Starting a homestead farm can be a worthwhile adventure. It takes a lot of work to build a homegrown sustainable lifestyle. From knowing which crops to grow to choosing the right kind of animals to raise, a lot goes into starting a homestead farm. Before you dive right in, you’ll want to consider all the steps involved in homesteading.
Some states make homesteading easier than others, so you must check if your state of residence has any restrictions before you get started. Among the best states to buy land and begin your homesteading adventure include:
How much homestead land you need depends on how you plan to use it. Small homestead farms can get by with as little as an acre of land if they only want to grow a few vegetables and raise a Jersey cow. If your goal is to live as off-the-grid as possible and be as self-sustaining as possible, then you will need 13 acres or more of homestead land.
Here is a quick guide that combines your homestead goals with the size of homestead you may need to achieve them:
|Homestead Farm Goals||Homestead Size in Acres||Additional Guidance|
|Small improvements to the existing quality of life.||Use the land you currently have available.||Vertical gardening techniques may be necessary if you have a small lot of land.|
|Grow enough produce to feed a small family.||0.1 acres of land dedicated solely to gardening.||Vertical and square gardening techniques are necessary to make this work.|
|Grow enough produce for a large family.||0.2 acres or more of land dedicated solely to gardening.||Small footprint techniques like vertical and square gardening are ideal.|
|Grow enough produce for a family and raise livestock or become partly self-sufficient.||0.2 to 3+ acres of land.||Local building codes and zoning apply, so be sure to check out yours before planning your homestead farm.|
|Grow enough produce and raise enough livestock to be 100% self-sufficient.||13+ acres of land for a family of 4, with up to 20 acres for larger families.||Follow local building codes and zoning ordinances, and research to make sure your state does not have restrictive laws about homesteading/living off-the-grid.|
Homesteading is more of a mindset than anything else. You can find ways to use even the smallest lots of land for your purposes with a little bit of ingenuity. Local laws about homestead land and homestead farms may limit what you can do and where you can do it, so it’s important to thoroughly investigate before you make your plans. You can check out our complete guide to homestead land laws by state to learn more.
Growing your own food is not for the faint of heart. While some gardening shows may make it look easy, getting started growing your own food takes patience and skill.
If you are new to food growing, we recommend starting small. Put in a small, raised garden bed in the spring and plant a portion of your family’s favorite vegetables. Start with some of the easiest vegetables to grow, including lettuce, green beans, peas, radishes, carrots, and cucumbers. Even those lacking natural green thumbs can have success with these vegetables.
Be sure to clear your garden of weeds and other invasive plants regularly and keep wildlife like deer and rabbits away from them. This is where using a raised planter comes in handy. It is easier to install wire protective walls around raised vegetable beds to keep out unwanted dinner guests.
During the off-seasons for growing vegetables, consider reading up on how to add more variety to your mini-farm. One of the most helpful resources for growing food on less than a quarter-acre is “MiniFarming: Self-Sufficiency on ¼ Acre” by Brett L. Markham.
As you become more proficient with your gardening skills, add a larger variety of vegetables. Even if you only add one or two new vegetables per year, that’s enough.
Raising your own Jersey cattle is not difficult. Jersey cows are popular among homesteaders because they are small and easy to manage. While their curiosity sometimes gets the better of them, Jerseys are known for being mild-mannered.
When we first got our Jersey cow, we knew very little about the breed. One thing we discovered quickly was they produce some amazing raw milk! Our entire family enjoys cheeses, ice cream, milk, and yogurt from our Jersey cow. The other thing we learned was that taking care of a Jersey cow really isn’t that difficult. Jerseys area like other animals. They require food, shelter, and water. You must also regularly milk your Jersey cow to keep her healthy.
Milking your Jersey cow once or twice daily keeps her healthy. You can milk by hand or buy a simple milking machine to do the work for you.
What’s a homestead farm without a homestead kitchen? Once you learn how to grow your own food and raise your own Jersey cattle, you’ll need a place to prepare all the food from scratch. You also will want to learn how to preserve your produce and other harvested foods.
When it comes to preserving food, there are many methods you can follow. Canning, dehydrating, freezing, pickling, and smoking are just some of the options you have for preserving your homestead farm foods. Growing your own fruits and vegetables almost requires you to learn some form of preservation unless you want to waste large quantities of what you’ve grown.
Canning is one of the most popular ways to keep vegetables safe for consumption later. Another option is freezing. There is nothing like reaching into the freezer on a cold winter day and pulling out some green beans you harvested from your garden earlier that year. If you raise Jersey cattle for beef in addition to raw milk, dehydrating and freezing the meat for the winter are two popular ways to preserve it. You also can dehydrate fruits and vegetables. Preserving and preparing your homegrown foods is easy when you follow our recipe page here at Jersey Milk Cow.
Living a self-sufficient lifestyle can be expensive, especially if you already carry debt when you make the decision to start a homestead farm. Getting a homestead loan to fund your venture can help. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a homestead loan program with low-interest rates. Some of the other perks of this program include 100 percent financing and approval for borrowers who may have blemishes on the credit reports.
Buying from a land bank is another way to fund your homestead farm purchase. Land banks are created by local jurisdictions. The programs often run as nonprofits and buy up abandoned, tax-delinquent, and vacant properties for future development. The property held by land banks can be quite affordable, making them a wise choice for small homesteaders who have a little savings to put toward their homestead farm purchase.
State agricultural departments also offer a variety of grant and homestead loan programs for those interested in starting a farm. Check with yours to see what is available.
Some other popular grants include:
Homesteading can be hard if you try to do it alone. Seek out your local homestead farm community and get to know other homesteaders. When we were starting our small homestead, we relied on the guidance of others who were more experienced. Now, we pay it forward by offering helpful tips and advice to others interested in becoming more self-sufficient. Having a homestead farm is a way of life. Committing to learning from others can get you on the path to homesteading success in no time! Do you have some pointers you’d like to share with us about your homesteading venture? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.
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