The First Things to do to Start a Homestead and Winter Reading

When you first move onto your property (or to your house in the suburbs), or when you first decide to homestead (or just live more sustainably), it can feel overwhelming. What to do first?

I suppose my moving in the fall was a very good time to relocate. Yes, I lost all of my harvest and my pantry is a few hundred jars of produce short, but I have had time to sit with my new property. See what all can be done here. Where to leave wild. Where could I keep animals (we’d like to rescue a few). What I want to plant, how extensively, and where.

Here are the first things to do:

Set up a compost bin. 7 pallets become a three space compost bin. Screw them together creating open sided boxes. That way you can start right away collecting grasses and old straw and pouring your coffee grounds into a pile. Click here to read an amusing and informative post of mine from six years ago all about composting. It will give you more instruction.

I do hope you found a place with a wood stove. If not, I do hope you have some cash reserved to get one! This is one of the very best ways to become a little more sustainable. Wood is carbon neutral, and when you find cords of wood cut from already downed or diseased trees, your heat is carbon neutral. The electric companies lose some money and you lower your footprint. Not to mention the deliriously luxurious feel of wood heat. Forced air just cannot compare. Our little stove and installation came in at $4500. A used stove would have been cheaper. That little stove easily heats our 1100 square foot house.

Plan what you will need for your extensive garden this year. Do you have wildlife? The deer will be awfully glad you moved in! What fencing needs to be done to ensure your crops safety? How about field fencing for other animals?

Winter is a wonderful time to reassess how you want your life to look. What do you want to add and what do you want to walk away from? What do you need (pressure canner, gardening soil, chickens) to do those things this year? What do you want to learn how to do?

Now, order yourself an heirloom seed catalog to read during snow storms. I am reading a really interesting books called Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self Reliant Gardening; Innovative Techniques for Growing Vegetables, Grains, and Perennial Food Crops with Minimal Fossil Fuel and Animal Inputs. His dry humor makes reading a text book style farming manual fun and I am learning lots of ways to improve my food growing. The author is vegan and has deemed his way of growing “veganic.” It is an interesting view of how to grow a farm and eat sustainably and very well without having to kill chickens. Eloise will be relieved.

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