Homesteading

— Written By

What is the difference between survival homesteading and recreational homesteading? As I see it, survival homesteading aims to provide everything for the family and to rely very little on anything store bought. On the other hand, recreational homesteadings primary aim is to supplement store bought items, enjoy the process, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from self reliance.

The thought of homesteading is a very intriguing concept with a great deal of self satisfaction coming from raising your own food and preserving it for the winter meals. Very few people have the discipline or the property necessary for total survival homesteading. In our grand-parents time, there were usually many different family units living very close together. Many of the different survival needs could be shared among the different family units. For example, one family could be responsible for the bee hives, another for providing the cheese, and another family unit could be responsible for making the soap. Then there is also the need for someone to sheer the sheep, clean and spin the wool, weave the fabric, and tan the hides. Then each family would be responsible for knitting and sewing garments as well as making the shoes and other items needed from the tanned hides. Then, of course, we must consider the herbs needed to have on hand. Many of the herbs grown in the family garden will be used to compliment the dishes prepared from the vegetable garden. The others will be grown, dried and kept for medicinal purposes of the family. All of this probably makes you weary just to read about it. This illustrates the need for anyone interested in homesteading to be realistic about the homesteading venture. It seems that the first step should be to outline your homesteading plan with a time line and a realistic goal.

Of course, the easiest and first step would be to make a plan for the property that you have. Start with a garden plot and plan the vegetables that you plan to grow, harvest and preserve.

Almost every home garden begins with the staples: beans, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, squash, onions, cabbage, peas, peppers, herbs and cabbage,  ust for starters. Also, think about your wants and needs for fruit. A good starting place would be with strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. These might produce enough to preserve. Initially. plans should include your desires for a small orchard. This could be as simple as a couple of apple trees, pear trees, and cherry trees. Again, think of the property that you have and how many trees are reasonable. Keep in mind that for most trees, you need two different varieties to provide the cross pollination needed for the trees to produce fruit. Then with the first harvest, make a plan to use and preserve as much of the produce as possible. Use pressure canning for all the low acid vegetables, hot water bath for fruits and dehydrate as much as possible. Don’t forget all those cucumbers that need to be made into pickles and that cabbage needed for kraut. A pretty tall order for the first year of homesteading I would say!

Then, after a year dedicated to the vegetable garden, if your heart and soul are still dedicated to the Survival Homesteading mode, you are ready to move on to the next level. This would entail your homesteading meat needs. Of course wild game and fishing is one option. Another option is to have small poultry  for meat and eggs. Rabbits and goats could also be added, depending on your energy and family needs. With this added live stock, more gardening space is needed to grow enough grain and corn to feed your family and the livestock. Learning how to make jerky would be an important skill for the homesteader and the need to augment the diet with meat. At this point we have not added in the skills and time needed for the clothing needs of the family. Thank goodness, we are not living in the 1700’s and we can always turn on our computer and get the clothing and shoes needed for our family. Hopefully you live close enough get wi-fi where you live and postal delivery!

With renewed interest in all of the different levels of homesteading, the NC Cooperative Extension Service in Clay County will be hosting a series of homesteading classes beginning in the fall. The classes will start out very basic with Homesteading and Food, Homesteading and Medicinal Plants and Homesteading and Making Jerky. As the Homesteading Series proceeds, additional topics related to homesteading will be added. More information will be coming soon about the Homesteading classes. If you want to make sure that a spot is reserved for you, call the Extension Clay County Center and get your name on the list!

The number is 823-389-6305 or email Teresa Goley at teresagoley@ncsu.edu to pre-register.