Living off the Land

Living off the land begins as an intention. Maybe you’ve always wanted chickens. Possibly moving off-the-grid is cost effective in your area. Perhaps after tasting summer ripe backyard tomatoes, you vow to never buy the hard, pink, box-ripened variety again.

Mindful green living is on the rise. Within our Internet connected world, the importance of environmental practice has never been more obvious. Our planet’s finite resources sustain competitive growing populations. Quite simply, it’s necessary to maintain the environment because our survival depends on it.

Reduce the Distance Your Food Travels

Today’s dominant agricultural practice involves large singular crops planted year after year on the same land. Drive across America and you will see miles of uninterrupted corn, wheat or soy in vast supply. These food stables are harvested and shipped or flown all over the world using costly fossil fuel. This same fuel is also the main energy source for subsequent irrigation, planting and fertilization.

What if you as an individual could counteract this depletive trend in your own backyard? Can growing your own food, raising livestock or employing renewable energy have a positive global impact? Yes, especially as more people gravitate towards the homesteading movement.

Most people do have the ability and means to lead a partially, self-sustained life. Many learn over time to sufficiently grow homestead practice towards greater capacity and economy.

But what is homesteading, exactly? And what do you need to live off the land? Homesteading is described in many ways and utilizes just as many strategies. There are urban homesteaders and energy farmers, agricultural enterprisers and livestock breeders.

One thing all homesteaders have in common is purposeful use of natural resources towards greater sustainability.

  1. Chickens and Livestock

For instance, those chickens you’ve always wanted. Your own fresh eggs! A couple of good laying hens, a coop, and feed are all that’s needed to begin.

Check with your local ordinance or city official. You may be rewarded with helpful information regarding what chickens are best raised in the area as well as feed resources. Don’t have a coop? Chicken coops can be built as a do-it-yourself project using simple materials in just a few steps.

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  1. Home Gardens and Equipment

What about your property? Whether you sit on several acres or a small plot, your land can help feed and support your family.

A completely different scenario than that of mass farming, home gardens protect and nurture soil, enhance local pollination and produce healthful, diverse dietary staples. A good rule for homesteaders is to divide crop areas into plots for rotation. Annual rotation allows soil nutrients to build up over time while each year at least one plot remains for fresh plowing.

Sounds labor intensive? A few well-researched equipment purchases can be of immeasurable assistance. Consider a detachable spreader which hooks up to your garden tractor, allowing for mechanized planting and fertilizing. Likewise, a tow-behind tiller helps prepare your soil for planting and plows rotated fields. Don’t worry. Even with mechanical assistance you remain, literally, in the driver’s seat while farming. And your back and body will appreciate the break.

  1. Energy Alternatives and Solutions

Consider cost effective off-the-grid energy alternatives. Thanks to increasingly affordable renewables, it’s now easier than ever to harness sustainable energy affordably. The same characteristic fresh air and sunshine your garden and livestock need to survive and thrive may also supplement your homestead’s energy needs.

You don’t need to live in a windy location to benefit from a home wind turbine. If you’re homesteading, there’s an excellent chance that your location possesses the open space necessary for wind energy to be of benefit. Currently, a 30% tax credit exists for the cost and installation of residential wind systems.

Likewise, solar energy and living off the land is an intuitive pairing. The addition of solar panels can be as simple as following how-to articles on-line. Check with your electric company — often abundant solar resources are directly available to account holders.

From intention to action, sustainability is a commitment to the efficient use of our natural resources.  Living off the land conscientiously honors that commitment. Cooperative utilization of environmental elements preserves their integrity, and renews their natural advantage.