Homesteader Resolutions for a New Year

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The first week of 2010 is almost over. The decorations are boxed and put away. The tree is at the curb. Relatives have returned to their respective states or homes. The dizzying speed of the merry-go-round has stopped and life seems like might – just might – get back to some semblance of normalcy.

It’s a time for reflection on the past 12 months, our accomplishments and our not so perfect moments. We shoulder our disappointments and look toward the New Year with hope and bright light. We’re determined to do things differently, to be different, think different.

There are a lot of people living in suburban environments who would love to bring a little more homegrown goodness into their lives, but don’t think that it’s possible. Whether limited space or lack of experience is holding you back, not to worry, there’s plenty you can do to step off that merry-go-round. Every day people are bringing the simple life to places that have more area codes than barns, and while their efforts do start out small, they are still able to grow some of their own food, tend some small livestock, and bake bread in their own ovens. Small simple actions like these help keep food closer to home and it’s also giving back the basic responsibility of feeding ourselves in a world where no one seems to really know how to do that anymore.
So, if 2010 seems like the right time to start adding some sustainability, self-reliance and local food to your suburban lot – here are some simple first steps to get all you eager suburban homesteaders started, right in your own backyard.

Start the New Year with these simple resolutions and you’ll be on the path to a homesteading life.

Reduce your trash impact. Find a dedicated trashcan or reuse large shopping bags for recyclables. Set recycling containers near your normal kitchen trash keeps recycling in the forefront of your mind. Plus it’s close at hand.

Build your own soil. While you’re busy shopping those post holiday sales be on the look out for a stainless steel compost bucket that can sit on your kitchen counter. (I saw one on clearance at TJMaxx for $7.00). Saving scraps and peelings of fruits and veggies will become a positive start to building your own soil. Augment kitchen waste with dried leaves, grass clippings and prunings. Check with your city to see if they offer low cost compost bins and set it up near your garden area.

Plant one new veggie or plant an extra row of your favorite veggie, then freeze or can the harvest. If you’re new to homesteading, plant one or two edibles to get your feet wet. Many veggies, herbs and even fruit can be grown in containers.

Resolve to take a five minute shower or bath for a week. Use a simple kitchen timer to keep you on track. You’ll be surprised how quick showering goes when you get down to business. And the savings on water ain’t bad either.

Decide this is the year to start shopping with reusable bags, refusing store bags when you only have a few items and carrying a reusable bag in your purse, backpack or tote.

Determine to change the way you shop, to buy locally, both food and non-food items and help bolster your community’s economy.

You may not have been raised in a barn, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to raise livestock. Resolve to find out if chickens are allowed in your area. If they are, think about how you could simply and inexpensively add them to your suburban homestead. If you can’t, decide to buy eggs and chickens through local sources, preferable grower direct.

Resolve to think seriously about each new purchase. Ask yourself if they are needed or just useless crap you’ll have to figure out how to get rid of in a few months.

Drink for free rather than buying bottled water. Carry re-useable sports bottles with your beverage of choice.

Save on your electrical use by loading electronics onto a power strip that can be turned off when you’re away from home. Use less energy by lowering your thermostat just one degree this winter and raising the air conditioner one degree this summer.

Make this the year you use fewer paper products or stop using them all together, opting for washable, reusable cloth instead.

Save money and reduce waste by making coffee at home and taking it to work in a thermos. Same goes for you tea drinkers too.

Cut back on eating out – eat one extra meal at home week or take lunch to work, make it fresh and make it locally grown.

Use up and reuse what you already have before you go out and buy more.

Take one weekend and make fresh baked bread using our post on 5-minute bread making.

Pick one resolution or a few to incorporate into your life each month and by the end of 2010 you’ll be on your way to becoming more self-reliant and self-sufficient.

Focus on small meaningful steps.

And remember – a thousand miles are traveled one step at a time.

Happy New Year and Happy Homesteading!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Carlos Andrés Restrepo

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