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If you read between the many lines here on Backdoor Survival, you will know that I daydream about becoming a homesteader. I have collected books and eBooks on the topic and I am constantly talking to anyone who will listen about raising chickens for eggs and goats for milk. Sadly, most of this dreaming is just that, a dream.
Like many, my living arrangements do not allow for raising animals, a humongous garden, a workshop to build stuff or any of the other trappings normally associated with a traditional homestead. On the other hand, there are things I do have, most notably the will and the desire to homestead in place.
Homestead in Place? What is That?
By my own definition, to “homestead in place” means to take what you have – be it a downtown condo, an urban apartment, a suburban tract home or a cottage home in a seaside community – and pluck an assortment of traditional homesteading activities and apply them to your unique environment.
In order to fulfill our mutual desire to become homesteaders, I have compiled a dozen things you can do to homestead in place, regardless of where you live.
12 Ways to Homestead in Place
1. Create a porch garden using pots, buckets and that little patch of land that barely qualifies as a yard. While a true homesteader will start their garden from seed, if space is sparse, purchase veggie starts instead. You will still be gardening and you will still be growing food.
2. Forage for food in unlikely places. You may not be able to pluck apples from your own tree but you might be able to pick blackberries that grow wild along the roadside or take some tomatoes and zucchini from a co-worker or friend whose own garden went wild.
3. Build a food storage pantry. If you are a Prepper, this is a no-brainer and surely you have already started. Since space may be at a premium, seek out hidden hidey holes such as the top of a closet or under the bed. Find more ideas see 16 Food Storage Tips for the Space Challenged Prepper.
4. Cook your own food from scratch. Cooking and eating your own food will ensure that your meals will be fresh and nourishing. There will be no more junk food and no more fast food – just good, healthy food that is kind to your body as well as your pocketbook.
5. Do chores. Just because there are no eggs to gather or cows to milk does not mean you should avoid a daily routine that includes chores. The problem with smallish living spaces is that they clutter easily and get dirty fast. Come up with a daily chore list that includes such routine tasks as cleaning sinks, picking up clutter and sweeping the porch. There is a reason there are so many books on managing clutter and efficient housecleaning. Messy, dirty living spaces are stressful. And that is all that I will say about that.
6. Use herbal remedies and essential oils to relieve common ailments. When you live 20 miles from the nearest store, you think twice before jumping in the car to head to the drugstore. At Backdoor Survival I have only touched the very tip of usefulness of herbal remedies and essential oils. Start with the basics, lavender, melaleuca (tea tree), peppermint, lemon and rosemary and expand from there. Over the counter remedies will soon become a thing of the past.
7. Make your own cleaning products. The same applies to cleaning products with the added advantage of removing toxic chemicals from the home you live in. Start with simple all-purpose cleaners and laundry soap and expand from there. To get started, see Prepper Checklist: DIY Cleaning Supplies.
8. Air dry your bedding outdoors. You may not have the space for a clothesline but surely you can find space for a drying rack or perhaps a porch or deck railing that can be used for drying your bedding. If you have the space, also dry your clothing outdoors. They will last longer and nothing beats the smell of fresh air to make you feel like a homesteader!
9. Make your own personal care products. For many, making their own personal products (lotions, potions, soaps, salves and balms) has become a hobby in and of itself. It does not take a lot of room and the money saved can be significant. My favorite, of course, is my Miracle Healing Salve which has replaced an entire drawer full of personal products.
10. Use cloth instead of paper. This runs the gamut from shopping bags to napkins to cleaning rags to diapers. Creating waste when you don’t have to is just plain stupid. Sorry, but I just had to say that.
11. Use it up and make it last. Actually, the saying is Use It Up, Wear It Out and Make It Do but making things last is important too. Out on the homestead, everything is re-purposed over and over again until finally, it ends up in the rag bag or the spare part bin. This is a timeless strategy born out of the Great Depression and embraced by homesteaders regardless of their acres and their circumstance.
12. Save for a rainy day. Stuff happens. The kids need new shoes, a machine breaks, or urgent medical care (beyond the scope of home remedies) is required. I don’t recommend storing cash in a cookie jar but please, keep funds available for a rainy day. As difficult as it may be to shave some savings from your monthly budget, having a rainy day fund will save the day when an unexpected expense occurs.
The Final Word
At some point, we each need to face the reality of our situation and accept it. As difficult as that is, to stay stuck in wannabee mode is going to make you miserable. Been there done that. In my case, I have Shelly (known as the Survival Husband around here) to remind me of the many blessings in my life and not to dwell on those things (and they are just things) that will likely never happen.
I share this with you today as a reminder that none of us are immune to wanting a farm, with acreage, animals, a well, and the ability to be 100% self sufficient. If it is simply not going to happen at this point in time, so be it. Homestead in place, instead.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: For your discernment, here are of some items mentioned today as well as some personal and BDS reader favorites and items from the current Amazon Top 10.
