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Homesteading From Scratch: Building Your Self-Sufficient Homestead, Start to Finish

Homesteading From Scratch: Building Your Self-Sufficient Homestead, Start to Finish

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Homesteading From Scratch: Building Your Self-Sufficient Homestead, Start to Finish

2/5 (2 valutazioni)
374 pagine
3 ore
Feb 21, 2017


Homesteading From Scratch is for people who want to do things differently. The type of people who want to eat real food, grow herbs, make cheese, raise baby animals, hunt mushrooms, pick blackberries, unschool their children, can jelly, ferment kraut, farm organically, connect to nature, live intentionally, and more.

Guiding readers from desire to full-blown off-the-grid livingand everything in betweenthis book covers farming, animal husbandry, food preparation, homeschooling, fiber arts, and even marketing. It provides inspiration from other homesteaders, with operations from small to large, who have made a go of it, outlining their successes and failures throughout the process. It helps to democratize the homesteading movement, by providing ins” for nearly every level of dedication, from the container gardener to full-time farmers. It provides the knowledge necessary to discover homesteading as a movement and as a lifestyle.

Inspired by From Scratch magazine, an online publication devoted to homesteading and intentional living, this book provides readers with continued support and community for information and resources online. This book serves as a reference, as well as a cheerleader, for those who want a bit more control and responsibility over where their food comes from, the things they consume, and how they live their lives.
Feb 21, 2017

Informazioni sull'autore

Steven Jones is Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University.

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Anteprima del libro

Homesteading From Scratch - Steven Jones



Homesteading From Scratch was designed to explore homesteading with readers who have no prior homesteading experience or knowledge.

This book is for people who want to do things differently. The type of people who want to eat real food, grow herbs, make cheese, raise baby animals, hunt mushrooms, pick blackberries, unschool their children, can jelly, ferment kraut, farm organically, connect to nature, live intentionally, and more.

Touching on farming, animal husbandry, home production, food preparation, and even homeschooling, Homesteading From Scratch allows readers to discover homesteading as a movement and as a lifestyle.

Inspired by From Scratch magazine, an online publication devoted to homesteading and intentional living, this book serves as a reference and also as a cheerleader for people who want a bit more control and responsibility over where their food comes from, the things they consume, and how they live their lives.

People like Katherine and Bobby Benoit, who’ve been homesteading for twelve years. They produce 80 percent of their own food and homeschool their seven children. Or Randall and Elizabeth Wescott Hewitt, who raise heritage pigs and cattle on their family property. There’s Tiffany Toler of the Cedar Roost who has been working to achieve her dream of creating an all-natural, organic hatchery. And then there are people like Tiffany Ketchum, who’s trying to turn her green thumb and vegan lifestyle into a self-sufficient dream in her backyard while working on her degree and juggling life as a full-time mother of two gorgeous children.

Some of us, like Katherine and Bobby, have been living a self-sufficient life for a long time. Others, like Tiffany, have just begun exploring a homesteading lifestyle and developing a base skill set.

That’s what’s really great about this movement. There are thousands of people who want to live a life close to the ground, and would love to work with you to develop even more of a community by sharing skills, knowledge, and ideas. I’m blessed to be part of this group of people who are devoted to learning and passionate about their surroundings.

When we became homesteaders, my family and I made friends all over the world who are devoted to healing themselves, their families, and their communities through something as simple as learning to live a more intentional life through raising food, animals, and babies.

Hopefully, this book can serve as an aid to those people who just want to do things differently.

Thank you and enjoy!


My grandparents were born in Alabama in the 1920s, and both were children of sharecroppers. My grandfather, Clyde Beck Jones, always told us stories about growing up and how he started plowing fields with a mule at the age of thirteen. My grandmother, Inez Jones, beat him by a few years. She cannot remember how old she was, but she recalls having to stand on tiptoe to reach the handles of the plow.

They spent decades growing cotton, peanuts, and tobacco. They grew up in homes that were heated by wood, raised most of their food in home gardens and butchered their own animals whenever they needed meat.

They continued these habits well after they left farming to get jobs at the cotton mills. My grandmother kept a kitchen garden that spanned more than an acre and included fruit trees and blueberry bushes. Honestly, I believe the woman could spit on the red Alabama clay, throw down a seed, and produce enough food to feed a family of twelve, like some sort of Biblical miracle.

She froze, canned, and dried so much food, that even now, in her late eighties, she’ll probably have enough jars put up when she leaves this world (may it be a blessedly distant day) to feed a small army. This is despite the fact that she quit canning years ago.

