Please share your tips and tricks! Any homesteaders out there? Anyone trying to live sustainably or off the land?

Where are you in terms of homesteading?

  • I am a sustainable homesteader

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I am a homesteader, but am not yet sustainable

    Votes: 4 25.0%
  • I am a hobby farmer working toward a dream to homestead

    Votes: 9 56.3%
  • I am off grid!

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I live in the city and only hobby farm or homestead in my daydreams

    Votes: 4 25.0%
  • What the heck does any of this mean?!

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    16

LizzzyJo

Show me the data 👩🏼‍🔬
Dec 14, 2018
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The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
What are your goals in hobby farming or homesteading? Off grid? On grid, but no grocery store food? Just the best parts of all lifestyles?

I think that homesteading and sustainable living is about community - none of our ancestors did it alone! They had the wisdom passed down to them. We've lost that wisdom and need for it to be relearned.

What are some things you do on your homestead that you enjoy?

What have you learned recently?

Do you forage?

What categories of homesteading or hobby farming do you practice? Veggie farm, animals, bees, canning, making clothing, wind power, solar?

What failures did you have? What did you learn from them?
 

Callender Girl

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Sep 18, 2018
4,666
27,724
896
North Central Iowa
I am a wannabe, really. I love the idea of being off the grid, but after several years, I'm still taking baby steps.

One of my biggest failures was the purchase of a wood burning furnace, which seemed like a great idea, especially out here where winter weather often knocks out the electricity. In fact, I am selling the furnace this week because I am now out here by myself and finally realized that I am NOT going to chop wood to feed it. I get enough "exercise" taking care of sheep, goats, poultry, dogs and cats (no, I don't eat any of them. I don't eat much meat at all, but none of it comes from my pets). The ruminants were purchased to eat down the weeds and brush around the property.

But, of course I have chickens and ducks for eggs -- geese who lay a few weeks a year -- and try my best to grow veggies -- my tomatoes are doing well, and the peppers, onions, squash and green beans are alive. I am more successful growing fruit -- I have planted heirloom blackberries, rhubarb (okay, technically not a fruit), a peach tree, a couple of apple trees and have a giant pear tree that was here long before I moved in. And my herbs are going gang busters. I love fresh dill incorporated into farm-fresh scrambled eggs.

When I go to the grocery, I try to eat in-season as much as possible and I am one of those people who stand in the store reading the labels when I get any processed food. I compost what I can and try to avoid excess packaging on what I buy. I now have a gas stove and am hoping to can some of the excess fruit this year.

Something I really enjoy is planting flowers. I have way too many "pocket gardens" scattered all over the acreage because I LOVE perennials. I try to plant a good number of natives, in part to attract and nourish pollinators, and although milkweed is very bad for my sheep, I let it grow wherever it can outside their pasture because it's good for the monarchs.

I am far from a homesteader. but I admire the lifestyle and hope to incorporate more of it.

Oh, I forgot about my sour cherry tree -- which produced wonderfully this year. As did the numerous mulberry trees. I can't find any way I enjoy mulberries, but they are great treats for the poultry.
 
Last edited:

LizzzyJo

Show me the data 👩🏼‍🔬
Dec 14, 2018
1,925
5,046
337
The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
I am a wannabe, really. I love the idea of being off the grid, but after several years, I'm still taking baby steps.

One of my biggest failures was the purchase of a wood burning furnace, which seemed like a great idea, especially out here where winter weather often knocks out the electricity. In fact, I am selling the furnace this week because I am now out here by myself and finally realized that I am NOT going to chop wood to feed it. I get enough "exercise" taking care of sheep, goats, poultry, dogs and cats (no, I don't eat any of them. I don't eat much meat at all, but none of it comes from my pets). The ruminants were purchased to eat down the weeds and brush around the property.

But, of course I have chickens and ducks for eggs -- geese who lay a few weeks a year -- and try my best to grow veggies -- my tomatoes are doing well, and the peppers, onions, squash and green beans are alive. I am more successful growing fruit -- I have planted heirloom blackberries, rhubarb (okay, technically not a fruit), a peach tree, a couple of apple trees and have a giant pear tree that was here long before I moved in. And my herbs are going gang busters. I love fresh dill incorporated into farm-fresh scrambled eggs.

