History of the Homestead Farm
The term “homesteading” is used a lot these days. What exactly is homestead farming? Does it require large tracts of land? While there are variations on the actual definition of a homestead farm, this style of living shares some common goals.
Many years ago, the idea of homesteading conjured up visions of pioneers moving West to settle in new territories. The brave adventurers faced many trials and tribulations on their journey. Establishing a home in a wild land is not easy.
These settlers had to know how to be self-sufficient. They could not run down to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk. Growing their own food and raising animals for meat were necessary skills for those who wanted to survive.
As time went along and people enjoyed modern “progress”, some of the homestead farming skills started to fade away. Fewer and fewer people knew how to grow their own food, or lived in an area where it was easy to do.
Thankfully, we are seeing a resurgence of interest in living a more sustainable life. As world governments clash and food prices fluctuate, many of us have a desire to be more self-sufficient.
How Much Land do You Need to be a Homesteader?
Well, I guess we could debate that, but I think it is not about the size of your space. Rather, it is about what you do in the space that you have.
Homesteading is having the desire to produce some of your family’s needs-not having to depend on purchasing everything. It involves being more self sufficient.
You may have a vegetable garden or herb garden on your small farm. Perhaps keeping a few chickens allows you to have fresh eggs. Goats can be milked and the new babies sold to others. My beehives provide more honey that I need – the extra is sold.
In fact, my interest in beekeeping was fueled by my desire to be able to produce a valuable food product. Beehives produce honey and beeswax than can be sold or traded. You can even sell extra hives of bees if your apiary grows.
How to Start Homestead Farming
Those of you who own large tracts of land are able to enjoy full scale farming. Raising cattle, sheep or pigs can provide a large bounty of food and other products. It is a lifestyle to love but it is a lot of hard work too!
Consider Keeping Chickens
If you have a small space, don’t let that keep you from beginning your homesteading farm. Keeping a few chickens for eggs, chicks etc is a great way to begin.
I have always had a few hens here on the farm. Chickens are hilarious and provide entertainment for me daily. They make great pets (if you don’t plan to use them for meat).
Unfortunately, I can’t eat my extra chickens. I know, I know this goes a bit against my goal of being more self-sufficient. But, they all have names and my coop becomes somewhat of a hen retirement center. I do enjoy fresh eggs gathered daily from the nests.
Their manure (after composting) adds valuable material to my garden beds. And, they scratch around and eat numerous bugs .
Create a Vegetable Garden
Growing a small vegetable garden is a great way to enjoy the bounty of the Summer season. Yes, this too is work but the delicious reward is worth it. And, it can be done even in containers on the patio.
Most climates allow the production of squash, beans, tomatoes, potatoes and okra. A larger space can produce corn, watermelons, sweet potatoes and more. It is a great feeling to harvest produce from your own garden space.
Is Homestead Farming Easy?
No, most activities that produce wonderful results are not easy. It can take some time to learn which crops grow well in your area.
Plant diseases and pest have to be considered of course. And, weather that seems to vary each year plays a role. But the joy of producing your own food makes homestead farming worth the effort for most of us.
Any type of animal husbandry will be the same. Take the time to research the needs of the stock that interests you – before they arrive.
Keeping Bees for the Garden
If you have a space for beehives, you might consider becoming a beekeeper. Honey bees provide pollination for many crops. Having bees close by can greatly increase your vegetable yield.
Be advised that managing honey bee colonies takes time and money. Even if you want bees for pollination and don’t care about honey production, you will still need to keep the healthy.
If honey bees are not your thing, consider encouraging mason bees. They are also good pollinators and are wild bees that don’t require extra maintenance.
Homestead Farming – Where to Start?
Do you live in a location where your homesteading goals seem impossible? Well perhaps you can not raise a herd of cattle or 40 acres of grain – right now.
But you can get started creating the life you want. Don’t try to wait until conditions are perfect – that may not happen for a long time. Get started in small ways.
Research the idea of getting beehives, plan a vegetable garden or grow in containers. Begin your adventure on a small scale with the space you have.
And master one thing before starting another – do it on a small scale. That is the best way to learn how to do most things anyway.
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