I don’t know about you, but I’ve totally been enjoying our on-going series of how to homestead no matter where you are. So far, we’ve talked about how to turn your apartment and your suburban backyard into functional modern homesteads.
The semi-rural homesteader.
This is someone who has more room than the average city lot, but not exactly a big chunk of land way out in the country. You may have 3 or 4 acres just outside of town. Or, perhaps you live right on the outskirts of the city limits. You still have close neighbors, but are blessed with a larger lot than most. Can this work for modern homesteading? You bet!
If this is you, then you have lots of options in building a homestead of your own. (Of course, be sure to check your HOA regulations and zoning laws before you go and do anything).
8 Ideas for the Semi-Rural Homesteader:
1. Get Goats. If you’ve been reading The Prairie Homestead for any length of time, then you know that home dairying is one of my favorite topics. We milked our goats for over a year before we decided to finally bite the bullet and get our cow. The goats were a valuable and frugal way for us to become familiar with the world of lactating animals, raw milk, and daily milking. Check out the Goat 101 series for a whole slew of how-to goat posts including Cows vs. Goats, How to Choose a Milking Schedule, The How-To Milk a Goat video, and more!
2. Raise Rabbits for Meat. Now unlike goats, this is one aspect of homesteading that I have ZERO experience with. But, I know of many modern homesteaders that love keeping and breeding rabbits as a way to raise their own nutritious, sustainable source of meat. They need about 1/1000th (my humble estimation. ;)) the amount of room and resources that a beef cow, hog, or sheep would, and I hear they taste just like chicken (haha). This looks like helpful resource if you are looking into meat rabbits of your own.
3. Become a Fruit Farmer. If your climate is fruit-friendly (Our area of Wyoming struggles with that…), plant perennials like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries. The best part about these guys? You plant once, and with a little upkeep, can continue to reap the benefits for years. Or, put in a small selection of fruit trees. While fruit bearing plants require a little bit of patience while you wait for them to mature, I think the pay-off in the end is definitely worth it. Being a homesteader with a smaller amount of acreage gives you the opportunity to invest a little more in time nurturing these plants, versus someone who has all the extra responsibilities that come with having more land.
4. Grow it and Sell it. If you have extra room on your property, consider planting more vegetables (or fruit) than your family needs, or get a few extra laying hens. Sell or barter your excess with friends and family. Or, get a booth at your local farmer’s market and sell homemade breads and goodies along with your offerings of fresh produce and eggs.
5. Consider Small Scale Wind Energy. Many semi-rural homes in our area are adding small residential wind turbines to their properties. This can be a wonderful option if you are looking towards a more off-grid lifestyle, or if you just want to save some cash each month on the electric bill. The initial set-up costs can be expensive, so before purchasing, crunch some numbers to see how long it will take for the turbine to pay for itself.
6. Dig a Root Cellar. After our recent potato harvest (it was a good year…), digging a root cellar of our own just got bumped higher on the to-do list for next year. Root cellars can be a valuable, off-grid way to store your yearly crop of potatoes, onions, parsnips, carrots, and other root vegetables. A root cellar doesn’t necessarily have to be a large underground room, it can also be more of a smaller trench. There are many books and resources out there highlighting all the how-tos of constructing your own old-fashioned “refrigerator”.
7. Farm Fish. If you live in certain parts of the country, your climate might be right for having a small Tilapia fish farm. I hear of more and more folks all the time who are adding aquaculture to their small homesteads. I think it’s a brilliant idea- especially considering that the last package of Tilapia I bought was from China… (and no, I won’t be buying that brand again! I’ve had to start using cod for my Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia recipe.) Check out this article from Mother Earth News for an overview of how to start a backyard fish farm of your own.
8. Build a Greenhouse. Imagine extending your growing season, or finally being able to grow those varieties of fruits and veggies that your natural climate won’t support. Many home improvement stores sell ready-made greenhouse kits. Or get creative and build your own with recycled materials like old windows and doors.
But all these tips aside, do you know the most important ingredient you can have as a modern homesteader?
Not land, not animals, not money…
You must have try.
Good old fashioned work ethic, motivation, and drive.
Homesteading can be back breaking, frustrating, and exhausting.
But those with the drive to push through the hard stuff will discover a newfound passion for the simple pleasures in life and a wonderful sense of fulfillment at the end of a hard day’s work.
Happy homesteading ya’ll!
Previous Posts in This Series:
- Fill in the Blank Homesteading
- How to be an (Apartment) Homesteader
- How to be a (Suburban) Homesteader