So I recently started this series on homesteading and realized some of you may be wondering : What the heck is homesteading?
Homesteading is basically a way of trying to live more simply, and more sustainably. A lot of it has to do with food, and ways to grow and raise your own, but also involves pretty much any way to be more self-reliant. Canning food, having a garden, knitting clothes, and raising honeybees are all examples of homesteading. And in my eyes, owning a business falls into the homesteading category too – if you can make money from your own skills and projects, then that sure is self-reliant.
Josh and I were first inspired over the summer. (Well, I should admit – I’ve been curious about this lifestyle for many years, since I first read books by the Nearings back in college, so I talked a lot about homesteading on the farm.) We want to do more of our own things – have some businesses, and care for land and animals.
So the steps continue. We scan real estate websites for land and housing prospects every week or so, and talk about the different kinds of projects we want to pursue all the time. One thing is certain – Josh is definitely more of the animal caretaker guy, while I’m more of the cooking / putting up food girl. I love how we both have our own interests, and can go in any direction we want.
So, for now, here is our list of what we want to try, which is related to what we’re looking for in our own little plot of land. Yes, homesteading is a lot of work, but we think it’d be a more satisfying way to live, and is healthier with all the exercise, fresh air, and healthy food you get.
homesteading projects : our project wish list
+Vegetable and herb gardens. We want to grow all kinds of veggies and herbs to be able to eat most of our own food all year. A root cellar and lots of canning, dehydrating, and freezing will go along with that, to eat homegrown food throughout the year.
+Berry bushes and fruit trees. Blueberries, raspberries, apples, and pears, for starters. We could eat berry smoothies and homemade applesauce all year round. No problem.
+Chickens for eggs. We’d like to get six chickens in total. Two Silkies, two Polish (if you’ve never heard of these types of chickens, they’re pretty cute – check them out!), and two solid egg layers. As vegetarians, Josh and I eat a lot of eggs, so having plenty on hand would be great, plus extra for friends, family, and maybe to sell at our little roadside stand (see below).
+Goats or sheep for wool. Milk for cheese and yogurt would be great too, but that would require getting the goats or sheep pregnant each year, which isn’t really the route either of us want to go right now. But wool? Definitely. I would love to learn how to spin wool, and we could give it away as gifts or sell it. Plus sheep and goats are cool.
+Bees for pollination and honey. This summer one of the directors at Hawthorne Valley Farm led us in a beekeeping workshop, and we learned the basics of beekeeping. It’d be pretty amazing to do that – I’m a little scared of bees, so Josh will be the leader on this project.
+Maple trees. Ah, Vermont, home of the largest maple syrup industry in the country. Instead of paying a lot to buy it, how cool would it be for us to boil the sap ourselves?
+Making pottery. There are a few pottery studios in the area, and Josh has been talking about learning how to throw pots with the goal of selling his own work down the road. I’d love for all of our stuff at home to be Josh-handmade too.
+Roasting coffee. Josh’s coffee business is in the beginning stages. While we can’t grow beans up here, there are still ways to roast and sell coffee. My resistance to being a regular coffee drinker may come to an end, folks.
+Building green. We want to buy a place that already has housing on our property, but Josh has been researching all kinds of green building options that we could try ourselves, like straw bale, cob, and timber frame housing. He also has ideas for chicken coops and bread ovens, and we’d love to investigate wind and solar energy.
+A farm stand. I would love to have a little farm stand at the end of our driveway. One of my favorite things is stopping by farm stands while driving through the countryside, and I especially love the bigger farm stores where you can buy fresh produce and eggs; jams, jellies, and other canned foods; and other fun gifts and treats. Imagine having our own! That’d be amazing.
Whew! So there you have it. Our project list. For now. I’m sure it will change over time, but as we’re on the land and house hunt, it helps to have some ideas in place for choosing the best site possible.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about our list, and any suggestions you may have. Thanks!