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Having a homestead can be expensive. Do you want to homestead, but don’t think you can afford it? I feel that the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. But if you think you need help in the financial end of homesteading, here are my best tips on saving money on the homestead.
Grow your own animal feed.
This is an excellent way to reduce costs AND improve your self reliance. If you have a garden, consider growing extra goodies for your chickens or rabbits. If you don’t eat radish or turnip greens yourself, give them to the animals.
-Plant for utility instead of beauty
Don’t just plant for beauty, plant for utility as well. Plant sunflowers for lots of seeds for your birds and goats. Amaranth is both a beautiful flowering plant and a good food source, with about 18% protein. Jerusalem Artichokes can be a great food for animals and humans, and they look like sunflowers. They re-grow and multiply every year, and they are a great “stealth” survival food. You would never know that there are nutritious potato-like root veggies underneath the pretty foliage!
-Use the weeds
Even if you can’t seem to grow anything, consider the weeds! Most weeds are very nutritious for animals and humans alike. Just do a little research to make sure you know what the weed is, and if it’s edible. Lambsquarters, purslane, and mallow grow rampant in my yard and garden, and they are fantastic wild food sources. When I weed my garden, I save the weeds for the animals.
-Buy bulk grain
You can also check into buying bulk grain from your local grain mill. I like to mix grains for my chicken feed. My girls love wheat berries, barley, sunflower seeds, and corn. I even buy cheap bags of lentils from the grocery store and sprout them in a mason jar. You can also buy grain varieties that sprout easily for fodder. Fodder is cheap and easy to grow, especially if you buy the grain from a local mill, and it can be grown year-round if it’s kept warm enough.
Research other ways to grow animal feed as a way of saving money on the homestead. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out other ways to cut costs.
Grow your own medicine.
You can grow all kinds of herbs in a homestead garden. Read up on some herbal remedies and consider which ones would be easy and good for you to grow. Herbal teas are the most widely used herbal medicine. You can also make salves from certain herbs. Mary’s Heirloom Seeds has a great selection of herbs to choose from. She even has herbal medicine making kits if you would like to easily try out making your own!
Check into growing your own cooking spices (most double as herbal medicine), peppermint, ginger, or garlic. These are easy to grow and can save you some serious money. Check out my post on the 10 best remedies for cold and flu.
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
This eco-friendly concept actually helps you in saving money on the homestead. Reducing your waste results in less costs for trash and less strain on the environment. You can also reduce your waste by giving chickens or pigs your leftovers, which saves you in both ways.
Reusing is fantastic on the homestead. I reuse coffee cans as feed scoops, pallets as fencing, kitty litter containers for nesting boxes, and old barrels for feeders. You can usually find lots of free or really cheap stuff on Craigslist to use for various projects if you get creative. Think outside the box, and you’ll probably come up with other ways of reusing what would otherwise be trash. Check out this post for other ideas on upcycling on the homestead.
You can recycle your used animal bedding as garden fertilizer if you take the time to compost it. Fun fact – rabbit manure is GREAT for gardens, and it doesn’t need to be composted! I also recycle newspapers and toilet paper tubes for fire starters. If you have a lot of newspaper or junk mail you can even recycle it into your own fire bricks.
Find a use for all parts of the animals you process.
You may not think of this as a way of saving money on the homestead, but it really does help. Especially if you’re into learning vintage skills.
When you butcher a pig you get lots of fat that you can render into lard. Butchering a cow gets you a smaller amount of fat that you can render into tallow. Tallow and lard are great for cooking and baking, make great candles, and can also be used in soap.
After you roast your holiday turkey, what do you do with the carcass? We like to put it in the crock pot all night and make turkey stock with it. This makes a great base for some homemade turkey noodle soup. Did you know that after you make stock, you can also use the bones as a garden amendment? Just boil the bones for much longer until they are very soft and almost crumble in your hands. Put the soft bones on the wood stove for a day or two, then they will crumble into a powder that you can use in the garden. Voila, free bone meal!
If you raise meat rabbits, you can learn to tan the pelt. If you get good at this, you can even sell them for use in crafts. Little bit of homestead income! You can dehydrate the ears for a healthy dog treat. When you butcher chickens, you can also dehydrate the feet for dog treats.
When butchering a cow, you can ask your butcher to save some soup bones for you. Again, great dog treats! Or just make soup. You can also give your dogs the cow hooves, but be prepared, they get a little stinky! Reusing different parts of processed animals are a big help in saving money on the homestead.
Make the most of your dairy products.
If you have any kind of dairy animal, consider better options for your dairy products. Goats milk soap is a very trendy item right now, and you can learn to do it to bring in some income. You can learn to make cheese, which (if you haven’t noticed), is incredibly expensive from the store!
With our big family, we go through about 2 gallons of milk every day. We are considering making the move from goats to a milk cow. The goats don’t produce enough milk to make it worthwhile to us (even though I love them!). The cream in goats milk is already partially homogenized, meaning it is difficult to separate. We want to be able to have all the milk we can drink, and have enough to raise bottle calves without buying expensive milk replacer. We also want to make cheese and give the whey to the pigs, and make our own butter, yogurt, and ice cream.
A milk cow will be the most efficient animal for giving us the milk we need. It will help us so much in saving money on our homestead. Buying a milk cow will be cheaper than what we spend in milk alone for the year. Plus we will have all the other dairy products. And probably a bonus calf as well!
Raise animals, learn to garden, and preserve.
It’s a very lofty goal to provide the majority of your food, but it can be done! If you raise animals, learn to garden, and learn to preserve your garden goods, you can do it on a larger scale each year until you do just that. Can you imagine how much money you could save for the year if you were not so dependent on the grocery stores? For our family, we could easily save around $700 a month if we planned it correctly. That’s a homestead funding itself! There is no way that our homestead costs would be more than that, so we would actually come out ahead.
Raise heirloom plants and save the seeds.
Heirloom plants are the only ones that you can plant, save the seeds, and plant the next year for the same plant. This can be a money saver as well. Check out this post from Nancy On The Homefront on saving seeds. If you’re going to garden, why not garden with plants that can reproduce seeds to re-plant? This can help you have a more self-sustaining garden.As a bonus, heirloom plants often produce the most delicious, flavorful food out there! Mary’s Heirloom Seeds is an amazing place to start dreaming of all the heirloom goodness. She has 600+ varieties of non-GMO, non-hybrid, open-pollinated heirloom seeds. Tell her I sent you!
Saving money by reducing electricity costs.
Ideally, we would be off-grid. I would love to have solar panels and wind turbines for our power needs. But it’s not that feasible for us right now. We do like to try to reduce our electricity costs, though. This is important and do-able in any home.
Check into LED lights. They are more expensive, but last longer and use less power.
Heat with a wood stove. If possible, buy wood permits and cut your own wood in the summer. This will save you tons of money on heating your home.
Line dry your clothes. This is such an easy thing to do to cut costs, especially in the summer. Sunshine also helps make your whites whiter and the clothes smell good.
Use your window coverings to your advantage. You can get thermal curtains for winter. Consider leaving the curtains open during warm days in the wintertime. During really cold times, you can even hang blankets on the windows to further insulate them. In the summer, use your curtains to block out the light and heat.
I’m not going to lie to you, having a homestead can be expensive. Saving money is super important in making your dreams a reality. There are so many ways to cut your expenses on a homestead. If you are creative and think outside the box, you too can have a homestead!
I hope I have given you some ideas on saving money on the homestead. If you have more tips to give, please share them in the comments!