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Home » Featured, The Homestead Life

Homesteading When You’re Flat Broke

Submitted by on December 10, 2014 – 1:33 pm 130 Comments
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Homesteading When You're Flat Broke
If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time you’ve probably picked up on the fact that my family is not rich. (Not monetarily, anyways.) We’re not even in the “middle class” category, financially speaking.

To put it simply, we’re flat broke.

Don’t get me wrong. God has been so good to us. We always have enough to get us by. But most months, it’s just enough. Which is all we really need, but it can make homesteading projects tricky to afford.

Why is it that we feel we have to spend so much money on projects anyways? I always wonder how they did it back in the old days, when everything was made from raw materials. Is it that we have lost the skills to build as they did, or are we too good for primitive structures nowadays? Perhaps for some of us it’s a little of both.

I’m sure a lot of you are in the same boat, and you feel trapped. You want to homestead. You want to have a piece of land and grow a garden or raise livestock. But you don’t have any extra income to get started. And you wonder how other people do it.

I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to be rich to get started homesteading. You don’t even have to have two incomes.

Allow me to dispel a common assumption which seems to be holding a lot of people back-

It’s TOTALLY possible to homestead with zero money to start with.

Will it be glamorous? Probably not at first. Your homestead might look a little rough around the edges for a while. But don’t let that discourage you. When you’re living on very little income, you really have to grasp the frugal mentality of the Great Depression era:

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

We’ve all heard it. But how many ways do we apply it?

When I sit down and think about it, it is my opinion that there are only four must-haves for beginning your homestead without upsetting your delicately balanced budget. And none of them cost a dime. Once you’ve obtained a firm grasp on these four things, nothing will stop you from achieving your self-sufficiency goals.

Are you ready for them?

down the driveway

 Resourcefulness. Creativity. Determination. Contentment.

 

Honestly. That’s it. If you can muster up enough of each of these, there’s no limit to what you can do.

Let’s go through them one by one, in a little more detail so you understand exactly what each entails. Because although they seem simple on the surface, these character attributes can take hard work to obtain if they don’t come naturally.

Resourcefulness

When I speak of resourcefulness on the homestead, I’m talking mainly about making the most of what you already have available to you. When a need comes up you look around to see what you have and how you can make it fit your needs.

For example: you’ve started your garden and you really need a trellis for your sprawling pea vines to climb. But you really don’t have any extra money to buy one. What do you do?

You learn to be resourceful!  Do you have an old crib stashed away in the attic? The frame would make a fantastic trellis! Is there an old ladder laying around just waiting to be taken to the dump? Give it new life in the garden! Don’t have anything but a ball of twine? Grab your hatchet and get to work turning small, fallen branches into a sturdy trellis frame. You can use that twine to tie sticks together or to create a net for your plants to climb.

cucumbers on trellis
Here’s a trellis I made one year out of twine and branches for my cucumbers to grow on.

homemade tomato cage
And here’s a tomato cage I built one year with sticks and twine.

They weren’t fancy, although I do love the rustic look to homemade structures such as these. They were made from materials I had on hand, so they didn’t cost me any extra money. And they served their purpose just as well as anything that would have come from the store.

greenhouse coming along
We can’t forget about the $5 greenhouse we built from old windows, pallets, strips of corrugates sign material my husband brought home from his printing job, and some scrap lumber. Eventually we invested another $100 to buy proper greenhouse roofing to make it leak-proof. Although it is currently unheated, it’s still a great place for starting seedlings in early Spring.

new chicken coop
Although our chicken coop is nothing fancy, it was built from materials we had laying around plus the price of a new box of screws. Again, it serves its purpose just as well as a more expensive coop would. The chickens are safe from predators and have somewhere out of the elements to roost for the night. They don’t care if their home cost $500 or none at all. I still haven’t painted the coop yet. Maybe one day I’ll find that spare moment I’m always seeking out.

Herb Bed 2013
How about the herb bed I created out of an old industrial fan box and reclaimed handmade bricks? I still love how this turned out. Each year it’s prettier and prettier as it fills out and overflows with flowers and herbs.

pallet fence
And then there’s the simple pallet fence we made to keep the deer from eating our fruit trees.

These are just a few examples of how we’ve been able to build our homestead with very little money.

Being resourceful also means you keep an eye out for things that other people are throwing away which you might be able to use. On a frugal homestead you will likely find piles of what look like junk here and there, but when you look at these materials from a homesteader’s point of view, they are treasures just waiting to find their purpose on the homestead.

chick coop
Sometimes you get lucky and find some really useful stuff that people are just giving away. Like this rabbit cage we found for free on Craigslist. This is one of three that we got, actually. Although we didn’t have rabbits when we scooped up these cages, we knew we could use it for chickens now and maybe rabbits down the road. It’s good to always be thinking ahead.

laying sidewalk
We were also able to put a much needed walkway to our front door with some extra pavers my dad had leftover from a project. I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet, but here’s a photo I took during the progress. It might not be completely level, and it might be a little off-center with the fence (oops), however it saved us over $1000 to do it ourselves (I couldn’t believe the quotes I got for a contractor to do it for us!). Although we had zero experience laying a sidewalk, after watching a few YouTube videos and reading a handful of tutorials we gained enough confidence to try to tackle it ourselves.

I’m glad we did. It may not be perfect, but it keeps the mud off our boots. And it didn’t cost a small fortune, thanks to my dad for the free pavers.

It doesn’t hurt to let other people know what your needs are. If there’s something you’re looking for, ask around! “Hey, you don’t happen to know anyone with some old windows laying around, do you?” You never know when somebody has exactly what you need and would be more than happy to get it out of their way.

You know, resourcefulness really goes hand in hand with another important trait…

Creativity

Sometimes you’ve gotta get really creative to make what you have available to you work to your advantage.  It’s like that saying…

“Necessity breeds ingenuity.”

 

It really is true. When push comes to shove, you get creative.

We’ve had to get creative a lot here on our homestead. Sometimes it was just a temporary fix, but whatever we came up with always worked well enough for its purpose until something better came along.

handpainted tile garden markers
Sometimes creativity comes just for fun. Like the time I really wanted some decorative garden markers to help me keep track of where I planted things. Up until then I’d been cutting strips off a set of broken mini-blinds and making garden markers with them by writing names of plants on each strip with a Sharpie. But these were lost in the dirt over time and the words faded from sun exposure. I wanted something easy to see and longer-lasting.

Instead of buying generic garden markers from the hardware store, or paying a pretty penny to order cuter ones online, I decided to make my own! I scrounged up a box of old tiles I had picked up for free somewhere years earlier, I pulled out an old box of acrylic paints I had laying around, and I had a little fun creating something unique and useful.

Sometimes creativity is necessary for more important situations, such as trying to finance a project or pay for an unexpected circumstance. Think of some creative ways to use what you have to make a little money, and put your skills to use.

Creativity is thinking outside of the box.  If you can combine that with resourcefulness, you’ll find that you can accomplish a whole lot with very little.

Determination

Homesteading isn’t easy. Homesteading when you’re flat broke can seem impossible. And it will be, unless you have determination.

I’m telling you, it can be extremely discouraging at times to look around at all of the half-started projects just waiting for the right materials or enough time or even perhaps a helping hand to come along so they can be completed.

