Homesteading – What the Modern Homesteader Needs to Know

Why choose homesteading activities? Some people choose to feed their family or use home remedies to avoid questionable commercial products. Other focus on taking steps to stock up on food or prepare for everyday emergencies for peace of mind. Some enjoy the challenge of learning new skills and getting more exercise and time outside.

Whatever your reason, you’ll find a wide range of resources on the site to help you along.

collage of homesteading photos

What is Homesteading?

Modern homesteading is all about living a more self-reliant lifestyle. Your homestead can be big or small, rural or urban – some folks even homestead in apartments or on rented land.

Common Sense Home focuses on seven main categories of homesteading skills:

  1. Recipes and Kitchen Tips, including Food Storage
  2. Gardening
  3. Preparedness
  4. Home Remedies and Natural Health
  5. Herbs and Wildcrafting
  6. Homesteading, including Homestead Animals and Tips for Country Living
  7. Green Home and Sustainable Living

We also have an e-book titled, “Common Sense Home 101: 7 Steps to Become more Self-Reliant Now” that’s available for download FREE to subscribers.

Get Homesteading 101 FREE

Just sign up above or on the subscription page.

Recipe collage featuring homemade food with text "Common Sense Home Recipes and Kitchen Tips"

Recipes and Kitchen Tips

The kitchen is great place to start your homesteading journey, as we all need to eat. Home cooked meals and home baked bread help you to save money and choose good quality ingredients for your table. Along with food, we also have some recipes for personal care items like salve and deodorant, and ferments such as dandelion wine. To make your kitchen work a little easier, I also share some of my favorite kitchen tips, such as handy substitutions and natural stove cleaners.

Click here to visit the recipes and kitchen tips page.

Food Storage

Once the harvest starts coming in, you’ll want to preserve your bounty to enjoy year round. Even if you don’t have a garden, buying bulk seasonal produce and preserving it at home can be a great option for stocking your homestead pantry.

Home Food Preservation – 10 Ways to Preserve Food at Home

How to Can Food at Home – 8 Steps for Safe Canning

Home Food Drying – 6 Things You Need to Know to Dehydrate Food at Home

Home Freeze Drying – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Long Shelf Life Foods – What Lasts Best (with Chart)

Root Cellars 101- Root Cellar Design, Use and Mistakes to Avoid

Above Ground Root Cellars

Build Your Own Walk In Cooler with a CoolBot Controller and A/C Unit

Home Grain Mills – Comparison of Manual Grain Grinders for the Home

View Full List of over 30 Food Storage Recipes

Want to learn how to start a garden? We'll take you through gardening for beginners, from planning your garden to harvest, for stress free gardening.

Gardening

The homestead garden is a keystone of many homesteading efforts. Whether you’re growing herbs on a windowsill or maintaining a large garden with perennial trees and shrubs, there’s nothing quite like the taste of your home grown produce.

Growing your own food is a completely different experience. It puts you in touch with how fragile and wonderful life is.

Growing vegetables is a HUGE part of our homestead. We have an assortment of annual gardens, as well as fruit and nut trees, brambles, shrubs and vines. The garden related posts can be viewed on the Gardening page, and are sorted into the following categories:

Visit the Gardening Page for the Full List of Over 70 Gardening Posts

Preparedness

Preparedness

What’s now called “prepping” used to be normal life for many homesteaders of the past (and present). It’s common sense to take steps to prepare your home and family for likely emergencies such as power grid failure, job loss, storms, water contamination and more.

View our full list of preparedness posts.

