Sustainable Dreams

Is it possible to build a homestead free?

You can see posts all over the internet that claim you can start or build a homestead with little to no money. Many of these sites say that you can do it for free. Here's where I call this bunk for the majority of people and families. Let's consider all the facts here.

First of all, land costs money. Right now, I am playing with the idea of homesteading to learn through some things that weren't covered in my Agriculture Animal Science education. I have always wanted to work my own dairy and beef farm because, although my college curriculum covered most livestock animals, my focus was on dairy science and herd heath. I love cows. I know cows very well, yet I don't have a single cow in the "herd" I have here (I have a herd of rabbits). My neighbors would despise me even more, although the grass might be mowed more efficiently 😂😂😂😂.

mixed meat buns
I have rabbits and chickens, but I rent a, a tiny piece of property with very close neighbors. I hatched many of my chickens myself with a incubator that I had to pay for. Many of the chicks, I had to purchase and I chose solid breeder lines that were quite expensive. Even if I didn't choose the better birds, I would still pay at least $3.00 per day old chick. I raised and feed all these birds for 6 months before they are laying age. I also had several roosters in the mix that I don't need nor want the expense on, but I had to raise them long enough to put it in the freezer. Note that the chickens I raise are not meat birds, so our chickens from those roosters are quite small.  I do have to say the meat tastes much better than store bought chicken. It works for us smaller eaters, and I know how they are raised.

Naked Neck Turken that I purchased as an adult because she was so neat.
The chickens need shelter, and feed. Unless you can get a coop built from stuff you already have, or can get free, you still have to pay for it. I got the railings and posts off from a friends porch for free which was used to throw up a quick coop that would shelter my growing babies. The wire costs us, and these different types of wire are not cheap. We were also able to get some free 1x6x10 boards and some free tyvek from construction sites. Seems like a great deal, and in a way it was, but it took time to get the whole thing together, and still, its just a temporary pain in the butt, but they love it.
My chickens are almost fully grown, and I let them out of the coop everyday because there isn't enough room for them all to just hang out everyday. I am still trying to find a way to fence in my entire yard because my neighbors don't appreciate my birds in their yards. I can't blame them...I get it.

Rabbits are the very most economical and efficient livestock to have. I know many of you wont get past the cute, cuddly bunny for meat and fur, but consider this; hunters have been hunting rabbits for all time. Only farm raised rabbits offer a much better meat than wild rabbits. Rabbit meat is also unregulated in Alabama where I am, so I can sell it without all the inspection and red tape. To start out raising rabbits, I had to have cages which really took a lot out of pocket for our income as is.

All of these animals require feed and water, which requires dishes no matter what you decide to use. You can of course use old dishes of your own for free, but I found it to be best to use feeders that could measure my feed and avoid waste. The rabbits flip dishes over so they required their feeders to be attached. I had to buy J-feeders because what I had just wasn't working. The chickens waste even more scratching it into the ground and the feeders I purchased for them we specifically to montitor feed amounts to avoid over and under feeding as well as waste.

Just imagine I had a cow, or a goat here. Id be using the rest of our lifes income just to feed animals and of course bed them with hay. There's nothing to sell when you are raising new, young animals. All of the cost of raising babies most likely will not begin to pay you back for a whole year. Then you have to consider what is available to sell after you stock your own needs, or visa versa depending on your goals.

A typical homestead grows their own food whether it be plants or animals. I grow gardens to feed my animals as well as to put food on our plates. That is not cheap by no means. Growing gardens requires minimally, an investment in seeds. Unless you have a well or free water source around, you also have to consider the cost of watering your gardens. In Alabama, the sun is scorching hot in the summer so the gardens get watered daily most of the time.

If I use mulch, that too
costs money, but even if it comes free, the other issues that can come with mulching veggies such as pests and diseases increase. With that increase in pests and disease in your garden comes an increase in sources to control the problems before they kill your gardens. Both organic and non organic methods will cost you something or you'll lose it all. I say this because it has happened to me just this year, and this is not my first time around that block.

There are so many ways that tell us that even beginner homesteaders cannot do it for free. If you have, by all means let us know how so we can all make it happen. Im struggling to my homesteader dream, but it is the best struggle of all time. I'm broke but I'm doing exactly what I love.