Why A “Backyard Homestead” Is All You Need (And Tips For Finding Your Own)

the homestead

View of my Homestead taken yesterday when I was working in my garage.

Having a homestead with a huge amount of land is the dream of most people who get the homesteading itch, they dream of have 20 acres or more of prime land out in the middle of nowhere, and going further still they dream or living off the grid.

They fantasize about how wonderful it would be living on their multi-acre homestead off the grid while sitting on their front porch watching the garden grow and the chickens scratch. Unfortunately, that’s as far as most get… the dream stage.

It’s a fact that the vast majority of people who become interested in homesteading never get past the dreaming and fantasizing stage, and I think that deep down most know that that’s as far as it will ever go. But it’s a fun dream and that’s why so many become swept away by it.

But is living off the grid as romantic as people make it out to be in their thoughts and imagination? No, not really. I’ve been there… I lived off the grid for several years in a camper trailer (I even wrote a book about it – click here to check it out at Amazon.com) and while it’s doable I decided to use that time to save money that I made from blogging to buy another property and then moved a full-sized mobile home on it.

Then after living there a few years and saving more money that I also made from blogging to buy another property with a home already built. The property where I live now is three acres and has a stream running through it and is next to a national forest.

stream on my property

Stream that runs through my property…

It’s amazing what you can do on an even an acre and three to five acres of good land and you can do everything that you need to and can have your own highly productive mini-farm or backyard homestead. Having ten, twenty, or more acres and living off the grid isn’t required to have a happy and productive homestead. 

What I’m saying is if you’ve been waiting to start becoming more self-reliant because you think that you don’t have enough land or because you’re thinking about moving off the grid or think that you have to, stop it. 

Go outside and look around! Do you have a large backyard? Can you till it up and plant a garden or build some raised beds? How about a chicken coop to keep a few hens? Maybe plant some dwarf apple trees. How about a beehive or two? Can you build a workshop? A tool shed? Use your imagination and get started now and do what you can where you are.

Stop putting it off because everything isn’t perfect or because it doesn’t fit in with the romanticism you’ve been fed by Mother Earth News and the countless “off the grid” homesteading books. Do what you can NOW where you are. 

You don’t have to have multiple acres or be off the grid. In fact, you’re probably better off if you don’t and aren’t. Living off the grid isn’t easy, it takes work, and lots of it. Just about everything is harder off the grid and if you try to live by on the grid standards (power wise) then it’s also expensive putting all of those power resources in place.

It’s a lot easier to be on the grid (air-conditioning is great on those hot days when you’ve been out working in the garden) and that’s the reason most people are on the grid and got hooked up to the power grid as soon as it was available in their area when grid power was first becoming available.

However, with that said, you should have alternative power sources in place like a small solar set-up (check mine out on my YouTube channel), and an electrical generator (here is the generator I have) for common weather emergencies and those power blackouts that happen during a breakdown like they are seeing in Venezuela with the power outages there such power blackouts were also experienced in Argentina during the economic collapse there.

For more information on what happened in Argentina and survival tips from a guy who was there – order and read the excellent book by Fernando “Ferfal” Aguirre – The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse.

In his book, he also talks about how isolated homesteads, like that many dream about, were targeted by criminals and raiders and how the occupants were tortured, raped and robbed after being targeted and overtaken by vandals. Something to think about. Are you thinking about it? You should be.

But what if you live in an apartment and can’t grow or do anything beyond a balcony garden then if possible you should move to a better (and rural) location as soon as possible. Don’t worry about moving off the grid or to an isolated homestead where your nearest neighbor is two miles away.

No trespassing

Instead, look for a location that’s in a small town but that also offers some privacy and enough land to grow a large garden and keep some small domestic livestock like chickens, ducks, and goats. Check local regulations to see what’s allowed and if it’s at all restrictive then choose another location because you want to be able to do what you need to do on your own property to become as self-reliant as possible.

It’s best to not choose a subdivision because even it isn’t crowded when you buy it will be in a few years once all of the lots around you are sold and the buyers move onto them. 

Also, before making the move drive around and look at all of the houses… are they well-kept? Does it look like the people living in the area are responsible and care about their homes and property and do what’s needed to keep it looking nice, or do many of the homes and properties in the area look dilapidated and like the residents just don’t care… they probably don’t. Find another location.

Also, look for a property with a water source nearby and preferably on the property that you’re looking to buy. The best water resource is a good water well, unfortunately, newer properties don’t have water wells anymore because most home builders simply hook up to the public water utility because it’s easier and cheaper. 