The projects never end. Neither do the setbacks. The goats will get loose and eat every one of your young fruit trees and berry bushes to the ground. Your toddler will let the chickens loose and before you realize they’re out they’ve scratched up all 200 tomato seedlings you’ve spent months raising from seed and had just put in the ground. Disease will plague your grapevines. An early frost will wipe out your entire garden. Worms will ruin your raspberry harvest. Predators will kill your livestock.

It goes on, and on, and on.

This lifestyle can be costly, especially when starting from scratch with zero experience. Money will be lost. Time will be wasted. And hard work will have to be repeated.

Homesteading can often feel like you’re taking three steps forward and two steps back. But the important thing is that you keep moving forward! You must be determined to succeed at this thing called simple living. I promise, it does get easier with time, for with experience you make fewer and fewer mistakes and progress comes in leaps and bounds.

You must maintain a spirit of determination. You’ve gotta be a fighter. If you have determination, you can make your homesteading dreams a reality no matter what your current situation is.

Contentment

Equally as important as resourcefulness, creativity, and determination, contentment is especially required when homesteading on a tight budget.

I’m not speaking of settling for less than what your heart desires, rather I’m encouraging you to be at peace with where you are in this moment as you work hard toward your goals.

If you are not content, you will get discouraged. When you allow discouragement to overcome you, you lose your determination. Without determination it’s hard to muster up creativity, and you can’t be as resourceful without creativity. They all go hand in hand.

Being content is having patience. When you really don’t have extra money to do the things you want to do, or buy the things you want to buy, you must be content to do the best you can with what you do have. It has always been my experience that when you are patient and instead of rushing out and spending money you wait and make do, eventually exactly what you need will fall right into your lap- often for free or for very little money. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. I feel like it’s the Father’s way of blessing us for being good stewards. And sometimes when I’m patient things work out much differently than I had planned, and it ends up being a really good thing that I didn’t spend that money as I wanted to.

It’s also important that you don’t compare your homestead with other people’s. It’s easy to fall into the trap of discontentment when we start looking at how beautiful or productive other homesteads are. Pinterest can be a great place for inspiration, but it can also make you feel inadequate if you aren’t careful.

Guard yourself against keeping up with the Joneses. We are all at different stages in life, and we all have a different journey to take. Instead of looking around and wishing you had this or that like so-and-so does, look around and be grateful for all the things you do have.

Mocha and Henny Penny

Getting Started Homesteading With Zero Money

Once you’ve nailed down these four character attributes, you’re ready to build your homestead on a budget.

Finding Free Building Materials

Use resourcefulness to make fences, coops, cages, trellises and other structures you’ll need for gardens and livestock from whatever materials you can get your hands on.

Watch Freecycle, Craigslist, and Facebook Yard Sale groups for freebies and good deals on materials you’ll need. Gather the courage to ask friends and family if they happen to have any of what you need laying around, or perhaps they’d be willing to trade something for it. Keep your eye out for homes under construction or other such projects which might yield free building materials which would have otherwise gone to the landfill. In this way you’ll slowly be able to build everything you need while spending very little money or even no money at all.

Remember, patience is key.

Finding Free Livestock

We’ve been blessed with many free animals over the years, including chickens, guineas, turkeys, rabbits, and goats. (Remember the Free Chicken Fiasco I wrote about a couple of years ago?) In the beginning stages of building our homestead, I watched the FREE STUFF and FARM & GARDEN sections of Craigslist every day. Every now and then some poor soul was too tired or too busy to take care of their farm animals and just wanted somebody to get them out of their way. I’m sure it helps that we live in a rural area. You might expand your search to more rural areas around you if you live in a city or suburb. Anyways, we were more than happy to be of assistance and take these animals off their hands.

It also helps tremendously to network with other farmers and homesteaders in your area. Make lots of friends! Not only are they amazing for support, advice, encouragement, and even physical help, but when you surround yourself with like-minded folks they will know you might be interested when they have an animal they need to re-home. Make sure you are that friend in return as well. There have been many occasions when friends have given us animals simply because they didn’t want or need them anymore.

Don’t forget the power of bartering! You never know when you might have something another person would be willing to trade for, whether it’s a good or a service. Tap into your resources to acquire the things you need.

Finding Free Plants and Seeds

Start your garden by looking around to see what you already have available.

Do you have existing landscaping? Research each plant to find out if it’s edible. You may be surprised!

What grows naturally around you? I bet you’d be surprised by how many wild edibles you have growing right underneath your feet. Do you know of a patch of wild blackberries you can dig up and transplant into your yard?

Do you have a friend or family member who might have plants they’d be happy to divide and share with you? Start asking around! I know I’m personally happy to share raspberry plants, elderberry sprouts, and herbs that are going crazy here and need thinning out.

Do you have plants you can trade for others you need? I once put out an ad on Craigslist to trade plants. I was so excited when a lady not too far from me responded and was happy to dig up plants she had in exchange for the ones I had to offer. Again, this is being resourceful and making the most of what you have.

Seeds can also be easy to come by, especially if you surround yourself with gardening folk. Often people will buy new seeds every couple of years, and will be happy to give you their older packets. They may not have as high of a germination rate as fresh seeds, but you’ll likely still get a few plants out of the pack! And from there, if they’re heirloom varieties, you can save the seeds from the produce you grow and have an abundance of seeds to plant, trade, or share the following year.

Blessing Others and Being Blessed

One of the beautiful things about homesteading is the importance and value of relationships. It’s easy in today’s world to be too busy to take the time to share your needs and to find out the needs of others. But when we take the time to do these things, we find that not only are we blessed but we have an opportunity to be a blessing as well. I have found that the more you bless others, the more you are blessed yourself.

As you grow and get established in your homestead, be sure to give unselfishly and generously to others who are just starting out and need a hand. You’ll find that it comes back ten-fold.

eggs

Start Making Money To Support Your Homestead

Once you’ve gotten off the ground and have a little homestead up and running, however crude or rag-tag it may be, over time you’ll discover more and more ways to make a little money to support your homestead’s growth.

Here are a few ways you can earn extra money homesteading:

  • selling eggs
  • selling “hatching” eggs (fertilized)
  • selling chicks
  • selling chickens and other animals
  • selling meat
  • selling seeds (make sure you aren’t violating any laws)
  • selling extra produce
  • selling seedlings
  • selling potted plants
  • selling homemade products (soap, for example)
  • selling milk (if it’s legal in your state)
  • selling baked goods
  • sewing
  • start an Etsy shop
  • teaching classes
  • write an e-book
  • blogging
  • start writing for a local paper or contribute to other websites/magazines

Of course, it takes time to build up to a point to where you have enough experience to have some authority on the matter. But I promise, the more you work, the more you’ll find that you have to offer and the easier it will be to make a little extra money to fund your homestead.

Again, it boils down to four basic things: Resourcefulness, Creativity, Determination, and Contentment. If you have them, there’s nothing to hold you back from achieving your dreams. Don’t let a lack of money keep you in a rut. If we can do it, so can you!

Now that you’re full of inspiration, check out my article on getting started homesteading even if you don’t have land: How To Homestead Wherever You Are!

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130 Comments »

  • Katrine A. Eagling says:

    I salute bravery! I did this very same thing at the age of 40ish, in 1991, in Oroville, WA. It was amazing and freeing for me, when going through some very difficult times in my life. Unfortunately, as a single women I could not keep up the land pmts and work the land without other income that exceeded leasing the pasture. But, even though I am now 65, I still long for this farm life.

