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 humungous 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 be 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!
Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.