Brand New, How to Start?

We are first time home buyers, and I have ranch life roots (i.e. been around a family member's ranch, fed cows, helped cut them, had a few chickens in a house I rented).


The more I research the more I want to live an "urban sustainable lifestyle" or a homesteading lifestyle - up to a point. I am a stay-at-home father and a writer, and my time is quite divided, especially given that I am going at this alone (that is without the help of a spouse working the land with me).

I have 2.5 acres of Texas Hill Country land (lots of juniper, clay soil, scrub land). I intend to truck in some soil for a good sized garden, raise some chickens, do some dairy goat farming, and maybe some goats for grazing and some for wool maybe. Likely I will have a donkey or a llama for livestock protection. I definitely know I want to grow medicinal herbs like Echinacea and so on.

Past knowing what I just said I wanted, I don't know how to begin homesteading or incorporating my wants into a sustainable lifestyle. Of all the stuff I have come across your writing (from one writer to another) bears a certain gentleness that makes me inclined to ask you: what do I do, where do i start?

I don't know about buying livestock, for instance, or where to go to get good prices on fencing, etc.

Comments for Brand New, How to Start?

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You're Off to a Great Start
by: Sue Merriam

First of all, congratulations! You're way ahead of many people wanting to pursue the self-sufficient life in that you have some experience and land. A lot of what you are planning to do: grow a garden as well as keeping chickens and goats will keep you busy but also keep you well supplied in meat, milk and eggs. That's really smart, and you're right: that will take up a good portion of your time, but it will be time well spent.

As far as the best way to learn about buying livestock and keeping livestock, you could start going to auctions and talking to the people there. Oftentimes the best way to learn is to find local experts in your area.

You said you're a stay-at-home father. Have you thought about joining a local 4-H group? Your children could join, and you could volunteer. The point is to get to know people who are pursuing the interests you want to pursue. They'll be the ones to know the best places to get good, low-cost fencing in your area and what to look for when buying livestock.

I'm a member of a local beekeepers group, and some of the old-time members in my group have priceless knowledge that they love passing on. Old-time farmers have some of the best and most valuable information out there, and many of them appreciate someone who is willing to take the time to listen to what they have to say.

I would also advise you (and everyone else reading this) to spend a little extra at the grocery store each time you go to stock up on storable foods, such as beans, canned vegetables and staples. If you're producing at least part of your food (gardening and livestock), and have food stored, you'll be far better off than many of those in your area, no matter what the economy brings.

Also take the time to add a cistern to your property or some other way to get water should the power go off, and you will be doing well.


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