Home Remedies and Natural Health

Home Remedies and Natural Health

Live is full of bumps and bruises, tummy aches and other minor illnesses. With a little know-how, you can treat many common ailments with items from your garden or pantry. There are also many daily wellness choices that improve your quality of life. The Home Remedies and Natural Health posts are grouped into the following topic areas:

Herbs and Wildcrafting

Herbs and Wildcrafting

I was introduced to the herb featured in my logo (Common Plantain) by my grandmother, many years ago. Unfortunately, grandma didn’t know about the wonderful healing powers of the plant, only that it was called “medicine leaf” by some Native Americans. Thankfully, I eventually met some great mentors who helped me learn how to use wild plants for food and medicine (wildcrafting). It’s amazing to find out what’s waiting right in your backyard. You can read about how to identify and use over 40 common weeds in the Weekly Weeder series.

homestead with outbuilding and greenhouse and pond in foreground

Homesteading

Common Sense Home is all about using sound judgment to be more self-reliant. There is always more to learn. Even after all these years, I’m only scratching the surface of my wish list of homesteading skills. I look forward to learning and growing together. Leave a comment and let me know if there’s a topic you’d like covered, or share your homesteading story.

How to Homestead (Not Quite) Like Grandma Used to Do

Homesteading Resources – my favorite resources from my site and around the internet, including bulk food suppliers and online nurseries featuring cold hardy plants

A Homestead Night Before Christmas

Future Food – Not One Solution, But Many, for How to Feed the World

Become More Self-Reliant – Start Here

How to Make Maple Syrup

Kevin’s Quality Clothespins -The Best Clothespins You’ve Ever Used

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy a Wood Burning Stove

How to Build a Burn Barrel – Burn Trash Safely

vintage cast iron before and after restoration

Cast Iron

Tips for Cooking With Cast Iron

How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

Restore Old or Damaged Cast Iron

Home Business and Home Computer Safety

Sole Proprietorship vs LLC – Are all Your Eggs in One Basket?

Rural Internet Options – A Comparison of Rural Internet Services

Why is my Internet Slow? 10 Troubleshooting Tips for Faster Internet

Homestead Laws, Taxes and Exemptions and the end of the Homestead Act

homestead with outbuilding and greenhouse with pond in foreground

Homestead Animals

There’s a running joke that says chickens are the “gateway animal” for homesteaders, and there’s no denying the excitement of picking your first home raised egg. For those who have smaller spaces or need quieter critters, aquaponics or rabbits may be a better choice. With a little more space, you may want to add larger poultry and ruminants like goats.

Introduction to Aquaponics: Growing Fish and Vegetables Together

7 Reasons You Need Homestead Bees

Start Beekeeping – Basic Supplies and Getting Bees

Vermicomposting – How to Start an Earthworm Bin for Composting

Ducks and Geese

Introduction to our Runner Duck Crew at Ice Station Duck Patrol

Duck Pest Control – Working with Ducks in the Garden

Do Ducks Need a Pond?

What do Ducks Eat? (and What They Shouldn’t Eat)

Ascites in Ducks – Treating Miss Emerald for Water Belly

Homestead Geese – Easy to Care for Barnyard Protectors and Weed Eaters

What to feed chickens and what not to feed chickens to keep your flock happy and healthy. Includes favorite healthy chicken treats and high risk foods.

Chickens

What to Feed Chickens – Do’s and Don’ts for a Healthy Chicken Diet

Quick Lock Chicken Door – Predator Resistant, Easy Latch Open or Closed

Best Laying Hens – For Beginners, White Eggs, Brown Eggs

When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs? (and Why They Stop)

Chicken Nesting Boxes – What You Need for Happy Hens

Bird Flu Busters – 5 Strategies for a Healthier Flock

Chickenpalooza! An Awesome List of Homestead Chicken Resources

Meat Chickens – Best Breeds, Care, and Troubleshooting Tips

Top 7 Tips for First time Chicken Owners

How to Raise Chickens Cheaply – Tips for Raising Chickens on a Budget

Why We Won’t be Raising Heritage Meat Chickens Next Year

50 Do-It-Yourself Projects for Keeping Chickens

Goats for Sale - 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying GoatsGoats

Getting Started with Homestead Goats – choosing the right breed, basic goat care (food, water, shelter and fencing), additional goat resources

Keeping Homestead Dairy Goats – What age dairy goat should you get? Breeding your dairy goat, Basic pregnancy Care, Kids and Weaning, Basic milking procedures and milk handling.

