Homesteading Dreams (Ranch and Stetson Optional)

One of my dreams is to live on a farm, grow all kinds of things, and raise some animals. Specifically, chickens! Cute little chickens running around? Fresh eggs every morning? Yes, please!

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A few months ago my husband and I decided to sell our house and move into an apartment. Just until we decide where we want to live and what type of home will best suit our family. Plus the market was just begging us to capitalize on selling our home (read more about that here). Moving into an apartment kind of goes against the ideology of homesteading.

I grew up reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Anyone else? I cannot wait to introduce these books to my daughter. I think this book series is partially to blame for my desire to live a homesteading lifestyle. Maybe not bouncing through fields on a wooden-wheel wagon, or putting your clothes out to “dry” (AKA freeze) on a clothesline in January in the Midwest, or the lack of modern medicine…

What DOES sound ideal is the more simple way of living. No one was caught up in the 9-5 grind (that we all know is way more than just 9-5), traffic, being annoyed at an obnoxious family member on social media, or losing a phone charger…

Here are some tips to be more self-sufficient, even if you don’t have the luxury of wide open spaces…

5 Homesteading Tips (Regardless of the Type of ‘Home’ You Have)

  1. Have a small/medium/extra small herb garden in your kitchen

    Start a small container garden in your kitchen (or somewhere else in your home). Just grow a couple types of herbs, no need to over-do it right out of the gate. Make a list of 2 or 3 types of herbs you use regularly. Do some research to be sure they will all grow together well in the same container. (Some plants can live side by side with no problems, some will enhance the growing abilities of the other, and some will straight up kill each other – do your research before investing.)

    If you don’t have a sunny location to keep them (like me), try an LED Grow Light on your kitchen counter. This is the one I have and I really like it. I’m sure the neighbors are suspicious.

  2. grow some vegetable- or fruit-bearing trees

    You would probably be surprised to know how many veggie and fruit-bearing trees come in a dwarf/container sized variety that you can grow in your home. (Even when the climate wouldn’t normally support that type of tree.) I’m currently growing a Meyer Lemon tree in mid-Michigan. I’ve had two harvests so far and have had the tree almost two years. I hear that as the trees mature they bear more fruit, up to twice a year!

Not only will you be producing your own food, some of these items can be quite a luxury (i.e. you won’t have to justify purchasing them at the grocery store).

3. Embrace the essential oil movement

I’m really getting into the essential oil obsession right now. I am the first person to say that I am grateful for modern medicine (I had open heart surgery when I was 7). But I do think there are a lot of times I reach for a “cure” for an ailment that isn’t necessarily the best choice.

I’m not necessarily talking about being ill and avoiding professional medical care. But I AM talking about diffusing some grapefruit and orange essential oils around 2pm when you just really want to take a post-lunch nap (that can’t just be me). Legit. Try it. Work your way into it, you’ll be surprised how much you like it.

4. Make your own cleaning products

I have gotten into making quite a few of my own cleaning products. One of my favorites is my Laundry Detergent that works better than any other detergent I’ve ever used (and I have a messy toddler and a husband). Plus, it lasts SO LONG!!! You can get the recipe I use here.

Another thing I live by is the use of vinegar. Just the regular ol’ white distilled vinegar. (I take shots of apple cider vinegar, too.) I use distilled vinegar most often to clean my produce. Either put it in a spray bottle and spritz away (then rinse), or, what I usually do, put your produce in a big bowl with water and some distilled vinegar. (I tend to eyeball about a quarter of a cup when I use it.) You’ll be surprised how much longer your produce lasts, especially berries and grapes.

5. Rethink your self-care products

I try to find multiple uses for lots of things I buy. For example, did you know that olive oil is an excellent makeup remover?!? Also, coconut oil does just about everything, moisturizer, shaving cream, oil pulling, oh, and actually using it to cook with. And also baking soda will do just about anything, really worth a Google.

DIY Laundry Detergent Recipe

I always liked the idea of DIY-ing things. Even if it ends up being “more work than it’s worth” or costs the same (or more) than store bought. Which, in my life, I usually get both!

I love this recipe for making your own laundry detergent from Bren Did, and I think you will, too. It is so easy to make, and costs around $10. My first batch lasted me FIVE MONTHS…. and I have a husband and a toddler. So, that’s pretty legit.

All of the ingredients are easy to find at the grocery store or Amazon.

I modified (slightly) Bren’s recipe, and here it is:

RECIPE

1 box of Super Washing Sodahere

4lbs. of Baking Soda, here

4 bars of Kirk’s Original Castile Soap, here

1 – 3lb Container of OxiClean Odor Blaster, here

I pull out my big Thanksgiving stuffing-making bowl and get to work. I grate the soap on an inexpensive cheese grater, like this one. I liked the idea of having a separate grater for my crafting/DIY projects. I know it’s just soap, but I didn’t want it mixing with my food.

Grate up your bar soap and mix it in with all of your other ingredients. This is where that BIG bowl comes in handy.

I use a whisk and a spatula to fold and whisk together all of the ingredients. I would also suggest some kind of mask, because the dust will get to you. My husband says I look like a scene from Breaking Bad when I’m mixing my soap up!

Next, I use a funnel to pour it into a pretty flip-top seal-able jar. You want to make sure it stays sealed. I used my Cricut to cut out vinyl letters that say “Laundry Soap”. That was one of my first Cricut projects. I use one 2 Tablespoons per load. (I received a 2 TB. measuring spoon as part of a wedding gift that I never used, so now it has a purpose!) Sometimes I use two scoops if it’s a particularly nasty load.

I know you’re going to love this and it will last you forever. Like I said, I just made my second batch after FIVE MONTHS!