In contrast, my parents worked in factories and in construction. They kept a small garden only sporadically. My mother occasionally made jelly and canned a few odds and ends; however, the rigors of raising four rambunctious children made the idea of going back to the land seem like something for people with a lot more spare time.

I vaguely remember hoeing in my grandmother’s garden for the last time when I was fourteen. A surly teenager, I was unhappy about the whole experience.

I should have spent every spare second in my saintly grandmother’s garden trying to absorb as much as I could while she was still healthy enough to show me. But I didn’t.

Like many people, I grew up with only the vaguest of ideas about where my food came from. I grew up in rural Alabama, so I had a better idea than some, but despite my parents’ best efforts (my father once slaughtered and butchered a hog in my backyard) I knew (and know, if I’m being honest) only the barest minimum about growing food and living off the land.

So, when I was in my late thirties, I started thinking about farming. Truthfully, it started off as a joke. I was leaving a job in television and wanted to get as far away as possible from working in media. I knew only a few things: I was tired of living in a suburban house I didn’t want; I was tired of being in a job that involved nothing but a computer; and I was tired of working just to afford things I did not get to enjoy most of the time.

I like animals, and I like working with my hands, so the idea of doing something that involved both of those things appealed to me.

They appealed even more to my wife. When I told her (again, only as a joke) that I’d like to start a goat farm after leaving television, she ran with the idea, much to my surprise.

We started researching and thinking about how we lived our lives.

We determined that we wanted to know more about our food and where it came from. We determined we wanted to live in a more self-sufficient fashion. We made the decision to start a farm, not a goat farm, but something a bit more holistic. That’s when we discovered the homesteading movement.

Visions of Little House on the Prairie ran through our heads. We fantasized about living in the wilderness, clear-skinned and attractive, while our above-average children ran through flower fields in homespun clothing.

That was not the reality, and we are happier for it.

There is a lot more work (Pa never seemed too sweaty on the television show) and a lot more know-how involved.

There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s all over the place.

We found out there’s a big argument over what organic is, and whether or not it’s important.

We learned that there’s dozens of different ways to homestead (for example, did you know that you can homestead in an apartment?) and at least as many different ideas on what it meant.

So, we did what any creative couple with about forty years of combined media experience would do: we started an online magazine, From Scratch.

Our goal, even now, is to collect as much information and ideas about homesteading as possible, do the best we can to make the movement as accessible and attractive to as many people as possible, and learn as much as we can while we do.

When we started our journey, we were living in a suburban house that was big enough for three families. Now we live in a house just big enough for us, lease a five-acre micro farm, and ferment everything we can think of.

We’ve milked goats, slaughtered chickens, grown way too much squash, baked bread, taken up crochet, incubated chicken eggs, and homeschool both of our beautiful children.

In the process, I’ve dealt with crop failures and animal deaths and gotten animal poop in my mouth more times than anyone ever should.

We’ve learned a lot, but more than anything we’ve learned how little we do know.

Like many people in this country, we’re a generation removed from skills and abilities that children used to learn from birth, like my grandparents did.

While we have no desire to go back to sharecropping commodity crops—there’s a reason my grandparents took factory jobs the first chance they got—we do feel like we as a culture may have lost something in moving toward massive industrial farming and away from smaller, decentralized food production.

This book is a continuation of those beliefs and our desire to make as much information as possible available to as many people as possible.

While there’s a ton of information on homesteading, farming, food, homeschooling, etc., there’s still a gap on how to achieve the homesteading dream, whatever that may be. The assumption of most experts is that people either know nothing about what they’re doing, or they already know everything they need to know.

Bearing that in mind, the point of this book is to show you how to get from desire to reality, armed with nothing but the information gathered from these pages.

With this book, it’s my hope that you decide to take up homesteading, read everything you can, and start doing.

I’ve mapped a path that you can follow to achieve your Little House on the Prairie dream, no matter what it looks like.

Good luck, have fun, and watch out for the poop!


A working definition

Homesteading means many different things to many people. Historically speaking, the term came into use regarding the various Homestead Acts in 1862. Essentially, the term, as used then, described small, self-sufficient farmers and communities. Before that, the terms smallholder and yeoman farmers described similar concepts.

Now, depending on who you are and where you’re located, it seems homesteading can mean anything a person wants it to.

There’s nothing wrong with that. However, for the sake of this book, we need a definition—something to work with.

For us, homesteading will refer to the lifestyle devoted to self-sufficiency with an emphasis on home production and responsible consumption. In plain English, this means people who engage in homesteading are determined to make their own way— to do whatever they can while depending as little as possible on mass-produced items, be it food, clothes, or household goods.