When I go to the grocery, I try to eat in-season as much as possible and I am one of those people who stand in the store reading the labels when I get any processed food. I compost what I can and try to avoid excess packaging on what I buy. I now have a gas stove and am hoping to can some of the excess fruit this year.

Something I really enjoy is planting flowers. I have way too many "pocket gardens" scattered all over the acreage because I LOVE perennials. I try to plant a good number of natives, in part to attract and nourish pollinators, and although milkweed is very bad for my sheep, I let it grow wherever it can outside their pasture because it's good for the monarchs.

I am far from a homesteader. but I admire the lifestyle and hope to incorporate more of it.

Oh, I forgot about my sour cherry tree -- which produced wonderfully this year. As did the numerous mulberry trees. I can't find any way I enjoy mulberries, but they are great treats for the poultry.
Your set up sounds awesome! I am always sad about the fact that our home doesn't have a fireplace. What if the power gets shut off in a crazy world moment and we literally freeze to death? I have tried to advocate for putting in a wood burning stove - is that your only heat source? I would 100% feel how you do about it being the only heat. I think we live in a similar climate and that would suck. Plus, we don't have a wooded area to harvest from.

I have mini sheep on my list for farm growth. I have to dig a pond first to drain the seasonal flooding (swamp life problems). I think I could get behind the wool harvesting. I love crafty things (and am horrible at all of them), but oh man having a piece of clothing made from your own animals that you knitted would feel so RIGHT. This didn't give money to a huge corporation, little innocent children overseas didn't have to make it and contribute to that system, etc.

What I always go back and forth on is having a dairy sheep. I know that goats would be better, but we want them to mow the grass and I don't have awesome fencing or a barn. They would live in a 3 sided building with movable electric net fencing. What are your thoughts on that? I think 3 mini sheep. Harlequins are adorable and there's a breeder out here.

I grew up on mulberries, so I like them, but they get everything so dirty!
 

Fishychix

🤪
Premium Feather Member
May 20, 2020
4,592
24,251
806
NE Ohio
I have a hobby “farm” according to my friends, but in my daydreams I have an actual farm. 🤣
I have always kinda been into sustainability but I called it stretching my pennies. Its surprising how many ways one can be sustainable, and still learn new things everyday.
I do not but her any of my animals, im not allowed to. I would definitely need a mentor for the first few times. I would like to have their meat for food and the rabbits’ fur for clothing, etc. That goes into the daydream category along with innumerable other things. I do garden, compost, and collect eggs from the chickens. I reuse things often, but not nearly often enough. I simply dont have the space to keep things until I would need them. I would love to learn how to can things confidently, im too afraid of giving everybody food poisoning. There are a few people in town who keep bees, with one having a mini orchard in his very small backyard. Im still working on mine. Ive had my peach tree for several years now, but my cherry, pear and fig trees have all died before they even had a good start. I have a rain barrel, for obvious reasons. More daydream scenarios would have me having a rain collection system and solar and wind power. Im not terribly much help for anyone living on any amount of land to speak of, but can have helpful advice for city dwellers.
 

Callender Girl

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Sep 18, 2018
4,666
27,724
896
North Central Iowa
Thanks. I've been trying to do something major to improve the place every year. Some years, I succeed.

In addition to a traditional furnace, I have a propane-powered fireplace in the living room that doesn't rely on electric ignition at all; it throws out a decent amount of heat. I grew up in rural southern Iowa, and sometimes, we would lose power for days. When my folks remodeled the house in the late 1960's. my dad insisted on adding a wood-burning fireplace. Having mine makes me feel more secure; winters here can be real bears.

I really like your ideas and the way you think about things, including feeling good about creating from your own sources -- I used to think I was good at crafts but was clearly delusional.

My sheep are Katahdin hair sheep, so although I don't make anything with the wool they shed each year, the trees are filled with bird nests knitted together with wool they rub off onto the fencing. It's too bad I don't figure out how to use it; one of the ewes, Betsy, is a beautiful reddish color.