Goats for Sale – 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Goats

Rabbits

Rabbit Breeds, Basic Rabbit Care and Interesting Rabbit Facts

Meat Rabbits – What You Need to Know About Raising Rabbits for Meat

What do Rabbits eat? (Includes Printable List)

Raising Pastured Rabbits – Book Review and Recommendations

Homestead Open House

Green Home and Sustainable Living

Many people equate homesteading with off grid living and solar power. Being completely off grid may be a great option for some, but you don’t have to go completely off grid to start using some solar options in your home. You can also choose less toxic cleaners and other products to reduce your environmental impact. “Green” topic areas on the site include:

Collage of homesteading image with text overlay, "Homesteading - What the Modern Homesteader Needs to Know"

Originally published in 2012, last updated in 2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

102 Comments

  1. Do you have a “Classifieds” section that I missed. It could be a great resource for newbies and old hands alike.

  2. Hello,

    I am writing to you for two reasons… First I am loving your site. I am finding such great content and I am so glad you are inspiring people toward learning real life skills! Secondly, I would love to feature you as an expert on my online interview series called Living off the land.

    You will be promoted to a minimum of 100,000K people who desire learning more of these types of skills without needing to move into the bush! I am focusing on helping people feel empowered to source out more of their own food. I think you would be an obvious great fit!

    In addition to helping so many people, growing your reach and building your list, you will also have the opportunity to promote your complimentary gift.

    This summit will be short 30 minute video interview launching November 5th 2018.

    I love your vision and think your insight would be of great value.

    Please let me know if this is something you would be interested in.

    All the best,

    Nichole

  3. Hello, thanks for accepting my subscription . Am in Kenya . Have a farm of size 0.6 ha . Am planning setting up a homestead. please sent me e-book on homesteading .
    Thanks

  4. Wow! I can’t believe all the resources and information in this post. I like to browse for new homesteading ideas that I can start for my next project and I just spent like an hour clicking on links and reading about things I would like to start doing. Thanks for putting this together, I can see it’s an older article and I’ve been to your site before but I guess I never ran across this post before. Good Stuff!

  5. Thank you for this article. We’re just starting on our homesteading and gardening journey. Lots of useful info here

  6. What is the best way to cook/prepare a 3-4 year old chicken.
    I’ve pressure cooked, but was wondering if slow cooking for 10 hours would make it a bit more tender. I use it in soups, stews, and casseroles.

    1. Some feedback from the Facebook page:

      Rebekah R.: “I have tried boiling, roasting in the oven, and finally pressure cooked mine. The best results was pressure cooking. I then packed it in jars and pressure canned it.”

      Amanda W.: “Slow cooker is the only way I have had good results. I only can things in my pressure canner and haven’t tried that, but the crock pot will make it fall off the bone delicious. A tiny bit of water and seasoning. It will make the best broth and shredded meat.”

      Arnold B: “Low and slow will tenderize the old gal and make some great flavored soup . You have to watch the simmering pot doesn’t get low on water . the pressure cooker will get them good and tender as well in much less time. This would be my preferred method.”

      Tosha L: “Try brining and then cook at 250 overnight. There are more concise directions online, but I’ve done it to turkey, and it was really good.”

  7. I am so sad that I just discovered Weekly Weeder, will you re-run next year?

    Is there any way to get a pdf of all 49 of them?

    You have done an amazing job of researching all the growing, culinary, and medicinal benefits. A great summary, thank you!

    1. Hi Dee.

      The goal for next season is to update all of them (I’ve learned a lot since I first started writing) and compile them into pdf and ebook formats. I just struggle to find time in the day to get everything done, but I’m working on it.

  8. I would like to take the course of Permaculture Student but find I cannot get the audio part of the video. I don’t want to pay for something I can’t hear. Can you give me some direction? Thanks=

  9. Hi, Laurie…I’m subscribed [Yeah!] but can’t find how to download the 7 steps e-book to get started. Can you point me to where I need to go? Thx…

  10. I subscribed to weekly newsletter but cannot find link to e book. Please help. I am so delighted to find your site.

  11. I subscribed to the weekly newsletter and got the link to download the free eBook (Common Sense Homesteading) but there was an error in download! As you can probably tell I’m not so “tech savvy” lol. I’ve tried to find it and can’t! Plz help lol

  12. I am loving this site and all the info here. Thanks for sharing it! I subscribed so I could get the book but I can’t figure out where or how to download it.