    But next time I would do it with running water and electricity and a composting toilet rather than an outhouse and a 5 gal. bucket in the winter (at night and early morning only). And having to melt snow to equal 30 gal. of water a day to supply the cow, goats, dogs, cats and chickens before it froze again.

    Those were the best times of my life, except for raising my daughter! She was an adult when I did this and she really did not like not being able to shower every day. We all have our priorities, right?

  • Bob says:

    I have all the land I need and most everything needed to get going. My wife will not move from the city luxuries but that’s ok, I have to. My land borders a river, there is lots of hunting fishing and trapping opportunities. I am building a root cellar to store the veggies. I have all the necessities(ok except indoor plumbing but the sauna is perfect)and am going to install a composting toilet. Everything I have is paid for and I have $150 a month income until I get to retire age which is a long way off. Do you think I can make it on this money? This lifestyle is all I think about and plan for and I have to do it full time, a few weeks a year just isn’t good enough.
    Thank you for your advice

  • LuAnn Braley says:

    A couple of years back we were blessed to be able to buy my husband’s paternal grandparents’ home. It kept the property in the family, provided a little extra income for the his dad an uncles. It’s about two acres with a house and a couple of outbuildings: a storage shed, a chicken coop that hasn’t been used in decades and a smokehouse of about the same age. But there’s never a lot of money. At least half of it sits unused, but I am to change that. We’ve already got several black walnut trees (one is huge), a peach tree that started bearing fruit this year (I told hubby and he didn’t believe me at first because he’s never known it to before!), and some berry bushes.

    Oh, and giving credit where it is due, I found your blog from the Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth blog. Last but not least, I am a new follower!

  • Danielle says:

    Thank you for the inspiration. I am pretty sure I knew all of this already, but it is always a good thing to have the reassurance and know we are on the right path. With my husband still working full-time and having yet another baby (no.5), it can be so difficult to find the time or motivation to keep rolling some days. I know it will all get better with time and that since this is still the first year, we are overcoming things this year that we will probably never have to do again. It will always be hard work, it will never be the easiest path to take, but it has so many rewards and we need to remember to be content that we are getting to live the life we dreamed about and not worry about how far behind we are on our goals!

    • Kendra says:

      Absolutely! Keep taking those baby steps forward. You might have to re-do and tweak things as you figure out what works and what doesn’t, but it’s never a step backward to learn something new, even if you have to make mistakes to get there. What a blessing that you guys are able to take this journey in life. And a big congrats on baby #5 coming to your family! What an adventure you’ll have together indeed.

  • Alastair Ong says:

    I just moved to a homestead after living for 20 years in New York City. I am writing a blog about my experiences.

    My most recent post is relevant to this discussion because it describes a super inexpensive way to build a raised bed garden. The title of the post is: Four Steps to Build a Raised Bed Garden for Less Than $50 (No Screws Required). You can read it here: http://farmdweller.com/build-a-raised-bed-garden-in-four-steps-for-less-than-50-no-screws-required/

    Folks think that growing their food is hard. It is not, at least not the first 80% is not. The final 20% of maximizing yield is more difficult, but growing enough to provide for your family is something everyone should be familiar with.

  • Marcy says:

    I want to thank you so much for this. My husband and I are moving into a 100+ yr old home on about 4 acres with an additional 10+/-wild acres. I have always been crafty with the whole reuse items. However moving out in the boondocks on one income with 3 dogs and 2 teenage daughters I was scared at first. I have been working small gardens for 5 years now (even if my mom does pick thing too soon and let them go bad). Kansas is wonderful about being helpful in smaller communities and this town has less than 1500 people in it. I have been scavaging the Internet on homesteading tips and tricks and you gave me a new spark. Again many thanks!

  • Neil says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us.

  • Cassandra says:

    Hi Kendra. Thank you for the tips! It’s encouraging to see that I’m already doing all of the things I can now, and plan to do the rest when we are ready. Unfortunately, homesteading where we are now isn’t an option. We have meat rabbits and a little bit of a garden, but renting restrictions are pretty stringent here. It’s also not enough house for us in the long run, so we don’t want to settle in here too much.
    A foreclosure–or even raw land–is also not an option because we don’t have anything in the way of a down payment, which is really all banks want to see when they’re the owners of a home (same with raw land, as I’m sure you know).
    We are happy with simple living and bootstrapping. We plan to live in an RV and boondock while we build our home from mostly salvaged materials if we ever manage to buy some land. But truly STARTING the homestead is having a place to put it–any advice on that, considering the above?

    • Kendra says:

      Hi Cassandra,
      You might find my other article, How To Homestead Wherever You Are, helpful: http://newlifeonahomestead.com/how-to-homestead/. I would encourage you to try not to get hung up on the idea that homesteading requires land, animals, and a large garden. There really is a ton that you can do to become more self sufficient right where you are, whether that’s boondocking in an RV or living in a city apartment. :) Of course we all dream of owning lots of land, but in the meantime explore all of the things you can be doing right now to keep taking baby steps forward. :)

    • Lisa's Kisses! says:

      CASSANDRA. I went to http://www.cheaplands.co. I found a piece of land in a state i could begin life in again for a very low price. I had to comb through and through and through it WH a pain to USE! But it IS LEGITIMATE!I have put in an offer real Realtors are workingnwith me an
      N OFFER ON it and hope to CLOSE may 10 2016

      • Lisa's Kisses! says:

        My smartphone and the blog comments are fighting each other. I’m serious about awww.cheaplands. com. Pain to navigate on my smartphone but I persisted and no
        w I found land.Made an offer snd close on it soon. Pardon my spelling formatting former message! Good luck!LOLS

  • Nicholas says:

    Thanks for writing this! I’m in somewhat of a similar situation, trying my best to start a homestead with as little money as possible. My partner and I are making plans to build our own tiny house and I’m learning all about wild edibles. I’m just starting out, and your blog, I’m sure, will be an invaluable resource as we make our way down our path. I also appreciate the length and depth of this article, something I appreciate and don’t often find online.

    Best wishes,
    Nicholas

  • Michael says:

    What a great reminder. I started my homesteading dream a few years ago but in the middle of it all I went through a life threatening illness and divorce.

    I have come to the point to where I am ready to restart what I started and your article was a great way to regroups me to all the reasons I began the journey in the first place.

  • Joe says:

    Hello,

    Love this post!

    I have been slowly starting my homestead for the last year and I love it even though my tiny house is not done yet. I decided to pay cash as I earned it and build everything possible myself with free materials as much as possible. I too have very little income and have found patience and problem solving creativity to be the most used skills at this point. I have found having little money makes me a very creative person and I even look at trash differently now. Craigslist has become my favorite shopping website!

    I have become passionate about homesteading and what I’m learning that I have decided to start my own blog which will be up and running next month!

    Again great post and I will be coming back often!

    Joe

  • We want to home stead… i heard people can get land from the gov.an its yours as long as you maintain an inprove on it or something like that,is that true? and would love to learn….

  • I just found your blog and I am so glad I did. This is an amazing reminder that you can always get creative about how to homestead when you are on a very tight budget. I love your use of twine and sticks for your cucumbers. I am totally stealing that one. I have a huge garden and have built a few really good trellises but I don’t have enough money for more. So thank you for the encouragement that I don’t have to give up, I just have to get creative!

  • Cindy says:

    I enjoyed your blog. Your my kind of people!

