Are you dreamsteading right now? Pictures of Chip and Joanna’s 40 acre farm with a pecan or walnut orchard are floating through your head. You have everything planned out to the last detail — even the adorable tin can you will store your chicken feed in. Or maybe you’re imagining you harvesting in the garden wearing your favorite pair of Willies. We’ve been there. We’ve pictured it all.
However, a lot of the dreamstead comes with high price, designer chicken coops, goat pens, and hand built herb boxes. All of that takes time and quite a bit of money. But I’m here to tell you that you can make your dream homestead come to life with less money than you think, while loving all the quirks you painstakingly labored over.
Though we currently aren’t on a huge acreage like The Beard and I dream of, we are finding ways to homestead with very little money. I must say, we are grateful for where we are right now. We aren’t checking the cushions for loose change (okay! maybe one time when I needed to wash our big comforter at the laundry mat) but we are learning to homestead on a very small scale while still putting money away into our tin can savings.
There are so many ways our homestead can properly function, while still having the aesthetic appeal I crave. I’m an artist, not like a painter or anything because I haven’t graduated past stick figures, but a dreamer, a free spirit, and a creator.
So, I digress from my dreaming cloud and I’ll let you in on a few secrets of how to work towards a dream homestead on little money.
Live in ‘less desired’ areas.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t desired by you, but it’s less populated or not yet a desired area because land is bountiful and people are scarce. Thus, the land will be a plenty and cheap. Say for instance, your current area has 5 acres of raw land going for $200,000 with no access to water, depleted soil, and densely covered terrain. Possibly look a little outside your desired area into a ‘newly desired by you’ area for a quarter of the price including a beautiful creek running through the woods, a sunny spot for your garden, and access to a homesteading community. Bingo! We have a winner!
Starting a homestead off with a hefty mortgage puts too much pressure on your dream. Learning how to be self-sufficient is already overwhelming enough. Who knows? You may even like an entirely different state! Maybe growing seasons are longer, location is better, and the taxes are be lower. I don’t know about you, but those all sound like bonuses to me.
So, finding cheap land with desireable characteristics is like the Big Kahuna. But maybe you like your expensively priced location and are willing to cash in 401Ks, children’s college funds, and any other savings you have for the perfect location and your dream property. That’s totally okay too! Promise. But you just might be eating more beans and rice than your counter parts. In our book, that’s not a big deal because we LOVE beans and rice.
Or maybe you’re one of those few lucky souls who inherits your land. I envy you.
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling and give you some smaller ideas how to save on your homestead.
Let nature be your creator.
Whether you need firewood, a couple trellises for your tomato plants, a privacy wall, or some stools to sit on around the fire pit — let nature provide that for you. It’s free. Like no money. Give me a list of other free things and I’m sure you can’t make it over 10 items. If it’s already on your property why not utilize everything you have. Wood is one of the most valuable things your property will come equipped with, unless you buy prarie grass land or old corn fields. Then, Craigslist with be your source of free firewood. I’ll get to that later.
Get to know people in your homesteading community.
This one is kind of like a 4-in-1 shampoo so you better pay attention. Lot of good content in this tip — and not just because I was the one who wrote it 😉
These people will be your free source of knowledge. They can tell you what to grow, when to grow it, where to grow it, and what won’t grow on your property. This knowledge can save you so much time. Imagine if I spent weeks trying to cultivate the soil for citrus and avocado trees, only to find out the plants can’t grow in my state (unless in a greenhouse).
And you know what else these people will give you? Produce. Tons of it. Bags, buckets, truck loads full of it. Because yes they are amazing gardeners and they possibly can’t can, cook, eat, freeze, or dehydrate hundreds of pounds of beets. You may not like beets but trust me, you will start liking them. Again, they are free. Take them and run like you stole them. But don’t actually steal them. That’s mean and they won’t be giving you any more produce any time soon.
Not only are they like a walking, talking, Siri specifically designed for homesteading — they might even give you free clippings of plants. Whether they are small trees for privacy, fruit trees, berry bushes. Those are all going to improve your homestead for free. And usually these are more well established plants than you could buy at the store. So that means by next year your plants will be fruiting. Then you can paint your face with berries, eat enough applesauce to make you want to never look at an apple again, and have a thick enough privacy wall that a fence will never be necessary.
