What we did do was plan like crazy and learn one new skill at a time while we were still living in the city, so that we had some of the prep work nailed (get it?) before we added in goats, chickens, and a big garden (still a work in progress). Here are 5 things we did, that you can do too while you're waiting for your dream property in the boonies to come up for sale.
1. Grow stuff.
It sounds obvious, and it kind of is, but if you're moving from one gardening zone to another it's a good idea to test those conditions ahead of time if you can. To that end, we planted crops earlier than we were supposed to at our last house, to see how they would perform in a colder gardening zone. You could do the same with heat lamps if you're moving from, say, Vermont to Georgia.
Before you get all huffy about this suggestion and tell me that you live in a small apartment, I'd like to point out that almost every home has some kind of windows, and that with grow lamps you can even use a shelf or two on a bookshelf for test runs if you're living in a concrete bunker somewhere -in which case, you're probably already way more skilled than me and should consider sending me your best tips!
2. Start learning to preserve food now.
When the grocery store has their fall sales of 50-lb bags of carrots for $3, it's the perfect opportunity to learn how to can them in mason jars for the winter. The blueberries and strawberries that you U-Picked in the summer can be frozen on cookie sheets and divided into bags for later. The zucchini that your friends arrived on your doorstep with, staggering under the weight, can be shredded, frozen and added to just about anything later on to thicken it up and increase its fiber content. You get the picture. Testing this and sometimes failing now while you're still close to a grocery store is a very, very good idea.
|Also, stock up on egg recipes. These were the first of many, many eggs from our hens.|
3. Get handy.
I'm not suggesting that you get your woodworking certification (although that would be pretty cool), but if your response to a broken bulb or a leaky faucet is to call the landlord, it's time to get real. You will likely find yourself in a situation where you'll need to actually build or fix something on a Sunday evening in a snowstorm, and it will be a lot less stressful if you can use a saw, hammer a nail, use a screwdriver, and have a basic bit of electrical and plumbing knowledge so you at least know about where the problem might lie. Like when your well's pump, located 150 feet under the ground, dies in the middle of January (guess how we know about this one!)
4. Read and learn.
We're grateful for many terrific books that have helped us in everything from finding the right property, to deciding where to locate what on our property once we got here for maximum benefits, to what animals suited us best. The Storey's Guide To series are amazing, as is The Encyclopedia of Country Living and many others. If you can find the old Sunset Books handyman books at a used book store, snag them - we borrow my dad's set from the 1970s regularly.
|"He's got goats in his garden" - no longer just a euphemism around here.|
Besides keeping you excited and motivated about homesteading and all the fantastic stuff that goes with it, you'll be absorbing valuable information that you can apply almost immediately when you start homesteading. Get out as many from the library as you can, read them all, then purchase the ones that really speak to you. You'll want to refer to them time and time again later on.
5. Build your future community now.
There are many Facebook groups and Yahoo groups dedicated to homesteading and rural living. Join ones for your planned living area and begin "meeting" others who share your interests before you move. A community is what will save you when something goes wrong, or when you have questions that you just can't find the answers to on Google - hey, it does happen sometimes! You'll also have people that you can get together with in real life when the winters feel really long.
What tips do you have for people who are getting ready to homestead? Share in the comments!