Are you thinking about starting a homestead from scratch? Do you want to live more sustainably or grow your own food? If so, here are 10 questions to ask yourself before starting a homestead from scratch!
The truth is that you may think homesteading is perfect for you [and I hope it is], but there may be some things to consider that you have yet to think about.
The questions discussed in this post are things I wish I had thought about before starting a homestead.
It wouldn’t have altered my start date, but I would have set up a few things differently so that I wouldn’t be redoing things currently.
Now that I have asked these questions, my journey is headed in a better, more self-sufficient direction that flows well.
Questions to Ask When Starting a Homestead from Scratch
1 // What is your purpose for starting a homestead from scratch?
Knowing why you are starting a homestead is very important. Why would you start anything you are not purposeful with or have a passion for doing?
By asking this question, you will also discover if you are doing it, which could be any of the following:
- to have an excuse to be outside more
- eat healthy/homegrown diet
- to be around a diverse range of animals
- for health reasons
- because you can
The list can go on and on, but figuring out what your purpose behind living this lifestyle is the most important.
2 // What does your dream homestead look like?
I love looking through Pinterest at the dream vegetable gardens, fancy chicken coops, and beautiful fields.
It allows me to dream of my own perfectly laid out garden, with raised beds and stone walkways, a chicken coop that feels more like a barn when you walk into it, and so much more!
When you imagine your dream homestead, do not limit yourself! You can have anything you want, so what does that entail?
Could it include flower beds that include edible flowers and roses that you can steep on the stove for a rich smell and then make into toner or hair rinse?
What about berry bushes that your children can snack on in the evenings as they play?
When it comes to livestock, do they all coexist? Or do they each have their own space?
What kind of equipment do you have on your dream homestead? A tractor, excavator, branch mulching machine, tiller, or lawnmower? What is your dream make and model for each?
Do you live off the grid, or are you a modern homesteader? Does your homestead use solar panels and regular electricity, or are you bold enough to live without modern conveniences?
3 // How self-sufficient do you want to be?
Going back to the last point. Do you see your homestead being off the grid or as a modern homestead? Are you comfortable somewhere in the middle?
There is no right or wrong here.
Some people live on a modern homestead and do not sacrifice any modern conveniences.
Others may have things like a dryer, but the line dries their laundry as much as possible.
While people who live off the grid hand wash and hang their laundry to dry.
Think about your comfort level when deciding how self-sufficient you want to be with your homestead.
Do you want to replace all of your grocery store food with homegrown? What about substituting a few things but not necessarily other things?
Do you just want the pleasure of seeing things grow and taking care of livestock? Or do you want to grow enough to replace all of your food and sell the rest to other people?
The joy behind this question is that you get to choose everything!
4 // How much responsibility can you maintain on your homestead?
While you can dream about your homestead and imagine what life would be like, reality sets in when it comes to how much of that dream you can maintain.
If you work full-time away from home, you may not be able to care for as much as someone who has made it their mission to live off of their land full-time.
Better yet, you may not be able to afford as much of your dream homestead all at once.
You may need to take things slower than someone who has saved for several years so that they can do it all quickly. You may have to rely on other local homesteaders who do not mind sharing seeds or helping you establish your homestead.
But none of these may be you! You could possibly already have the perfect setup – you just need to get to work.
Having a large garden is great, but when you do not have the time to care for it, things can get out of hand quickly. You could lose plants, or weeds could grow out of control!
Planning for what you can maintain will make homesteading much more enjoyable than overdoing everything. When homesteading becomes a pain, the joy leaves, and you wonder why you ever transitioned to this lifestyle.
This is why knowing your purpose is most important! Having it written down somewhere to refer back to gets you back in the game.
Everyone has overdone something on their homestead at least once. It is hard not to get excited about a lot of things and want to try them all!
However, when you can plan your responsibilities, you have a much better chance of loving this lifestyle more than you could imagine.
Related Post: How to Homestead on a Small Property
5 // What food will you eat?
One thing many beginner homesteaders make is growing food they do not eat. I am guilty of this!
Make a list of all the foods you eat on a regular basis and even take inventory of it. This will help as you plan what you will grow, and hopefully, you will stick to that.
It is best to take into account how many times you eat that specific food each week or month. The more you eat, the more you will want to grow.
If you only eat it a few times a year, you may want to consider if it is worth the investment of time and money.
6 // How will you preserve your food?
There are several different methods for preserving. You may choose to do only do one of these methods or a few.
- Storing in a root cellar
I’ve always had venison and beef stored in the freezer, but once I started my homestead, I learned how to can and really enjoy it!
My plan is to learn more about drying foods this next year, which is going to be a lot of fun as well!
The key is to start with one and go from there because you need to learn the different techniques and see how much time it takes to do something.
While I really enjoy canning, it takes a LOT more time than I ever anticipated. Choosing it as my only method of preserving vegetables for one harvest year saved me from going crazy with so many things to do and not enough time.
7 // Will you raise animals for meat?
While vegetables and fruits are often thought of as the food source on homesteads, animals are a big part of it as well.
A majority of homesteaders choose to raise their own meat due to the lack of quality control in the industrial meat markets [but that is a discussion for another day].
