Doug and Stacy's: Over at Doug and Stacy’s Midwest homestead, a collection of adorable outbuildings augment the 800-square-foot cabin constructed with timbers felled from their land.
Doug and Stacy's: Greenhouses, a chicken coop and sheds hold the equipment necessary for living off the land.
Becky Sunshine's: Chickens have free rein at Becky’s homestead, which provides everything she needs for her daily life.
Becky Sunshine takes advantage of her namesake’s warm and sunny climate at her energy-independent, two-bedroom Florida homestead.
Becky Sunshine's: Inside Becky’s kit log cabin, the rooms are simple and uncluttered. Open shelves replace heavy, expensive cabinets and hold all her kitchen necessities.
Becky Sunshine's: A homemade half-log bench augments the seating supplied by a durable leather sofa. A dining table pulls double-duty when Becky is updating her YouTube channel.
“We were city folks who decided the pace of life was just too fast,” says Doug, who, along with his wife, Stacy, set out to create a pioneer life in the 21st century. They purchased 11 acres in the Midwest and built a log cabin from trees felled on their land.
Photo: Doug and Stacy
What is Homesteading?
Basically, homesteading is a lifestyle that includes a commitment to self-sufficiency. For the hard-core, that means growing or raising all their food, supplying their shelter, creating their own power, producing their own clothes and living without making or spending money. Other homesteaders take a looser approach: They may work outside the home, purchase some goods and live in house that’s tied to a public utility. Living debt-free is a common theme for those in the growing movement.
Photo: Becky Sunshine
The Homestead Home
If you’re going to can vegetables or fruit for long-term food supplies, plan for ample storage. A covered porch creates space to remove shoes or boots and work on outdoor projects, while being sheltered from the rain or hot sun.
Take the time to thoughtfully consider how much square footage you really need. “You can always add on later,” Becky advises. “Often, you don’t need more in the house, but you might need a barn or a workshop outside.”
Doug and Stacy’s homestead includes a cabin, greenhouse, a barn and a shed for their rainwater catchment tanks. They live with no solar power or wind turbines, use kerosene lanterns for light and a wood stove for heat, and yet they still manage to post daily on their “Off Grid with Doug and Stacy” YouTube channel. (They power their laptop computer through their car’s battery.)
Photo: Doug and Stacy
Home-Grown and Raised
A vegetable garden is another hallmark of homesteading. A greenhouse will certainly extend a homesteader’s growing season, but crops can be grown in containers, raised beds or directly in fields. Two to four acres is plenty of space to grow enough food to feed an average-sized family. If you plan to heat your home from wood cut on your property, you’ll need more acreage.
Chickens are a common first step for homesteaders, since they provide eggs, possibly meat and help keep pests under control in the garden. Becky says that in addition to chickens, all homesteads also need a cat to catch mice and a dog to scare away raccoons and other scavengers.
Dairy cows or goats, fiber animals like sheep and pack animals like donkeys or mules are welcome additions to a homestead. Doug and Stacy use horses for transportation. All these animals need shelter of some kind—barns, coops or stables are common outbuildings for homesteads. Outbuildings can be built with log construction, as well.
Gardens, animals and people, of course, require water. Rain barrels are helpful for gathering water for crops. Becky swears by her well, while Doug and Stacy use a water catchment system. Storage tanks for this type of system can be buried or sheltered in a building.