Homesteading is a mindset and commitment that can apply regardless of what your land base or day to day living looks like. So we recommend beginning homesteaders take a different approach. Rather than a list of homesteading resources like books and podcasts, we share a bigger picture plan to help launch your dream homesteading journey.
There’s No Magical Homesteading Formula
The thing about homesteading is everyone approaches it from different angles.
Some find homesteading as part of a health and wellness journey. This was our story. Others find it out of a lifelong passion for animals, gardening, or growing food. Some want to reconnect with the land and nature, or see it conserved and restored. Some want to live free and independent from societal systems. And others want to be prepared should a catastrophic event occur.
Homesteading isn’t one of these things. It encompasses all of them. And your homesteading path and plan might have a stronger emphasis on one aspect over another.
Therefore, the homesteading resources that influenced us, may or may not resonate with you in the same way. While we do share some specific homesteading resources throughout this post, there are plenty of more complete resource guides out there.
We prefer to share a bigger picture approach when it comes to homesteading resources. We’ll lay out three main categories you should consider that have been highly formative in helping us get to where we are today.
Step 1 – Have a Wholistic Plan
Your homestead or your homesteading is not a single compartment in your life. Whether urban, suburban, or rural, homesteading is an all-encompassing lifestyle. A commitment to certain way of life and set of values.
So, it’s helpful to think through your homestead in terms of the whole – your values, choices, and goals that shape who you are, who you want to be, and what you want your life to look like.
Here are some different categories to help you develop a wholistic homesteading plan.
Vision and Values
Perhaps there is no more important step than getting crystal clear on your vision and values as a family. This was true for us early on in our homesteading journey. While on a weekend getaway from our suburban home in 2015, we took the time to craft a family mission statement.
We wrote down sentences, phrases, and thoughts that expressed what we wanted to be true of ourselves, our family, and our lifestyle. From there, we clumped each one into bigger categories and eventually came up with a concise paragraph that became our mission statement as a family.
In other words, we now had a written down set of values we committed to living by. It became a filter through which to make decisions big and small. Like something as minor as, “Should we buy this kitchen appliance?” All the way up to our decision to leave our job and suburban home and move to our 5-acre homestead.
Once your values are clear, then you can start creating a vision for your life, both short term and long term. What goals do you have for this upcoming year? What do you want your life to look like 5 years from now? Or maybe in 15 years? And how are you going to get there?
Clearly conceived values combined with your life vision and achievable steps of how to get there is a powerful thing.
Money is going to factor significantly into the whole of your homestead. Mastering your personal finances is a key ingredient to the thrifty and resourceful life many homesteaders are called to.
We were extremely grateful to have taken budgeting and staying debt free seriously right from the start of our marriage. You can read more about that in our post, Setting Up A Homestead Budget For One Small Income. Creating your own budget and exploring a debt free lifestyle is something we highly recommend.
Another resource we found helpful early in our journey was to expose ourselves to extreme examples of others who took unconventional approaches to their personal finances. The Radical Personal Finance podcast by Joshua Sheets was highly influential for us. His early episodes featured interviews with people making unique choices to live out their dreams and be free from financial burdens.
It doesn’t have to be that particular podcast, but exposing yourself to financial advice other than the consumer driven logic our society operates on can free you up to go after your dreams.
Inviting others into your homesteading journey can be transformational. Like minded groups or individuals can give you the motivation and support to keep pressing on through the good times and bad.
At the beginning of our journey, we searched for local groups or other opportunities that we could get plugged into. What we found was the Farm Beginnings Collaborative that offered a Farm Beginnings course in our area. It was so refreshing to be learning alongside other people in our area with shared values and wrestling with some of the same decisions we were in terms of homesteading and farming.
Plus, the Farm Beginnings course also had a strong emphasis on focusing on the WHOLE of your journey and helped us further solidify our values, vision, and finances and put practical steps behind helping us achieve our goals. We learned a lot and made valuable connections.
If there is a Farm Beginnings course in your area, we highly recommend you look into it! If not, look for other courses, groups, or organizations that can help you get plugged into your local homesteading, farming, and food community.
Expand Your Thinking
You may find that early on in your homesteading journey you’re still formulating things like your values and vision for your life. That’s OK! For us, it took years of exploring, learning, conversations, and growing before we were ready to put anything down on paper.
Things like documentaries, TED Talks, conferences, and other big picture resources are great ways to expand your thinking and help expose you to different philosophies and practices that will help define the life you’re after.
Documentaries like Sustainable, Minimalism, and Food, Inc. really helped bring the big picture in focus early on in our journey. We’ve also attended different conferences in the farming and homesteading space that helped broaden our knowledge base.
Step 2 – Learn By Doing
It’s fine to live in the big picture, philosophical stage of your homesteading journey for a time. But staying there too long can start to feel like you’re spinning your wheels.
It’s time to start doing! When it comes to homesteading, there is no more impactful resource than learning first hand. A how-to book or video can only take you so far. Learning on the job will give you the skills and confidence you need to move from theoretical to practical in your homesteading.
Here are some “doing” opportunities to think about.
