Living off the grid and starting your own homestead is about declaring your independence from the modern world. Whether you’re trying to quit your job, get closer to nature or reduce your dependence on fossil fuels, there are so many reasons to create a self-sufficient lifestyle.
It’s not just about going without the perks of modern society. It’s also about being your own person and doing things by hand instead of hiring someone else to do the work for you. It’s no wonder that around 180,000 families were living off the grid in the United States in 2017, and that number increases each year. Homesteading is wired into our history as Americans.
However, you can’t just up and quit your job and head for the nearest plot of land. If you want your new home to be a success, you need to expand your skillset and learn what it means to do nearly everything by yourself and for yourself. Learn these five skills before starting your first homestead.
Homesteading is often synonymous with gardening. Being your own person and living off the land means growing your own food. If you think gardening is as simple as tossing some seeds into the dirt, guess again. Every type of plant and crop comes with its own unique considerations.
Research the area in question and learn about which kinds of fruits and vegetables are best suited to the soil and climate. Learn how to work the land while maximizing your crops’ chances of success. You may want to construct your own greenhouse to expand your operations.
Gardening is also a worthy investment. A well-maintained food garden yields one-half pound of produce per square foot per growing season, which could save you up to $6,000 in groceries every year. You won’t have to depend as much on your local grocery or farmers market. Try selling excess produce to these vendors for additional income.
Living a sustainable lifestyle means letting nothing go to waste. You shouldn’t throw out your food scraps when you’re living on a farm. Use these natural ingredients to start composting. You can create rich, fertile soil for your crops without letting trash pile up on your property. It’s best to use vegetable scraps, grains, coffee grounds, eggshells and other non-greasy items. Don’t use meat, grease and oil, as those will damage the health of your crops. Keep your compost in a sealed container to limit the number of flies buzzing around your property.
Learn what kinds of nutrients your plants will need to thrive in the soil. As time goes on, you can experiment with different types of composting recipes, each tailored to a specific type of plant.
Saying goodbye to the comforts of the modern world also means saying goodbye to your local mechanic. Most homesteaders are accustomed to fixing things themselves, whether it’s a broken lamp or a broken transmission. Some repairs may go above and beyond your skillset, but you should know how to fix common issues, such as a flat tire, electrical issues or changing the oil. This will limit your dependence on the outside world and help you save money.
The closest mechanic could be hundreds of miles away, so do your best to protect your vehicle as well–especially if you’re using it as a plow or tractor. Your car will quickly start to fill up with mud, dirt and excess moisture as you maintain the land, which can lead to rust, electrical damage and even mold. Use truck fender flares to keep the dirt on the ground where it belongs. The sides won’t be caked in stuck-on mud so you can get the job done with less hassle and less mess.
Invest in a truck bed liner as well to keep the back of your vehicle in tip-top shape. Dirt, debris and moisture can damage the lining of the truck bed, which could turn into a major headache down the line.
If you’re not the best mechanic in the world, focus on protecting your equipment to reduce the need for repairs.
If you want to go off the grid, you will need to generate your own source of electricity. Setting up a series of solar panels or a wind turbine can be a major undertaking, so do your research ahead of time. Learn how these different systems work so you can make the right choice for your property. Consider the amount of sunlight your property receives to see how many solar panels you’ll need.
You can always have a professional install the system for you, but you will have to maintain this equipment going forward. A major storm could damage your sustainable energy system. Up your skills to make sure you feel comfortable inspecting and handling the power network if help isn’t available.
Nothing could be more important than your health when living off the grid, especially if you are hundreds of miles from the nearest doctor or hospital. That’s why you should expand your first-aid knowledge. Learn how to treat minor cuts, sprains, bruises and other types of injuries. The same goes for the common cold, nausea, fever and other common medical conditions. Keep plenty of over-the-counter medications on hand, maintain a balanced diet and avoid exposing yourself to risky situations.
You can’t work the land if you don’t have your health. Learn how to manage your health at home so you can avoid winding up in the ICU.
So much goes into creating the perfect homestead. The more you perfect your skillset, the better prepared you will be for anything that comes your way. That’s what sustainable living is all about. Master these tasks before saying goodbye to the modern world.