Many of you may already be familiar with the term Homestead, some of you may not know the definition of Homesteading but you know that you want a Homestead of your own!
What is Homesteading?
- Homesteading is having the desire to remove yourself from consumerism, to buy less and have more.
- Homesteading is learning the ways of old and making things by hand and from scratch.
- Homesteading is respecting the land and everything on it.
- Homesteading is striving to live a sustainable lifestyle and support the local economy.
- Homesteading is sharing your skills with others and passing down your knowledge.
Modern homesteaders often use renewable energy options including solar electricity and wind power and some even invent DIY cars. Many also choose to plant and grow heirloom vegetables and to raise heritage livestock. Homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make.
Many people are under the assumption in order to practice Homesteading you have to own a lot of land, a farm, or live in the country, and that is not so. You can have 100 acres or live in an apartment. It is a lifestyle you can do in the space that you have.
Because so many think they must have a lot of land to experience the Homesteading lifestyle I wanted to share our story and hope to inspire you to achieve big things with a little space.
First I need to add my disclaimer. Please check with any city ordinances or HOA restrictions before you make changes as there are many areas that restrict: rain water collection, owning livestock and even gardening! Yes, I am talking about right here, in the United States.
The Coastal homestead Crew
This is my crazy family. Son (22), daughter (15), Hubby (Mr Coastal), Me (Mrs Coastal) and Little bit (she is 4)
We live on the east coast of South Carolina about 1 mile off the Atlantic Ocean in a small home on a small lot that we lovingly refer to as The Coastal Homestead.
Our property is just between 1/4-1/3 acre of land. On this small lot we have roughly 1800 sq ft house, 460 sq ft shop and approximately 20+ hardwood trees. Our yard is fenced in around the entire perimeter, with a berm across the front at the road and a gate across our driveway. We installed the fence, berm, and gate for two reasons: to keep things in and to keep things out.
Several years ago our landscape consisted of the Home Depot nursery, a cookie cutter yard. Everything planted was for aesthetics only. It sucked the water and the nutrients from the soil and gave nothing back. Everything planted was for the sole purpose of pleasing my eye.
Then sickness hit our family and we realized we needed to make a lifestyle change and live more responsibly, to ourselves and to the environment.
In one day Mr Coastal took a tiller and dug up the entire yard in order to remove everything that didn't serve a greater purpose, and our journey began.
How we roll now. I will discuss more topics in further detail in the future but some of the features of our homestead includes:
- Composting: Pallet Composting, Tumbler Composting, Vermiculture (worm composting), and Compost Tea
- Gray Water Irrigation: We have two gray water irrigation ponds and two straight run irrigation lines
- Rainwater Collection: We have five 65 gallon rain water barrels, one 60 and one 40 gallon
- Live Stock: We have 11 laying hens and two Nigerian Dwarf Milking Goats, and Honeybees. We've had ducks but they were not a good fit, and lastly two adorable yorkiepoo girls who guard the indoors.
- Organic Gardening: We practice (notice the word 'practice' as I am not an expert and everything is trial and error): Pallet gardening, Vertical Gardening, Row Gardening, Permaculture, Companion planting, Square Foot Gardening, Hydroponic Gardening, Gardening in Pots/Hanging Basket, Traditional Gardening, and Aeroponic Gardening methods.
- Pest Control with beneficial insects, companion planting and herbal treatments
- Mushroom Fruiting Area
- Solar Clothes Dryer (aka clothes line)
- All-natural/ organic products inside and outside of our home (cleaners, personal care, pest treatment, animal care, etc)
- And misc features: 18 ft Saltwater Pool, Workshop, Fire pit, play area for my kids, 14 ft trampoline
- And a partridge in a pear tree!!!!!!
Some of the things we are growing on our 1/4-1/3 acre lot:
- Three fig trees: one dwarf and two normal size (one is 18 ft tall!)
- Loquat tree
- Kumquat trees: four
- Pear trees: two
- Tangerine trees: two
- Plum Tree: one huge and many volunteers
- Pomegranate : two
- Blood Orange tree
- Grapefruit tree
- Fruit Cocktail Tree: this one tree grows; plums, peaches, apricots and nectarines!!
- Blueberry bushes: four
- Blackberry Bushes
- Lemon Tree(2)
- Keylime Tree
- Lime Tree
- Eucalyptus tree
- Banana trees: six and counting
- Kiwis: two- male and female
- Grape vines: white and purple
- Several Herb Gardens: Tea Garden, Culinary Garden, Medicinal Garden, and Chicken Herb Garden
- Some of the fruit&vegetables we grow: tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, lettuce, squash, zucchini, watermelons, beans, Spanish peanuts, collards, beets, carrots, peppers, luffas, gourds, eggplant; you name it... I put it in the ground and try to grow it!
- 20+ hardwood trees: hickory, oak, pine
Our goal is to become completely (or as close as we can get) sustainable. It is a work in progress, a very slow progress at that. But as I reflect where we were and where we are now, it truly amazes me how much we have been able to achieve in a short amount of time.
Some of the struggles we have faced:
- Weather- Too hot, too cold, too dry and too rainy.
- Pests- Making the decision to garden organically, while noble, is not easy. I have come close to throwing in the towel many of times then I am reminded why we began this journey to start with; health. It wouldn't be healthy for us or the environment to pour a bunch of chemicals on our plants.
- Soil- We have poor soil. Sandy, very acidic, salt water, salt air, humid. We had to buy organic soil and manure for everywhere we wanted to garden and have to fertilize often to amend it.
- Pest- Did I already mention that?
- Time management- We are a self-employed family of five, and our Homestead takes a lot of time. Sometimes I struggle with prioritizing my time, but I wouldn't change a thing.
- Shade- lots and lots of shade. Many of our trees are protected by county laws and our HOA regulations, not to mention the shade they provide our house during the heat of the summer. Planting around the shade is quite challenging.
- Finances- Did I mention we are self-employed with a family of five? Our monthly income is actually included in the description of the federal guidelines for poverty level but we don't let that get to us. We are very rich in our eyes and never go without.
- Grow and harvest most of our own produce
- Harvest and sell our honey
- Install solar and or wind energy
- Dig a well for a potable water supply
The list is never ending. We always strive to improve the way we are living and our quality of life. It's a journey and one that will never be finished. All it takes to begin your own personal journey is one step towards the direction you want to go.