I have had miniature goats for about 14 years and I love them. BUT, keeping them penned is a challenge. In my experience, the fainters (I've had some fainter crosses) are the only ones who don't seem to spend the bulk of their days figuring out how to get out of whatever fencing I've come up with. My blue-eyed Nigerian girl is named Tessa, but Houdini would have been a more appropriate name. She can get out through the smallest opening, can lift a woven wire fence and easily climbs onto the trunk of a fence-row tree to leap into the neighbor's field.

My dad owned an auto body shop that had an accompanying junk yard. We always kept Suffolk sheep to eat down the weeds around the junk so he never had to mow. I can't remember any of them ever escaping. If you get the Harlequin mini-sheep, please post photos.

Hey, I don't just feed mulberries to my birds; I also chop down the numerous saplings that spring up and feed them to the sheep and goats, who love to nibble any trees they can reach.

Today on PBS, an old episode of "Great British Baking Show" had a segment on Tottenham Cake, created in the 1800s by a Quaker baker. Although most people substitute different fruit these days for the icing, originally mulberry juice was used. So maybe I can convince myself to like them if I think about connecting with my Quaker ancestors and whip up some pink icing (funny it's pink. When birds poop out mulberries all over EVERYTHING, it's purple!).

I know I liked the berries as as a kid. I still remember my mom yelling at me and my friend, Toni, because we had climbed one of the mulberry trees out back, got juice all over and ruined our school dresses. Maybe my adult dislike is just me remembering how pretty that little aqua dress had been?

Good luck with everything you are doing. I would like to keep up with your progress.

And, @Fishychix, keep on with your daydreams. I also have a rain barrel; it's been sitting unattached to my gutters for more than two years now. But, some day!!!
 

LizzzyJo

Show me the data 👩🏼‍🔬
Dec 14, 2018
1,925
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The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
I have a hobby “farm” according to my friends, but in my daydreams I have an actual farm. 🤣
I have always kinda been into sustainability but I called it stretching my pennies. Its surprising how many ways one can be sustainable, and still learn new things everyday.
I do not but her any of my animals, im not allowed to. I would definitely need a mentor for the first few times. I would like to have their meat for food and the rabbits’ fur for clothing, etc. That goes into the daydream category along with innumerable other things. I do garden, compost, and collect eggs from the chickens. I reuse things often, but not nearly often enough. I simply dont have the space to keep things until I would need them. I would love to learn how to can things confidently, im too afraid of giving everybody food poisoning. There are a few people in town who keep bees, with one having a mini orchard in his very small backyard. Im still working on mine. Ive had my peach tree for several years now, but my cherry, pear and fig trees have all died before they even had a good start. I have a rain barrel, for obvious reasons. More daydream scenarios would have me having a rain collection system and solar and wind power. Im not terribly much help for anyone living on any amount of land to speak of, but can have helpful advice for city dwellers.
Rain barrel is also on my short list! It would be great at least to water the animals. I have a well and live in a swamp :confused:, but still it would be more sustainable. We packed up our fig trees roots this past year with straw and burlap and they came back! They'd always died before.

So far I have only eaten roosters that my broody hatched out. I am considering giving her meat birds this summer instead of eggs (trying the middle of the night switcheroo). I will feel bad killing them, but I do eat meat a few times a week, so I know that I would like to make it more sustainable.

I want wind power too! Let me now if you install it! Even if it just powered my washing machine or something, it would feel good.
 

LizzzyJo

Show me the data 👩🏼‍🔬
Dec 14, 2018
1,925
5,046
337
The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
Thanks. I've been trying to do something major to improve the place every year. Some years, I succeed.

In addition to a traditional furnace, I have a propane-powered fireplace in the living room that doesn't rely on electric ignition at all; it throws out a decent amount of heat. I grew up in rural southern Iowa, and sometimes, we would lose power for days. When my folks remodeled the house in the late 1960's. my dad insisted on adding a wood-burning fireplace. Having mine makes me feel more secure; winters here can be real bears.

I really like your ideas and the way you think about things, including feeling good about creating from your own sources -- I used to think I was good at crafts but was clearly delusional.

My sheep are Katahdin hair sheep, so although I don't make anything with the wool they shed each year, the trees are filled with bird nests knitted together with wool they rub off onto the fencing. It's too bad I don't figure out how to use it; one of the ewes, Betsy, is a beautiful reddish color.

