Our Homesteading Goals
Can it be done? Do we really think we could spend the rest of our life never walking into a big box store?
That’s our dream…right there out in the open — our homesteading goals are to live WITHOUT Walmart!
This morning I was making Amish meadow tea from the mint from the herb garden, scrambling eggs from our laying hens, and frying potatoes from the garden, I couldn’t help but smile knowing our breakfast didn’t come from a store, but right from our own backyard.
At the same time I was reviewing our grocery list and dreading our monthly trip into town. I got to thinking that if we pushed some of our homestead plans up a notch we could even be more self-sufficient.
But what more could we do and where should we start?
As with everything else, it started with pen and paper. I wrote down everything we already are doing. Then I made a list of the things we typically buy, and then made a list of things we can learn how to do.
Here’s our lists:
What we already do:
- We raise our own hens for eggs
- We raise meat chickens
- We raise feeder pigs for pork
- We raise a bull calf for beef
- We raise meat rabbits
- We have three bee hives to supply us with fresh raw honey throughout the year
- We plant 1/2 acre garden to provide us with fresh vegetables
- We can over 200+ jars of produce each year – lots of spaghetti sauce
- We pick gallons of blackberries each year to make wine and pie filling
- We burn wood to keep us warm in the winter
- We raise alpacas for yarn for spinning
- We make our own bread
- We cook everything from scratch
- We make our own cleaning supplies
- We buy raw milk from a local dairy and make butter, yogurt and ice cream
- We save heirloom seeds
- We make our own face cream, and lip balm
- We grow all our garden plants from seed
- We mend all of our own clothes
- We compost kitchen scraps and animal manure
- We hunt wild game ( not me …hubby)
- We smoke our own meat
- We planted fruit trees
- We make dog treats
What we normally buy:
- Baking Supplies; flour, sugar, yeast, oil, shortening
- Pasta, beans & rice
- Health & Beauty Supplies; toothpaste, shampoo, mouthwash, hand soap, toilet paper
- Clothes & shoes
- Baby chicks in the spring
- Pet food
- Grain for the farm animals
- Light bulbs, batteries, candles
Once I wrote down a list of the things we generally buy, I was able to compile a list of things we could work on to shorten our grocery list even more. Thanks to the Internet we were able to find great tutorials on some of the items on our punch list.
What we need to work on:
- How to render lard
- Grow and press sunflowers for oil
- How to make soap using wood ashes and animal fat
- How to make shampoo
- How to make toothpaste
- How to weave cloth
- How to make candles
- How to grind wheat for baking
- How to make yeast
- Learn to make pasta
- Learn how to hatch eggs
- Find and use alternative energy sources – solar panels
- Learn to dye wool
- Learn how to graft fruit trees
- Grow grain for the farm animals
We admit there will always be things things we need to buy, but our goal is to provide for ourselves as much as humanly possible.
Will we ever be able to make the steel toe boots my husband needs for work, or a zipper needed to repair a jacket?
No, but we can take control of our lives and have the satisfaction in knowing we’ve made the choice to live without relying on big box stores as much as we can!
Thanks for stopping by!
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Wow! You are doing so much to be self-sufficient – that is so awesome! There is so much to learn in trying to be self-sufficient and learning to make do with what you have on hand. I enjoy following your journey and learning with you 🙂
It is work in progress but our dream is to really live without stepping foot in Walmart!
It’s wonderful that your family is so self-reliant. And even more wonderful to work toward future goals. Looking forward to seeing your new accomplishments!
Thanks Daisy! We keep working at it everyday!
That’s my goals too. It’s a slow process, but slowly, slowly we’ll get there. It’s such a grateful feeling you have when your whole meal is from God’s grace.
Great post! As we raise our own food and purchase meat locally I find I need to go to the store less and less! Great post!
Every time I step into Walmart I think the same thing. While we’re traveling it’s a necessity for ease of transferring Hubby’s meds from one location to the other but as soon as we are finished with this job and can move into our new farmstead – no more Walmart for us :-)! We have the same goals as y’all and we will shop local, small businesses for anything we may need to purchase or we’ll do without. I mean, what did we do before Walmart, right? We survived, lol!
I cannot wait to start reading about your new homestead…how exciting for you to know that it is waiting for you! And I know what you mean….what did people do without Walmart! Even we didn’t know before we all will soon find out since so many us are trying to live without them!
You are doing so much to be self sufficient, Tracy! I haven’t stepped foot in a Walmart in over a year…I try to buy from smaller stores, especially locally owned ones. And every time I have gone in Wally World…I left in a bad mood. Seriously! It seems like many of the other shoppers are very unhappy people, and I feel so sorry for them. 🙁
Lisa I try and buy from small business owners as well and even though the cost is sometimes higher I feel so much better knowing where our money goes. Most times it stays in the community when we buy small.
