Maybe you work a full-time job and are worried that you will not have time to devote to your homestead. As with most things, doing a little bit of research and learning what others are doing will help you to decide if you can multitask and achieve a comfortable life on a homestead and a full-time job you love.
Homesteading With a Full-time Job
There are a few things you really need to understand and come to terms with, that will make you well prepared. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started:
Understand That It Can Be the Opposite of Simple
When you get home, there is not a whole lot of opportunity to sit in front of the television and eat microwavable dinners with little to no chores. There are animals to feed and make sure they are healthy, there are gardens to check on and food to prepare. It comes with the territory.
The goal of many homesteaders is to go back to a way of life that revolves less Facebook and social media, and more with connecting to the earth and enjoying the simpler things in life. Or at least finding a balance between internet time, and time spent outdoors learning about the land.
Understand That You Do Not Have to Define It
A person with a garden, a pond for food, and animals that provide multiple benefits yet have cable and electricity at their house is just as much a homesteader as the one who has the mentioned aspects of homesteading, and chooses to live in a yurt with no electricity or running water.
Likewise, the person who lives on ten acres in the boonies, as well as the person who lives in an apartment can both be homesteaders. The apartment dweller cans their own food and has a garden with two chickens for eggs on the rooftop.
Take, for example, the Frashier family. They live on two acres in Collegeville and allowed the Philadelphia Inquirer to follow them in 2010, as their children fed the chickens in the morning and after work, the husband went to the beehive to pull honey from the hive. Yet they have internet and iPhones. They take vacations, though few and far between as finding a house sitter is more difficult. Their reasoning for this lifestyle: Better food.
Basically, homesteaders have no stereotype and we recognize that everyone’s story is different.
Understand That Not Everyone Will Agree With Your Pursuits
If you are an urban or suburban homesteader, there is a good chance that your neighbors or even your spouse will not fully understand this lifestyle you have picked up. For your spouse, do not make them join you in the work but let them enjoy the rewards and there is a good chance they will come around. As for the neighbors, make sure you are within your city's limits with all that you do and when they ask why you kill those sweet pigs, hand them a piece of bacon.
Understand Your City's Ordinances
One of the most exciting things to happen in a while was when Austin began to allow, even pay for, chickens in their citizens’ backyards. Their reasoning for this is they are trying to go zero waste and chickens provide compost through their manure and eggs. Go to a training class and the city will pay a seventy-five dollar reimbursement fee.
Other cities are getting on board with this as well as other things to help out their citizens. If you live in town, you might be surprised what all you can have. And if your city is not as welcoming, don’t be afraid to stand up and show off what is working well in other areas!
If you decide you want to take on the task, start with what you know. If you don’t know a lot, I recommend checking out a few books and doing some research. Once you have the basics down, get your hands dirty. After you’ve managed to successfully maneuver those aspects, then go for the next thing on your homestead to do list!
There are many aspects of planning I could go into here. To start with it is important to have a calendar available to write down any important events coming up both in and outside of the homestead. This way you know when you will need a house sitter or when the new equipment will be at the farm and you have time to plan ahead.
Another great planner to have is a garden notebook. This notebook will help you to know what you dealt with the year before. For example, you begin to plant your tomatoes but before you do, you refer back to last year’s notebook and remember that you need to pick up some diatomaceous earth before you get started in order to help with critter control.
This goes hand in hand with planning but knowing where your things are will be helpful in saving time. We all know that feeling of having lost our keys on a day when we are already running late, imagine losing a tool when working on a big project or having a customer come by with everything strung out.
Start with an Animal that is Fairly Easy
It’s best to not get discouraged when trying this homesteading gig. Finding the animal that is best for you is a good idea. I will say, there is a reason that chickens were recommended by Austin. These animals are easy to take care of and make pretty great pets.
Are you looking for an added benefit? Most lay eggs three hundred and thirty days out of the year! One of the most important things to worry about with chickens is predators.
Use Your Time in the Kitchen Wisely
The kitchen is one of my favorite places to be but with so many other things to do, I recognize that I cannot be in there all the time. So when I cook, I make extra and freeze it. In my household, I have to do that before I even dish out meals or seconds will turn into thirds and I end up with nothing left.
Another idea is to have a kitchen day one day a week. This is better for those who do not prefer to be in the kitchen. Set aside a day of the week that you can devote three or four hours to making all of your meals for the week in advance. Make them and freeze the ones you will eat later in the week, refrigerate the ones that will be used in the next two or three days.
You might still want to make more than just a week’s worth of food so that way in three weeks or so you will not have to have that three-hour stint of cooking and can enjoy a week of heat-up and go.
Build Raised Beds for Your Garden
Raised garden beds help make life a little bit easier by keeping pathway weeds out of your soil, providing good drainage, and are a barrier to plant pests such as snails. This means that once the beds are up and the soil is in, you can plant, nurture and pick without having to worry about the hassle that regular gardens might deal with.
If you’re worried about having to figure out how to make a great raised bed, here are forty-two different ideas.
Create Your Own Watering System
My husband did this for me last year and it was very beneficial. In Texas, we have really dry times during the summer. It was nice when I came home from work to be able to turn on the watering system for the garden and go check on the animals, come back and turn the water off.
Ours is an overhead watering system made alongside an A-frame. The total cost of the project was about thirty dollars.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Is one of your goats an escape artist? Purchase a camera system and check on them throughout the day to see just how that animal is getting out. This could save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Once that problem is solved you could always move it to another area to fix another issue that is happening while you are not around. It could also help you find that predator getting your chickens!
Maybe you make a fantastic loaf of bread but need help putting fence panel up. Offer to make a loaf or two in exchange for someone coming over to help you get the tasks done that are too daunting or just not your area of expertise.
Likewise, this would be good for if you have to go away for a trip – you could offer to let someone get any food from your garden if they come water it twice a day. This worked well for me when I had to take a business trip to Colorado last summer. The only thing my garden sitter really wanted was that great smelling lettuce… which had me totally confused until I realized she was talking about basil.
Decide what works for you
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to know what works for you and what doesn’t. This will come with time, practice and knowledge. Deciding to start a homestead, for whatever reason, while working full-time means getting to see the fruits of your labor in more ways than one!