I have always believed that homesteading is a state of mind and that is possible to homestead no matter where you are.
This is why I have truly enjoyed writing the “How to homestead no matter where you are series”. In this series, I have talked about how to turn your apartment and your suburban backyard into functional modern homesteads. Today you will be reading about how you can become a semi-rural homesteader.
What is a 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!
With more acres available to you, you have more options for building your dream semi-rural homestead (Of course, be sure to check your HOA regulations and zoning laws before you go and do anything). But before you start you may want to consider what all of these possibilities will look like in your backyard. Design your dream homestead with my FREE handbook— grab it here: http://theprairiehomestead.com/layout.
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.
If you are interested in adding dairying to your suburban (or urban) homestead check out the Goat 101 series. You will find 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 a 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 fruit is you plant once, and with a little upkeep, you can continue to reap the benefits for years.
Another fruit option is to put a small selection of fruit trees in your yard. Like most plants fruit trees will not thrive without the ideal conditions. If having an orchard on your semi-rural homestead is something that interests you, then you will want to start Planning an Orchard for Your Homestead ahead of time.
Fruit-bearing plants require a little bit of patience while you wait for them to mature, I think the payoff, 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 Extra Produce to Sell
If you have extra room on your property, consider planting more vegetables (or fruit) than your family needs, or consider adding a few extra laying hens. You can build a roadside stand to sell the excess or barter with friends and family. Another option is to get a booth at your local farmer’s market and sell homemade breads, or other goodies along with your offerings of fresh produce and eggs.
Selling your extra produce is a great way for your homestead to work for you and make some extra money to help with homestead expenses. If making extra money with the help of your homestead interests you here are 39 Other Ways You Can Make Money Homesteading.
5. Grow and Sell Cut Flowers
Like growing extra vegetables to sell you plan and grow flowers to sell in flower arrangements. These types of flowers don’t take up much room and there are beginner varieties that are easy to grow. This is also a great way to get a little extra cash for your homesteading efforts while helping your local pollinators. Plus they are nice to look at.
6. Consider An Alternative Energy Source
Many semi-rural homes in our area are adding small residential wind turbines or solar panels to their properties. Adding an alternative energy source can be a wonderful option if you are looking to live a more off-grid lifestyle. A few added bonuses of alternative energy are it can help you live a more sustainable lifestyle and 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.
7. 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.
You may not have the space to dig a large underground room, but there are so many different alternatives available. There are many books and resources out there highlighting all the how-tos of constructing your own old-fashioned “refrigerator”. Just like other homesteading projects you need to get creative and think outside the box. These 13 Root Cellar Alternatives are a great place to start.
If a root cellar isn’t something you can do right now or ever then there are different ways you can store your root vegetables without a root cellar. These Top Tips For Storing Vegetables Without a Root Cellar will help you decide the best way for your situation.
8. A Semi-Rural Homesteader Can 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 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.
9. 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. You can start with simple cold frames, a ready-made kit from a home improvement store, or you can get creative and build your own with recycled materials like old windows and doors.
Adding a greenhouse to our homestead has been a dream come true, but it wasn’t exactly easy to find the right one. After an overwhelming amount of information, we finally found the best choice for us at The Greenhouse Megastore. This family-owned store really knows its greenhouses and can help answer questions about what would be right for you. In fact, this podcast interview with their marketing manager explains How to Use a Greenhouse for Increased Food Security
A greenhouse can extend your seasons but depending on your climate and where you are located you will need to keep an eye on the temperature in your greenhouse for it to work. Here are some Ways to Heat Your Greenhouse in the Winter and Ways to Cool Your Greenhouse in the Summer so that your greenhouse garden will thrive.
Can You Be a Semi-Rural Homesteader?
Do you know the most important ingredient you can have as a modern homesteader? It isn’t land, money, or animals…the one thing that you must have is try. A Good old-fashioned dose of work ethic, motivation, and drive.
Homesteading can be backbreaking, 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. You will be left with a wonderful sense of fulfillment at the end of a hard day’s work.
Are you a semi-rural homesteader? Do you have a homesteading design or plan that works for you in your backyard?
More Homesteading Ideas:
- Raising Meat on a Small Homestead
- Save Time by Using Chicken Power on Your Homestead
- How to Pick the Best Livestock for Your Homestead
- How to Afford a Homestead