This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase I may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see my About page for full disclosure.
There is a LOT of information out there for beginner homesteaders, gardeners, and sustainable-type folks. There are so many books that I’ve read or have in my to-be-read pile that you could fill a whole bookshelf! That’s not including my sad addiction to free Kindle ebooks on the subject. Then there are blogs and podcasts and Facebook groups.
Which ones are reliable? How do you sort the wheat from the chaff? What resources should you start with before branching out? This list should get you going on your homestead journey!
There are boatloads of books that have good, solid information. You could spend years reading about different topics! While there’s no replacement for experience, you can learn a lot and avoid mistakes by
Although I love Amazon, don’t forget your local library as a great way to access lots of information without breaking the budget! Most libraries are able to order books that are elsewhere in their system even if they don’t have them in your local branch.
Here are just a couple good ones to get you started. I may have to do a whole post on books on the subject!
The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It – this is a well-rounded book that covers multiple facets of homesteading from raising animals and vegetables to generating your own energy. It’s getting a little dated, and unfortunately it’s not available in eBook format, but still well worth putting this one on your bookshelf.
Storey’s Guides – Storey is one of the premiere publishers out there on homesteading topics. If you want to know almost everything there is to know about a type of animal, Storey will have a book on it. I’m also a huge fan of their massive Storey’s Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance.
The Weekend Homesteader – this is a fun, easy book that gives you baby steps to get started homesteading. It can be very overwhelming to dive in to everything needed for a successful, sustainable homestead. This book lets you take it a little at a time.
Your county extension can be one of the best resources you have – especially if you encounter something unfamiliar. Extensions are run in concert with the land grant universities (short explanation is colleges and universities that have a focus on agricultural studies). Extension agents can help with everything from autopsies on livestock that have died and you don’t know why to being the definitive clearinghouse for information on food preservation. The amazing thing about extensions is most of them are online and can be used by anyone no matter the state. Find your local extension here.
There are a million and a half blogs out there about homesteading and self-sufficiency. (Hey, you’re reading one now!) But I love reading other people’s blogs, too, and here are a couple of my favorites.
The Prairie Homestead – I don’t know about you, but I often feel like I’m not a “real” homesteader because I don’t do it full-time or have multiple species of livestock (yet). Jill of the Prairie Homestead is who I want to be when I grow up! She’s living the dream and her posts are super useful.
Reformation Acres – Beautiful, useful, and inspiring. What more can you ask for? Reformation Acres is a fave because every time I read it I get inspired to try something new on our homestead.
Homestead Honey – Teri is all about sharing knowledge. I’ve learned a ton reading her blog and, just like the other two on this list, it’s a gorgeous, inspiring blog!
Want to learn how to grow everything from asparagus to zinnias? Check out your local master gardener’s association. They hold classes, have websites laden with information, and answer questions – and they have an amazing training if you want to become a master gardener yourself. I’m hoping my schedule will allow me to take this training next year!
I should have put this item up at number 1 it’s such an amazing resource. You can try veggies or meat cuts you might not have eaten before. Determine which varieties grow well in your area by seeing which ones are sold at market. Network with the vendors, who are doing what you want to do! You can ask them questions, learn what they’re doing, and help support your local food-system. You can also meet like-minded fellow shoppers. I’ve learned so much from my local farmer’s market and shopping there was the first step on my journey towards a homesteading life. Find yours at Local Harvest or Eat Well Guide.
Your local hardware and craft stores often offer great DIY classes for free or low-cost on tons of different subjects. Sometimes your library will also have classes on subjects that relate to homesteading. Take a DIY class even if you’re not terribly interested in the finished product (like a milk crate or toy box). It will teach you basic skills to use in other projects. They’ll help you learn to use tools, try out different brands of tools, and teach you the techniques to make your finished projects nicer. You can also take classes on sites like Craftsy, but you really don’t get the hands-on experience that you get in person.
You can learn just about ANYTHING on YouTube. While it may not be hands-on like an in-person class, you can certainly explore a subject in exhaustive detail. People have vlogs that deal with everyday homestead issues, quick how-tos, and in-depth classes. It gives a sense of connection and understanding when you can actually see how other people are doing things.
I enjoy listening to podcasts while I’m driving or out walking the dog. They’re usually relatively short (at least compared to an audio book) and I can finish them in one go, but the good ones are packed with tons of information. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Living Homegrown – this is about small-scale sustainability without having to have a farm, though a lot of what Theresa and her guests talk about is useful no matter the size of your property
Homesteady – small farmers talk about their day to day, raising animals, and being sustainable. Fascinating and fun.
Melissa K Norris – despite her heavily Christian bent, I really love Melissa K Norris’ podcast. There’s interesting, useful information and even her “inspirational” stuff often gives me something to think about despite it’s religious source.
I love getting my magazines in the mail each month or every other month. They’re chock full of pictures and information that makes me think and get inspired.
Mother Earth News – just tons of information on homesteading, raising animals, being sustainable, and having a do-it-yourself mindset.
GRIT – this is subtitled “Rural American Know-How”. I love that it celebrates Rural America, and has lots of information on older skills and ways to use them in modern contexts.
Hobby Farms – this was the first magazine we got when we started to dream of chickens and bees and gardens and it’s still one of my favorites for inspiration and ideas.
Breed Associations / your vet
If you’ve settled on a particular breed of animal, find out if there’s a breed association. Typically they not only have information about breed standards and breeding requirements. They’ll have lists of people raising the breed so you know where to get stock. Their newsletters often have good information about health concerns and care techniques that will help you be a better keeper. I look forward to our quarterly NASSA newsletter and just drool over the pictures of the Shetland sheep – it keeps me invested in the breed while we wait to be able to bring them to our homestead.
Don’t overlook your vet, too. They’ll know what breeds are raised locally nad what health issues your animals may face. Often they’ll be willing to come out (for a fee) and show you how to do things like trim hooves or give shots so that you can do most of the medical care yourself.
I hope this list helps you get started! Are you someone who just dives in or do you prefer to do tons of research before moving forward?