For example here is a really nice place with three acres that’s private yet has several other homes in the area to offer support and to work together during a disaster. Note: I’m not affiliated with the property in any way and won’t receive a commission or anything if someone from reading this article buys it.

Great Books about Backyard Homesteading

Backyard Homesteading: A Back-to-Basics Guide to Self-Sufficiency (Creative Homeowner) Learn How to Grow Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts & Berries, Raise Chickens, Goats, & Bees, and Make Beer, Wine, & Cider

40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead: A Hands-on, Step-by-Step Sustainable-Living Guide (Creative Homeowner) Includes Fences, Coops, Sheds, Wind & Solar Power, Rooftop & Vertical Gardening

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!

The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner: What to Do & When to Do It in the Garden, Orchard, Barn, Pasture & Equipment Shed

Questions:

  • Do you live off the grid?
  • How many acres do you have?
  • What have you done to increase your self-reliance where you are?

Well, there you have it… please share your thoughts and comments below.

M.D. Creekmore

I've been interested in self-reliance topics for over 25 years. I’m the author of four books that you can find here. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about prepping, homesteading, and self-reliance topics through first-hand experience and now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

28 Responses

  1. Ray White says:

    Stop putting it off is the best advice you can give. Unless someone is going to raise a lot of livestock and needs grazing land anything more than two or three acres is too much to handle. When I was a kid in Kansas we had an acre and a half garden or a 3 acre plot, and it was a tremendous amount of work to keep up with. It provided more than a year’s worth of vegetables–we canned the surplus, but planting, weeding and harvesting was back-breaking work. We had chickens and geese for eggs and meat, a Jersey milk cow for milk, butter and cheese. We did a lot of hunting and fishing. We didn’t have much cash so we lived by the sweat of our brows and even if it was hard life, it was a good life. If it’s the kind of life you’re wanting, don’t wait–go for it.

  2. kytriya says:

    Great article! My answers are after all my bullet points.
    1. Criminals who escape from prison always choose remote locations to hide. They will hide in a cabin or a house and not care whether it is occupied or not. They are criminals. These criminals have murdered before, so they have no empathy.

    2. Hiding in a on-grid situation with a non-descript front is great, but keep in mind that those criminals are so good at finding hiding places, that they are not going to pass a tiny little foot path and assume it isn’t a path at all. They will see it, follow it and then find you. The government have people trained for this sort of thing as well. Thus, having a house that actually blends in with its neighbors is actually more hidden. Its called hiding in plain site.

    3. What if you don’t have the money to move into better digs? Then you have to either get a 2nd job to make that money OR start using the food shelf and taking your food money and saving it in a interest making account of some sort. I’m going to do that in a couple years or so. I can’t quite yet.

    4. Can’t prep due to no money? Yes, I’m there now. I use the food shelf and use the FIFO principle. This means first in, first out. And, if someone is going to donate rice to me, great! I take it – all 25 pounds worth and don’t worry about how many pounds I already have (if I have any). I don’t really believe in prepping when using the foodshelf.

    However, you are allowed to prep two weeks of food. 😉 They aren’t going to know what you do have either – as long as your eyes do not dilate when they ask. Also, I never be a prepper BEFORE I first use the food shelf. That way I can say with an honest face that I do not prep!

    5. Water in glass jars. Yes, half gallon jars can be found, but they aren’t cheap. It takes time to get glass jars, and money to buy those lids. I don’t know how to prep water in glass jars. I use filtered water and just fill the jar and then put the lid on. This isn’t exactly canning water though as that lid won’t seal that way.

    Questions Answered:
    I live on-grid in an area where self-reliance is banned. Just say NO to HOA! You don’t want them, They HATE self-reliance and vehemently ban all forms of self-reliance anything – including vegetable gardens and dogs!

    So then, what am I doing to remedy this? I am going to attempt to put money aside in a Money Mutual Fund AFTER my Sister finally starts paying her share of the bills. ROFL Okay, I have at least 2 years before that! I am currently, going to get a MMF to save for property taxes because she is having her taxes garnished and stolen by the government because she hasn’t been paying them due to not having a job and now finally getting a job.

    Her husband’s share of the taxes even went to her student loans! (Long story short, she was supposed to be schooiling for free under Obama, but then the evil gits behind the overseeing of that, banned MOST people from getting that free schooling by making up crap about what qualifies and what doesn’t. They even changed the law to make sure that more people did NOT qualify! It was evil to the core!