I remember moving back home & my mother shopping with me to set up my new household. I whispered to her to put something back because we could get it for half the price in the city. “If we don’t support this town, who’s going to?” She snapped. Lesson learned.
I love it! Good for your mother and good for you remembering her very wise words!
This sounds great… a lot of work, but good. We still live in the city, but have been able to do much even here.. maybe someday. We gave up Walmart years ago – we quit because of some decisions they made that we disagreed w/. When they changed their position, we tried to shop there, but had gotten out of the habit and realized we could shop cheaper elsewhere and we have saved money by not shopping there. I understand your point, though, and it is a good one and I am impressed w/ home self sufficient you are. 🙂
I think that is wonderful! I’ll bet you work hard at it though and it is a labor of love, and also a blessing because you KNOW what you’re putting into your body. I have to depend on stores for everything.
I’ve often thought a garden would be nice but I’ve never done it. Every year I say I’ll try my hand at it and then I get so busy and just don’t think about it until it’s too late. Maybe I’ll start a container garden for a few things and then I don’t have to worry about the dogs destroying it! Thanks for linking up to “Making Your Home Sing Monday.”
I would say you are right…start off with a patio container garden. They are easy to care for and you will enjoy the fresh vegetables you get from just a small container.
Love your thoughts. While we are not nearly as far into self sufficiency as you, I do choose to avoid Walmart. By carefully shopping for that which I do purchase I can do so.
I am so surprised that everyone has many of the same thoughts I do about those big box stores!
What you are doing is so amazing and things we have all thought so much about doing. I would love to make my own products. I have my own thought about preservatives, chemicals etc. I preach about these things and I know they are harmful but I only wish I had the fortitude to put my thoughts into action. I have 5 children – one with serious health issues. I have a graduate degree in health psychology, so I have more than enough knowledge to know that what we consume can be harmful. I would love to put my thoughts into action like you have done.. Kudos to you!
Sounds like a great goal for you! It really makes me feel good knowing all I am doing for our family!
I love this post Tracy. Again, we also have the same goals and it is a rewarding challenge to see what we can do without, what we can make ourselves and ultimately what we are still forced to buy.
Thank you for sharing all your inspiration on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! 🙂
Great summary. As I was reading your list I was thinking “render lard!” in my mind. Great for making candles and soap! And, you’ve got to can more than 200 products every year–you’re just not giving yourself credit 😉 . We also have a 1/2 acre garden, and I canned just 200 cans of green beans alone before they froze.
Where we struggle is the oil–I had no idea how much we used until we became self sufficient and now we only shop twice a year and it feels like all I buy is oil and coffee.
We have a serious predator problem whenever we try to grow sunflowers. If you are successful with this, I DEFINITELY need to see how you do it.
Love this list–I hope it will encourage others with this near-forgotten art & way of life.
We have tried to grow sunflowers in the past and we didn’t have much luck, but we are going to try again. Hubby needs to make a oil press before we invest in planting a bigger crop. It is on our list.
Just found your website. I try to avoid Walmart too, well most retail stores. I live in S.C. too
It is my goal for next year to not step foot in that store! Let’s see if I can make it:)
That sounds like a good challenge for the new year! I, too, will avoid shopping at Walmart during the next year. Anyone else?
I have also made a goal to not shop at Walmart. I have an area local farm to get raw milk and cheese. A local farm that sells vegetables and fruit plus grassfed beef and chickens, and pork. There is an Amish store close by I purchase flour,sugar, yeast etc. I have started using a clean wash rag for toilet paper. I clean it after every use really good. Make wash clothes from old t shirts and old socks with holes. i am working on growing my own produce.
wow! You do a lot to be self sufficient! I hope to be able to do half of that some day! Pretty cool!
Thanks for stopping by Christina and for taking time to comment!
We live in a very rural area with no big box stores, only the local grocery. Just the other day we were visiting my parents, who live in a larger town, and we went into Walmart for a few items. I remember as we were leaving telling my husband – “I sure don’t miss these kind of stores.” We avoid them if at all possible and keep working at our list too. Thanks for a great post~
Good for you…I don’t miss them either!
You are amazing!!! I am such city person that i couldn’t imagine doing what you do! I don’t even like to cook!!! A blessed Advent season to you! patsy
Not sure I am amazing…just determined to learn how to take care of ourselves better. You made me smile and I thank you for that! Merry Christmas to you too!
Also, unless you still long for perfume-y shampoo, don’t bother making any ever: just baking soda & water is AMAZING and cheaper than borscht. 🙂
Now how do we make our own baking soda…?