  • Nola B says:

    Very good advise….so many good points to ponder…especially like the part about keeping up with the Jones…I told myself I’d live in a shack as long as we could buy this 60 acres…well it’s paid off..an our 2000$ mobile home needs work an i sometime get discouraged, usually after visiting freinds or family with nicer homes.. but then I remind myself of what is of lasting value. ..these are the things I want my kids to know..money can’t buy everything…like the pride I fill when I’m outta milk an my girls go with a bowl to They’re retired show cow an after a little scratch reach down an retrieve enough milk for the meal…no rope, no feed. ..but because theyvery done such a good job taking care of these animals. ..An i know one day this little farm will be there’s an that they will take care of it…because they know what’s truely of value..thank you for your incouragement.

  • Annie T. says:

    I lost my home due to recent job cuts and Thank God I had a motor home I could move in to. I now live in an RV park which I get electric, water, sewer, trash, cable, and internet included in my rent. My husband’s job pays our bills. Someone else is caring for my goat and chickens while I look for land (which even a down payment is out of my reach. My family, dogs, and cats live in a 27 foot motor home with little out door space. I am growing food in potters like potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs. But the park allows very little.

    So tell me, what do you think I can do to make things better? I put ads out for share cropping and shared land. No one responds. I did have one response from a couple who lived in a literal junk yard with pigs.

    I am asking you if you were in my shoes, what would you do. I am searching every day for a solution, but none has come my way. 85% of the state of Nevada is owned by the Government, and they can’t see that there are poor people that need a homestead. So many states are making laws against homesteading. Is there a way out of this?

    • Kendra says:

      Hi Annie,

      My heart goes out to you. I can hear the desperation through your typing. How many children do you have at home? Are they big enough to get jobs… are they in school… do you homeschool? All of these factors make a difference in what I might suggest. What are your talents or skills? If there is something you are good at or enjoy doing, you can definitely turn that into a part time job. If you don’t feel like you have any skills, what would you enjoy learning how to do? What are you ABLE to do? It sounds like finding creative ways to increase your income (or decrease your bills) would be a good place to start. It’s hard for me to give you detailed advice without seeing firsthand what your life looks like up close, but please be encouraged that there is ALWAYS something you can do to take a step forward. The key is to continue moving forward. If you stand still, you’ll never get anywhere. But as long as you are moving… trying different things, actively working toward a goal… you can always change your direction as long as you are in motion. If you’d like to email me personally I’ll be happy to give you more one-on-one advice if you’d like: kendra@newlifeonahomestead.com.

    • Earl says:

      Annie:
      I have not spent a lot of time in Nevada but I do know that the govt in different forms does own an awful lot of it and will not sell you a little piece to homestead. But I have a lot of experience in real estate in different areas and I would suggest that you might want to go drive around in areas outside the city limits and look for older houses that appear to have been empty for a long time. These places are often owned by someone living in far off locations who have no interest in the property. Even if the house is in need of a lot of repairs you can often make some arrangement with the owner to buy it cheap and perhaps rent to own or some similar arrangement. If you find something with a few acres it might be just what you are looking for. I paid $18,000 for 5 acres with a house in terrible condition which I have mostly rebuilt from scrounged materials and craigslist stuff people were glad to get rid of. Takes some work but I have not had a house payment for 3 years I have been here and little food bills because of garden so I don’t need to work full time anywhere. Hope this helps some and if I can help any other way don’t hesitate to ask. Good luck !!

      • Colleen says:

        Earl,
        That sounds like what I plan on doing once the military finally lets me loose…as far as rebuilding an old farm house with salvaged materials.

        Another thought for the OP is to contact the Farm Service Bureau – sometimes they can help with financing and even locating land – especially if you are low income.

        Happy New Year!

    • Marla says:

      I love the idea of homesteading but due to my hubby’s current medical conditions it is out of our reach. What part of Nevada do you live in? If it is the north, I might have an option for you. Please pass my email onto Annie. Best wishes and you are on the right track, keep praying and you’ll find your way.

  • Reed says:

    I found your web site via a pin recipe. I absolutely love this
    site. As I walked out in my less than a acre. I thought my
    little plot was a homestead of sorts. As I started picking my blackberries
    and zucchini thought this is wonderful I am poor right now but happy.
    Thanks for the article makes me look at my house differently.

  • Marey Defreitas says:

    Loved the article, but j ow would you pay bills?
    Your mortgage?
    What if your animals get sick and the vet needs to be called?

    That’s what I’d like to see answered..
    We would love to be able to do this, but I just don’t understand how to be that creative to pay the things we need to pay.
    : )

  • Jade Thompson says:

    So I’ve read this article twice now and love all the advice, however, the problem I have is that I’m not even able to start. Would you have any advice on finding/obtaining land to do this on a super tight mommy budget and poor credit? That’s where I’m lost.

    • Kendra says:

      Jade,

      That’s where everyone seems to be getting hung up. I feel like I can’t say it loud enough- you don’t need land to get started!!! :) YES, land is nice. And yes, land should be the goal. But please don’t wait to “homestead” until you get some land. There are so many things you can do right where you are, right now! Please read my article on homesteading where you are for lots of great tips! http://newlifeonahomestead.com/how-to-homestead/

    • NewGuy says:

      One thing I suggest is to look for a community garden where you can rent a plot or get one free. I live in Baltimore and there are quite a few sanctioned ones around in vacant lots. Also check churches, sometimes they do them too, or maybe suggest that they start one if they haven’t already.

      Lots of us think of gardening and livestock with homesteading, but Kendra is pointing out that you can always make your own laundry detergents and soaps, which saves lots of money, or forage for wild edibles in a park (if it’s legal, check!) and can them. Also gleaning is a legal thing in most parts, where after a harvest you are allowed to pick through the leftovers in the field for a stray potato, etc. Again, check the legality where you are.

  • Kay Schuler says:

    Kendra, I am new to your site and love what I see! Your ideas are powerful and accurate. Your site is the first I have seen that actually gives hope to us that are wanting to homestead but have major economic challenges.

    I grew up in the Midwest but have been transplanted to the desert Southwest by circumstances of a nasty divorce. My two children and I live outside the major metro area with my sister and her two children. Attempting to garden here has been a wicked challenge but this year (my 4th gardening here) has really paid off. I have been collecting tomatoes for a few months and have zucchini and cucumbers to spare. To my surprise, I had several volunteer watermelon come up this year after a total loss last year. They have almost taken over my garden and are producing the sweetest watermelon I have tasted since I was a child in Iowa. Everyone is amazed that I can grow these things here in such a barren landscape.

    I am a firm believer in working with what you have available. I am still dreaming of moving my kids back to the Midwest and getting them into a better school system but, in the meantime, we will pick away at what we have here. I buy as much as I can from our local farmer’s market and have returned to canning (something my mother and grandmother taught me and I am now passing on to my children) and we scout for “free” food in our area. Remarkably, people seldom use the citrus, dates, or prickly pear cactus available here. We have scouted many areas around us where we can collect these things for free. I have even learned how to make prickly pear cactus jelly and it is wonderful! There are many possibilities wherever you are – you just have to get out and look, become schooled in what is available in the area, and ask. Most people will be glad to have you harvest something they don’t use. It saves them cleaning up a mess.