    What else am I doing? I am working on writing a book so that I can stop the “gov paying for my own student loan thru forgiveness” through me making my own money that will pay for everything I need – including prepping!

    I am also bought stuff needed to keep rice and beans good for a “couple weeks”. I also will buy a good heavy load bearing bookshelf for “the future” – whenever that is.

    @mdcreemore If you send me a paypal link that is good for May 3rd, then I’ll pay you for the CD that I want! I thank you in advance for this glorious link as its easier for me to do it that way.

    • M.D. Creekmore says:

      kytriya,
      You can go to this page and order I still have a few left… https://www.mdcreekmore.com/bulletproof-survivor-cd-rom/

      • kytriya says:

        Thanks!

      • kytriya says:

        Thanks! I was able to buy it this month, so I put in my order. 😀 I forgot I put in money into my account so that I could do that. lol (My other comment that only says “thanks” you can delete, as it didn’t have all the info in it. Thanks!)

    • Red C says:

      kytriya, it sounds like you’re facing bigger obstacles than many of us. But I applaud u for having a plan to improve your life & become more self-reliant. I don’t know u, but my gut says that you’re going to succeed, no matter how long it takes. One thing that I’ve found to be helpful & to keep me motivated is to keep reading survival sites like this one. Look for ideas that fit ur situation & are low cost or free. For ex, it costs nothing to copy & save articles like this to ur computer. Will your HOA know if u plant veggies in pots or buckets in ur apartment?

      • kytriya says:

        Thanks! The problem I had is that veggies love space (depth) and pots don’t give the depth that veggies I can eat want. I can’t keep the animals out of my garden either as all things necessary for that is banned. I really need to eventually get land where I can put a proper greenhouse up. I did try pot gardening last summer and it was rubbish! I’ve found a friend who is going to allow me to garden in his land. He’s also going to help me tell the difference between veggie and weed – my other issue. lol My HOA would know only if the legalist people came over to my side of the complex. So far, I’m safe. The former president is so down on the HOA, that she is on myside now. 🙂

  3. Linda S says:

    One of the most logical pieces I’ve read in a long time. In the 80’s when I was married & raising 6 kids, we had 80 acres way up in the mountains of Colorado. Electricity didn’t even run up that far. We had a gravity-fed glacier water source & a propane tank & eventually, a phone. Some of our best memories, but memories are selective. In truth it was a damn hard life. We were young, our kids were 8 to 16 yrs old (big enough to help) but it was still tough. I wouldn’t want to do it now at my age but I do know how to survive. Your right though. Most people with a lot of acreage use very little of it.

  4. JE says:

    Great article! Don’t wait, just do it…the best advice. 🙂

  5. Oren Player says:

    We have 18 acres, mostly wooded. We maintain a 1/4 acre garden all year round, 10 crazy guineas and 5 Speckled Sussex chickens and three small loud dogs. We have neighbors, mostly liberal university staff types that I keep an eye on, but try not to associate with. I’ll just insult them. We heat during the winter with our soap stone wood burner in the family room. We have a 1933 Majestck kitchen wood stove complete with water jacket and 40 gallon tank. There are 5 fig trees, two pear trees and two struggling apple trees along with a garlic bed as well as onions. I’m finishing the wood cutting for the year. I’ll have about 10 cords of wood put away for the year after next. I sharpen my own hand saw blades as well as chain saw chains. My skill set includes electrical, plumbing, carpentry and small engine repair. And yes, I am a prepper. At 72 years old, this is about as much homesteading that I can handle.

    • Prepared Grammy says:

      I just planted my first, very small garlic bed. I am 55 and have been gardening since I could walk and tag along with my grandpa, but I know nothing about growing garlic. What advice can you give me. I’m in zone 6.

      • Moe says:

        Prepared Grammy:
        A website you might find helpful for everything you need to know about garlic can be found at sustainablemarketfarming dot com.

  6. Testdummy says:

    My husband and I have 3 acres and that is more than enough for most people. When our children were growing up we had horses. We also had chickens for eggs and meat. We have a creek that runs through the back of our property that the kids would fish and swim in. We had a small veggie garden and did quite well supplying most of our own veggies. We have a well and propane so we really don’t need much as far as electricity. Now that it is my husband and myself we grow a small garden and have chickens,ducks,and turkeys for eggs and meat. We also have a small mixed herd of goats and sheep. Our milk goat keeps us in fresh milk about 9 months out of the year and I freeze enough to make thru till she freshen again. We sell the offspring of the sheep and goats to pay for the feed and keep 1 sheep and 1 goat to butcher. It works nicely for us. I can’t see needing more land except I wouldn’t mind a little more pasture room. Then I would pasture a hog. Don’t wait. Start your dream.