I have used baking soda and white vinegar on my hair before and am anxious to try it again. One of my goals for next year is to use up what I have and then convert most of my health and beauty products to homemade ones.
I just love your lists an I was excited to see our lists almost match up, which is wonderful and helps keep us on line too. I dislike spending money at groceries stores and try to keep out of them as much as possible. We have talked to friends about what they buy and how much and I am amazed at what they spend each week. We can keep our groceries to about $50 – $80 a week depending and when finances are tight we really keep it down because we have too. Our friends spend anywhere from $300 to $500 a week!!! We have just finished butchering our bull calf – 18 months old and 2 pigs, so our freezers are full and this is so exciting, and this definitely helps to keep the grocery bill down. Next on the list will be the bee hives to rob (husbands job) and I am researching more and more home made products. Thank you for linking up at Good Morning Mondays and for showing us how much we can do ourselves. Have a blessed Christmas.
Terri I know exactly what you mean about our friends spending way over $300 on groceries. They are amazed at how little we spend. We are butchering pigs net Monday as well and can’t wait to have our freezer full again. Hubby just got a deer yesterday, and a batch of rabbits are ready to be butchered. I love being able to feed my family from the farm!
That all sounds fantastic, my husband has been trying to get a deer for ages but we don’t have any in our immediate area so we have to travel – maybe one day. Do you freeze your deer or can it?? Our rabbits haven’t been going to well, we seem to get them just ready to butcher and then they get mixo or calicies and die which is a pity, so we might stop doing them and focus more on our chicken. Hope you have had or are having a great Christmas. Blessings
Terri we can and freeze our venison. I like it best canned, it is so tender and tasty that way. My hubby like is just plain as hamburger. That is a shame about your rabbits. It sounds like you need to get rid of all your rabbits and start over with a fresh. It sounds like pens are infected if you keep getting calicies.
I saw something on pintrest the other day about making your own pectin from apples. It made me think of this post. 🙂 Have you tried to make your own pectin in the past?
I have not tried to make pectin and always wondered if it really worked?
I haven’t tried to make pectin on my own yet. I just started canning last year and was to intimidated to try it, but i will be giving it a go this canning season. Liquid pectin in Florida isn’t cheap, so it would be a huge money saver.
There’s a great book from Rodale press called “Stocking UP” that has a recipe for making your own pectin.
I love your website. Keep up the good work. I make my own Landry detergent, yogurt and grow my own herbs. I tried making my own cheese but it cost more to make then buying it. A friend of mine gets grain from Beckers Bread to makes her own flour for bread and pizza dough. It’s a bit pricey to get started. You will have to buy a mill, the grain and storage.
i wrote to you last year and said that we were going to sell up and move to the country, well we did sell up and are now camping on some ones property while we look for our little piece of home.
you said pet food was something that you buy, i dont know if its for a dog , how ever i can recommend a book that has helped us soo much maybe it could help you as well.
Raw and Natural Nutrition for dogs
by Lew Olson, PhD
We could never live like that….I’m not sure if I would want to. But, I do admire you for pulling it off so well. I do most things from scratch though…and never shop at Walmart. I can’t stand the place.
Readers Digest put out a book on how to homestead back in the 70s or early 80s. They have directions there for making your own lye from wood ash. You can probably find the book cheap on Amazon.com
We’ve hatched our own eggs and I would recommend Hovebator incubators. They’re a little on the pricey side, but less expensive ones that we’ve purchased have failed to live up to their name.
I love what you’re doing! It’s always been my dream to live a self sufficient life. Now we have the land to do it. We’re getting a dairy kid this summer that I’ll hand raise and breed next summer. Then we’ll be in mild and meat.
God bless all your endeavors.
This is a challenge for us. We’ve reduced a lot, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I think my favorite thing is switching paper towels and napkins for cloth. Thanks for posting. Hello from Our Simple Homestead blog hop.
Wow it is amazing all the stuff you already do for yourself and family, we do a few things but living in the city we can’t have all the animals
We were really excited when we realized this year we’d only been to WalMart once this past year (beside for gas, but that doesn’t require going in the store!). That was just to buy the ingredients for things like homemade dish & clothes & diaper detergents and the batches of all of those are lasting so long & I still have base ingredients left, so maybe we can actually skip a year (or two) and not go again for a while!
WOW you are doing an amazing job. We do some of these however have been slack since we moved to the city. If I didn’t have to shop at Walmart I wouldn’t. It has never been nor will it ever be my favorite store!! Great job on your accomplishments.
I love this. I’ve been thinking about doing this for several months now, and now I’m thinking I’m going to have to take the plunge.
Thanks for sharing.
