Complete Beginner’s Guide to Homesteading From Scratch

Last Updated on January 27, 2024 by Gabby Hatten

There’s no denying that there has been a vast awakening in the past three to four years and for many people, homesteading is heavy on their hearts and minds… for good reason. Homesteading isn’t just about fruit trees and garden beds, or buying a huge tract of land and water bath canning all your veggies. It’s about sustainable living and living a simpler life. In this beginner homestead guide, we’re going to dive into the biggest mistakes beginner homesteaders make and how to avoid them, making use of small spaces for the urban homesteader, backyard chickens, useful farm animals, new skills, understanding your growing season, and the best way to start a small garden.

Common Mistakes + How to Avoid Them

Picture this; it’s your first year of starting your own homestead. You have a beautiful, walk-in chicken coop fit for 30 chickens, you have a pasture with 3 highland cows, and every time you walk outside you’re greeted by your adorable little family of ducks. Sounds like a dream homestead, amiright? Now here’s the issue- homesteading takes a lot of hard work, and it comes with a steep learning curve. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the pretty things and before you know it, you end up with a hobby farm and aren’t a single step closer to self-sufficiency. It might sound harsh, but I’m only telling you this because I’ve been there too. And with that, we have-

Mistake #1. Making decisions based on feelings and not cost

Every animal should serve a purpose. If it doesn’t serve a purpose you will end up drowning in feed bills and care with nothing to show for it. If you struggle with this concept, I suggest talking to your local farmers to understand how they calculate and make decisions. Before doing absolutely anything, I highly recommend getting acquainted with your local farmers and agriculture scene. If you’ve never been to the farmer’s markets, start there. Look for local farm groups on Facebook. Start immersing yourself in the community you’ll be joining!

Mistake #2. Underestimating the demands

New homesteaders often miscalculate the time, effort, and resources needed to effectively manage a homestead.

Mistake #3. Failing to prioritize infrastructure and planning

It’s common for beginners to overlook the importance of establishing essential infrastructure like fencing, water systems, and shelter, leading to inefficiencies and challenges.

Mistake #4. Insufficient research and learning

Many newcomers neglect to thoroughly educate themselves about the specific requirements of the plants and animals they intend to raise on their homestead.

Mistake #5. Taking on too much

Overcommitting early on can result in exhaustion and disappointment. Beginners should start with manageable tasks and gradually expand their homestead as they gain experience and confidence.

How to Make Use of Small Spaces|Urban Homesteading

Urban homesteading involves practicing self-sufficiency in a city setting, using limited space to grow food, raise animals, and reduce reliance on external resources. In small spaces like an apartment balcony or a windowsill, there are practical ways to embrace urban homesteading. One can start by creating an herb garden on a windowsill, using vertical gardening techniques for growing vegetables, setting up a composting system for organic waste, and even keeping small livestock like chickens or rabbits. Additionally, incorporating beekeeping with compact beehives or installing a small aquaponic system for growing fish and plants in a symbiotic environment are innovative ways to maximize space for urban homesteading. These small-scale initiatives not only contribute to sustainable living but also foster a deeper connection with the food production process. Just make sure you’re checking local laws and zoning regulations!

Check out these urban homesteaders on YouTube for inspiration.

Backyard Chickens

Backyard chickens offer a range of benefits for novice homesteaders and are an ideal choice for those new to animal husbandry due to their low-maintenance nature. These feathered companions not only provide a sustainable supply of fresh eggs but also contribute to organic pest control and offer nutrient-rich fertilizer for the garden. Requiring minimal space and care, chickens thrive with basic shelter, access to fresh water, and a balanced diet of commercial feed, kitchen scraps, and foraged vegetation. Their gentle disposition and straightforward care requirements make them an excellent choice for beginners. Caring for chickens can also impart valuable skills and a deeper appreciation for animal welfare while fostering a stronger connection to the food production process. Ultimately, backyard chickens are a rewarding and low-maintenance addition to the journey of any aspiring homesteader.

Check out Oak Abode on YouTube for all things backyard chickens.