I have had miniature goats for about 14 years and I love them. BUT, keeping them penned is a challenge. In my experience, the fainters (I've had some fainter crosses) are the only ones who don't seem to spend the bulk of their days figuring out how to get out of whatever fencing I've come up with. My blue-eyed Nigerian girl is named Tessa, but Houdini would have been a more appropriate name. She can get out through the smallest opening, can lift a woven wire fence and easily climbs onto the trunk of a fence-row tree to leap into the neighbor's field.

My dad owned an auto body shop that had an accompanying junk yard. We always kept Suffolk sheep to eat down the weeds around the junk so he never had to mow. I can't remember any of them ever escaping. If you get the Harlequin mini-sheep, please post photos.

Hey, I don't just feed mulberries to my birds; I also chop down the numerous saplings that spring up and feed them to the sheep and goats, who love to nibble any trees they can reach.

Today on PBS, an old episode of "Great British Baking Show" had a segment on Tottenham Cake, created in the 1800s by a Quaker baker. Although most people substitute different fruit these days for the icing, originally mulberry juice was used. So maybe I can convince myself to like them if I think about connecting with my Quaker ancestors and whip up some pink icing (funny it's pink. When birds poop out mulberries all over EVERYTHING, it's purple!).

I know I liked the berries as as a kid. I still remember my mom yelling at me and my friend, Toni, because we had climbed one of the mulberry trees out back, got juice all over and ruined our school dresses. Maybe my adult dislike is just me remembering how pretty that little aqua dress had been?

Good luck with everything you are doing. I would like to keep up with your progress.

And, @Fishychix, keep on with your daydreams. I also have a rain barrel; it's been sitting unattached to my gutters for more than two years now. But, some day!!!
I remember people saying 'if it can't hold water, it can't hold a goat' lol. I an imagine their personalities are better than sheep - and I love goat's milk - but I've heard they don't mow the grass, so I'm not sure what they would do if I didn't do the dairy route.

The mulberries are an awesome color. Maybe you could use them as a clothes dye? They sure as heck ruined a bunch of my play clothes as a kid just like you - so I know they'll die fabric!
 

Sally PB

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
12,699
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Belding, MI
Hello! I'm aiming for sustainability, but it's still a ways off. I have 2 gardens, and am trying to grow as much of our (me and DH) food as possible. Getting chickens (for eggs, not meat, so far) is another step in that direction.

We have a wood stove, and it does a good job of keeping us warm in the winter, until it gets down to about 15 degrees. Then we need to run the furnace to keep the farthest parts of the house from getting too cold. We have all the wood we will ever need, and this year we invested in a heavy duty woodsplitter that should outlast us.

A rain catchment system is on our list of things to do. We have a large pole barn that has a good roof for catching rain, so we need to add a gutter system to catch it.

I don't know if we'll ever be totally sustainable, but we are doing what we can to move toward that goal. I would LOVE to be off the grid!
 

LizzzyJo

Show me the data 👩🏼‍🔬
Dec 14, 2018
1,925
5,046
337
The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
Hello! I'm aiming for sustainability, but it's still a ways off. I have 2 gardens, and am trying to grow as much of our (me and DH) food as possible. Getting chickens (for eggs, not meat, so far) is another step in that direction.

We have a wood stove, and it does a good job of keeping us warm in the winter, until it gets down to about 15 degrees. Then we need to run the furnace to keep the farthest parts of the house from getting too cold. We have all the wood we will ever need, and this year we invested in a heavy duty woodsplitter that should outlast us.

A rain catchment system is on our list of things to do. We have a large pole barn that has a good roof for catching rain, so we need to add a gutter system to catch it.

I don't know if we'll ever be totally sustainable, but we are doing what we can to move toward that goal. I would LOVE to be off the grid!
All that is awesome! I wish I had a wooded area on my property, but I don't. I would like to be able to maintain if the grid went down. I am working toward that mentally, but I haven't done any of the things to make it happen. Even my well pump is electric. The only thing I have is a big whole house generator. I want wind powered everything. I want to not need any outside assistance, ya know? Baby steps...
 

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