Before you start homesteading you have to look at where you live. Most places will allow you to have a garden, even container gardens are great! However, many don’t allow farm animals if you’re in an urban area or someplace that has an HOA (Home Owner’s Association). So before you do anything where you are, make sure you can homestead. You don’t want to buy chickens only to rehome them later because your landlord or head of the HOA says no.
Also, make sure to check city and county laws and ordinances where you are and where you are considering moving. My family is blessed because we didn’t do a lot of research before we bought our land over a decade ago, but we can do whatever we want. We don’t have building codes, there aren’t any ordinances, etc.
You also want to look at how much land you have and consider how much you need. We wanted at least an acre, but we couldn’t find it where we wanted to live. So we bought half an acre that’s flat and we’re able to utilize all of it. We can’t have a cow, sheep, or some other larger animals, but we don’t really need them either. The great thing about our lot is that it is shaped like a large slice of pie and it was cleared when we bought it. So the most usable part is to the front and the less desirable land is to the back. There’s a well, large trees, and a spring just past our property line.
In order to have a garden, chickens, and rabbits we have to be creative in how we layout our property. Our home is a two-story 1940s farmhouse-style that is about one thousand square feet. It has everything we need without anything extra, just like it would have had if it had been built in the 1940s instead of 2020. In addition to this, our first home is at the back of our property and it houses the majority of our cats and is used to store feed. It’s 144 square feet. My in-laws also live on the property in an 800-square-foot rambler.
Even with these additional buildings, we still have plenty of room for our solar setup, our garden, and our animals. Why? Planning. We have always known that we wanted to be self-sufficient and we built in areas that weren’t as ideal for gardens, animals, and the like. There’s still plenty of room for our little kids to play, even if they don’t want to play with an animal. This is rare, in case you’re wondering. They always want to play with the animals, even though they know sooner or later we’ll be eating them.
In summary, if you fail to plan then you’re essentially planning to fail. It’s always a good idea to look at where you’ll set up your homestead and figure out how you want to set it up based on your family’s needs. Draw it out if you need to so you can visualize it. If you need help, I highly recommend buying The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan. Clicking that will take you to Amazon, but it is not an affiliate link. It will help you with the layout of a small homestead like we have and help you maximize your space.
Even though we are in zone 8a, which means the coldest our winters typically get is 10-20F, we have a greenhouse to grow touchier plants in the winter. It’s important you know what you can grow and when and also to help when choosing breeds of animals. Especially in colder and hotter climates.
Of course, you can just plant a garden for the season and alternate as the seasons change, but we like a variety all year long. I also enjoy canning and we go through a lot when it’s chilly and not much to do besides sit by the woodstove and eat.
You also want to look at the community you’ll be living in. Our community is made up of about 300 people who homestead to varying degrees. Most of us have a garden, chickens, and a skill. Some have wood that they’re willing to trade for work or livestock, which is how we get wood to keep warm since we don’t have our own trees. We’re all willing to pitch in if someone needs help and that’s what you really want, because no one can do everything. We all need a little help from time to time and it’s good to know your neighbors in case either of you ever needs something. It’s also good to know them so that you know whether or not you can trust them before you need them.
If you homeschooling is part of your homestead plan, be sure to also look into state laws and regulations. I look up the laws here every spring and fall to make sure that we comply. Homeschool Legal Defense is my go-to website for this.
In summary, know your state, know your county, and know your community. There are good and bad places to homestead, make sure you find a great one!