk, meat and cheese. Control their diet – only hay and grains – and your goat’s milk will taste exactly like cow’s milk, only sweeter. Plus, many people are realizing the health benefits of raw goat’s milk, making it a marketable product. Get two or three female goats – or does – along with a billy goat, and you will have enough milk for your family and some extra to sell to cover your cost.
Many people who try living off the land make the mistake of raising a single product in large supply and then selling it. But if the crop fails, then you are in trouble. Instead, raise a small supply of several items to sell. Sell chicken eggs and goat’s milk, honey and produce when it’s in season. That way if one item fails to produce, you have others to fall back on.
Avoid the exotic
A few years ago, raising ostriches were all the rage. At least they were until those raising them realized not many people are willing to eat ostrich meat. It is far wiser to stick with the standard fare – chickens, pigs, and beef, for example. Raising something unusual and hoping to get rich off it – like many get-rich-quick schemes -usually leaves you with an empty pocketbook and an animal nobody wants and you have to feed.
Raise only what you want to eat
This goes with the ostrich example above. If you don’t sell those hundreds of bushels of Swiss chard, then be prepared to eat them. If you don’t enjoy them that much, then don’t grow them.
My grandfather was a plumber, and even during the depression, he prospered. During hard times, people might not need an insurance adjuster, but they will need someone who can fix their leaky pipes. Consider learning carpentry, electrical work or mechanics. Learn to make practical, useful items that you can sell or barter with.
Do you really need three television sets? They use electricity even when they are not running. How about that 3,000 square foot home? Do you really need all that space, and all that clutter you accumulated to fill it? Learn to live on less. Cleaning and protecting all those things simply takes up precious time and money.
Give up driving
You won’t be able to homestead successfully if you are driving into town everyday for one thing or another. If you are a soccer mom and trying to homestead, you are going to become exhausted in a hurry. Caring for livestock is a full time job that requires you to spend a lot of time on your land. Plus, the gas and wear and tear on your car is expensive. If you don’t like staying at home, the homestead life may not be for you.
Don’t go it alone
Don’t try to homestead by yourself. Accidents can happen, and when you live in the country, there will be few neighbors who will hear you call for help. If you are single, consider finding one or two like-minded individuals who will room with you and share expenses.
Join a community
Find others in your area passionate about homesteading. Look for a local online group or start one. Go to your nearby feed store and see if they offer classes on animal husbandry. Sign up for an organic gardening class. All of these will get you in touch with people who can share information with you and who will encourage you.
Be willing to help those who are just starting out. There’s an old phrase that rings true: what goes around, comes around. Make certain that what goes around from you is positive, rather than negative.
Embrace hard work
The homestead life is wonderful, but it does involve a lot of hard, physical labor. You will be lifting hay bales, roping contrary critters and moving chicken tractors. I personally love the hard work (and the great sleep I get each night), but if you prefer a desk job, then naturally, the homesteading life probably isn’t for you.
Think you can do these fifteen things? Then start working on getting out of debt and go forward! A life of freedom and purpose awaits you.
Sue Merriam is author of the website, Organic Gardening and Homesteading. http://www.organic-gardening-and-homesteading.com.