Homesteading on a Dime: Starting Where I Am

I’m a broke witch living in Flint, Michigan. I own no property of my own, though I live rent/mortgage free in a house on a large lot that I can do whatever I want with as long as I pay the bills and property taxes.

And I’m starting my homestead.

Right where I am, with what I have.

Why?

Because I want to.

Because it’s a spiritual practice.

Because we’re watching the collapse of the American Empire.

Because climate change is coming.

For all sorts of reasons.

It’s been a dream of mine for years, and after a few false starts elsewhere, I’m finally at a place where I can.

It helps that this property is already partway there. The friend I moved in with in late 2017, and who has basically given me the house now that she’s been able to move out of Flint, was an avid gardener, both indoors and outdoors.

She grew medical marijuana indoors, and after she harvested the last of her plants here and had her rooms set up where she is now, we transferred the utilities to my name and I’m growing my own indoor crop. She also had a large garden in the backyard, a pond, and chickens.

So it’s not like I’m starting from scratch here.

But I am starting from having made less than $6k last year.

“Broke witch” was not a joke.

But isn’t that part of homesteading? Figuring out how to survive on as little money as possible. Going back to basics. Stepping outside of the capitalist systems that have beaten us all down until we’re nothing but zombies going to work and coming home to watch Netflix everyday?

Fuck that shit.

Well, I mean, I still watch Netflix, but fuck the whole drone at a job bullshit.

Not my cup of tea. And I hate tea to begin with.

Honestly, I’m unemployable. I have a raging case of ADHD and I’m on the Autism spectrum. I can’t take meds for the ADHD – I have weird reactions to medications, and while I’ve developed lots of coping mechanisms for the ADHD, jobs just don’t work for me.

Mostly though, the monotony of jobs drives me bonkers.

I get so bored, and when I’m bored, my brain goes on strike.

So I gave up on employment years ago, and got my hustle on.

Most years, I do okay.

2018 sucked because I was sick, but things are already better.

Not perfect, but when are things ever perfect?

So here I am, with a house on some property, ready to homestead, and I have to figure out what the fuck I’m doing.

Luckily, I’ve wanted to homestead for so long that I spent many years learning as much as I could, and now I get to put all that learning into practice, and babble on and on about it here, on this poorly neglected blog that I’ve had for a year but rarely posted on.

Working on that…

I’m blogging it because I know I’m not the only one concerned with personal sustainability. With the changes that our world is undergoing.

I know I’m not the only one with a deep longing to reconnect to ancestral ways that were forgotten and destroyed under the march of imperialism and colonialism and modernism.

Homesteading is both a practical and spiritual desire for me.

I want to grow enough food that I can spend as little as possible at grocery stores. So I’m expanding the garden plot, putting in a chicken coop (there actually used to be one, but my friend moved it up to her new place), and converting the flower beds in the front yard to food beds.

I’m using organic growing techniques, pulling from permaculture principles and learning from indigenous practices for food and land management.

This year’s projects:

  • Trim the berry bushes by the pond
  • Raised beds for the garden based on Hugelkultur principles (Google it, totally worth it)
  • New roof (fingers crossed I can fund it, cuz it’s needed. Luckily, my on-again/off-again husband has roofing experience, so I’ll just need to buy materials and beer for a couple of his friends to get together and do that).
  • Tree removal (another fingers crossed one, there’s a large tree in the yard that’s seriously impacting the sun on the gardens and is also starting to have roots affect the foundation, so it has to go. The wood will be seasoned for a year, and then used for burning in my woodstove, as well as foundations for Hugelkulture mound/beds.)
  • Compost bins
  • Chicken coop
  • A catio (I’m a Crazy Cat Lady, and want to build a catio that connects to my bedroom window so the cats can go outside safely in nice weather.)
  • Start cultivating a strain of tomatoes that grows well indoors
  • Practice companion planting with the indoor marijuana grows (Chamomile is known to increase essential oil production in the plants that it grows around, so I’m going to get chamomile seeds and scatter them right in the soil of one of the marijuana plants. Talk about some sleep time tea…)
  • Practice landrace gardening with the outdoor beds (In landrace gardening, the idea is to use a variety of seeds from different vegetable strains, and give them almost no maintenance. Don’t weed them, don’t water them (unless you live in a really dry area), thin the weaklings out, and save seeds from the strongest producers to use the next year. Over the years, you’ll develop strains of plants that are adapted to your unique microclimate and your particular gardening style.)

That’s the practical side of homesteading this year. I want to grow as many veggies as I can, have enough chickens to produce more eggs than I need, have a few chickens for meat, etc. Staples like flour and sugar I’ll still need to buy at the store, but the goal is to minimize what I have to buy at the store.

As far as the spiritual side of things, I want to build relationships with the spirits of place where I live, both here in my home and on my property, as well as in my neighborhood and the city. The Flint River told me a few years ago that She wasn’t going to let me leave Flint, that I was hers, and so I’m going to start a River Shrine project this year as well that will take me off homestead for daily bike rides along the river trail and clearing up spaces as I go, planting wild flowers and vegetables in those spaces, and restoring what I can. I’ll also be considering the ways everything is interconnected and creating harmony on my property so that the spirits that inhabit this space are happy and helpful.

I want to create spaces for meditation and ritual on my property. A meditation corner in my veg room. A spot near the pond to listen to the water flowing. Ways to find tranquility.

And of course, I will continue to do my work of helping others figure out how to quit fucking up their lives and start creating what they really want, rather than settling for what their conditioning tells them they should accept.

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