  13. Love this site as we are starting to build a “tiny house” and are getting geared up to be more self sufficient, off the grid, and homesteading. We are getting our food sources and storage going and building our own solar and wind power. How do I get the free copy of your e-book on homesteading. I signed up on your site. (At least it said I did) and can’t see how to get the book so that I can eventually print it on my computer and put it in a note book for when we wont have the computers. Many thanks and awaiting your reply.
    Sincerely,
    Marci

  14. Oh My…You have so much wonderful information here. I am going to be here for days and days reading and absorbing all of it. Thank You. We should never stop learning.

  15. Feel lucky found your site from the Epic DIY Kitchen Giveaway on Delicious Obsession site and it is great. So is this giveaway thanks.

  16. You have a new follower. Love the content… high quality and I will refer your site to friends. Thanks for doing a great job.

    1. Welcome, Frankie, and thank you. With facebook showing our content to so few people, it makes it tougher than ever to let people know about the website, so I appreciate your referrals.

  17. Hi my family and I are going to be picking our acreage from Homestead crossing in a couple of months. We have a three year old and 18 month old. The land we are looking at is in Missouri. Do you know about any resources in the area around Salem or Jadwin? We do not have much for money at all and will have to start everything in September or October. Please any help will be appreciated. With two small kids, its the best and worst time to start doing this.

      1. Thank you we will even be building our house from scratch so any point in the right direction helps!!

    1. Did you make the move to Jadwin or Salem. I live in Salem. We go trail riding on the current river close to Mountauk every weekend. A horse camp called PineCrest.

  18. I am new to gardening but would like to setup one in my yard. it will have to be a container garden since i do not have much space for planting in the ground and the soil quality is not very good.
    therefore i need all the advice i can get to start. it will also contribute to my eating healthy since most of our product are not organic. am looking forward to a reply.
    thanks for the help
    Esther.

  19. Just discovered your site and know it’s going to become a favorite. Already have learned much to help improve my garden. Thank you and God bless you

  20. How can I motivate my husband into homesteading? He keeps procrastination about the whole idea. I feel it is an urgent need to get started. Thanks for any suggestions.

    1. Get started without him. If he’s like most men I know, he’ll either get curious and start investigating, or he’ll feel the need to jump in and tell you how you are doing something wrong. Taking on a task that’s obviously way too much for you may help motivate him. Cooking him a stunningly good homecooked meal also earns points. Both my husband and two boys prefer the taste of homemade just about everything at this point, and will work to get what they want to eat because they know the end result is worth it.

      1. I am pretty much on my own as far as beginning homesteading. I started out with food preserving and then into dehydrating…and then into making my own laundry soap and hanging clothes out to dry. When hubby saw the electric bill after 2 months of NOT using the clothes dryer–we had saved over $200.00–and THAT got his attention. Although I am still wishing he showed more interest and more “on the wagon”; I feel that we are more prepared than ever just because I have “regressed” to what my mother taught me as I was growing up. Food made from scratch, canning and preserving, growing or buying from a local farmer; etc. Lori the best thing is, as wtih anything–small baby steps that will eventually see you looking back over a long and prosperous walk…enjoy the journey.

    2. My two cents….start your garden. When he says the yield and cost savings that may interest him. The fresh taste of food will not hurt either!

  21. Great site! I love anything to do with homesteading. My sister and I just started blogging about lots of those sorts of things too! We’re at littleboozyhomemakers.com. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  22. How about a general list of things you should think of ,about, when thinking of homesteading .maybe a general list of d-i-y-s for all the categories like composting and where you can find information about it, or dealing with bugs and natural or non toxic ways to rid your self of them. Think these topics would be big helps, thanks.