    As soon as we have money for even a small parcel of land, we are moving but this is a major issue. We are not able to homestead to our full capacity because of where we live. We cannot be fully self-sufficient due to the neighborhood restrictions. Once we find a way, financially, to move we will be able to complete our dream. It may take the rest of my lifetime to have a fully functional homestead but, for the sake of my children, our happiness, and our health, I will continue to move towards that goal. I will also continue to read and study articles such as yours. Thank you for the wonderful article! It helps to know there are others out there with the same goals and ambitions we are pursuing.

    Kay

  • Heather Cook says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I needed to read this. Sometimes I feel like my goals are worthy of spending money I don’t have so thank you for the encouraging words. Patience is a virtue I could stand to have a little more of. :)

  • Doris says:

    I like to be flat broke white a peas of land.

  • Francis James Colosimo says:

    The information above is so good to see God bless you. We have an opportunity however to buy a miraculously cheap block of land around 35 minutes west of Ballarat, Victoria at $500.00 and acre and the property is 304 acres of glorious land, with two titles. Please get back to me if you want to get involved as land in that area is at least $3,500 an acre normally. My Mobile is 0415460476. Cheers, Francis.

  • Doris says:

    wen I had a small pise of land ,I didn’t mind to be flat broke to,.

  • Harry says:

    Unfortunately here in Oz most if not all of your money making idea’s either are illegal or not allowed without so many conditions for licensing it no longer is viable! Like they want a licence fee to put a fence post in the ground almost! and you guys in USA are very fortunate that you can obtain so much in the Prepper SHTF range! We have an elitist extreme right wing Government and NO opposition of note! The people are very frustrated and I am trying to provide some direction! Sorry to whinge! there will be a way, need to think, our farmland, yes even a couple of acres are so expensive and now area’s are DEMANDING NO OFF GRID ANYTHING!

    • tim h. says:

      How can they foorce to to be on the grid 100% ? You have our sympathy and support friend!!

    • kaye says:

      It must depend on where you want to live in Australia. I live here and live very well, off grid, basic house. Grow all my own food, milk goats for milk and products and host wwoofers to help me from time to time. I live 20 mins from a country town and land around here is reasonable.
      I keep a lookout for stuff people have dumped etc and we are always collecting stuff from mulched up trees left in a disused quarry to firewood, rocks etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is so not true solar is not only encouraged but also in some states subsidised many people are self sufficient and doing all the ideas mentioned I’m not only doing it but in rental town block with chooks ducks and gardens doing all of the above all within council regulations

  • M Clarke says:

    you had property – hows someone to start with no money and no land

  • Bernie says:

    we say …

    “grow your own food,
    make your own medicine,
    consume consciously,
    make community connections”

    selfhelpretreat.com.au

  • Tom says:

    Kendra, I have enjoyed watching you grow thru these last few years. Truly a joy.

    T

  • Carey Ann says:

    Love this! The fact that it is never ending and stuff is always going to happen. We homestead on fifty five acres of family land and are always looking into inexpensive ways of doing things. We figure if we go inexpensive in some ways, we are able to afford to go higher end on others. Case in point, I won’t skimp on fencing. That stuff’s gotta last so I’ll spend extra on it.

  • Crystal says:

    OTHER RESOURCES:

    1) STONE YARDS – Often have broken pallets and trash of wire fencing stuff they use for their stone pallets… they also often have piles of stone for free they can’t sell and WANT you to take off the property

    2) BAMBOO!!! If you live in an area where bamboo grows, find a grove, ask the landowner if he minds if you harvest the older bamboo (this keeps the grove healthy and makes less work for you). Cut your pieces, leave the brush in the grove as mulch, treat the bamboo with fire or borax (videos can be found via youtube, etc.) and you have a solid and durable building material!

    3) NATURAL BUILDING – If you haven’t built anything with clay sand and straw yet, you are missing out! This is so much fun! You can make natural paints (called alis) with this stuff, make plasters, build extremely durable walls, etc. and can even be made waterproof (research tadelakt for more info) It is so enjoyable and while you are building your structure, you’re building community too! Even kids can participate in some of these building projects.

    If clay isn’t in your area, what is?

    Not just home construction sites, but commercial construction sites also. Talk to some builders who work for themselves. They might even WANT to call you to help remove some stuff in exchange for the material.

    HERES A BIGGY – If you want a nice fireplace or your countertop needs replaced or whatever… find your local granite and marble place. They usually have a pile of pieces that just got to the dump. The pile at our small store reaches 10 feet high, 12 feet wide and at least 40 feet long… you have to sort through, but they can make beautiful cutting boards, counter tops, fireplaces, window sills, etc. I even use small pieces as my garden markers to make sure I don’t walk on my perennials!

    … hope this gives you all some added places to find some raw materials!

  • Josephine says:

    We have been homesteading in rural NH for years now. But my husband has taken deathly ill. Basically it’s his lungs and related stuff. He is now on oxygen and has no energy or strength. We haven’t even put in a garden this year. We need so much work done around the house inside and out. I am doing what I can, but I also have health issues, truthfully it is exhausting driving him to doctors appointments including trips to Boston to see a doctor there.

    Because of his lung issues the doctor insisted we give away our chickens and farm animals (they thought he might have farmer’s lung) So we are just depressed, and feel so discouraged.

    At this point, my husband does not think he will live another year. I just want to cry!

    Sorry to whine, but with money tight, it is hard to high anyone to help. I think we need a weekend with a team of strong folks to get the house together on the outside at least.

    How do you deal when you health just fails you?

    • Anonymous says:

      Could you partner with a young couple you know that would like a garden and not have the room. Maybe some one you know could take your chickens but keep you supplied with eggs. Do you know any teenagers that might like to help you out around your place. Best wishes being sent your way.

    • Crystal says:

      1) Have faith. Contact your church (or the local ones in your area)… maybe some young strong men at the church will be willing to offer their services?

      2) Turn to youth. Maybe there is a college nearby some kids want to learn homesteading but don’t know where to start? If their is a horticulture program, they might require internships?

      3) Consider your land as valuable. You could lease the land to a homesteader who has no place to homestead right now and split the bounty, his/her/their work and your land?

      4) Maybe try to see some alternative health professionals IN ADDITION to your normal doctor’s and specialists. Sometimes a thing looks complicated, but really isn’t hard to cure with nature supporting your immune system. They may have some insight into ways you can nourish yourself while you heal.

      5) Sell your eggs life you can. I know in NC you can sell up to 30 dozen per week without grading them. Maybe see if you can hook up with a local farm that offers a CSA but doesn’t have eggs. What a great addition to their CSA! Maybe that could offer you enough money to pay someone once a week to help with the garden, help around the house etc.

      6) It’s also possible that an already existing homestead is running out of room and needs more space. You could offer use of your land in exchange for some of the goods and a little money for the land to help go toward fixing the place up. Or, you could just let them use the land for bounty and exchange for some maintenance.

      I hope this helps Josephine! Many blessings to you and your husband!