Useful Farm Animals

When starting your homesteading journey, beginner-friendly animals such as quail, rabbits, and Nigerian Dwarf goats present a range of benefits with easily manageable maintenance requirements. Quail, known for their prolific egg-laying, provides small, nutritious eggs and requires minimal space, making them suitable for small homesteads. Their quiet nature and straightforward housing needs make them a low-maintenance option for beginners. Rabbits are efficient producers of meat and fur, and their manure serves as an excellent fertilizer for gardens. With simple housing, fresh water, and a diet of hay and vegetables, rabbits are relatively easy to care for. Nigerian Dwarf goats, prized for their small size, gentle temperament, and high milk production, offer a sustainable source of fresh milk and can thrive on a beginner’s homestead with proper shelter, pasture access, and a balanced diet. Their affectionate nature adds to the joy of caring for them. Overall, these beginner-friendly animals provide diverse benefits and manageable maintenance, making them excellent choices for those new to the homestead lifestyle.

New Skills to Help You on Your Homesteading Journey

The homesteading journey introduces you to a range of new skills that enrich your life and connect you to the land. From making sourdough bread to preserving food, each skill is essential for a self-sufficient lifestyle. These skills not only enhance your homesteading journey but also offer a profound connection to tradition and a sustainable way of life.


If you’ve been here before, you know we aren’t shy about our love for sourdough! Aside from its versatility, the health benefits are a must for my family. It’s affordable, doesn’t take up much space, and is meant for everyone. From creating your own sourdough starter to learning how to maintain a sourdough starter and of course delicious sourdough recipes, Hatten Homestead has you covered!

Food Preservation

A valuable skill for homesteaders, food preservation allows you to extend the shelf life of your garden harvest. Two common methods used are water bath canning and lacto-fermenting. Water bath canning is ideal for preserving high-acid foods like fruits, pickles, and tomatoes. By immersing sealed jars in boiling water, harmful bacteria are destroyed, ensuring long-term storage. On the other hand, lacto-fermenting utilizes beneficial bacteria to preserve vegetables like cucumbers, cabbage, and carrots. This method not only preserves the harvest but also enhances the nutritional value of the produce. Both techniques enable homesteaders to enjoy the bounty of their garden throughout the year, reducing waste and promoting self-sufficiency.

Understanding Your Growing Season

Understanding your growing season and knowing your hardiness zone is crucial for successful gardening on your homestead. Your hardiness zone, determined by the average annual minimum winter temperature, helps you select plants that are suitable for your specific climate. By knowing your zone, you can make informed decisions about which crops and varieties are likely to thrive in your environment. Additionally, understanding your growing season— the period between the last and first frosts— enables you to plan your planting and harvesting schedules effectively. This knowledge allows you to maximize your yield and ensure that you are planting at the optimal times for your region. By aligning your plant choices with your hardiness zone and growing season, you can create a bountiful and sustainable garden that is well-suited to your unique environmental conditions. The first step for aspiring gardeners is to find out your hardiness zone here.

Best Way to Start a Small Garden (even if you don’t have a green thumb)

Creating a small garden is a fulfilling project, particularly for beginners. Container planting provides flexibility and mobility, making it ideal for limited spaces. Raised beds offer better control over soil quality and drainage, while also minimizing the need for bending and kneeling. Additionally, cultivating herbs with medicinal properties indoors can be a practical and beneficial choice. Herbs such as lavender, chamomile, and peppermint can thrive in indoor environments, providing natural remedies for various ailments. By utilizing these methods, novice gardeners can establish a diverse and functional small garden that not only enhances their living space but also offers the convenience of fresh, homegrown herbs with medicinal properties.

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Creative Ways to Homestead

If you’re looking to be more of a weekend homesteader and not yet ready to commit to much, I suggest getting involved in your local community gardens, making your personal care products from scratch, and learning survival skills like food storage and clean water. A great way to learn is to simply join the modern homesteading movement online. Find homesteaders that you resonate with, consume their content and knowledge, and get your family members involved as well. Depend less on the grocery store and grow your own food, think about the types of animals that would be most beneficial to your family, map out your ideal homestead projects and the cost before diving in, and read some great books on homesteading.

Author Profile

Gabby Hatten
Gabby Hatten
Hello there, I'm Gabby! I am a mother of three, married to my wonderful husband Marco, and I have a deep passion for simple living, vintage homes, and cooking everything from scratch! Although I grew up in Las Vegas, my husband's military service brought us to the east coast, where we have now made coastal North Carolina our home. While I didn't grow up on a farm, I have always been fascinated by that lifestyle and have dedicated my adult life to learning and embracing those skills, which I am excited to share with all of you!

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