Top 6 Homesteading Resolutions
New Year’s Eve is here, which means it is time to make promises to ourselves and then, probably break them.
People all over the world will vow to quit smoking, lose weight, be healthier and more.
At From Scratch magazine, we consulted with our staff and put together a list of resolutions that are perfect for homesteaders, urban farmers and anyone who wants to live a little bit better.
Bonus: These resolutions will probably be easier and more fun to keep.
1- Get some chickens
If you do not already have chickens, get some. Just about everyone interested in homesteading or small scale agriculture can afford a couple or three chickens. Chickens are the gateway drug to farming. They require very little room, comparatively, do not cost much to feed and provide eggs! Just about everyone has enough space to keep two or three chickens (check your local zoning laws).
They are also very entertaining. As highly social creatures, they exhibit a lot of behaviors that are fun to watch and even participate in (try crowing, it will make you feel better, I promise). Just be careful: Chickens are so addictive, it is easy to become the crazy chicken keeper.
2-Buy more local food
Unless all of the food you eat is locally produced, you cannot buy too much. This year, promise yourself and your family you will eat more locally grown and produced food. You can visit your farmer’s market, join a CSA or even grow it yourself, if your budget does not allow buying more local food. Even if it is not certified organic, buying from local farmers and producers is just a good idea. It promotes a greater sense of community, will probably be healthier and helps encourage and support local growers, leading to an improved food supply for everyone. It is almost guaranteed to taste better, too.
3-Visit your extension office
Agricultural cooperative extension offices exist in every state in the United States. The Cooperative Extension System is an education program designed to help people improve their lives. As part of the USDA, the service is provided by individual states’ land-grant universities. The educational offerings are usually agricultural, food, home and family, environmental, community economic development, youth and 4H. Find your extension office here.
Chances are, no matter where you live, there is an extension office nearby that can offer information on a wide variety of subjects, including crops, pest control and more. They also offer classes, which leads to the next item…
4-Take a class
The extension offices always have a variety of classes for individuals to take, usually provided at low or no cost. The classes can be intensive as a Master Gardener program to as non-committal as a few hours. Which means anyone can go and learn something new about sustainable agriculture, raising flowers and vegetables and pest control.
If the extension office does not offer anything that catches your fancy, check out a nearby college or community college. Take a veterinarian tech class and learn more about those chickens you bought. Take a cooking class and learn how to prepare all that delicious, locally produced food you’re buying now.
No matter what, just take a little time and learn about the world around you. You’ll fell better about yourself for it.
5-Plant some herbs
Even if you only have a window sill of space available, it is still enough to grow some wonderful medicinal and culinary herbs on (many times they can be the same herbs). You will not believe the difference cooking and using fresh herbs can make in your life. Just knowing that with a little bit of sunshine, soil and water, you can harness the alchemy of nature to make your food taste better is a huge boost in confidence. Soon, you’ll be growing your own vegetables and looking for land out in the country (don’t say we didn’t warn you).
6-Plant a new vegetable
Again, even if you don’t have a lot of room available, it doesn’t mean you can’t experiment some. This year, instead of putting tomatoes out on the patio, why not try a new veggie to try out? We tried rutabagas this year, and while we’re still unsure of the success, we do know a lot more about the brightly-colored plant.
Check with the Extension Office when you visit and see if they have some suggestions. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous. The worst that could happen is you don’t like it. If you don’t, you learned something new and you have something to add to your compost bin. Which brings us to…
Designate a space, either with a few pallets nailed together, or a commercially available rotating drum, and start composting. Not only does all that great compost make for wonderful fertilizer, it also helps cut down on the trash you might otherwise send off to a landfill.
Don’t just throw everything in your compost bin. Your local extension officer, and this website can give you some idea of what to do.
No matter what your homesteading New Year’s Resolutions are, just remember to engage with your world and community and everything will work out fine. Happy New Year, from everyone here at From Scratch magazine.