    • Chuck Vick says:

      I’m not a homesteader as yet. I’ve often thought about it though. I have lived through illness and death though. I was a success minded, always working constantly. I was in my mid fifties with my own estate planning firm making mid six figures when life dealt some heavy blows. My business went away due to things beyond my control and then my health stopped any chance I had to get going again. My wife and family stayed strong as we literally lost everything. The family home that we’d built, the cars, everything. Everything that is except our family. Four kids, high school age and two cats, we were homeless! My wife managed to get a little help from her Dad and we finally found a place for us all to stay dry. My wife of 32 years pushed me around from one doctor to the next in a wheel chair. I finally got to the point where my illnesses were not cured, but under control and I could manage getting around on my own with a little help but then my world collapsed. My dear wife was diagnosed with stage four cancer and died three months later. The family is still very close. That was three years ago and I can tell you that it’s something that doesn’t go away but what I’ve found is that I’ve had to look outside myself and the problems. It’s hard but every time I start to give up I hear my wife telling me that I’d better not or she’ll kill me! So I keep on, day by day.

      • Kendra says:

        Chuck,

        I’m so sorry to hear of all the hardships you’ve endured over the last few years. Your wife would be very proud of you to know that you choose to stay strong when it would be easier to just roll over and give up. I pray that peace and purpose find their way into your life.

    • Kendra says:

      Josephine,

      I’m so sorry you guys are struggling with such debilitating health issues. I wish I lived close by so I could come and help!

    • tim h. says:

      I’m 55 and on disability from a work related accident. I am going through the same struggle. That once a month check every 4-5 weeks can be a long dry spell. I am trying to find pallets to build with but since the proliferation of these web sites people that arent using them to build with are grabbing them up and selling them on ebay or craigslist. The pallets they were given or stole from a business mare now being advertised on cl for $3-6 dollars apiece.SO I’m looking at new building materials again. It is too easy to get the tail wagging the dog on projects. I try to think of as many different ways to do something and figure my cost.including time and gas and it is easy to spend too much energy gathering ‘cheap” materials when buying new sometimes is actually cheaper. What ever i make i want it to be able to pass inspection and not have the neighbors complaining. That is a HUGE thing to worry about. I have to make comprimises on whether i can physically handle all i want to do now. Start small and grow slowly whether it is a window box of something new to see if you like it first. If no one likes this heirloom vegetable or animal you certainly dont want a 100 or even 6. The main thing is be “gentle ” on your self. You cannot work like you did when you were a kid. take lots of breaks and dont push yourself.Hope this helped.

    • Stefanie says:

      Would you be interested in mentorship? I know a woman who is interested in learning about homesteading but does not have the land available to her yet. This may be a good opportunity for her to learn, while your needs are being met.

  • Amanda B. says:

    Oh my soul! I needed this! I loved the picture of your homemade tomato cages. I have been embarrassed, by the trellises I planned to make with bamboo I cut from my friend’s yard :) Now, I don’t feel bad. I feel like I am being resourceful. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Gina says:

    Well, one serious thing was left out of the list! You need land. Even just a tiny bit….but even a tiny bit takes money!

    • Kendra says:

      Most people have at least a small front, back, or side yard, or a windowsill or balcony they can put plants out on. You don’t really have to have much space at all to “homestead” on a small scale. Even urban dwellers have been getting creative, and are working with the local governments to turn parks and vacant lots into community gardens. You just have to think outside the box. :)

  • Angel says:

    Kendra, I had never heard the depression era phrase “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” How cool! Thanks for sharing and it’s my new mantra. :)

  • Tammy says:

    Thank you so much for this site. Your article has confermed everything I’ve been learning over tne years.
    my husband lost his job after 34 years with his company due to downsizing. We make 1/4 of his income and when your over 50 years of age, no one will pay you what you are acustome to. Long story short, we learned to live simple, we did everything you talked about. From raising our own food and living off of our land. Its so rewarding and I think you appriciate it so much more. Our land was in trouble, but with a miricle, we were able to recover. We dont have alot of money, we no longer have the 8 man hot tub. The pool is gone. Having a big home wasent important anymore. We built the house and raised our family. But keeping up with the jones is no longer a thought. Weve learned how to live differently. Its been really hard. But I thank God everyday. This is the way your ment to live. We have our health and our family. A serine and quiet life filled with a tranquilty of peace.
    I went on a missions trip with my church to tijuwana Mexico. God has been working with me.to the smaller things in life and your site made me see the whole picture all over. Thank you for this confermation. May god bless you as he has me.

  • Kitty says:

    Hi,
    I just wanted to tell you, where I live, we have “big garbage day”. Once a man came by and we were cleaning out an old shed ( now our chicken coop:-)
    and asked if we had any metal. He helped us clean out our shed with his wife and young son. He also told us he had seen some nice dog kennels
    (the nice wire ones that cost a pretty penny new) by the side of the road for ready to be taken to the dump!!!
    You might get some good scrap material if you ask your neighbors what they are dumping. For us (in VA) wee have it once a year around Easter.

    You have a Great blog!
    May God bless you today and always,
    Kitty :-)

  • Celeste says:

    Love this post. It is so true! We started our farm/homestead as a business with almost no money and have been very slowly building it on the income we make from selling our produce. We have been blessed to be able to live our dream of making a living from our farm and working together as a family.

  • Mari says:

    Great reading. Very helpful. I love the pictures!

  • Laura says:

    Good morning~

    GREAT POST, KENDRA…..SPOT ON!

    Blessings~
    Laura

  • Yes to every last bit of this. We went flat broke buying our land, and spent the first four months living in hammocks. It can be done. And you do have wild days of burn-out, of what-the-hell-was-I-thinking doubt. But figuring out how to work around these concerns is so ultimately satisfying, and getting beyond them — getting your first structure built, or getting your first livestock, or your first hot shower on your own land, makes it worth it.

  • Ray White says:

    Kendra,

    With the right can-do attitude backed by sufficient will power we can do anything. But homesteading with no startup money still requires a home. You have to have a place and that costs money.

    But if you have a place, especially if your place is paid off, then homesteading with no money is not only possible, it’s advisable.

    Oh, you may need money for heirloom/open pollinated seeds for your first garden or two but after that saving seeds or letting plants go to seed will get you through. And the best part is that after about five or six years you’ll have plant varieties that are specifically adapted to your local microclimate.

  • Becky says:

    I am glad I came across your blog, Kendra. My husband and are inheriting some of his grandmother’s and father’s land and we want to stop being so dependent on grocery stores. I will definitely use your site for reference when we move onto the property and start the garden.

  • Love this post! It’s a great do whatcha can with watcha got where you are sort of post!

    Happy Christmas,
    Laura

  • Rose Petal says:

    I was so inspired by this article, Kendra! Every part resonated with me as this has also been our experience on our off-grid homestead. You put into words what has been in my heart. It can get discouraging to compare with homesteads where money is obviously much more readily available and homesteading seems to be a romantic novelty. Learning to be truly sustainable with little income means cutting out every expense possible, putting us well outside the “box” of “normal” in some cases. But we have seen an added benefit to this…breaking out of the “box” frees our children to be what God calls them to be, rather than being bound to what their peers think and do.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Rev. Jim Persinger says:

    At the beginning of this article, you stated “there are only four must-haves for beginning your homestead without upsetting your delicately balanced budget. And none of them cost a dime.”

    Actually, there is a fifth must-have and you do need money for it: land. Unless you know of a way to get free land or barter for it, homesteading is out of the question for someone like me.

  • Ivy Tatum says:

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  • Jennifer Caskie says:

    I live in an apartment and I am single. I can’t do homesteading.