  23. I found this site last night when I couldn’t sleep because I’m excited for our future homesteading adventure (we saw a 20 acre farm last night and it’s perfect for what we need). We grow mushrooms as our business and one book that has been great for us is by:
    Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2005. Print.
    It’s a great book for mushrooms, not just for eating but other uses around the farm. He has a TEDTalks video on YouTube that kind of outlines the whole book as well, “Paul Stamets: 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World”… Just thought I would share with you all. Love your site and learning so much, Thanks! <3

    1. I’ve watched Paul Stamets TED talk and it was excellent! I haven’t read his book yet as I’m the only mushroom lover in the family, but I think his work with mycoremediation is wonderful.

      Welcome to the site.

  24. I hope you could do me a favor and share our dream! We’re not lazy (can’t be working a homestead) but we’re like a lot of america living check to check!

  25. I just wanted to say thank you. You’ve pulled together information on things i’m researching because a few friends of mine and I are in the research/planning stage of homesteading. We’re probably putting the wagon before the horse since we don’t have the property yet but we want to be prepared for what we’re getting ourselves into and this site has become a reference point for us.

    1. There are a ton of things you can do to be more self-sufficient, no matter where you are, like cooking from scratch and using home remedies and homemade cleaning products. If you start with small things now, that’s less you have to worry about when/if you do get more land. Good luck on your journey, and thank you for taking time to leave a positive comment.

  26. Well I just love your site I stumbled across. I’m so excited to go through it a little more thoroughly for more information on the subjects I’m interested in, which honestly is pretty much everything you’ve posted about. Let me rephrase that, go through the subjects I can actually use at the moment since I’m an inner city homestead wanna be at the moment.

    Thank you for sharing all your information.

  27. Hi, I love the information on your site. I have a question I was wondering if you could help me out with. We recently purchased a 6 acre property with 4 different wells. All the wells have manual access, BUT my issue is that the water to the house has a sulfurous content. We are not sure yet if all the wells are the same, but can only assume. My question is if it is safe for consumption? (Human & animal.) We plan on getting ALL the wells tested to determine the exact content, but thought maybe you could give us a heads-up until then. Right now we are using a 5-gallon Absopure dispenser for cooking and drinking. Thanks, and again, cool site 🙂

    1. Sulfur on its own is generally not a problem – our well water stinks like rotten eggs, but is perfectly safe to drink. A well test is a very good idea, as many country wells are now contaminated with various pollutants, especially on older properties with more shallow wells. In our area nitrates are a big concern, due to so many large dairy farms. 🙁

    2. We had iron water in our well. After MUCH research we found the most affordable and the filter system that worked for us (fingers crossed) we purchased from Budget Water “on the line”. Four years and still very good results.

  28. What are the best growing lights to use for indoor plants? I’m looking for lights that are non hazardous to the environment and the people. Thank you.

    1. Kathi – I haven’t looked into this, and haven’t seen anything on it. I do know that there are daylight spectrum LEDs available, and they are very bright for the wattage, but expensive.

  29. Hi Laura..
    Just came across your site when doing a search for Kombucha. You have a GREAT site!!!.. Have alot to read and meditate on as you have much info available. Thanks… Question, on the page about flavoring Kombucha, you have several grolsch style bottles with the flip tops. Do you have a source for buying them. Keep up the good work.
    Blessings
    jo

    1. Jo-Ann,

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the site. As for the grolsh style bottles, I picked mine up at a local home brewing store. Their website is currently down, otherwise I’d link. You may be able to find something similar in your area. Otherwise, Cultures for Health does sell them, or you can find them on Amazon or other online retailers.

    2. I’m not sure what you mean by grolsch bottles–but I have found the ones I call bale top—at TJ Maxx for less than $5. and at Big Lots in Lake City, they have ones for about $3.. When I travel and one of these stores is in the area, I check them out. I have a surplus of the glass bottles with the “flip bale wire top” that has the rubber sealing “gasket” on them. Also Big Lots has a french carbonated drink in the same bottles for about $5. and you have a delightful drink and then the bottle to repurpose. The only problem with Big Lots, if you see something that sparks your creative juices, better get it then because it’s not a guaranteed on stock item …

  30. Hello! We are so fortunate to have some things in place but I am struggling with getting us “ready” to make the big move. My husband works(and we live) in Fl right now but we are also purchasing owner-financed a home and 12 acres in Tn. Our budget currently allows this but we are so tight for anything else, i really need advice on how to slim down and store up. Should we decide to cut our ties here and go “whole hog” into our homestead where do we begin? Is it advisable to do this and cash in our 401k or sit tight until retirement in 7 yrs.?
    Any advice will be welcomed and discussed
    Thanks Laurie H.

