This is part three of a four part series on why you don’t homestead (and how to bust through those excuses). If you’re OCD or just insist on reading everything in order, you can start here. Otherwise, please carry on. Today’s excuse is “It costs too much to homestead.”
IT COSTS TOO MUCH.
Because Ma & Pa Joad were rolling in the dough, right? No. I guess it can be expensive to homestead, but if you start with one small change at a time, do your research, and do your best to “make do” then it’s possible to homestead for less money.
You’re probably already doing some homesteading and don’t even realize it. The fact that you complain it costs too much shows that you have recognized the importance of living within your means and are probably pursuing getting out of debt, if you’re not debt-free already.
As in all of the suggestions in previous posts, it’s really important to make one small change first, and then another. When you establish habits gradually, you’re more likely to stick with them.
Make homemade playdough.
One of the best memories I have growing up is the time my mother made play dough on the stove. I grew up before Pinterest, so I don’t know where she found that recipe. HA!
Make your own beauty products.
All those beauty masks, scrubs, and treatments at the store are just expensively marketed solutions designed to convince you to put chemicals on your body. There must be a million home recipes.
- Make your own coconut oil + sugar scrub to soften your hands.
- I know I’ve tried egg yolks and beer in my hair.
- My grandmother used to swear by wiping down the leaves of her houseplants with mayonaise.
You know where I’d go to look for the recipes? That’s right.
Drive around collecting “dead bodies”!
Yeah, I know that sounds weird. My mother and I used to drive around neighborhoods with big yards in the fall. They’d have these huge black trash bags full of grass clippings or leaves stacked up at the curb. We would usually ask for them, but sometimes folks weren’t home, so we just loaded them up and hauled them to my house. I felt like I was stealing, so we lovingly referred to it as collecting dead bodies. That’s not creepy at all, is it?
People would scratch their heads and ask what on Earth I wanted their yard clippings for. MULCH! I had a half acre yard, but a bunch of trees that I was connecting into pretty flower beds and needed something to smother the weeds. My mother brought over countless loads of pine straw from her yard and we dressed those flower beds like a Southern Living dream yard. I was so proud of what we had accomplished.
People are still leaving their dead bodies on the curb these days and I’m sure most of them wouldn’t mind you picking them up before the yard debris collectors make their rounds. For the record, I never did open a bag with any bodies of any kind inside. Just, you know, for the record.
You can count me out on this one. Poison oak seems to seek me out like campfire smoke in the wind. But you might like it. Here’s some expert advice for beginners.
Invest in heirloom seeds.
If you buy those hybrids at the store, they’re likely sterile, so no matter how pristine the conditions in which you save those seeds, you’re likely looking at disappointment next year when you start them. Heirloom seeds cost maybe twice as much as the hybrids, but ohhh, how great the payoff.
- First of all, tradition!
- Secondly, the taste of these non-genetically-engineered foods is incomparable.
- Thirdly, saving the seeds properly will give you the same results when you plant these babies next year.
Seriously, grow your plants from seeds. It’s so much cheaper than buying seedlings (that may have been treated with pesticides before you lovingly picked them off the shelf)…I like Baker Creek, but there are many reliable heirloom seed banks to choose from out there.
Dry laundry outside on a clothesline.
Save money on electricity, harness the power of the sun, and get clothes that smell delicious. Solar power is FREE.
Make your own fire starters.
I use toilet tissue tubes, stuff them with dryer lint, leftover threads, stale dried herbs, whatever will burn quickly. I melt candle stubs and drip them over a shoebox full of tubes standing on end. Did I mention these are FREE!
Shop at thrift stores.
Look, if you don’t do this, you gotta get over it. These are so fun and don’t cost much at all for serious bargains. There are even some folks shopping thrift stores and garage sales, then turning a profit on eBay!
Preserve foods before they spoil.
Don’t you hate when food gets pushed to the back of the fridge and it dies a lonely death? I was totally going to eat that last piece of lasagna, but I forgot about it and now it’s just wasted! Freeze extra portions for “free” homemade frozen dinners on busy days. Also, no one wants to eat chili for six days straight. Freeze the extra portions–think, chili when you’re at home alone or chili dawgs when you’ve got a houseful and don’t want to cook.
Or what about that half cup of leftover noodles? But that’s money! Toss it in a freezer container. Tomorrow, you might have some extra navy beans, broccoli, tomato sauce, or whatever you just can’t spin into the next day’s dinner. Just dump it on top of the pasta in the freezer. When the tub is full, it’s time to make soup. Every batch is a surprise. Sometimes it’s delicious. Other times, well, it’s free soup.
Did you make a veggie tray? Keep the celery and regrow it from the base. Didn’t get around to it? That’s okay, cut up that celery, onions, carrots, or peppers and saute in a little oil or chicken stock. Add to your leftover chicken bones from the Sunday roast for some killer chicken stock.
I freeze mine in baggies for making rice, pasta, soups, whatever. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays for a flavorful addition to many recipes.
Freeze the last cup of vegetable soup stock and leave it out for the dogs or chickens on a hot day.
Stale bread? You’re making breadcrumbs. Ain’t nobody got $2 for panko. You pickin’ up what I’m throwing out?
Barter with other homesteaders.
One family builds a fence and two families enjoy it. Maybe your neighbor has a tractor that can make quick work of your half-acre field. Then you till his garden under at the end of the season because your tiller can get it done in half the time his old model can. Whatever works for both of you. Get creative.
Make your own cleaning supplies with low-cost vinegar.
Vinegar is cheap. And it has magical powers. You’ll never convince me otherwise. It can take the stank out of a soured load of laundry like nobody’s business. It can be mixed with things like lemon juice, citrus peels, baking soda, and all sorts of household items to clean, scrub, and shine your home up.
Save & use your gray water.
Uh, I don’t know about you, but in August, my water bill was 160% of what it normally is. I’m saving every drop I can to reuse all over the house.
That water coming out of the faucet until the water is hot is perfectly clean water.
- Use it to fill up your filtered water container for the fridge.
- Fill a glass of water to drink. Are you getting all eight every day?
- Fill your coffee pot reservoir for tomorrow.
Even the water you boil your noodles in or steamed your vegetables over is usable. Let the water cool and feed your plants.
The water that filled the kiddie pool on the back porch is being siphoned off to water plants, too. The dogs even drink it, even though they have a perfectly clean water bowl.
It’s cheaper and it tastes better. Case in point: Tomatoes. They suck in the winter. But come August, you want to bury your face in them. Amiright or what?
It doesn’t have to cost a lot to homestead.
Remember, in order to build the house, you must lay that first brick, and then another, and another. You start with one homesteading skill, and then add another, and another. Soon, you’re the go-to person in your circles on homesteading. You only have to be one step ahead of someone else to be considered an expert.
Have ideas to add? Please comment. I would love to hear your ideas.
See you next time.
To read the other articles click below:
I DON’T KNOW HOW.
I DON’T HAVE TIME.
I DON’T HAVE MONEY. (That’s this one.)
I DON’T HAVE LAND. (Next time.)
And be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss another post or great idea from Owning Burton Farm. Follow along on our debt payoff journey as we pay off over a quarter of a million dollars in debt by December 2026.