    • Kendra says:

      Jennifer, where there’s a will there’s a way! Don’t fool yourself into believing something is impossible. If it is your desire, it CAN be done.
      For inspiration :) –> http://newlifeonahomestead.com/2012/10/how-to-homestead/

    • Lola says:

      I moved to an apartment complex and notice there was an overgrown garden spot near by. I went to the house and ask to talk about the garden. The lady said her arthritis was bad and she couldn’t manage gardening anymore. After a nice visit she told me I was welcome to use the space.

      • Kendra says:

        That is AWESOME, Lola!! I love that you asked about that garden spot. What a blessing!

      • Joni says:

        That is awesome! I am disabled and have a huge yard. I would love it if some energetic young person would come and garden on my property. I would happily allow them to do that. I used to have a big garden and my Daddy taught me everything he knew….well, not everything. Nobody knew as much as my Daddy. <3 But I have thought about putting an ad on Craig's List asking if anyone wanted a garden spot, but if anyone got hurt, someone might sue me plus I don't have a working water outlet in the back yard so I just don't do anything, but I have a small gated spot in the front with a water outlet. Just ask around. And there would probably be people out in the country who wouldn't mind you having a garden on their property and you might even be able to find a small camper. That was my dream, to live in a small camper on some acreage, grow rabbits, chickens, vegetables, pecans, etc. But I waited too long. Don't wait too long!

    • Joni says:

      Jennifer, you can do container gardening if you have a balcony. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Also, if you have family or friends who have a space in their yard who will let you use it for a garden, you can do that. I dreamed of homesteading for decades and worked 60-80 hours a week and now I am 54 years old and disabled and my dream is over. But I look back and think of all I COULD HAVE DONE if I had stopped thinking “I can’t” and thought “what CAN I do?” I have a feeling that if I had concentrated on having PART of my dream, I would have eventually had my whole dream and might not have ended up disabled. Don’t give up! Also, sometimes there are small houses that can be rented for the same price as apartments and that will give you the space for a garden and that will give you a start.

  • Kelsi says:

    This struck home with me. Some of the things we had to buy (like an electric fence for an escape-artist goat) were able to be purchased because of things we didn’t buy (we traded fencing we couldn’t use for rabbit hutches we could. We got a brand new chicken coop for a few dozen eggs. We are paying off a tractor right now by trading labor, chickens, eggs, and information).

    If you have the desire and gumption to go for it, it can be done. I think a lot of people are put off of free things because of the adage, “you get what you pay for.” The BEST goats I own I traded a broken brushhog for because the woman’s husband could fix it and we didn’t have a use for it anymore. The WORST goat I own, and the biggest lesson in my goat pen, cost me $175.

    And I think people are scared of asking. We had a man very sheepishly ask if we would be willing to sell a truck bed we were going to make a trailer with. He was apologetic the whole time. We sold it to him for much less than he expected to pay. What’s the worst thing someone could say? No?

    That’s how we ended up making payments on a large International tractor with a disc implement. $1850, and we have a whopping $300 in the bank with a single income. We looked the man selling directly in the eye and said, “Can we make small payments-but leave it here until it’s paid off? That way you know we have to come back and we won’t just run off with the tractor.” We buy all our hay from this guy, and he in turn buys chickens and rabbits from us. We don’t even bring cash most of the time-a pullet buys a bale of hay and a grown rooster buys three. He knows we’ll always come back. We shook hands, gave him a $20 bill as a down payment, and went back to talking chickens.

    Never be afraid to just go out on a limb and try something new-that’s what homesteading is all about! Setting out from the norm and making it work!

  • Micheal says:

    Kendra, where are you guys homesteading? You are growing things I don’t think would grow in northern Wyoming.

  • Yes! Kendra, I’ve been thinking about this this week too. At the heart of the homesteader is creativity and resourcefulness. We like to “color outside of the lines”, so it’s not hard for us to think of new ways to do things–and get ‘er done.

    I just refinished (a lot) of pallet boards to create awesome oak base boards for our home. If I’d gone to the Big Box store they would have easily charged $2k.

    Never give up.

    (Avis, our homesteading lifestyle started in “the suburbs” when I was determined to be a stay-at-home mom in the SF Bay Area (aka EXPENSIVE). We didn’t have land then and the economy wasn’t good then either. But, we made ends meet…and we were happy. Still are!)

  • It looks like we have already fulfilled the first option; the flatbroke-part…
    Come to think of it, we actually have more! The will, the determination, space….
    But I do disagree with you on some points. One needs money if only to buy the very first necessities; seed, tools etc. Yet I must admit I will not cut corners on these. Cheap tools will fail you and might even end up hurting you! Ever had the shaft of a shovel break on you while digging and slamming into your face? Or an axehead coming off while swinging it?
    And I would not settle for anything less than ecologically produced seeds. But that’s a personal choice.

    Thank you for this article. It helps to stay focussed!

    • Illoura says:

      Since we are talking about starting out while broke, lets look at the things you can do without the “option of going for the best seeds, tools”… or whatever. I’m sure we would all chose the best if we could afford it.

      When I wanted to start practicing in a window box, I simply saved the 1″ of plant attached to the roots of the green onions we bought at the store.
      They grew for 12 months- and I harvested an entire bunch each of the 12 months (the same amount I had originally purchased, except for Jan-thru March when the sun didn’t favor good growth and they were more like chives).
      But I multiplied that one 79 cent bunch of onions 12 x, and they still grew, but since it was an experiment, I got lazy and quit watering them.
      IF I had let them go to seed, then I would’ve had thousands of seeds from one bunch… and so I advocated starting small to practice, using seeds (or propagating and rooting plants) you obtain from any source.
      I spent one entire summer gathering hollyhock dried seed-heads from all around town (not from yards, but from public spaces and growing in alleys, over fences, etc.) It was fun choosing the colors!
      I also gathered many crabapples that way (and off the ground). Because of bears in town, people are not supposed to let them drop anyway.

      I also learned how to propagate multiple plants from sticks of other plants (particularly Russian Sage, which the bees love). Finding seed and planting sources -can be both free and fun!

      • Illoura says:

        Oh, I just wanted to add that I then saved our coffee containers for 2 years and then had free ‘uniform’ colored/sized pots to plant in… as well as saving many of the containers our store-bought produce came in, for starting seeds. (If it had air holes for drainage holes and a lid, and I even saved a dozen or so of the pre-roasted chicken cartons.)
        I agree that there are many ways to think outside the box.

        Even if you can purchase thousands of red worms to create compost tea for fertilizing, we haven’t been able to afford it- so I started with 12 (sold as fish bait in convenience stores), to start enhancing the compost piles.

        Start where you can!

  • Snake Plisken says:

    Thanks for the inspiring post Kendra! While I practice most of what you’ve posted it is always good to have a refresher course.

    My experience in homesteading is a little different but similar to many of the posters here.

    I live in a very large mobile home park and have for 15 years. An opportunity presented itself 3 years ago to sell the home I was in and move into a much bigger ( 3 bedrooms 2 bath ) on a double lot which is 140′ deep and 240′ wide. I now have a lot of elbow room and three, soon to be four raised bed gardens. As long as the gardens have an attractive fence around them then the mgmt here doesn’t care.

    2 years ago i began to have successful gardens and can like crazy all through the summer and fall. I’m very surprised and pleased.

    Can’t have any chickens or rabbits but would love to have a fainting goat for the fun of it! :)

    Back to the point though, my neighbor is kind of a pack rat and occasionally when I need an item he will let me paw through his well organized junk in his barns and more often than not i find what I need. He comes over to my place when he needs any kind of screw, fastener or bolt which I collect and he doesn’t need to run 8 miles to Home Despot.

