I imagine my dream homestead a lot. I daydream about it, all. the. time. Dream with me, for a moment.
There’s a house, a mixture of stone and wood. Two levels, with a stone fireplace running along the side of the house, puffing out smoke. It’s not a big house. It’s “small”, by today’s’ stand, but I like to think of it as cozy. Warm. Inviting. In front of it, depending on the season, there are flowers. A mix of all different types. Big and small. Tall and short. But they’re all colorful, beautiful in their own way. If we stroll behind the house, it opens into a field. There’s a big, fenced in garden, where all sorts of things grown. Flowers, vegetables, herbs. All mixed together and growing beautifully. There’s chickens milling about, pecking at the ground and digging up bugs and other goodies. Off a ways is a much larger fenced in area, for my dairy cow (I’ve named her Bluebell 😉 ), grazing on some grass with her little calf following along beside her. Further off, there would be a few hives, for honey, and some more fenced in pastures for various pigs, sheep, goats.
I could go on for days. And by days, I mean DAYS. Seriously.
Alas, I don’t have that, yet. As of now, I have about an acre, only half of it really usable. I do have a decent sized fenced in garden, and 3 laying hens (with more following come spring!). A hive will be set up within the next few months. Right now, I’m doing whatever I can with the space that I do have. Maybe I don’t have Bluebell (yet!), but I’m happy with how my own little urban homestead is evolving.
You see, I think homesteading is really more about how you use the space you have, versus how much of it there really is. One of the greatest examples of this theory is the Dervaes family’s urban homestead. Though their urban lot is a total of about 1/5 an acre, they currently cultivate 1/10 of it. On that 1/10 lot, they manage to grow an astonishing 6,000lbs of produce annually. People! That is incredible! Not to mention totally inspiring. They also sell their excess homegrown produce through a CSA run out of their little farm.
They are definite proof that you don’t need 10 acres to support yourself. With ingenuity and determination, you absolutely can convert your small urban lot to a thriving micro farm. I definitely recommend checking out their website for some great ideas and motivation.
Now, I know that what they do isn’t always possible for everyone. Many of us have jobs outside of our homes, we rent somewhere that might not allow animals (or gardens, which I think is just absolute nonsense!), have strict HOA rules, live in apartments that might not have any sort of outside area (including a balcony), or are limited by city and town laws and ordinances. The list goes on. What I hope is that you can take away something from their example, and the ideas I’ll list below. But more than that, I hope you realize that you shouldn’t compare your homestead to a bigger, “better” one. Each homestead is unique, and that’s okay! Don’t feel like you have to compete with the “ideal” homestead–or even your own dream homestead. Remember that homesteading is about “making do or doing without”. Doing without doesn’t mean you can’t be happy with that! It’s all about your mindset, people!
I would consider indoors homesteading for people in apartments, or in homes that aren’t able to use any outside space. You may think you’re terribly doomed in your homesteading endeavors, but I beg you to hear me out! I think you have an amazing opportunity to get creative. And homesteading, in my humble opinion, is about creativity! Remember that homesteading isn’t just about having a big garden and livestock. It’s also about becoming more self-sufficient in all aspects of your life. There are so many ways you can do this, without ever leaving the house!
Cook From Scratch
Cooking from scratch is a great way to build on your self-sufficiency skills. Have you really sat down recently and thought about just how much we rely on pre-made, ready to eat food? It’s astonishing. Most of these foods are filled with preservatives and nasty ingredients that don’t bode well for our health. Make a change and commit to cooking from scratch. Not only will you be nourishing your body with healthier ingredients (you’ll have much more control over the quality of your food), you’ll also be saving money! It’s much more frugal to make your own bread, for example, than it is to buy it. With a few basic ingredients, you not only can make bread, but pasta, pancake/waffle mixes, and muffins. Add a few more ingredients to that, and you double the list of things you can make from home. You also, believe it or not, have an advantage over homesteaders with land and livestock, in this regard. How, you ask? Livestock and big gardens require time and attention. And believe it or not, that can limit the amount of time you can dedicate to stocking and working with a real food kitchen. When you don’t have animals and a garden to tend, you’re opening that extra time to focusing on building up your “farm kitchen”. By the time you move to your dream homestead (if indoors homesteading isn’t your dream–it totally is for many people, and right on to them!), you’re already a real food, from scratch cookin’ pro!
Start a Window Garden
Another great way to farm indoors is to have a window garden! There are an abundance of plants that grow just fine in a pot by the window, ranging from fruits, to veggies, to herbs. Want to grow lemons, but you don’t have a yard? Try a dwarf variety! Love having fresh greens for salad? Lettuce is well suited to window gardens. Get creative! If you don’t have a lot of window space to spare, try inexpensive grow lights. These can be helpful when you have a sunny window but low temperatures. Get creative! I found this article eye opening, as it showed me many plants I wouldn’t necessarily have thought suited to growing in a window. This article is a nice list of what herbs grow well indoors.
Join a Community Garden
Community Gardens are an excellent way to grow your own produce. When you join, you receive you’re own plot to tend and harvest. Plot sizes vary depending on the community garden that you join, and there may be an annual fee to use the garden. This usually covers a variety of tasks that the organization running the garden must take care of. However, these fees aren’t generally expensive, and the savings you will reap by harvesting your own produce instead of buying it should make up for this. If I didn’t have an area to garden, I would definitely be joining a community garden. What a great way to meet like-minded people and learn from one another 🙂