Tips for the Beginner Homesteader

Becoming self-sufficient isn’t a fad, it’s a lifestyle. Learning to provide for yourself and being self-reliant doesn’t happen overnight. The best advice I’ve ever received in my quest to become self-sufficient was to start small. Take baby steps to the homesteader life.

Almost one decade ago I moved from a large city to a rural farming community. We have two acres of land and have learned to rely on ourselves more every year.

Over the course of time we’ve raised chickens for eggs and the freezer, pigs for the freezer, we have a large garden, a pantry full of food to last a year and we’ve learned to heat our home more efficiently with wood.

Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned, and altered, as we went along.

Build a Resource Library

  • Country Wisdom by Carla Emery- an extremely informative book about homesteading and tips for the beginner.
  • Countryside Magazine- every two months you receive his magazine filled with reader tips, articles and how-to editorials. (
  • Mother Earth News- another ‘green’ magazine filled with useful information (, sign up for their email newsletter).
  • Backwoods Home Magazine (
  • Lehman’s Catalog- filled with homesteader supplies and books.


  • Chickens- We began with about one dozen chickens years ago. We headed to the local livestock auction and flea market held every Monday in a neighboring town. We built a ten-by-ten chicken coop from a tool-shed kit. We added a fenced in area later for free roaming. There were times that we had 200 pullets living in the garage. Then we headed back to the auction and sold off some of the pullets. This helped restock the feed money supply and gave us money for next year’s hatching. My son went to the USDA and applied (and was approved) for a Young Entrepreneurs Loan. This loan allowed us (and him) to expand a second chicken coop, bought supplies and to start all over again.
  • Goats- These are great of you’re into making soap or cheese or want to have a milk supply.
  • Pigs- Perfect for eating excess scrap foods if you don’t have a compost pile. Also great after about 6-8 months to fill your freezer with about 150-pounds of pork.

Eventually I want to buy two cows, one for milk and one for meat. We’re still weighing the cost of feed, upkeep and medications before we take the leap.

Liked it

Published in: Home


RSSComments: 14  |  Post a Comment
  1. what a timely article with things the way they are in the economy. it’s always helpful to get new ideas for saving money now and in the long run

  2. Great tips. Gives someone the basic idea of what is needed.

  3. I too have left the city for a more abundant way of life and have discovered the shortcuts to being self sufficient.

  4. What great ideas – although I do have to add that even for those of us who live in the city this is possible – even with less than a 1/2 acre of land. My husband and I have almost 3/4 of an acre but our house and garage takes up a portion of that and we are able to do a lot of the things you’ve talked about – no pigs or anything but we are planning on adding chickens.

  5. I wish we could do this. I would love to leave the city behind and find a simpler way of life. I imagine beginning small and adding to your work is the best way to go, if not you’d be overwhelmed.

  6. Its great advice and its very relaxing and builds self esteem in that you are providing for your self.

  7. We may all be doing this soon,like it or not!

  8. Great ideas & I am thinking all the while as how to down-size them to my little household in my little town on my little lot in town. LOL. I have learned that if ya own a house, well ya just NEED a truck !! Home owner = Truck owner !! I’m am being *so* serious.

  9. Having a large family helps offset the work load involved with this lifestyle and can result in quality time together.

  10. I first read this article out of interest, but than I wrote down the recipe for strawberry jam, and it was completely delicious! Thank you for the recipe, and keep them coming. Jam is too expensive to keep buying, especially if you have a pre-schooler! Thanks again.

  11. Really good article. I would like to say though that we have been homesteading for about 16 years now and a generator is not really a must have for most homesteaders. They are expensive to operate, and if fuel is short then they are worthless. It is better to rely on non mechanical means than to be dissapointed in the mechanical. I would also highly recommend rabbits for a newbie homesteader for a meat supply. They are cheap and easy and take up very little room. Feed cost is small also and much of their feed can be grown in a small area. Good article.

  12. This is a great resource article for someone just beginning. I wasnt aware of the USDA giving out loans- THANK You for sharing!

  13. Thanks for the great strawberry jam recipe!

  14. Great tips. I’d like to add that everyone can do some of this. Back yard gardens, even just some herbs and a tomato plant in the window sill. Can fresh produce that you get from a farmer’s market. And check your city ordinaces, lots of citys allow for a few hens if you have the space.
    All in all, great beginner tips!

    Alicia in Nevada

RSSPost a Comment
comments powered by Disqus