What Do You Need to Start Homesteading?

May 29, 2023

Hi, I'm Paige, half of the duo behind Fairway Stables™

This website is the one I've been searching for, for years; a compilation of knowledge on all things horsemanship, including practical advice on how to start an equestrian business.

No matter your experience level with horses or homesteading, I hope this is a place you can get lost in, and learn something along the way - we welcome everyone from vets, to lifelong ranchers, trainer, to nonprofits contributing.


What Do You Need to Start Homesteading? A guide.

Source: Unsplash

Homesteading is about minimalism, so it’s easy to go overboard thinking of everything you need to create a homestead while sticking to the values of “the simple life.”

But homesteaders are also partially or completely self-reliant, so you do need basics and suppliers to produce your own resources, make your life a little easier, and support your dream.

General Homestead Essentials (the Big Stuff)

No matter if you want to build a foundation for a small-scale farm in the future or you just want to adopt some homesteading hobbies, there are two things you absolutely need: money and land or space.

Being self-sustainable means you have to have some money saved up to take care of yourself and your family. You may have to rely on some outside sources for everyday needs, such as utilities and some food, at first. And there’s a feeling of security when you have a good nest egg and low or no debt.

Take time to prepare for your homestead venture. Cut back on spending, pay off your debts, and start a rainy-day fund. While it’s possible to quit your job and start a homestead without this security, it could create challenges on top of the struggles of learning to homestead as a beginner.

How much do you have to save? That depends on your needs. Consider your costs – both expected and unexpected – to figure out what would put you in a comfortable financial position to make the leap.

The other essential is land, or at least space, to begin homesteading. Urban homesteaders adopt hobbies like herb and vegetable gardens or chickens with limited space, but if you want to live on your own farm with your own land, you will need a decent size plot.

What You Need to Start Homesteading

Source: Unsplash

The Homesteading Act of 1862 offers free land to homesteaders. In some states, modern homesteaders still have the option for small parcels of free land, which is an effort to raise the population in small towns. If you’re looking to move, check for available homestead land in your destination.

Otherwise, you will need to find land for your homestead. Before you go browsing listings, decide what your plans are. You will need a house and space for a garden, at least, but you may want more land for animals, barns, coops, and pasture. The activities you want to do on your homestead will determine what type of land you should look for – and what size you’ll need.

Related: Biggest Mistakes Beginner Homesteaders Make

Essential Homestead Vehicles

If you already have a truck or SUV in good condition, you’re in a good position. If not, you will need at least one or the other, if not both.

Pickup trucks are important for hauling feed or firewood, transporting tools or supplies across land, or moving animals, if you don’t want to soil the cargo area of your SUV. Larger trucks also have more hauling and payload capabilities than many SUVs, which you may need for animal trailers, farm equipment, or moving trailers to transport your wares to the farmers’ market.

Do you need an SUV too? Maybe. If you want to make the investment, it’s a good idea to have a pickup for the big jobs and a smaller SUV for daily driving and smaller tasks, such as moving small equipment or items that you want to keep protected from the elements. SUVs are more practical for smaller hauls as well.

Composting Essentials

Composting is a foundational skill in homesteading. You can start small with a kitchen composter before working up to a larger outdoor compost area (or several). It’s best to keep a kitchen composter for food scraps and an outdoor composter for yard waste, which you can build upon as your homestead grows.

If you want to get into worm composting, you will need different supplies. There’s a special bin and process for worm composting that’s different than other composting.

Source: Unsplash

Homestead Kitchen Essentials

When you’re homesteading, you will learn a lot of kitchen skills – both modern and antiquated – to prepare, store, and cook your own food. There’s no rule against using some modern supplies, but get ready to stock your kitchen a bit differently for homesteading.

Here are some things that will be helpful in the kitchen:

  • A digital scale
  • An electric peeler
  • An electric mixer
  • A pressure cooker
  • A food processor
  • A French press
  • Cast-iron cookware
  • A food dehydrator
  • A crockpot
  • A blender
  • A good set of knives
  • Canning supplies
  • Good cookbooks
  • Blank notebooks or cards to record your recipes

Essential Appliances and Equipment

A lot of homesteading activities involve manual labor, but farming on a larger scale may require some heavy-duty equipment. Depending on the size of your homestead, you may want to consider:

  • A rotary tiller
  • A tractor
  • A harvester
  • A manure spreader (for large animals)

Source: Unsplash

For household appliances, it varies by how much manual work you want to do. You will need a refrigerator and freezer to store food, but beyond that, you have the option to use modern appliances or not.

Consider whether you want to use appliances like a hand-crank washer with clothesline drying, or if you’d prefer a modern washer-dryer combination. The same goes for a dishwasher.