    1. I too, lived in Florida but moved back to the VA mountains to our homestead. I answer your question this way. What is most important to you now? This is your present moment you have to make the best choice for yourselves. You will never know if it is the right choice until you do it!.. My advice, from someone who just installed a commercial grade food processing kitchen ( I am the extreme)? BE DEBT FREE! Starting a homestead first class takes sweat and MONEY. If you are broke and you try this you will HATE it unless you go barter system and are patient. I could go on but the debt free part was half of it for us.

      1. Hi Patrick. I’m curious as to why you left Florida. I bought a home near Sarasota for retirement. It’s being rented till I’m ready to retire in 6 years. But I find that living on a gated community by their rules isn’t sitting well with me. I need more space and freedom. I’d like to build a concrete house with solar and have a greenhouse on 5 to 10 acres. Is this a possibility in Fl. I’m from the northeast and don’t want anything to do with winter anymore.
        Any thoughts would be appreciated.
        Thanks,
        Steve

        1. Hello Steve, I left Florida for many reasons. One, I saw the deterioration of my own neighborhood in 15 years from owners to renters. I am a catastrophe adjuster and went through many of an event so I saw Frances, Jeane, Charlie, Katrina, Sandy etc. After my experiences I saw first hand just how unprepared for disasters 99.9% of the people are ESPECIALLY in urban areas. I decided I did not want to fight my neighbors for essentials. I just did not feel safe. Two, I wanted to be debt free and had the opportunity to divest completely and go home to no mortgage, business loans My wife and I owned two business as well. Three, I needed to be healthier, I wanted to eat food that was not injected with drugs which meant going back to my roots and growing my own food, raising grass fed beef, pastured pigs, trout in my river, and building commercial kitchen exclusively to process our food and an indoor aquaponic system for our talapia. I wanted to do all of these things while I had the stamina and desire to do so as it can be a grind. I loved Florida, do not get me wrong, I fished most weekends and 4 wheeled with my modded FJ and off road teardrop trailer and it was nice being brown and tanned. I just knew that for me and my family ( I have two young ‘uns left in the house) that to be able to teach them a self sufficient life that included hunting camping heating with wood, you know living off what our acerage provides would be an invaluable experience for them. Having said this, the two main drawbacks now at 53 is the winters, I dislike cold more than I used to, and the distances to by some basic things, like building supplies ( forgot to mention I remodeled one home that is passive solar, added 1200 square feet to it and at the same time built another 1200 square foot home in a neighboring county as my daughter plays basketball and wanted to play for a particular school, also just started a container home). An added benefit was that my father in law lives with us which is great for the kids! He has Parkinsons so are able to care for him and give him a great life/environment in the winter of his years. He is 83 and doing very well hunting with me, square dancing, reading and enjoying his life. I guess this may sound crazy but it is my life, our life, and we feel blessed to live it.

  31. I love this site!!!!!!!!!! I am excited to find a place to go for the things I have been trying to learn. I wish to be more self sufficient and look forward to reading and trying new things here. Thank you.
    Anne Barnett

      1. Hi. I am new at all this and am very excited to get started we have 1 acre that was a junk yard 15 years ago. We want to replenish it and be as self sufficient as possible. I see there are some great looking books on here but I can’t seem to find a copy of any of the books that are not Kindle downloads. I rarely have access to the Internet and have a hard time with computer screens. Is there any way to obtain a regular book?
        Thanks
        W

        1. I’m not sure which books you’re talking about, as what’s listed on this page is mostly articles from the website. The free subscribed e-book is a pdf, which can be printed out for personal use.