Hi, im Lex from RoosterHead Homestead! We are first generation homesteaders. You can find me @RoosterHeadHomestead on Instagram for detailed information on each of these topics. Along with the fun and failures we have everyday on our first time homestead in the Montana mountains. Happy Homesteading!
We are first generation homesteaders and I hadn’t even heard the word homesteading until 4 years ago. I was born in raised in Orange County, CA and I had zero skills when it came to living a self-sustainable lifestyle. I didn’t know how to cook one single meal and my gardening skills consisted of my killing gifted houseplants, mostly succulents. My husband and I had always been drawn to country living and the romantic idea of owning a big plot of land, free for our children to run and play.
After our second child was born we knew we had to get out of California to provide a better life for our children. We prayed hard, trusted God, and HE lead us through our next chapter of life. We sold our house and moved to Montana in 30 days, leaving all of our friends and our family behind. Within a few months of moving, we had bought a home on 20 acres, raised chickens, had a successful garden, cooking from scratch, and homeschooling.
In less than a year I went from a city girl who depended on restaurants for my next meal, to a full-blown homemaker.
If you have always dreamed of living the homesteading lifestyle but it feels unattainable, or maybe you’re doubting that you have what it takes, I promise you that you CAN do it!
Here are a few ways to start your homestead:
INTENTIONAL LIVING. DON’T SKIP THIS section! I’m the type of person that’s like “just get to the point, just tell me what to do and ill do it.” But I can’t skip over sharing this very important part of living the homesteading lifestyle.
Having an INTENTIONAL mindset is crucial.
Intentional living is something I started practicing years before our dream of starting a homestead. If you are careless or thoughtless while homesteading, it can cause feelings of defeat and overwhelm and you could also be making some costly mistakes. No one wants to spend their money on something and then realize you didn’t have the right tools or resources to sustain it.
Just start by bringing awareness to your daily life. Start being more intentional with the things you do throughout your day. What do you put in your body every day? What do you put on your body every day? What do you spend most of your time doing? You get the assignment.
Once you bring awareness to all of these questions the answer should be pretty clear of where to start. We tend to prioritize what’s most important to us based on how much time we spend on it. I spend the MAJORITY of my day in the kitchen cooking healthy food for my family. My family’s health is my number one priority. So, naturally, most of my ‘free time’ is learning how to grow organic food for my family and how to cook quick healthy meals. This is the area I chose to focus on and where I started, it may be different for you.
Maybe your priority is to save money usually spent on eggs and milk and instead you raise your own farm animals for that protein source. So then maybe you focus on learning everything about raising chickens and work toward having a family milk cow.
Just start with the one area that is most important to you and start researching.
GARDENING. I haven’t read one single gardening book or blog. As soon as I started to research gardening information I immediately felt overwhelmed and like it was going to take me years to be a gardener. I am all about simplifying and making things easier so I found some gardeners on Instagram that were in my same growing zone. I watched them and decided on what kind of garden I wanted and needed for my family. Then I reached out to them.
Yes, I asked a complete stranger online if she would be willing to mentor me in gardening and she said YES! We grew our first successful garden last year and had an amazing harvest. My mentor gave me the best advice and I want to pass it on to you:
- Observe your property for a week or two to see where you get the longest amount of sunshine. That’s where you will put your garden. Make sure you can get water there easily and that it’s safe from any animals that may eat your garden.
- Get some good quality soil, plant some seeds, and watch them grow! Cover the walkways with cardboard or straw to keep weeds at bay.
- Only grow what your family eats. Don’t grow flowers your first year gardening, you will get overwhelmed. *Editors note, flowers can bring pollinators, so spread some random flowers, but you don’t focus on them.
I remember thinking that her advice seemed too simple. I still had a million questions and I felt like I was missing so much information. But I wasn’t. I am still flabbergasted that I didn’t kill any plants and grew my own food to maturity, harvested it, and preserved it. If a plant killer like me can grow an entire garden of food on the first try, anyone can.
CHICKENS. Even in some suburban neighborhoods, you can have up to 4 hens in your backyard. If you are able to keep an animal to raise for eggs or meat, I highly recommend you do. I knew from the start that I wanted to treat my birds differently and not like some backyard animal that is forgotten about and given the bare minimum to survive. I wanted to teach my children that all animals should be respected and deserve to live a good life. I also knew that I didn’t want to deal with sick chickens. Again, I didn’t read one chicken book and instead found someone on Instagram who had been raising healthy chickens for over twenty years and I learned everything from her.
Here are some tips I learned my first year raising chickens:
- Get a secure coop and possibly a run for the chickens to roam. Get all the essential chicken stuff (food, food container, water, water dispenser, supplements, etc.)
- Find an ethical hatchery and order your chickens based on your family’s needs.
- Treat them like you would any other pet. With respect and care.
- One important thing I learned about chickens is that they are fragile and can be very low maintenance if you take preventative measures when caring for them. If you don’t, you will most likely be dealing with some serious health problems.
For example, if you had a dog and you kept it in your dog run outside its whole life, never checked him for ticks, rarely interacted with him, and fed him the cheapest dog food you could find, you would probably be dealing with a very sick and unhappy animal. The same is true for these magnificent birds.
But be careful, once you get a few you are going to want more. They are called the gateway pet for a reason. You get a couple of chickens and then all of a sudden you have a farm!
COOKING FROM SCRATCH. I was never taught to cook as a child and in my early twenties I didn’t even own a pot or pan. Every day I got my breakfast at a coffee shop, ate at the local deli for lunch and picked up take-out on my way home from work. It wasn’t until I fell pregnant with my first child that I had a moment of panic thinking “Omg, what am I going to feed my child!”.
I bought multiple cookbooks and tried dozens of online recipes only to be left feeling defeated, my kitchen a mess, and the meal I made tasting mediocre. When my daughter was born I found a free cooking program that changed my life. It’s called the Health Hub and it’s a plethora of healthy resources all online. Cooking video tutorials, hundreds of quick, easy, and healthy recipes, workout videos, gratitude journaling, meditations, mindfulness resources and so much more. The Health Hub is still my go to daily kitchen partner.
I’m not a natural cook. I can’t look at some ingredients in the fridge and figure out how to put them together in a delicious way. If it weren’t for my Health Hub recipes I would be lost.
Long story short, find a program or person that cooks the way you like to eat and follow that. You will find inspiration through their passion and pick up little tricks that will help make things easier for you.
I hope this inspired you to just start somewhere. To pick one area of homesteading and dedicate a little bit of time to learning it, doing it, and enjoying it.