Every time I am in Walmart, I look around and wonder if I am the only one who thinks we are like ‘cattle’…mindlessly wandering around!! I am working on shopping at other stores (Winco comes to mind) since it is employee owned even if sometimes it costs a bit more. I can also buy most everything I need in bulk, saving landfills from more trash and they offer PAPER bags, imagine that, to bag your groceries in! Every week I make a conscious effort to be more self-sufficient. Thank you for your wonderful article!
I rarely buy clothes at Walmart anymore, and I rarely buy NEW clothes anymore unless I see something specific that catches my eye – several times. These days, I do almost all my shopping at Goodwill. They have 50% off clothing sales several times a year, so I can get probably 30-40 items (usually name brand, good quality clothing, too) for about $50.
I’ve almost knocked Walmart completely out of my personal shopping, though not chain stores entirely. There’s probably only 1-2 items I get at Walmart per month.
I would like to suggest something that I didn’t see mentioned here. You mentioned your husband’s steel-toed work boots. I don’t think my husband has bought a new pair of boots, steel-toed or otherwise in the nearly 13 years I’ve known him. We regularly go thrifting as a family outing, and he is always looking for work boots. he usually has at least 3 pair, new or nearly so, waiting to be needed. He does the same thing with jeans. New ones cost a small fortune, and the fabric is thinner than it was 10+ years ago. Makes the things the we must buy new a little bit easier to live with.
Mel what a great idea. My hubby stands on his feet all day long so his shoes is one thing we don’t cut back on but I have picked up a good part of his work clothes at Thrift stores.
I live in a rural area where I was born. We have a small Walmart that the city won’t allow to expand. They have now “rearranged” everything to accommodate groceries (imported from Mexico and China). I go in once a month for my prescription (cheapest place I can get it)and toilet paper. I pretty much make my own laundry soap and shop for shampoo, toothpaste, lotion once a year. I live alone and one large bottle of shampoo lasts a year, 2 large tubes of toothpaste last a year. We, as humans, waste so much by using too much. You don’t need to cover your toothbrush with toothpaste, a blob the size of a pea is more than sufficient to adequately brush your teeth. I shampoo my hair twice a week, I rinse it daily. I wish we had good thrift stores, either the clothes are so worn they aren’t fit to wear or at the “high end” thrift store you might as well buy something new from a store. I won’t pay $30 for “gently worn” jeans, tops or shoes. While I don’t have a garden, I buy locally grown and do raise my own eggs. This year I will buy beef and pork raised by my family. I will continue to buy locally raised chicken meat, I can’t eat chickens that I’ve butchered, the smell is overwhelming to me. I was raised on venison and rabbit but don’t care for either as an adult. Goat smells and tastes like venison, as does goat cheese, so I don’t eat that either. Fortunately, I live close enough to the Columbia River I have relatives that keep me supplied with fresh salmon and steelhead that I freeze and smoke. I have found that just living simply, preparing most things from scratch and living by “I need” rather than “I want” is the easiest way to forego shopping at any store.
Sounds like you are doing a great job!
I absolutely love this article! My husband and I have come a long way but reading things like this makes me realize how far we have yet to go.
As for some of the things on your list… I will say, since we have made the switch, I have found that making our own health and beauty supplies (toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, mouth wash, still needing to try the rest) is one of the easiest switches I have made and that you can make as it takes only a matter of minutes to make enough, say toothpaste, to last you months! (Depending on number of people of course). I usually use Wellnessmama.com for my recipes as she is very natural and toxin free but there are a lot of other great ones out there I had tried also.
I absolutely love your blog and it is so encouraging to know we aren’t the only ones, thank you!
One of the first things I started to do for my family was making lotion and lip balm, when I think back it was what really got me desiring a more homemade lifestyle! Thanks for sharing your story with me!
I am amazed at what just 2 people can do. I wonder, though, why not buy from Internet instead of going to the store? You will save on gas, and even find bargains, plus the convenience of having your items shipped to your front door.
Ciecie I am glad you mentioned buying online. I often look for things online when I can justify the shipping. The things I do buy online usually come from Amazon which is shipping free with my Prime Account. My favorite way to make purchases is to barder!
This is so impressive! I love reading what you all already do. What an inspiration! I’d love to be able to at least limit my trip their to once a week. (I always seem to forget something with the baby)
I think I lean more towards that direction than my husband. I hate going into Walmart and work hard to make that a monthly or every 2 month trip. I make all my personal care products, shampoo, lotions, tooth powder, dish soap, etc. But like you said, there are a ton of things to learn. It seems that list is never ending. I surely wish I had started on this journey about 30 years ago.
I just found your site and am enjoying the posts. They’re informative and fun to read.
Thanks for sharing your work.