    Another friend and his wife have a farm and he always needs a hand scrounging wood from old barns to repair his own. We use my flat bed pickup, he pays for gas and I get to pick some of that wonderful old oak and elm for my framing and table making projects to sell. I usually manage to get a couple of bags of frozen Perch and Walleye as well!

    I try to utilize and repurpose everything but if it’s crap it goes into the dumpster. I’m one of those weirdos who can’t tolerate clutter but keep the useful items organized because i like to find stuff quickly when I need it. I surely don’t need to have A&E channel doing a episode of crazy trailer park hoarder dude!

    I guess a person could call me semi rural homesteader dude in a tin shack.

    I really enjoyed your post!

    Best,

    Snake Plisken

  • Sarah Sunshine says:

    Good hints and tips! Thanks! And salvage has kept us building up our home for the future.

    My boyfriend and I have built up our home so much in the past year. 4 solar panels just arrived and after saving, we finally got the batteries we need the other day.

    We are both self employed photographers, so our income is not great. It takes a willingness to live simply.

    A greenhouse purchased on sale (and with a coupon) is waiting to be put together in the spring. We picked up a half acre behind the house for little more than what was owed on taxes by the previous owner.

    None of us need to raise and hurt animals to survive, anymore. There are plenty of plants we can grow to get all the vitamins we need and we can trade other farmers for what we can’t grow. We can live healthier without eating animals or their secretions.

    Our 5 year plan is to grow all our own food. I’ve been meat free since 1995, and my boyfriend a year. And as soon as we are growing and/or trading we will be living off grid vegan right in the middle of our town! (We have to remain hooked to water legally. But we are digging our own well to offset water costs.)

    While a country home would be wonderful, I think the key is in revisiting the poor and rundown neighborhoods within cities. Breath life back into them and turn them green!

  • Frank says:

    With today’s economy, there are many, many of us who fit this mold. I can see I have a lot to learn on being resourceful. Thanks for the ideas. This give me more encouragement to think of other ways to do wonders with prepping having little or no money.

  • Nancy Duffer says:

    Thanks for the great words of encouragement kendra! We travel with my husband’s job but our dream after he retires is to buy some land, build a cabin and have a garden and some small animals (if we’re still in good shape) lol.You have given me some wonderful ideas.

  • charlie says:

    your post was very encouraging

  • Jessica K. says:

    Thanks for another inspiring article Kendra! I haven’t commented for a while, but do still read…things have gotten busy around my house, lol. I’m sure you can relate! Anyways…I set up a keyhole garden this summer…it was too late in the year to plant anything, but now that it is all ready to go, I can plant this spring. It helps that the kids are so excited to help especially since we are expecting number 5 in Feb. I get discouraged easily and it helps to read articles from people in similar situations. It helps to know that we will eventually get to where we want to be. God Bless!

  • Debbie says:

    Your article was such an inspiration, I find myself so discouraged many times for lack of money to do things that need to be done. This is by far the most encouraging article I have read that gives insight on the focus of making do with what you have and most of all for feeling grateful for small things. God Bless you for sharing this, I am now looking at various places to find things that I would never have thought of before, now I have a new path, and it is thanks to you for these wonderful ideas you shared.

  • Well said, Kendra! We too have a very low income and use lots of these techniques to get what we need. People are always giving away free stuff, and homemade stuff, as well as getting materials off the land, is very, very doable. A couple of summers ago, we pulled a bunch of bigger rocks/small stones from our land and made a beautiful fire pit area for about $100 for the cost of the river pebble surrounding and inside the rocks that made up the boarder of the pit and the outer edge. My brother built a fire pit this year to the tune of several thousand dollars. Our fire pit might not fit in his more upscale neighborhood, but it holds a fire just fine. :-)

    • Kendra says:

      That’s what I’m talking about, Laurie! We did the same thing- built a fire pit in our front yard from rocks we dug up from around an old homesite here on our property. Working with your hands, within your means, is incredibly satisfying. Thanks for sharing! Keep up the great work :)

  • Amanda says:

    Such a great post Kendra!

    I am going to be beginning from scratch this next spring at my new house with starting our garden and orchard. I have two raw acres of land to work with and no plans yet.

    We cannot have chickens or bees on our suburban land (currently) due to covenants, but I have a feeling this may change in the future! Right now I am excited to spend the winter planning the garden space and how we can make an orchard work. I would love to have it yield a profit for us down the road, but currently, I just want fresh, organic fruits for my family.

    Such great advise on how to find free plants and bartering for items. I plan on reviewing this post over and over again as I go about planning my projects and reminding myself how beautiful my garden can be using recycled items!

  • Jo Reliime says:

    WELL SAID! Thanks for this . . . a truly useful, inspirational, and applicable read. Thank you so much for all the thoughtful time & effort you put into writing it! Blessings to you!

  • Bruce says:

    Very nice article.

    However I think the most important fact about what you and your husband are doing is guaranteeing that your children, once grown up and adults, venturing on whatever path life has them on, will understand how to be resourceful, frugal, thoughtful and most of all how to provide for themselves.

    We like to think that the internet has all the answers, but nothing compares to living day to day and the lessons being learned on your homestead will never be forgotten by the little eyes that watch everything.

    We all measure success in different ways, some by how much money is in the bank, others by how much they have without money in the bank.

    I envy your success and one day, when they look back, so will your children.

    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  • Amanda says:

    Thankyou so much for writing this.I see where people ask that question of I have no money how can I do this? We didn’t have a whole lot but if you have resources(like trees) you can make just about anything out of nothing.The seeds I think are the cheapest to start with.Then work up from there.@Kendra yep you said it right,we did that too.The price was so ridicously low we couldn’t pass it up,remember,banks don’t want these properties,it doesn’t make them any money just sitting unocuppied.Make a deal with them.One step at a time and alot of patience I think.And if I misspelled any words,you’ll have to overlook it,I just guess sometimes!

  • Useful information, thank you. There is one big topic not included in this discussion: land purchase.
    If one does not own/buy property, there won’t be a homestead.
    Thinking about my two adult sons hit with layoffs/company buyouts. And, how can they ever acquire land in this ruthless economy.
    Cheers!
    izzi~avis

    • Kendra says:

      Hi Avis,

      Actually, I have a blog post entitled How To Homestead Wherever You Are, which discusses all of the ways you can homestead even if you don’t have any land! Is land ideal? Absolutely!! But I firmly believe that you can homestead even if you live smack in the middle of the city- at least to some degree. :) This is why I didn’t mention it in my post. Here’s that link–> http://newlifeonahomestead.com/2012/10/how-to-homestead/

      I will say that I’ve had friends score some amazing pieces of property by watching foreclosures. As a matter of fact, the home we live in now was a foreclosure, though we moved the house onto our own property and sold the land it had originally sat on. Definitely watch foreclosures :)

      • Suzzie says:

        I read to watch for foreclosures. Its sad; people are losing everything they have because of the economy and here people are taking advantage of that. I would love to live on a nice piece of land. I have done all of these things my whole life but living in a suburb ; its never enough . We cannot sell our home for a smaller place. We cannot afford to heat our home; so we do without. We have recycled so many things. I can and put food away for us but its never enough. My husband ( who’s health is bad ) works 58-65 hours a week for a 40 hour base pay; never enough. We both want a simple life

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