Homesteading Where You Are Series: Make

If you haven't yet read the introduction to this series, you can read it {here}.  Basically, this series came about because many of our blog readers have emailed us telling us they can't wait to get some property so they can homestead.  Our response?  Please, please, please don't wait for property.  Many people will live in town, or a condo or an apartment, etc. their whole life and still homestead.  Homesteading doesn't mean you have to live on 50 acres and raise animals but, rather, it's about living a homemade life.  You decide the depth to which you live homemade.

In the comments of the first post of this series the Accidental Homestead Housewife reminded me of a very good point.  If you wait until you have property and then try to immerse yourself into all things homesteading, you'll become frustrated and quite possibly burn out.  It can be overwhelming.

Change Your Mindset
This week we're talking about all things homemade.  When we first made the decision to live a homemade life, we didn't really know what we were getting into.  We did know we wanted to see if there was an alternative to the typical high-cost/high-waste/high-stress American way of life. {for the record, there is  :-)}

I spoke in the first post that we began our journey in a condo in town.  I began reading about self-sufficient living and trying to determine what types of things we planned on doing and what we would likely never do.  Then, armed with a list of things I'd like to learn or do, I began researching, little-by-little, to try and change my thought process. 

For instance, let's say I chose to grow my own herbs and with them, make my own herb mixes from scratch.  It would be easy, if for some reason the herbs didn't grow, to just buy them from the store or farmer's market.  I, however, didn't want to do that.  Instead, I picked myself up, researched what I could have done wrong, and tried it again.  Same goes with drying the herbs to make the mixtures.  It's easy, when you run out of an herb mix, to jot it down on the grocery list and pick it up at the store.   I had to change my thought process to instead jot it on the "to do" list to make the mixture rather than buying it.

Make An Effort To Change, But Keep It Real
If you believe that you must jump in with both feet and change your entire life immediately, you'll likely fail.  Most of us have jobs to work at, families to care for, etc. and can't spend 24 hours a day making changes to our lifestyle.  Be realistic about what you should change.

When I first felt the need to begin making changes and wrote that first list, it had a whole lot on it.  I had all kinds of ideas - I would make our own condiments, bread, pasta, jams, jellies, grow everything ourselves, and make all of our meals from scratch.  That didn't happen immediately.  Here's what did happen.

I jumped in and began trying recipes.  Each week I tried to make something from scratch that might replace something store bought or might become something special I make when I have time.  Lets take pasta.  I wanted to learn to make pasta, so I did.  It's easy, something that I can make ahead and freeze, but the reality is, there are days when I decide to make a dinner that incorporates pasta and I have no homemade pasta nor time or energy to make any.  So, I keep boxed pasta on hand.

A lot of homemade versions are easy, but everything takes time.  Prioritize what's most important for you and your family.

The best part?  You can do this wherever you live and with whatever type of lifestyle you choose.  You don't have to strive to live a homesteading or self-sufficient life.  I make things from scratch in some cases for economic reasons, but in many cases to make a higher quality food product with less preservatives and other awful things in it.  There is a great feeling of satisfaction in making things from scratch.

A Homemade Lifestyle
We have found a number of benefits to living homemade.  For one, we have a greater appreciation for so many things.  For instance, if you grow your own veggies, you'll learn to be grateful for not only the magic of a teeny tiny seed, but also the work involved in growing them, beneficial insects, and rain.  Another bonus?  We learn a bit more about how things work and a larger creative process - making do often times requires a lot of creativity {and patience}.

In order to make the most of your time, I find organizing a lot of our homemade projects by seasonal or monthly lists beneficial.  You can view a basic overview of our daily/weekly/monthly "to do" list here.

What Do We "Make"?
Well, that's an ever-changing list.  For starters, we are trying to update our old farmhouse ourselves.  That's an ongoing project.  Thankfully, my husband is a carpenter/builder and he has built everything we've added to our property {deck, garden shed, chicken coop, raised bed garden beds}.  I have taught myself how to sew and crocheting and knitting are next.  Although I will likely never make our own clothing {although sweaters are enticing}, it's nice to have the ability to do so.  There's lots of little sewing/crocheting/knitting projects I have on my to do list.

We make all of our own cleaners {including laundry detergent}, soap, lotion, balms/salves and deodorant.  I make almost every meal from scratch and try to make the majority of our herb/spice mixtures, herbal teas and tinctures, some condiments and extracts and most sauces and marinades.  We can and freeze a lot of our produce and are still challenging ourselves to slowly replace the store-bought canned/boxed/frozen items with homemade versions.

What types of things do you make in your homemade life?

The Series
The rest of the topics in this series are:


daisy g said...

So many great points. It's all a process...

Our Neck of the Woods said...

It really is all about your mindset! My thought process has changed so much in the last few years and I am constantly thinking about what I can change to live a more homemade life. Like you mentioned, you can't jump in all at once or you will get overwhelmed. Just making small changes overtime will add up. One of my favorite sayings is - it's about progress not perfection. As long as you are doing a little more each season, you will progress!

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks Daisy - yes, it's a journey isn't it?
Tammy - I like that saying!

Unknown said...

I love the way you think! I totally agree! I love that you say it's a change in mindset...for sure! And I love where you say be realistic about what you'd like to change. I know for my family, we'll never be able to go 100% homemade or from scratch, but I'm okay with that. I know that at first when learning about all this, I got soooo overwhelmed with thinking that I needed to do it all! Prioritize, just like you said!

born imaginative. said...

So encouraging! And you do so much...but it didn't start that way. I like how you say prioritize what's best for your family. That really is key.

born imaginative. said...

(I hope my last comment registered, the computer is doing weird things).

Tracy said...

I like that for every different 'homesteader' there is a different story. No right or wrong way, just different ways that we can all learn something form.

Unknown said...

I recommend the crocheting and knitting highly. |I have crocheted off and on all my life and learned to knit a little over a year ago. They both help with my anxiety as they give me a sense of calmness and accomplishment. My knitting endeavors so far are sock, scarves, shawls, cowls, felted bowls and now I am starting my first sweater. I am so excited! Good luck on taking up these almost forgotten skills.

Unknown said...

I like to make my own laundry soap especially since I have super sensitive skin. It is really easy to make a lot of it-all that's needed is a bar of a pure soap, borax and Super Washing Soda. My daughter does it now, it's a BIG money saver. I've also been doing some type of textile arts since I was about eight years old, when I learned to knit on a spool! I do it more for relaxation now but I did teach myself to make socks and designed some fingerless mitts. Clothes sewing is easier if you can invest in a serger, since it will bind the seam edges and cut the excess seam fabric off. ; )