BaoFeng UV-5R Dual-Band Ham Radio: The Baofeng UV-5R is a compact hand held transceiver providing 4 watts in the frequency range of 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz. It is a compact, economical HT that includes a special VHF receive band from 65 – 108 MHz which includes the regular FM broadcast band. Dual watch and dual reception is supported. Here is the antenna I ordered: NAGOYA Antenna for BAOFENG UV-5R (thanks to a recommendation from my pal, George Ure).
Blocklite Ultra Bright 9V LED Flashlight: I now own six of these little gems. There is a similar flashlight called the Pak-Lite (which is more expensive) but it does not have a high-low switch like this one. These little flashlights just go and go, plus, they make good use of those re-purposed 9V alkaline batteries that you have recharged with your Maximal Power FC999 Universal Battery Charger.
FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight Torch Adjustable Focus Zoom Light Lamp: Here we go with another flashlight. It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof. Plus, it uses a single, standard AA sized battery.
Morakniv Craftline Q Allround Fixed Blade Utility Knife: Also known as the Mora 511, this is now my favorite knife. It is made of Swedish steel and is super sharp.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.
28 Responses to “12 Ways to Homestead in Place”
My grandpa grew up during the Depression, and his saying was, “Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without!”
Hi, I love this article, I have been thinking of prepping for about a year (yep a year) I was so depressed thinking of all I needed and where I live it was just hard to get motivated. I am in an apartment outside of town and I have a small yard with a privacy fence. I have been wanting to get a house in the woods! I just can not do that now. Your article on working with what you have has really helped me (just get over it)! I will prep and not worry about my living conditions, I really am lucky to have a small yard with a privacy fence. this is such a wonderful prepping blog, Thank you so much!!!!!
I’ve been there and feel your pain! I did as much as I could in my suburban yard, growing a garden and fruit trees, even raising and butchering my own rabbits! We were very fortunate to be able to move to a 1 acre property in 2010. Now I’m raising and butchering my own chickens, ducks, and turkeys. The garden gets bigger every year. I keep plugging away at becoming a little bit more self reliant every year and I write about it on my blog to share with folks who want to do the same.
Chin up! Things can change, and even if you don’t move to a homestead, you’re doing a lot with what you’ve got!
Great article. I used to dream of homesteading from the confines of my small apartment. Then one day the factory where my husband worked closed down and within months my family and I where homeless. We ended up staying with a relative for quite some time. After a while we were able to save up enough cash to purchase one acre of cheap land in a remote wooded area of Maine. We built a very small cabin and we began to homestead with very little resources. No running water. No electricity. That was over 10 years ago. We now have a bigger house, chickens, running water, garden space, and more land. We are living our dream. The one thing that helped the most (besides Jesus) was all the knowledge that we soaked up from books and online during our “dreaming” years. You never know what will happen tomorrow, so learn all you can today, practice homesteading skills as much as you can where ever you are, and keep dreaming.
Gaye, found my way here from the underground medic, great post!
we found 40 acres and built a home from the ground up S.E. Michigan, totally off grid and under the radar lol.
Raising chickens is easy but goats on the other hand is a challenge we just lost 3 kids during the last cold snap arghh very depressing! but we saved 2 that we are bottle feeding in the bathroom/nursery!
Let it be said now that building from the ground up EVERYTHING IS A CHALLENGE and I/we have to build it or buy it. again great post, Drew
My place is pretty small, living on 1/2 of a duplex leaves me very little yard. The front has to be kept to a certain standard, so no growing corn or wheat there. I am fortunate that my side gets lots of sun and will be my new garden spot. But with little room I am incorporating “vertical gardening” as well as some traditional, container gardening. I have a small back yard where I want to place a small green house and heated chest to allow me a head start on some crops that I want to stagger the harvest over the growing season. Next year I want to start bee husbandry, but we need to find out where the Japanese Hornets are coming from that we have seen over the last two summers. At least learn what can be done about relocating them or discourage them from killing my honey bees.
Making all my own soaps, cleaning supplies and candles has freed up some spaces under the sink and in the laundry room for my coming harvested jewels to be canned and saved for a “rainy” day (read prepper day) and next year honey.
I do not have a crawl space or any logical place to try and dig a root cellar and there is very little room in the back as it abuts a forested park area. If anyone has ideas to help this one, please let me know. All reasonable answers will be appreciated.
So all in all, not bad for a city girl turned prepper, huh!?!
Good luck to all for the growing season,
Dana, since my daughter and son-in-law live in a duplex, I understand the conditions you’re having to meet in order to be considered a “desirable” tenant lol. That said, my ears perked up over your root cellar problem…
I was reading on another blog (I frequent about five or six different ones for different takes on subjects), but unfortunately I can’t remember the exact posting in order to give you a link, BUT it was about storing food without refrigeration.
A commenter said that he had buried two food grade 55 gallon drums under his porch, leaving a couple inches above ground to allow keeping rain runoff out. He found lids that cap down over the barrels (I took them to be like garbage can lids), and insulated the lids. He said that food placed in those barrels in the ground under the shade of the porch stayed very much cooler than outside, like a root cellar.
That may be a good experiment for you to try. Good luck!