That’s also true of a stove. You can get an electric or gas stove or rely only on a fireplace for cooking. For a grill, you can get a new grill with all the bells and whistles, a traditional charcoal grill, or use an outdoor fire pit.

Keep in mind that the more electricity you use with electric equipment, the more you have to pay or generate. For this reason, a lot of homesteaders prefer more antiquated methods, but not always.

Tools for Your Homestead

Most homesteaders learn a range of homestead skills to be self-reliant, such as blacksmithing, carpentry, and sewing. You don’t need to know everything to get started, but there are some tools that you will need.

  • A hammer
  • A screwdriver
  • A tape measure
  • Levels
  • A wire fence mandrel
  • An air compressor
  • A shovel
  • Wire cutters
  • PVC cutters
  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • Nails and screws of multiple sizes

If you prefer to have power tools, that’s fine, but make sure you have a hammer and screwdriver for quick handiwork like repairing a fence.

Essential Gardening and Animal Care Supplies

Virtually every homestead has a garden, but fortunately, the supplies are similar to any home garden or community garden.

Source: Unsplash

Stock up on:

  • Seeds for the produce you plan to grow
  • A shovel
  • A rack
  • A hoe
  • A spade
  • Plant markers
  • A water hose
  • Garden gloves (get some backups!)
  • Pruning shears
  • A barrel
  • A wagon
  • A wheelbarrow

If you plan to keep animals, you will need additional supplies for them. The supplies can vary for different animals, but you will generally need:

  • Secure fencing
  • A barn, shed, or coop
  • An animal-only thermometer
  • Heat lamps (for cold climates)

Miscellaneous Homestead Supplies

There are a few multipurpose supplies that will come in handy on your homestead for a variety of tasks. In fact, you may want to keep extras of some of these supplies.

  • Rope
  • A Swiss army or multipurpose knife
  • Oil lamps, candles, and matches
  • A weather radio
  • First-aid kits for humans and animals
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A space blanket

Business Essentials

There’s nothing saying you have to make money on your homestead, but it often goes that way. Once you get the hang of your homesteading activities, you will probably have friends or family asking for produce, animal products, or other goods like prepared food or handmade clothing.

Eventually, you may want to expand your operation and monetize some aspects of your homestead for income. There are numerous ways to do that, and you don’t necessarily have to make it a business, but you do have to protect yourself.

Source: Unsplash

Whether it’s a hobby or not, if you’re making money on your homestead, you need to take some legal steps.

Incorporate Your Homesteading Business

When you’re starting to make money, consider incorporating your homestead business. This protects you from liability beyond your general homeowner’s insurance.

As soon as you make even a dollar from your homestead, you’re considered a “sole proprietor” by law. This doesn’t afford you any legal protection at all. It’s just a way for the government to classify you as someone making income.

So, that means you have no legal separation between your professional and personal liabilities and assets. If you get sued for something related to your homestead, you can be held personally liable.

There are several options for business structures, so be sure to speak to an attorney, but an LLC is a great option for a lot of homesteaders. This is a legal entity that keeps your business separate from you personally, so your personal assets aren’t at risk for your business liability and vice versa.

Get an EIN Number

It’s technically illegal to provide goods and services in the US without an EIN number, even if you’re only selling on a small scale. The EIN number acts as your business’s social security number, basically. You can get an EIN number quickly and easily by visiting IRS.gov to fill out the free form.

Start Living Your Dream

This may all seem overwhelming, but getting started is often the biggest challenge. The better prepared you are for homesteading, the better position you’ll be in to be happy and successful moving forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions about homesteading? Here are some answers to common questions.

Can a Homestead Make Money?

Yes! There are many ways homesteaders generate income, both as a hobby and a business. Many homesteaders sell produce or baked goods, but others find creative ways to bring in income, such as renting land to other farmers, offering classes or an event venue, or breeding animals. 

Related: How to (Legally) Start a Homesteading Website

Is Homesteading Realistic in Modern Times?

Yes, but homesteading is naturally different than what we think of during the frontier or pioneer days. Modern people are completely capable of living self-sufficiently on their own land, but it’s important to realize that homesteading can take many different forms. For some, it’s a full small-scale farm. For others, it’s more about taking some steps to live minimally, cut back on wastefulness, and live a simpler life of self-sufficiency.

Is Homesteading Difficult?

No matter the size of your homestead, it’s hard work. The responsibilities don’t end on the weekend like a normal job, so it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. You also have to have multidisciplinary skills and talents, or else be willing to seek outside resources to meet your needs. Though it can be difficult, homesteaders pursue this lifestyle because they prefer relying on themselves over living comfortably. 

Related: How to Prepare Your Homestead for Winter

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