However, there are two major factors that account for what is actually raised.
These two major factors are:
Being able to afford an animal to raise does not simply include the price of the animal, but also the price of feed and water, possibly a veterinary visit and medicine, and supplements.
Space correlates with the size of the animal most of the time. Chickens need more space than rabbits but less than pigs or cows. Cows need a lot more space compared to pigs.
Ask yourself if you have the space to grow what you eat.
Another piece to consider is the cost of setting up their home. Do you need to put up fencing, a barn, a hutch, or a coop? How much will all of that cost, and can you afford it?
Of course, this will likely not be an expense every year, but it is something to consider when starting and setting up everything.
8 // What skills do you think are necessary for homesteading?
This is one question I did not ask myself in the beginning that I wish I had! Skills on a homestead are never-ending and always useful. The skills you learn can save you a lot of money and time.
A few that come to mind as common skills many homesteaders learn quickly are:
- Mending holes in clothes
- How to grow/prune plants
- How to care for different animals
- Cook from scratch
- Natural remedies
- How to process animals
- Preserving foods
I’m currently learning a few of these and am saving some for winter projects.
A few more that I would like to learn in the next few years include:
- Making soap
- Baking bread from scratch
- Growing loofahs [which I do plan to grow this year!]
- How to make jams and jellies
- How to properly propagate rosemary and use them as hedges in my landscaping
- How to cultivate an edible landscape that looks beautiful
Of course, there are thousands of things you can learn to do on a homestead but do not allow yourself to get overwhelmed by trying it all at once. I did that, and I do not suggest it.
Learn one new thing at a time, master it, and then move on to the next thing.
9 // Do you want to make money from homesteading?
Some people use homesteads as a way to supplement their income or as their sole income. It is possible to make a living from homesteading.
You may not get “rich” from it, but the life you live will definitely become rich.
If your goal is to make some money from homesteading, decide how much you need to make. Having a goal will help you plan out your homestead to make it possible.
10 // How do you want to make money from homesteading?
If you answered “Yes” to the previous question, then you need to figure out how you are going to make money from homesteading. There are several avenues you can choose that will provide income, and they can be pretty diverse.
A few examples are:
- Selling vegetables and fruit
- Selling jams, jellies, salsa, etc.
- Selling natural remedy things, such as cough syrup or burn relief creams.
- Selling propagated plants.
- Selling baby animals, like chicks or rabbits.
- Selling an animal or meat by the pound.
- Teaching lessons.
- Blogging, YouTube, or other online sources.
There are so many ways to make money on a homestead, but please make sure to do your research before simply selling things. Some of these examples require government regulation or disclosures.
I am only showing you different things that are possible.
11 // How will you afford to pay for starting a homestead from scratch?
Another big question! You can want a homestead with all of your might, but the transition will only happen if you can afford to start.
Having a budget and a plan is the best way to start. You may have to start slow, but at least it is one step in the right direction.
Homesteading is not cheap, but I promise it is worth it! I began my homestead in 2015 and have never regretted a penny spent learning and growing our homestead.
The journey has been slow and steady, but I am thankful we could not afford to do it all at once. It would be too overwhelming to have to learn everything all at once.
We started by purchasing chickens and a small garden. From there, we got pigs, and our fur baby had puppies; then processed the pigs and sold the puppies. After that, we increased the size of our garden and purchased a few cows.
It has been an incredible learning experience, and hopefully, we can say we have an Old McDonald Farm, but for now, slowly affording our homestead is working great!
12 // What equipment will you need to start a homestead from scratch?
Starting a homestead from scratch requires more equipment in the beginning. You have many projects like fence building, preparing the soil for planting the first time, building shelters for animals, and maybe even building your home.
What equipment you need depends on the project.
Here are a few pieces of equipment that you may need for getting started:
- Tiller [walk behind or tractor attachment?]
- Fence building equipment
- Basic tools [hammers, screwdrivers, saw, Sawzall, table saw, etc.]
Notice how I didn’t just mention big equipment but also small tools? This is because it all adds up, and you need to consider it all when figuring out how to afford everything.
One other thing to consider is if it is cost-effective to purchase this equipment or rent it.
Some projects may be so big that renting the equipment costs just as much or more than purchasing them. In this case, you could purchase the equipment, use it to complete all the projects, and then sell it once you’re done.
This is an effective way to save money on your homestead, so if you can utilize this tip, I highly recommend it!
Take action toward starting a homestead from scratch
Ready to start your own homestead? I’ve created a free homesteading workbook to help you get the process started. It helps you ask the right questions so that you don’t make the mistakes I did.
Final Thoughts about starting a homestead from scratch
Now that we have walked through the 12 questions you need to ask yourself before starting a homestead from scratch, I want you to work back through them on your own. The more detailed you can be with your answers, the better!
Having a clear plan for starting a homestead from scratch will set you up to not make so many beginner mistakes that are easily avoided by going through these questions.
If you have any comments or questions you would like to ask regarding the information shared in today’s post, please leave me a comment below or contact me personally! I love getting to connect with you, and it truly makes my day!