Homesteading means different things to different people. While some enjoy being totally off the grid in a secluded area the flip side is urban homesteading. As modern homesteading catches on (and it is!) more individuals and families are reaching out online (one homesteader referred to blogging homesteaders as “digital homesteaders.” I’ve also read another homesteader who referred to herself as a “google farmer” because all that we need to know is at the tips of our fingers.
Our family also has ideas about what it takes for us to have a homestead. It has been a passion burning in our hearts and minds for years, and in the year 2010 when we purchased our home the journey began.
We started out by rehabbing as much as we could of the interior of the house. In the spring of 2011, we started an ambitious undertaking to plant fruit trees, landscape, plant many perennials, have a very small experimental garden, raise chickens, ducks and rabbits for eggs, meat, fur and feathers. In the next few years we’ll be adding larger animals, although we find some pretty amazing deals and may end up getting them faster than anticipated.
That seems to be the way it happens around here.
I get easily side tracked by new projects and some of the other projects we started have fallen by the wayside.
I wouldn’t call us environmentalist and we don’t fall for every “green” gadget or product.
Actually we’re moving away from as much consumerism as possible.
Is it possible to live a life without needing to go the the grocery store each week?
I think so, and as we take baby steps, we’re eliminating old habits and replacing them with new ones.
Here are the things that we thought we couldn’t live without, and as we move away from these items, I’ll cross it off the list and show what replaced it.
I don’t think a person has to go cold turkey from everything all at once. It’s a process and we’re on a serious learning curve! I’ve learned a lot about myself this past year and I’ve even surprised myself a few times. Like when I said “I’m not drinking diet coke anymore” LOL that was in the fall 2010. Yes I did have a few, and I can count how many I had (four) but I did it. How about giving up smoking? Yup, Dom and I quit January 2011.
Now I’m adding to that list all soda since it comes in plastic containers.
We are slowly saying goodbye to plastic and hello to a more sustainable household. I’m using the word sustainable, but not in the sense that we’re all gonna die if I put more things into the landfill. I just don’t think plastic is healthy at all. Neither is the microwave, (update) as of January 2012 the microwave was unplugged and moved to the basement to be used for other purposes.
Okay, so here’s the list, and I’ll probably add more to it as we move forward:
- Coffee 10/23/11 Replaced with different teas (tea seeds purchased and we’ll be planting our own teas next year)
- Half and Half 10/23/11 Since there is no more coffee, no need for the half and half!
- Table Napkins 11/04/11 We purchased two yards of 100% linen which will last us forever…oh and they are classy too. Much better than any paper napkin!
- Paper Towels 11/04/11We replaced paper towels with more white wash cloths and white hand towels.
- Zip Lock bags 11/04/11Replaced with pyrex glass containers with lids.
- Other plastic baggies 11/04/11 See zip lock bags ^
- Plastic knives, forks and spoons 11/04/11 We have plenty of real stainless steel utensils, no need to buy the plastic.
- Paper plates 10/29/11 We have LOTS of regular dishes to use, no need to use paper.
- Baby Wipes
- Laundry Detergent 11/06/11Replaced Tide with our own homemade detergent…you can get the recipe here
- Deodorant 11/06/11 Replaced deodorant with our own recipe…you can get the recipe here
- Toilet Paper
- Sanitary Napkins
- Plastic Cups No more plastic cups, we have plenty of beautiful glasses to use.
- Garbage Bags
12/05/11We’ve reduced our need for garbage bags to 50% and we now only need one outside garbage can instead of two.We’ve stopped buying garbage bags and stopped paying for garbage service…we just don’t create enough garbage! 10/01/12
Rice MilkWe no longer purchase rice milk. Windex
- Dish Detergent
Tooth Paste Cleaning SuppliesWe now make our own cleaning supplies and glass cleaner Eggs12/22/11 We now produce enough duck eggs each day to stop buying chicken eggs.
- Salad Dressings 12/05/11 We have become masters at making our own ranch, blue cheese dressings, and lots of other types of dressing. No need to ever buy commercially mass produced dressing ever again.
MayonnaiseMayonnaise is now made each week Feb 2012
Potatoes Sweet Potatoes BreadWe now make our own no knead bread and sour dough bread as of Feb 2012
- Soups We make our own soup now from scratch…right down to the stock.
ButterWe’ll never go back to store bought butter again. As of March 15, 2012 Homemade butter tastes too good!
KefirFeb 2012 We purchased kefir grains and now make our own kefir.
- Clothing for the family
That’s a good start!
Goals for 2012
- Set up a facility for milking goats
- Get milking goats
- Learn how to make cheeses and yogurts
- Make our own soaps
Make a gel laundry detergent that will last even longer than what we make right nowFeb 2012 Plant out two very large gardens Plant 5 medicinal gardens Build a seed starting greenhouseCompleted Feb 2012
- Finish the pond
- Build the new permanent duck house
- Stock pond
- Build the new large chicken coop to house 50 new chickens and 10 turkeys
Add 15 muscovy ducks to our mix in the spring15 Muscovy ducklings are added on March 21, 2012
- Add 3 female and 1 male angora goat
- Finish rabbitry and coop in courtyard with decorative trim and paint
- Finish new rabbitry for meat rabbits
- Add meat rabbits
Finish me and Dom’s bedroomFinished 6/16/2012 tentatively.
- Finish the girls/guest bedroom
Finish the work room
- Can everything we will need to get through the winter
- Cut our grocery bill by 90%
Cut our garbage output by another 50%
- Get rid of WIFI and work internet from a landline
End our cable connection6/12/12
- Make all gifts for holidays, birthdays and other celebrations instead of buying them
Begin to form our business modelStarted in March 2012
- Work on our aquaponic business plan for 2013
- Extend the growing season with hoop cold frames in main gardens
- Save all our seeds
- Dry all the herbs we produce
- Work on completing Simone’s bedroom
Stay on GAPS Diet with Simone (just me) and continue to track her healing and progress Plant 12 Crab apple trees in front of houseWe planted eight crab apple trees January 2012 Plant 4 Paulownias3/12
- Plant a major container garden in courtyard
- 30 espaliered fruit trees around our car area to create the wall around the chicken pasture
- 30 espaliered fruit trees in courtyard along the wall by Simone’s swing set
6 Elderberries planted (two in courtyard and four in chicken pasture)
25 golden current bushes 25 indigo bush 25 gooseberry 100 tea plants along the front of the house
- 10 cherry trees-( 6 cherry tree so far Feb-March 2012)
- 10 raspberry bushes
- 10 blueberry bushes
- 10 blackberry bushes (3 planted)
- Get deck built on front of house (pergola too)
- Plant wine grapes all along the pergola
- Paint trim of house new color
- Add gutters and rain barrels
- Add two new access points on our property
- Enclose front side porch (screened in)
- Give a face lift to our bathrooms