How do you create a self sufficient homestead? Turning a simple home and a plot of land into a homestead that can support itself (and you!) is possible.
Who would like a homestead that costs nothing to run and even provides a small income?
I’ll take one, and I suspect anyone reading this would too.
The dream of quitting your day job and working your little piece of the world full time to make enough income to live on is the goal of most homesteaders, and obviously the ultimate goal of anyone wanting to be fully self sufficient.
If you’re looking for a homestead that provides the means or funds to feed the animals and your family, and can take care of the running and maintenance costs and anything else that may come around too, you have a lot of decisions to make and work to do.
How to Create a Self Sufficient Homestead
Turning a simple home and a plot of land into something that can provide enough income or raw materials to support yourself and your family is definitely one of those overwhelming “where do I start?” projects.
You know what you want, but how in the heck do you get there? How do you create a self sufficient homestead?
The answer is a lot of little steps. Tiny bites, and lots of chewing.
A self sufficient homestead is an amalgam of possibly hundreds of tiny decisions put into action that equal physical progress toward the goal of living out of the modern grid and relying on your own means.
The list of little small life changes you can make to slowly work your way into self sufficiency is large, literally hundreds of things to choose from, and we’ve covered some of them before.
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In this post I’m going to talk about some of the most important financial steps you can take to help your homestead pay for itself and become more self sufficient.
Turn Everything Into An Income Stream
While we can and should cut our cash use to a minimum and barter for much of what we need, we will always need some money. Eventually you’re going to need something you can only get at a store, and last I checked Home Depot doesn’t accept chickens for payment.
So we must create ways for money to flow into your homestead. You shouldn’t rely on just one income either, you need to create multiple income streams from your homestead.
In fact, ideally everything on your homestead should be its own little money generator.
You should look at every aspect of your operation from start to finish for creative ways to make an income. With a little creativity and thoughtful planning you can turn just about everything into a small income stream.
Here’s a simplified example…
Let’s say a 50 lb bag of chicken feed in your area costs $14.
You raise 5 laying hens that eat a 50 lb bag of feed once a month and provide 2 dozen eggs every week. Your family eats all two dozen eggs every week. The costs of the feed is the price you have paid for having fresh eggs on demand, a $3.50 loss every week.
Now let’s say you make an investment into a flock of 20 laying hens that eat a 50 lb bag of feed per week and provide 8 dozen eggs every week. Your family eats two dozen eggs a week. You sell 6 dozen eggs per week for $3.00 per dozen, making you $18 per week in egg money. This covers the $14 cost of the 50 lb bag of feed plus $4 profit in your pocket.
In the future you make a one time investment in extra fencing and a little wood so your hens can now free range most of the day. This cuts your feed costs in half. Now you’re profiting an additional $7 every week, for a total $11 profit every week for something that used to cost you $3.50 every week.
Eleven dollars isn’t going to make you rich, but now your eggs are an income stream instead of a bill. Now they are an asset instead of a liability.
Do this for every area of your homestead and it will add up, before you know it you’ll break even overall and quite likely turn a small profit at the end of the year.
Do Not Waste
Use everything, fix what’s broken, eat the leftovers, and make do. Make “waste not, want not” your mantra.
Downsize whenever your can. Buy an old farm truck for $4,000 instead of a brand new one for $40,000. Trade in the expensive tractor you’re making monthly payments on for a used model. Don’t build a huge barn when a small one will do.
If you need a new refrigerator get a quality used model for $300 instead of a $2,500 privacy monster that can text your phone if you run low on cheese.
Before you throw something away find a use for it. Before it goes bad, find a use for it. Before you use it all up when less will do…. find a use for it!
This applies to the workings of your homestead too. If you have an imbalance somewhere you must fix it.
Using our chicken example from above, lets say some weeks you cannot sell all your eggs and they start piling up. Should you let them go to waste or should you reduce your price? Or maybe you should boil them up and feed them to the hogs to reduce their feed costs a little instead?
Or maybe you have some cows or goats that you milk and most days you have excess milk. Don’t let it spoil, get approved to sell it locally, or feed it to the hogs, or give it away to neighbors at least.
If a tree falls on your property don’t let it lay there and rot. Cut it up for firewood, or to make fencing materials or even paper products.
If you find a wild honey bee nest on your property, don’t waste the opportunity. Learn how to raise honey bees then move them into a bee box and harvest their honey.
If you ever have excess, always find a way to use it. If you can’t, find a way to profit from it somewhere down the line.
Just don’t waste it.
Everything Should Have A Purpose
Don’t hang on to things you don’t need. If you haven’t used a tool in over 3 years consider if you should sell it. If your closet is full of clothes you don’t wear sell them too.
Clean out the junk in and around your homestead. Minimizing what we own not only saves maintenance costs, but it frees the mind and keeps life simpler.
Don’t start projects you won’t finish. Sure, making your own wool from angora rabbits sounds like a neat idea, but if you think you might get bored after a few trimmings then you definitely should not spend all the money to build housing and buy the rabbits. If they’re not producing, they’re draining your pocketbook and time.
If you have any open ended projects that aren’t going anywhere or that you’ve lost interest in, cut them out. If it isn’t working for you it’s working against you.
Make your animals work. If you’re old hens aren’t giving you eggs it’s time for them to feed you in other ways. If you’re spending gas and time cutting a field, fence it in and let the cows and goats mow it for you.
Don’t do anything an animal can do for you. Let the pigs plow, let the ducks weed your garden, let the cows mow the grass, etc. A working animal is paying their way.
Grow Anything You Can
Beyond the obvious vegetable garden for your own needs, grow anything and everything you can.
If you’re buying it for your animals and can grow it yourself, plant it. Plant a chicken garden to cut down on feed costs. Plant sugar beets for hog feed. Plant vegetables just for your goats or rabbits.
Plant hay for cows, goats, horses, and of course bedding and ground cover. Grow herbs for natural medicines. Grow wildflowers in unused fields and harvest them for the farmers market.
Try to use heirloom, open pollinated seeds whenever possible so you can collect your own seeds.
Cut Your Expenses
Go through your homestead budget with a fine tooth comb, and be vicious. Every purchase counts, no matter how small.
If your homestead budget is the same as your family budget, divide them up. Create a separate banking account and treat it like a business. It’s much harder to tell how profitable your homestead is if you’re lumping in lattes from Starbucks and your kid’s school supplies. Your tax man will also thank you.
Always look for ways to save money and reduce your expenses day to day as you work and shop. Any money spent should have a purpose. Get whatever you can manage for free, for cheap, or for trade.
Smarter homesteading practices will save you money too, like letting your animals free graze and only supplementing with grain and hay when they need it.
Be resourceful when you start or expand projects. For example, before you run to Home Depot for lumber and screws, get recycled pallets off Craigslist and barter for an old box of screws on your local Facebook groups.
Another way to save is to pay yourself less. A good family budget for food, fun, and life will keep your overall expenses down, and that money saved can be kept in your homestead budget.
Treat your homestead like a business. Keep your costs low, be resourceful, and make whatever you can yourself. Don’t take on too many pet projects, don’t be wasteful, make sure everything you’re doing has a worthwhile purpose, and try to make everything produce a return greater than what you have put into it.
Just remember, the goats don’t care if their shelter is made of pallets, the chickens don’t care if their roosting bar is stick you found in the woods, and the cows don’t care how much you’re paying for your truck.