These are people who raise chickens in their backyard, use a sewing machine, bake their own bread, and plant a garden. Homesteaders are canners and DIYers, fence-building, modern-day pioneers who have removed themselves from the rat race. They wear boots and jeans and love beautiful, handmade things. They enjoy good music, good food, and good books.

Why should you homestead?

If you like those things, you might want to consider homesteading. But be aware, this lifestyle is difficult.

It’s a lifestyle devoted to doing things the hard way. In fact, it’s almost a badge of honor among homesteaders to see who can find the hardest way to do something.

Instead of buying milk, a homesteader would rather milk a goat. But, since it’s cruel to have less than two goats, you decide to get two goats. Those two goats must be bred regularly, and you’ll work really hard to find a buck (a male goat). Then you’ll decide to buy a buck. Then you’ll breed your two does (a doe is a female goat). Those does will produce two kids each and you’ll find yourself unable to part with the babies, as baby goats are possibly the most adorable creatures in the world. So, now you have a herd of goats (seven total), you spend hours a day milking, feeding, providing medical care and more to your goats. It costs you about $300 a month just to buy food for the animals. Not to mention a good milking goat can run you about $300. But, now you don’t have to spend four dollars on a gallon on milk, as you get about half a gallon of milk a day from the two mature milking goats!

If you start out with two goats, you may end up with a herd, since baby goats are possibly the most adorable creatures in the world.

Essentially, if you’re a person who is more interested in the journey than the destination, then homesteading is probably for you.

What are you homesteading for: money, self-sufficiency, passion?

While all homesteaders aspire to have some degree of self-sufficiency, people choose this lifestyle for different reasons. Some are preppers, determined to be able to take care of themselves and their families. Others are just fed up with a centralized food system and want to do their part to make locally produced food and all that represents more widely available. Still others surprisingly go into homesteading as a small business (perhaps even more surprisingly, many of them are successful at it). No matter what your reasons, take a moment to reflect on why you’d like to start homesteading. Writer it down. Make a vision board, a brain map, a to-do list, whatever it takes. This time of reflection will go a long way toward getting you in the right mindset. Without at least some idea of why you’ve decided to take on a life of self-imposed difficulty, then you might wind up in a situation that’s too chaotic—and expensive—which will inevitably lead to quitting. And while there’s nothing wrong with quitting something that doesn’t work, we need all the homesteaders we can get.

Different ideas about homesteading

So, there’s different ways to deal with homesteading—different levels of commitment, if you will. (Note: One level is no better or worse than the other. Our unofficial motto at From Scratch is We’re all at different places on our own paths. Some people involved in the homestead lifestyle believe in litmus tests. We don’t.)

You can start an urban homestead, where a home in a city provides you with all the space you need to grow food and raise chickens, and puts you close to any market you’d like to sell in.

Also, with newer farming models, like SPIN (Small Plot INtensive) Farming, Farm-A-Yard, and biointensive farming methods, a lot of food can be grown in very small spaces with very little equipment.

Urban homesteading has one big advantage, as it helps alleviate the social isolation that many small farmers, to their detriment, suffer from. However, for many, urban homesteading doesn’t allow for the space and self-sufficiency some require for their personal homesteading journey.

Which brings us to the traditional homestead, or what people think of when they hear the word homestead: the farmhouse out in the country.

Whether purchased or built, this model offers the Little House on the Prairie dream many homesteaders have. It has a lot of advantages. Greater space means more animals, plants, and projects, which can increase profits and self-sufficiency. It’s great to raise children out in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you homeschool (more on that later), then there’s lots of learning opportunities to be found when you live a bit closer to the wildness of nature.

But, it can be isolating, it’s often more difficult to get materials and resources to and from markets, and you may find yourself competing with farmers and operations that view a thousand acres as a small farm. However, rural people can usually find people with certain skills that you might have difficulty finding in urban areas. For example, if you’re into fiber arts, a senior center in a rural county will undoubtedly be overrun with seamstresses who can put you on the right track. Fifth-generation farmers in the boonies can tell you all about which varieties of okra to grow and the best place to find seed and feed.

My favorite version of homesteading, so far, however, is apartment homesteading. A term I’ve only heard used by Samantha McClellan, of the Sweet Potatoes and Social Change blog, I’m hoping apartment homesteading catches on. Samantha lives in a pretty small apartment but manages to live a homesteading lifestyle despite her limitations. She composts, raises worms, gardens in containers, air dries her clothes, and so much more. It’s a great method to get started in homesteading and it’s a great way to introduce yourself to homesteading concepts and principles before you run off and grab a thirty-year mortgage.

Different homesteading goals

Now that you know some of the different ways

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