Find local farms and homesteads to volunteer with in your area. Are there particular skills you’re interested in? Gardening, butchering chickens, growing grains, having a milking animal, from scratch cooking or food preservation in the kitchen? Find others near you doing these things and ask to volunteer and learn from them.
Before we started a garden of any significant scale on our 1/3-acre suburban lot, we volunteered a few hours a week at local vegetable CSA. This gave us the confidence we needed to eventually start our own large-scale gardens. Local farms sometimes offer what’s called a Work Share. That’s what we did and in exchange for our volunteer hours we received a weekly vegetable CSA box!
Start Where You Are At
Have a balcony? Maybe you can grow in pots or even rent a plot at a nearby community garden.
Have a suburban lot? Look into getting backyard laying hens, raising chickens for meat on a small scale, or composting.
Homesteading is a mindset mixed with a set of skills. You can develop both right where you are at. Our post – Urban Homesteading | 25 Ways To Begin Today – gives practical steps you can begin taking today in your homesteading journey regardless of your location.
The vast world of homesteading opportunities can quickly get overwhelming. You don’t need every skill, plant, animal, recipe, and project mastered today. But small steps by tackling one new thing at a time will eventually get you to where you want to be.
If beekeeping is what you want to be focused on this year, take a course, find a mentor, read a book, and focus your efforts on beekeeping. Then, when you’re at a place where you feel comfortable with it and have your systems and routines in place, you can consider adding something new.
Adding multiple things all at once, from our experience, only leads to burnout and lackluster results.
Step 3 – Find Motivation and Inspiration
The world of consumption can be a slippery slope. More information is at our disposal than ever before through our devices! But, they can also leave us overwhelmed, fearful, or intimidated to actually go out and DO.
Rather than feeling stuck, we encourage you to find homesteading resources that leave you motivated and inspired. Consume when necessary, but focus on consuming the right content that gives you the information you need and empowers you to make your own dreams happen.
Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, and Social Media
When you enter the vast world of online homesteading resources it can make your head spin. Our encouragement is to find just a couple resources that inspire you and help you the most in your journey. Following everyone might mean not having time for you to actually get to and put into practice any of the information you’re learning about.
Have your couple go-to accounts or websites, learn what you can, and then get to work! Move from consuming to doing.
Again, we’re not going to provide a list of specific resources here. There are plenty to choose from. What’s most important is that you find the people and topics that you resonate with the most deeply and that inspire you to go after your dreams. And if that happens to be From Scratch Farmstead, we’re happy to have you along for the ride ????
You need to absorb information in the way that works best for you. We are more hands on sort of people, so sitting down and reading a how-to manual isn’t our style. But, books continue to be a primary way to communicate awe inspiring information on really valuable topics within a niche.
Instead of focusing on the more technical books, here’s a list of books we recommend that have helped us put together some of the bigger picture values and vision of our homesteading journey.
This book produced by the Stone Barns Center For Food and Agriculture is packed with wisdom and inspiration. Some of the biggest influencers in the food and farming space – Wendell Berry, Alice Waters, Joel Salatin – write letters to those specifically contemplating joining the agricultural movement and what their role will be. You’ll laugh, cry, and be moved to take action in the call to a more pastoral and agrarian life.
Yes, there’s a cookbook filled with recipes on our list. But Jill Winger, a leader in the homesteading space, covers so much more than just putting a pretty dish in front of your family and friends. Her recipes capture the essence of from scratch homesteading from field to plate and nose to tail. This is a book we go back to time and time again for just the right recipe and motivation.
A large part of homesteading, as we’ve discovered over the years, is growing more in tune with the natural world around you. There are often breakthrough efforts in conservation OR in agriculture, but rarely do they meld together. Isabella Tree paints a beautiful picture her book Wilding of their efforts to restore natural land alongside agriculture. You’ll leave feeling inspired to view your land (no matter how small), not as separate from, but part of the larger ecosystem it is intimately woven into.
Carol Deppe offers up plenty of technical information on growing storage crops in The Resilient Gardener. But we found ourselves SO challenged by the bigger picture themes it presents of developing resiliency by gardening and eating with the seasons. Her focus on growing potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs as a source of protein has drastically shifted our focus as homesteaders to be able to feed our family year-round off of what is produced on our land.
Michael Pollan’s journalistic approach into unearthing the dangers and lack or transparency in our industrial food system has become the gateway for many local food advocates and farmers. This was one of our first stops in our real food journey. It’s a must read to flat out reject the lies that have been put before us in pretty packaging for decades and instead choose a more sustainable and healthy approach for ourselves and our children.
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Were those the homesteading resources you were looking for?
It’s not hard to find lists of homesteading resources out there on the internet. But we see homesteading as being defined by your mindset alongside what you know and accomplish.
So, we chose to focus more on the resources and steps that can help you right where you’re at today, wherever that may be. It’s more of the building blocks or foundation than the house (or homestead!) itself.
Establish your values and vision, move from consuming to doing, and become a lifelong learner!
This is ultimately the path we found ourselves on and the resources we found most helpful in our homesteading journey.
But what’s your story? What have you found helpful? What resonates with you from this post? We look forward to hearing from ya!
Wanting to go deeper or kickstart your homesteading journey? Check out these other resources: