Homesteading: From Doubts to Confidence

jalena holding huge head of homegrown lettuce

So, You Don’t Think You Can Homestead? You Absolutely Can, and Here’s How…

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Embarking on a homesteading journey can seem daunting, especially if you have little to no experience with self-sustainability. I felt the same way. Doubts and fears clouded my vision of a self-sufficient lifestyle. But through perseverance and determination, I transformed my uncertainty into confidence. By taking small, manageable steps towards self-sustainability, I gradually built the skills necessary to thrive in a homesteading lifestyle. This journey is not just possible for me, but for anyone willing to embrace it. Here’s how I did it and how you can too.

Overcoming Doubts and Fears

When I first considered homesteading, I was overwhelmed by the sheer scope of skills and knowledge required. Growing vegetables, raising animals, preserving food—it all seemed too much. But I realized that every expert was once a beginner. I decided to start small and build my way up. This is my BEST piece of advice… start small and master one skill at a time.

Start Small

My first step was to start a small vegetable garden. I chose easy-to-grow plants like tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs. This allowed me to learn the basics of gardening without being overwhelmed. As my confidence grew, so did my garden. Each small success built a foundation for more ambitious projects.

Education and Resources

Knowledge is power. I read books, watched videos, and joined online communities of fellow homesteaders. Learning from others’ experiences and mistakes helped me avoid common pitfalls. Local workshops and extension services also provided invaluable hands-on experience.

homesteading education books by Jessica Sowards
These are my absolute FAVORITE homesteading books! “The First-Time Homesteader” and “The First-Time Gardener” by Jessica Sowards. GET YOUR COPIES HERE!

Building Skills Gradually

Homesteading is a marathon, not a sprint. Gradually building your skills ensures sustainable growth and prevents burnout.


Starting with a small garden, I learned about soil health, composting, and organic pest control. Each season, I expanded my garden, experimenting with new crops and techniques. Over time, gardening became second nature. Now, I can grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, reducing my reliance on grocery stores.

home grown food from the garden - freedom forest farm

Raising Animals on the Homestead

Once I felt comfortable with my gardening skills, I moved on to raising chickens. Chickens are a great starting point for aspiring homesteaders. They provide fresh eggs and are relatively easy to care for. I built a simple coop and gradually increased my flock as I became more confident in my ability to care for them. Now, fresh eggs are a staple in my kitchen. But chickens are definitely a gateway into what inevitably follows: raising goats, pigs, cows, ducks, and the list goes on.

freedom forest farm chickens

Food Preservation

With an abundance of produce from my garden, I needed to learn how to preserve it. Canning, freezing, and dehydrating became essential skills. Starting with simple jams and pickles, I expanded my repertoire to include sauces, soups, and dried fruits. This not only reduced food waste but also provided a sense of accomplishment and security.

canning beef stew with the raw pack method

Making the Most of What You Have

Homesteading isn’t just about growing food; it’s about maximizing the resources you have.

Recycling and Upcycling

I began to see potential in items I once considered trash. Old pallets became raised garden beds, glass jars were reused for storage, and kitchen scraps turned into compost. This mindset shift not only saved money but also reduced my environmental footprint.

Here’s a chicken coop we built out of recycled pallets and chicken wiring. This was our old farm in Arizona and since moving to South Carolina, I miss this “hen house” so much! We still need to build something similar to this on our new farm. Currently, we are using an old well house as a makeshift coop. Do what you can with what you have! (Want to see the continued drama over this nesting box? Get your giggles here.

DIY Projects

Building and repairing things ourselves was both empowering and cost-effective. From constructing a chicken coop to fixing fences, each project improved our self-reliance. Online tutorials and community resources provided guidance and support.

Embracing the Lifestyle

Homesteading is more than a series of tasks; it’s a lifestyle. Embracing this lifestyle means being prepared to learn continuously and adapt to challenges.

Connection with the Land

As I spent more time working the land, I developed a deep connection with it. Understanding the seasons, observing wildlife, and working with nature rather than against it became second nature. This connection is profoundly fulfilling and motivates me to continue on this path.

Sense of Accomplishment

Each successful harvest, every jar of preserved food, and each egg collected is a testament to my hard work and dedication. This sense of accomplishment is incredibly rewarding and drives me to keep pushing forward.

My Best Examples and Advice

Example 1: Transforming a Lawn into a Productive Garden

My backyard was once just a patch of grass. By dedicating a small section to a garden, I transformed it into a productive space. Raised beds made from repurposed materials provided a structured and manageable gardening area. Starting with easy crops like tomatoes and lettuce, I gradually expanded to include peppers, carrots, and beans. The key was to start small and expand as my confidence and skills grew.

Example 2: Raising Chickens for Fresh Eggs

Chickens were my first foray into animal husbandry. I started with a simple DIY coop built from reclaimed wood and purchased a small flock of six hens. I learned about their care, feeding, and health needs through online resources and local farming groups. The fresh eggs were a wonderful reward, and the chickens also helped control pests and fertilize my garden.

Example 3: Canning and Preserving the Harvest

Preserving food was a game-changer for me. I started with water bath canning, making jams and pickles. As my confidence grew, I invested in a pressure canner and began preserving vegetables, soups, and sauces. Learning these skills not only reduced food waste but also provided a pantry stocked with home-grown goodness.

Advice for Aspiring Homesteaders

rustic farmhouse decor
  1. Start Small: Begin with manageable projects like a small garden or a few chickens. Gradually expand as your skills and confidence grow.
  2. Educate Yourself: Utilize books, online resources, workshops, and community groups to learn from others’ experiences.
  3. Be Patient: Homesteading is a gradual process. Don’t rush. Celebrate small successes and learn from failures.
  4. Embrace DIY: Maximize your resources by recycling, upcycling, and learning to build and repair things yourself.
  5. Stay Connected: Engage with the homesteading community for support, advice, and inspiration. Sharing experiences can be incredibly motivating.

So, you don’t think you can homestead? You absolutely can. With perseverance, determination, and a willingness to learn, anyone can transform their doubts into confidence and embrace the rewarding journey of homesteading. Each small step you take builds a foundation of knowledge and self-reliance, leading to a fulfilling and sustainable lifestyle.

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