First steps to homesteading

danaann_nc(w NC U.S.)April 1, 2004

I am quite new to homesteading. We have always planted a garden. But... Please, I need advice on where to actually begin moving toward a more self-sustaining lifestyle. I will take any recommendations... especially books, videos, etc.

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I began by reading as many books as I could find.
Some favorites:

John Seymour's "Complete Guide To Self Sufficiency," and "The Forgotten Arts and Crafts."

"Gaia's Garden" was particularly helpful.

I am waiting for my copy of "How To Grow More Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts, Berries, Grains and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine" by John Jeavons

And of course, "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. It is a good primer.

Whoops! I gotta run and catch my train.
Good luck!
Eric in Japan

    Bookmark   April 2, 2004 at 6:37AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

There are some "old classics" such as Living the Good Life, by Helen and Scott Nearing -- and their sequel Continuing the Good Life. They describe something like fifty years of living on the land, planning out projects, doing, learning, and values. Another old classic (probably available used) is Five Acres and Independence.

A really excellent practical manual written sometime around 1970 is one titled Grow It!, by Richard W. Langer -- not just about soil, crops, etc but about good decision making, planning, and so on at the homestead (rather than backyard garden) level.

You might also need to have basic technical manuals on water systems, house and outbuilding wiring, plumbing, woods management, carpentry, concrete forming, etc. Look in used bookstores for items like these -- much more affordable. But if you cannot find good used ones, buy new ones -- as you find you need them.

For instance, the standard North American reference book on carpentry techniques is Modern Carpentry, by Willis Wagner and Howard Smith. Even if you decided to build with some exotic approach like bale construction you would still need to know and use many of the techniques included in a book like this.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2004 at 10:56AM
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Go to yardsales now and start buying or asking your friends for the following if they are throwing out:

--Tools (older tools are hardier)
--Wood (there are millions of projects and fix-em-ups on a homestead. Also wood for burning in a wood stove.
--Fencing (for trellising, keeping animals in...)
--Pots and pans--we have found these helpful to put animal food and water in several places. They do not rust, the animals cannot chew them up.
buckets, five gallon or otherwise: you can't have enough of these to store things, carry things. Even with holes, they can be used for slowly watering a plant, planting starts of landscaping plants in ...
--Cuttings from fruit and berrie bushes and trees.
--canning equipment (can never have enough)
--Hens that are being given away because they aren't peak production--they can be the start to your new flock.
--Rope, string, etc..
--straw bales (for mulching, bedding for animals) Best to get these free from homes and businesses after halloween.
--55 gallon food grade barrels for rain barrels.
--old hoses make great drip hoses.

Carla Emery's Encylopedia of Country Living
Rebirth of the Small Family Farm (CSA farming) by Bob and
Bonnie Gregson
Chicken Tractor by Andy Lee
Backyard Market Gardening by Andy Lee
Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
Grow It by Richard W. Langer
Gardening Under Cover by William Head
You Can Farm by Joel Salatin
Pastured Poultry Profit by Joel Salatin
Homestead Year by Judith Moffett (homesteading in suburbia)
The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon
Growing and Selling Fresh Cut Herbs by Sandie Shores
The Complete Book of Herbs and Spices by Sarah Garland
Hard Times in Paradise by Micki and _ Colfax
Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 10:08AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Interesting that Grow It! is also on mid tn mama's list of best homestead books.

The advice about yard sales is right on. Also "flea markets" if they have them near where you live. I got a variety of useful, well-made old carpentry tools from such places -- also a good working chainsaw for $75 (given an inflation factor, call it $125 in today's money -- still a real bargain).

Urban pawn shops are a good place to look for mechanic's tools (wrenches, screw drivers, pliers of various sorts, hydraulic jacks). You need some of these on the place even if you will generally hire the pro to take care of your car or pick-up.

Also, remember that retired guys in the country often do a bit of woodworking (like picnic tables, yard chairs, etc) and they tend to sell their wares inexpensively -- so identify those guys in your neighbourhood.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 10:30AM
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danaann_nc(w NC U.S.)

Thank you all so much for the great advice. I am now in the process of reading some of the books suggested, and lurking at yardsales to acquire some of the needed items. Homesteading/permaculture has been a dream of mine for some time now. I am anxious to begin.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2004 at 10:04AM
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