Were do I start?

by Nicole Sennett
(Phelps, New York)


My name is Nicole Sennett and my husband and I have begun the conversations of living off the land. We live a basically normal Americanized-consumerized (if that's a word) lifestyle and we would like to be more self sufficient. Were do we start? How much money does it take to start?

Oh, by the way, we know nothing about gardening or animal raising. Plus, we live in town and really can't afford to move to the country quite yet. This is our dream, a country house and being self sufficient. Especially in the case of a natural disaster, where we would need to learn how to grow wheat and harvest sugar etc. Thank you for your time.

Comments for Were do I start?

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by: Dan

Start with a raised bed made out of landscape timbers stacked 2-3 timbers high. Fill with leaf compost or garden mix usually about $30 per yard. The dimensions that work best of 4'wide and 8'long, this way to work around the plants when weeding, planting and harvesting. It will take about 2 yards of soil to fill the beds and any leftover material you can use in other flower beds or in the yards. Start with lettuce and spinach in the spring, peas and green beans are simple to grow. But starting planning your garden in February and plant out in April-May. Good planning equals good gardening.

How I got started
by: CrazyDogFarm

Yay, good for you! I started my homesteading journey years before I was able to get land. The first thing I bought (quite by accident) was the Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. She goes over EVERYTHING you really need to think about when living off the land. It gives you a good starting point when you are deciding what to grow or raise first, then you can expand and do more research. I now have a little 5 acre parcel where I have a market garden (I hadn't gardened since I was about 6 yrs old) and raise chickens and turkeys, with plans to raise pigs or a milk cow in the future. One step at a time! Good luck, and all the hard work is totally worth it in the end!!

Take Self Reliance Step by Step
by: Sue Merriam

Hello Nicole!

Rather than running out and buying everything all at once, I would really urge you to think about ways to cut back on your spending instead.

One of the best ways to start living the self-sufficient lifestyle is to cut back on the extra expenses such as fast food restaurants and processed convenience foods. It's also one of the easiest ways to save money.

Learn to cook beans and a few other basic foods from scratch, and then set the money you save aside - half to buy groceries in bulk and the other half to start getting out of debt.

Gradually start stocking up on staple foods such as beans, flour, salt and other basics, as well as canned goods.

If you can accumulate a six-month supply of food, you will be doing well, but even three weeks of food is a good start and a hedge of protection in emergencies. Also start storing water in clean, one-gallon or five gallon containers. Read more here.

Learn to cook as much from scratch as you possibly can. Whenever you cook a meal, make enough for several meals and freeze the leftovers for those days when you're too tired to cook and most tempted to eat out.

Gradually pay off your debts and then start saving your money for a piece of land somewhere.

In the meantime, you can also start honing your gardening skills by putting in a small garden. Keep it small for the first few years until you get the hang of it.

Many first-time gardeners make the mistake of digging a huge garden that takes far too long to take care of. A garden that's too big will get overrun by weeds and pests, and you'll soon be discouraged, so start small.

Learn about raised beds and start with some of the easier plants such as tomatoes, squash and green beans.

As for raising animals, chickens are good critters to start with. Keep four hens in a chicken tractor, and you'll get about a dozen fresh eggs per week. Many cities allow you to keep a few hens, but be sure to check the ordinances in your town to make sure it's allowed.

As far as growing wheat and harvesting sugar, these projects are too labor-intensive for most people. I would just recommend you buy sugar in bulk and down the road purchase wheat in bulk as well as a grain mill.

But for now, keep it simple, keep learning, and you'll be self-reliant before you know it.

Happy Homesteading!


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