How to Set Up a Self Sufficient Homestead

Kate Sheridan

Setting up a homestead requires more time and physical labor than keeping house in the city or suburbs. Learn skill-sets such as beekeeping and basic building construction before homesteading.

Gardening is central to a self-sufficient homestead.


A good watchdog is invaluable on a homestead. He’ll more than pay his keep by scaring predators away from your coop and keeping racoons out of your garden. Fishing, hunting and foraging are helpful activities to extend your self-sufficiency. Know and obey your local laws and ordinances to avoid fines.


Be prepared before you homestead. Gain experience while on the grid by living off the grid for a week or two at a time during each season.

Set up your self-sufficient homestead on tillable land offering access to a self-contained water supply, and where you can shelter safely in a vehicle or tent while digging your well and building your home, if necessary. Be sure homesteading, beekeeping and raising poultry and livestock are legal activities in your community before you attempt to homestead. Think and prepare at least one season ahead. In cold-weather regions, put up your wood pile and kindling supply all year long.

Water, Shelter and Food

  1. Locate the water source on your homestead and store a water supply. Install a well and add a hand pump. Water is the most important asset on your self-sufficient homestead.

  2. Select a safe location on high, dry ground to establish your shelter if your site does not yet have a home. Many homesteaders pitch a tent or camp in a vehicle on-site while building their homestead home.

  3. Site your home or cabin with a full-windowed southern exposure if possible. This will allow you to grow greens and other edibles year-round indoors even in the coldest climates.

  4. Take a year’s supply of non-perishable foods with you to the homestead site. These will keep you fed while you establish your farm and garden.

  5. Prepare for colder weather as soon as you arrive at your homestead, no matter what the season. Collect a bushel of kindling each day during the warm weather. Know how much wood you’ll need to cook and heat your homestead during the cold weather, and plan months ahead in case of an early snow.

  6. Organize your homestead home for simplicity and functionality. Smaller is better when you must heat and cool your home without benefit of air conditioning and central heating. Use all available wall and ceiling space to hang pots, baskets and other items you’ll use daily.

  7. Keep a well-stocked pantry. Date and rotate your preserved and stored foods. Keep an ample supply of canning jars, lids, wine jugs and yeast for both baking and brewing.

  8. Light your homestead home with hurricane lamps. Use the lamps only when necessary.

Farm and Garden

  1. Construct a shelter for your animals even before you build your home. A flock of 20 chickens, a milk goat and two pair of ducks can room together in a 10 foot by 10 foot shed. Provide food and fresh water, milk the goat, collect eggs daily and change their bedding regularly.

  2. Sell fresh eggs, honey, beeswax candles, goat’s milk soap and greens to generate income to buy grain feed supplements for the animals and garden seeds for you. Allow your animals to free range.

  3. Put in at least a dozen fruit trees and four grapevines in the spring of your first homestead year. Dig and stock a spring-fed pond for fish, ducks and geese. Within 24 months, these will provide both food, juice, wine, barter items and income for you.

  4. Plan your garden and acquire heirloom seeds during the winter. In subsequent years, you’ll harvest, dry and store seeds for the following year’s crops. Keep your garden tools, wood saws and other implements protected from the elements.

  5. Construct a garden fence that’s sturdy enough to keep rabbits, raccoons and other predators out. A fence with top and bottom boards with an inset of chicken wire all around is serviceable and inexpensive.

  6. Save vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, hair, grass, egg shells and other materials to build a good compost foundation. Set your compost pile up in a corner of your garden for easy access.

  7. Set aside some of your property to grow feed crops for your animals. Alfalfa will produce three times a year. Grow some corn and wheat for yourself, and grind some for the animals.

  8. Dig a root cellar to store your root crops, apples, potatoes, turnips, onions and other foods. Many homesteaders use their root cellars as an emergency storm shelter. Keep extra batteries, flashlights, a hurricane lamp and lamp oil in the root cellar.

  9. Sell what you grow and make. Set up a roadside stand with signage that tells potential customers what you’re offering.