A few years back, when I started my journey, my goal was to be responsible for me. I know that’s not the most popular idea anymore, but, that is what I wanted to be. I wanted to be ready for anything. I wanted to be able to take care of myself and my family in any situation. So, I went to the World Wide Web for help. Before long, I was ready for the first 72 hours, then the first week, then a month, then three months, then six months. It was somewhere around this time that it occurred to me that I would be unable to purchase everything I need ahead of time. There would come a point where I would run out of room for storage. Then what? “Then what?” for me became homesteading. There are thousands of great articles online about how to get ready for the first six months. I fully recommend doing that. However, when you get to your “then what?” I’m ready to guide you from there.
So, let’s pretend you are ready for the first six months. What’s next? The next thing for me was learning to grow a garden. At the time, I didn’t live on the 40 acres I live on now. I lived in a house in a neighborhood, but I had a backyard. If you don’t have a backyard that’s OK. You can container garden on the porch, the deck, or even a sunny window. If you do it right, you can grow a large amount of food in a very small space. Think outside the box. Be creative. Grow vertically if you don’t have space horizontally. Just grow!
If you are successful growing food, you will find you have far more than you and your family could eat. But that’s OK. Your next step is to find ways to preserve food for the months when you can’t grow. Time to learn to freeze, can, dry and dehydrate. This is how you will replenish your six-month store of food. The bonus is that it tastes way better than anything you bought at the store.
So, you have your garden going and you have learned to preserve that food. Then what? Then it’s time to start thinking about meat, eggs, and milk. I have read that the easiest and cheapest way to provide your family with meat is with rabbits. Three does and one buck can provide a family of four with all the meat they will ever need. Rabbits are great for small spaces. If all you have is a backyard, these are perfect. I have to confess that I’m not fond of the taste of rabbit. If I had to, I could eat it. But, by the time I got to this point, I was no longer limited by space so I got what I liked. I like chicken. Chickens take up a little more space and don’t reproduce as quickly but they are an excellent staple for any Homestead. Meat chickens can be ready to butcher in only a few months. Laying hens can be laying in 4-8 mo. You may end up with more eggs than you can eat. I recommend making powdered eggs with a dehydrator for times when those hens aren’t laying so well. And I promise, those days will come.
What goes good with eggs? Milk. I didn’t have the right kind of land for a milk cow, so I went with dairy goats. Cows need pasture and I didn’t have pasture. I had brush. Goats eat brush. So goats it was. What goes good with eggs and milk? Bacon, of course. So next on my list was pigs. All these animals consume food too. My next step was growing fodder because I wanted to be able to feed not only my family, but also my animals without outside help.
Every day I learn something new. I discover ways to provide things I had previously purchased. I have switched to homemade soaps, detergents and cleaning supplies. I have learned to make butter and cheese with my milk. I switched to cloth diapers, cloth napkins and towels as opposed to their paper versions. I can’t bring myself to cut out toilet paper and switch to the “family cloth” but I’m ok with that. My prepping has become a journey toward self sufficiency. I haven’t reached it yet but I’m well on my way. I hope you will join me for the ride.