Speaking of free things they will give yo, they might even let you borrow a few of their big boy toys. Tractors, chainsaws, power tools. They are all useful on a homestead, though we all can’t afford them and even if we could that would be a waste of resources wecause it’s not like all of us need our own buses to get to work or need a harvester machine when our garden isn’t more than a 10×20 section in our front yard. Borrow from these people. But also remember to return the favor in times of abundance and wealth.
Sticking with free things…
If you see a pile of used wood, roughed up dressers, or old wire clothes hangers — pull the emergency brake and run like hell to be the first one to make it to the pile! You think I’m not serious but I will throw bows if I have to to get roadside treasures.
Use the reclaimed wood for table making, shelter building, garden beds, whatever. The possibilities with free wood are endless. I didn’t know if you got that point from my nature tip above.
An old dresser can be turned into a rabbit hutch, a 2 hen coop, or with a little bit of TLC can be turned into a new improved dresser, a tv stand, a plant stand, or a dry food storage pantry. You can even refurbish the dresser, resell it on Craigslist and in return you have grocery money for your staples like flour and beans or it will afford you new tools on your homestead or possibly livestock feed that always seems to disappear too quickly.
Thick bendable wire is always great to have around the homestead. Maybe your clothesline snapped and you need a cheap solution so use those old wire hangers. Or your cucumber plants need held up to the trellis. Unbend that wire and tie em up. Or maybe your latch busted free on an animal hutch. Close it up with that wire. Fencing can sometime be easily fixed with wire too.
Never underestimate the free shit you can find on the side of the road, or in a dumpster, or again on Craigslist. Get your hustle and creativity on.
Embrace the imperfections of your homestead.
This will save you time and money. Sometime things really aren’t worth fixing just for the aesthetics. That overgrown brick path can be used to create a beautiful walkway with the right ground cover plants. Or maybe dig them up and create a new patio for yourself.
Follow the Japanese motto: “That when something suffers damage and has history, it becomes more beautiful.”
Your animal pens, coops, and hutches may not look perfect but should function properly.
Build it right the first time.
Not only with this tip save you money , it will also save you time. Trust us. We have been there. We bring the animals home before they even have a place to stay. We’re scrambling all day just to throw some sort of haphazard shelter up over their heads. In turn, we realize it isn’t functional or doesn’t provide what the animal needs and we’re back to the drawing boards buying more wood, spending more time and money on something we could have solved the first time around. In short — do it right when it comes to animal shelter.
Craigslist is your hustle buddy.
Whether you’re finding great furniture deals, free firewood, animal supplies, tractors, or selling your own products — Craigslist is our #1 place to go when we think of a side hustle. Just about anything and everything can be sold on that site. Trucks, breastmilk (which I don’t advise buying on Craigslist), baby goats, furniture, and property can all be found on this site. It’s like Walmart for hustlers! Our kind of place to shop. Make me a deal!
This tip goes both ways. You can find great deals or even free items on Craigslist to improve your homestead. Often times I see free fill dirt, garden rocks, or bricks that people don’t want to do the work themselves so you’re getting it for free — if you have the truck to haul it. Otherwise I suggest you make friends with a truck owner.
On the other hand you can sell almost anything you want. Extra chicken eggs, tractor parts, plant clippings, homemade soap, meat rabbits, pigs, pet rabbits, etc. If you haven’t noticed we love our rabbits, only pet rabbits though because we go back and forth between being carnivores and vegans. You can make more money for your homesteading projects when you sell on Craigslist. Craigslist is kind of like our late night booty call. We scour the site looking for bargains, for flips, or other items we can use or make a profit off. It’s like a virtual garage sale in the palm of your hand.
And I realize there are way too many tips for one article. So I’m limiting it to these first 7 tips. If you’re liking our frugal way of living, keep reading because I’ll be posting how we beautify, harvest, create, and hustle on our little frugal homestead.