  7. acreone says:

    Since hurricane michael in northern fl, things are moving slow on house build. Getting cabinets in a week, Cleaning up school property from a grant through the state. Since
    we started building a year ago on one acre, we have expanded the garden twice the size,
    garlic and onions are about to come out. but now two kids have moved to missouri and our daughter in law is expecting in oct. tossing around a move between springfield and branson. Has anyone lived in these parts? I ordered the bulletproof cd about a week ago and am anxious for it to come in. M.D. I like alot of your items just don’t like amazon. We will decide on the move after the house is done, if we like the area. Well we did just do it when we moved here, now we’ll see about missouri. All the best.

  8. Frank Vazquez says:

    I just wanted to say I wish there was someone like yourself M.D. that could take a look at my home and the land. I think it would be a good place to be if the crap hits the fan, even though I think it would be less trouble to move elsewhere…. to a smaller place or that just suits us better in some ways.

    It’s not cultivated right now, but I think it would suit a garden and some livestock. We have a pond in front fed by an underground spring as was described to us. There are some trees that I think would serve well to provide shelter and shade and both security and relief from the sun and the heat. There are birds that fly in and over daily and squirrels occupy at least 3 of the 10 or more trees, I often see one turtle or a rabbit every few weeks.
    We are in a suburban location, but our street and houses close to us are zoned agricultural land. As long as that doesn’t change it seems like a good choice to make a go if things go to hell. We do have a well, but the pump is electric. And our AC is electric and water cooled. But our water is heated by propane on demand or electricity and we have a gas stove. The property is 3.5 acres total and I am guessing at least a half is open for gardening or as pasture land for livestock.

    • M.D. Creekmore says:

      Frank Vazquez,

      No place is perfect (mine isn’t) unless you’re in or near a major urban area in most cases it’s better to do what you can where you are.

  9. Constitutionalist says:

    Very good advise and article! I’ve been looking for a few acres now for about a year. In my area prices are outragous for land but doesn’t deter me. Hopefully this year.
    Side note on self reliance. I’ve been involved in food storage for many years and always have on hand 2months of food. Working on growing it to 6months. With 7 mouths to feed I dont want to worry about job loss, natural event or political whatever. We just had a heck of flood here in the midwest and one of the towns turned into an island with no food trucks for over a week. I talk to friends in the area and they wished they had atleast a week of food stored now. These are same one that gave me heck about my food storage addiction. The point is always be prepared even though you dont think it will happen to you or your area .

    Ps. To my “like minded friends” treat food storage like a car, home, or health insurance. This is like an insurance policy. You pay monthly and hope you dont have to use it but if you do you got it. I been spending $25 to$50 biweekly for years. It doesnt take much per month to get started. Just have a detailed plan for your food needs then start checking off items as you buy it.

  10. BDN says:

    We too, have a little over 3 acres in NW Florida. Our home was built in 1927 and had very few modern amenities when we bought it 20 years ago. It did have a very large fig tree some pomegranate trees and several pecan trees, all of which were over 60 years old; some of them are now approaching the end of their useful lifespan.

    I have begun rooting cuttings from the fig tree and have 4 that are doing well. I have transplanted several elderberry cuttings in the last 2 years and now have 3 healthy bunches in different areas of the property. I’ve added blueberry bushes and should get a harvest this year. I’ve planted hazelnut bushes to replace the aging pecans and hope to expand the hazelnuts into another area that I’ve been preparing for them.

    We have goats as brush & vine control and a couple of chickens for eggs and insect control. An old horse as a lawnmower. The manure has helped change the tilth of our soil from sand to much more fertile soil. 20 years ago, the cleared land was very unproductive. For the past 5 years there is enough pasture grazing to provide for all the livestock even in the hottest part of the summer. I spread the composted manures every spring and fall, reseed and mulch with old grass hay at the same time, rotate where the livestock graze. We’ve cut our need for hay in half over the last few years.

    We have a good sized area with raised garden beds. I try to plant crops in several different areas. Sort of not putting all our eggs in one basket! Everything does not grow, but I can count on getting some produce most of the year.

    I try to start a new garden area with a brush pile and composted materials each year. I let these compost for a couple of years before putting the first vegetables in.

