If You Want to be a Homesteader But Don’t Know How to Get Started…

If you want to be a homesteader–either in the country or in the city–but you don’t know how to get started, you need the guidance offered in The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency, by Anna Hess.

In this book Anna gives you 48 projects to do on the weekends, month by month, throughout the year.

It’s all about taking baby steps. The temptation is to bite off more than you can chew.

What gardener doesn’t know that? You look at the seed catalogs and buy way more than what you can reasonably plant and grow.

Unless you know your limitations and make the right plan for moving forward.

I was contacted by Skyhorse Publishing about reviewing her book. I agreed to that, and I asked Anna to be my guest on DestinySurvival Radio.

The author

Anna and her husband have been homesteading for several years. She writes from experience, not from theories and conjecture. Her author info says:

“Anna Hess dreamed about moving back to the land ever since her parents dragged her off their family farm at the age of eight. She worked as a field biologist and non-profit organizer before acquiring fifty-eight acres and a husband, then quit her job to homestead full time. She loves pigging out on sun-warmed strawberries and experimenting with no-till gardening, mushroom propagation, and chicken pasturing. She lives outside Dungannon, Virginia.”

If you’re not sure where to start with your homesteading efforts, Anna’s book gives you bite sized, well organized guidance in an easy to understand manner. She’s a good teacher.

The Book

The Weekend Homesteader started out as a series of e-books. They’ve been compiled into her book. And all of it grew out of her blog.

The book contains over 400 pages and is beautifully illustrated. But don’t be intimidated by the length. It’s meant to be worked through it a little at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Anna’s goal is to give you easy tasks that make a difference. You’ll find projections of time and money required for each task and whether it’s kid friendly.

A lot of practical info is packed into a few words. Anna doesn’t add fluff just to take up space. You’ll find innovative ideas throughout her book

Ideas like starting a gardening project at your church. How about rooftop gardening if you’re in the city.?

Her monthly schedule starts in April because that’s when most people are thinking about gardening. And her book makes an excellent primer for organic and sustainable gardeners.

While growing food takes up most of the book, it’s not a gardening book per se. She raises significant issues serious homesteaders and preppers need to consider. For example…

  • Recognize many activities will be repetetive and boring. Homesteading isn’t as glamorous as portrayed in glossy magazines and Web sites, which don’t show the junk pile behind the barn or the weeds in the garden.
  • Calculate what your working wages are worth. Should you quit your job? Do you know how to budget your money so you can achieve your dreams?
  • Connect with apprentices or mentors who can teach you needed skills. You can’t get everything from a book or Internet. (That’s an amazing statement from someone who’s written her own book, isn’t it?)
  • Consider a small business on the side for extra income. Anna and her husband sell chicken waterers.

Here are some of the other topics covered in The Weekend Homesteader, not necessarily in order of appearance in the book.

  • Mulching and composting
  • Freezing, dehydrating, canning food
  • Using a clothesline to dry laundry
  • Seed saving
  • Raising chickens
  • Making a rain barrel for collecting rain water
  • Eating seasonally
  • Season extenders for your garden
  • Water storage and purification
  • Planting fruit trees and berries
  • Growing mushrooms
  • Beekeeping
  • Plenty of cooking tips
  • Basic tool recommendations
  • Tips on keeping your home (and yourself) heated in winter
  • Testing your soil and adding amendments
  • Making bread
  • Living with less exposure to media as part of the simpler lifestyle
  • Buying food in bulk wisely
  • Off the grid lighting and communications
  • Setting long term, big picture goals beyond weekend homesteading

Did I mention Anna’s thorough? Her book isn’t meant to be the definitive work on self sufficient living, but it’s a must read if you’re serious about homesteading as part of your prepping strategy.

The Conversation

Anna was a good show guest. She’s well spoken and pleasant to talk to. And if you’re not charmed by her melodious voice and accent, well, all I can say is, you’re probably not a guy.

Her original e-books were very well received. One thing led to another, and the print book came about as a result. Of course, it will outlast e-books in a grid down scenario. And that’s one good reason for you to have your own copy.

Homesteading doesn’t mean what it did when the West was being settled. Thus, Anna wrote her book for those who want to live a more basic, simplified lifestyle.

The biggest mistake many people make is to dive in too fast and try doing too much. Pace yourself. Take small steps. Otherwise, you set yourself up for failure.

Anna wants her readers to avoid that. It’s why she gives advice on starting with easy vegetables, fruits and berries.

If you’re a fan of multiplier onions, you’ll want to hear our discussion on that. Likewise, you might be curious as to why her raised beds are three feet wide, rather than the traditional four feet.

Anna encourages eating seasonally. But she found doing so to be quite an adjustment. You’ll appreciate hearing her comments because she says not to push yourself too hard if you want to eat only what’s in season.

When it comes to doing those necessary repetetive tasks around your homestead, are you appreciating the scenery around you? Are you living in that present moment? Are you taking time off when you need it?

Are you intimidated by what you see on gardening and cooking shows? Anna wants to put homesteading within reach for you and her other readers.

Is your job standing in the way of your homesteading efforts? Do you feel locked into the system? Can you figure out what you really need and get by with less? It’s Anna’s desire to help people move in that direction with the projects in her book.

About anybody can homestead on whatever level is comfortable to them, according to Anna. So if you’re wanting to do it, just get started.

Hear my visit with Anna Hess by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for November 8, 2012. View Anna’s blog at www.waldeneffect.org. Find details about the chicken waterer Anna and her husband offer at www.avianaquamiser.com.

Get Anna’s book by clicking on its title wherever you see it linked in this post. How about buying it as a gift for someone you know who could use it.

Oh, by the way, Thanks to Skyhorse Publishing, I gave away a copy of The Weekend Homesteader to Carrie from Hawthorne, CA. She was the first person who could tell me this week’s show was the 90th episode of DestinySurvival Radio.

Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.