    I am looking to get more vermicomposting trenches dug this year. We now have a local source of the composting worms so I hope to be spreading them into my gardens and giving the crops a real boost soon.

    I am also planting things that will supplement our livestock feed. My goal is to be able to totally provide their forage needs.

    Do what you can now! It takes time to get skills down pat. It takes time to get gardens prepared and time to learn how to choose crops that will grow in your area. It takes time to accumulate supplies enough to make a difference. If all you can do is add a bag of rice and a gallon of water extra once a month, then do it We all started with just one thing at a time once upon a time!

  11. Bill Bill says:

    Hey Mad Dog, another fantastic article! Please keep them coming. I think a lot of people miss the point of these type of articles. These publications are thought starters and reminders.Thought starters, in the realm of getting you to think sometimes outside of the box, or to bring you back to reality from your pipe dream. And reminders that we really do live in a fragile and sometimes dangerous and ever changing society! These articles are meant to get you to really think about situational awareness,whatever that means to YOU not what everyone else thinks. Love you’re writings dude…God Bless.

  12. Bluesman says:

    M.D. ,
    Good ,informative article and comments. I think a lot of people are in the “I need 20 acre mindset” and never get past the dreaming part. We looked for 3 years and finally found what we could afford and what met our criteria. We had the 20 acre thought but ended up with a 4 acre parcel that meets our needs. We have firewood growing on our land ,if we need it, but are able to get it easily elsewhere. Water was of primary concern but we have a well ,are on a year round creek and have a spring on our land also. We have a 1700 s.f. garden and 10 fruit trees. We have privacy from neighbors. Our neighbors are not self reliant oriented but good folks and some do garden.We have plenty of room for chickens,rabbits ,pigs, ducks ,etc. etc. if we desired.
    Making the move does take a lot of planning and commitment when you begin. We were constrained by $$$$ , we all are to some degree. Sometimes it pays to think small, it may just pay off for you.

  13. Moe says:

    As empty nesters, we are in pretty good shape. The only item really reduced from the grocery list since the kids moved out is fresh milk. Instead of going through a gallon a day, we use about a half gallon a week. So the on hand supply of canned goods etc. has really stacked up. We are on about one acre and have a vegetable garden of 1200 square feet. A few fruit trees and I am trying to grow an almond tree. My niece is less than a mile away on about ten acres. She doesn’t have a green thumb but is great with animals. We already trade veggies and eggs. We are in a small rural town. Most of the people take pride in their homes. But I still worry about the few that don’t.

    I have never lived off the grid. Unfortunately, our town that produced it’s own electricity just a few years ago with a natural gas plant now just has 4 windmills. Not sure what would happen under certain grid down circumstances.

    Thanks for the article.

  14. Goatlover says:

    No, we don’t live off the grid, but we do have a whole-house backup generator to get us through hurricane season with little problem. We live on 5 acres, but my farming efforts only occupy about half of that land. My farm includes 8 goats, 20+ chickens, 2 guardian dogs, 3 rodent control cats, a stocked fishing pond, and raised bed gardens. Over the past several years, we have added a wide variety of fruit trees, pecan trees, sugar cane, a pineapple patch, grape vines, bananas, and Moringa trees. It sure helps save my back from starting every growing season from scratch.

  15. Prepared Grammy says:

    Do you live off the grid?
    No. I, like you, enjoy air conditioning after working in the garden.

    How many acres do you have?
    We have just under 8 acres where we live. About half of it is wooded. We also own 40 acres about ten miles from home. It’s in pasture and hay. We planned to build a house and live there. We got a bid for a house. That was the end of that dream. We’re staying where we are. You’re right about small areas being enough. I have more than enough work where I am.

    What have you done to increase your self-reliance where you are?
    I have an increasingly large garden, dairy goats, bees, chickens, fruit trees, berry bushes, and a stocked pond. DIL/next door neighbor and I just planted 200 strawberry plants. We’re getting ready to install a whole-home LP generator. I want a well and a greenhouse, but we’ll see how that goes. We’re improving our 40 acres and will get hay this year. (We used to rent it to a neighbor. He moved. We’re getting the soil back to where it needs to be to be more productive for hay.)

    I don’t think the average person realizes how much work gardening, preserving the harvest, animal care, and upkeep of everything is. You’re right. Bigger isn’t always better.

    • Moe says:

      The amount of work just for a garden to produce enough for two to get through the winter on canned goods is incredible. Adding animals in creates exponential work.

      The whole-home LP generator will be a good addition to your preps.

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