Homesteading in itself can have many components to it: growing, harvesting, raising small and large livestock, preserving the bounty, fabric and yarn skills, soap making, candle making, prepping, herbalism, and many other things that make up your homesteading lifestyle. Because of this, I am willing to bet that most of us collect myriad kits and tools that make ‘DIY-ing’ simple and accessible for us when we need it. If you are homesteading a small property like I am, this may present a problem for you, which means that you may need to take some time to organize your homestead.
Storage is a huge issue on our homestead, with the reason being that our home with all of its indoor storage space is somewhere between 1100 and 1200 square feet. We have 3 adults and one teenager all under this roof. Add to that the fact that I am a pack rat and have a hard time getting rid of things for various reasons, and you can be sure that stuff adds up and space disappears quickly around our place!
This month, I am in the midst of a huge ‘spring clean’ but it’s probably more akin to an organizational overhaul. Like most homesteaders, I have made it a practice to collect things that I think can and will be helpful to us at some point in our homesteading journey, or in our family plan for preparedness. To be sure, some of the items I have collected will be helpful to our home and homestead, as well as our preparedness journey, but some just won’t and is taking up valuable space. All of this extra stuff blocks our ability to use (and rotate) the items that we have, rendering our homestead sluggish at best and overwhelming at worst.
Because most of our issues are on the inside of our homestead, my organizational focus is indoors this month. Being that I live in what I like to call “a shoebox-of-a-home”, I have utilized these concepts over the years to some degree. I am hoping to use them more consistently so as to bring order to the many chaotic areas in our home, as well as actually find and put to use items that are buried underneath or behind layers of meaningless clutter. I plan to take the same concepts that I use inside to the outdoor parts of our homestead in the fall, more specifically, in the barn area where I keep the chickens and rabbits.
Chances are, your homestead is already set up in some respect to reflect working zones. After all, you probably don’t have your kitchen utensils in the bathroom or bedrooms, or your toilet paper in the kitchen. However, when we have a lot of things, it is easy to allow components that we don’t often use to be strewn in different rooms. You are thinking that one day you will pull it all together to do that project, but somehow it never comes to pass. For starters, figure out where you will be doing certain types of work on your homestead.
Think about where you sew, cook, build, garden, read, dress, or any other of the myriad things you do on a regular basis. Do you have everything you need to complete the job within arms reach, or are the items needed scattered from room to room? I have my soap making items stored in various places—lye, oils and melt and pour soap in the hallway, books in the preps room, and equipment in my closet. I don’t have to tell you that soap making doesn’t get done around here very often! I have the same issue with my home remedy supplies and containers.
Having all of the items you need within arms reach will save you valuable time. No longer will you spend time and energy locating, lugging, and putting away those items—they will be there for you to use then put away, cutting the time you spend on any given task or project. If you think of ways to set up zones for most of your activities, you can be banking time to do other things that you love to do.
One thing that I love to do is to keep a basket of ongoing yarn projects next to my chair in the living room. Often I watch television with my husband, but because I’m such an antsy person I need to be doing something while I sit. Crocheting or loom knitting is a fantastic way for me to be productive during my down time, as it allows me to complete repetitive motion projects with my hands while I let my mind relax.
For outdoor organizing, make zones for areas in your barn or yard for various activities such as gardening, grooming your rabbits, incubating and hatching chicken eggs, feeding your livestock, etc., and consider storing all that you need within arms reach of those activities. Putting everything in arms reach for some activities (like gardening or building) may be a bit, so if all you can achieve is bringing your job-specific items to one area, you will still be saving yourself the time of trying to locate your tools and items for the job.
For gardening, carve out an area to store your hoe, garden trowel and dibble, gardening gloves, rake, harvesting basket, and other oft-used tools nearby so that you can quickly get your garden planted, pruned, weeded, or harvested within a few minutes a day, rather than hours on a weekend.
For smaller jobs like grooming your wool rabbits, bring all of their brushes, nail clippers, styptic powder, a container for any wool that can be saved for a later spinning session, treats, and any other items needed to complete this activity. I would imagine you can do the same to set up a milking station for your goats by keeping all of the equipment and milking table in one designated area of the barn or homestead.
‘Grab and Go’ Kits
If your home is like mine and there isn’t really enough space to make a zone for some of your larger projects and activities, consider making ‘grab and go’ storage kits for projects like soap making, candle making, embroidery, clothing repair, knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, canning, and other projects that have equipment and supplies that are needed, but don’t otherwise have a home close to where you would work.
Remember how I have my soapmaking and home remedy supplies stored amongst different rooms of my house? I plan make a ‘grab and go’ kit for these supplies as well as for my candle making equipment, embroidery supplies, scrapbooking, and all of their respective books. Because I am usually compelled to keep everything that I have, I plan to weed out the items that I know I won’t use and keep only what will fit into the storage container I designate to each hobby. By giving myself a certain measure of space and a place for all items relating to that activity, I am creating a system that will be easy to use, easy to put away, making my projects much quicker and easier to accomplish.
*Important Note: Before making ‘grab and go’ kits, plan where you will keep them, making sure to measure the space before you shop for the storage containers you will be using.
Specifically Labeled Boxes
This is a great method for those of you who have an abundance of consumable supplies for any given activity. I have an abundance of fabric that I have collected over the years, all in various sizes and shapes. In the past, it was just shoved into boxes and drawers with no rhyme or reason, which caused me to waste precious time rifling through my fabrics for the right print, as well as the correct size.
All of my sewing notions, fabric, and machines are all stored on the same heavy shelf in my preps room, with the fabric in neatly folded piles in plastic boxes labeled by size and fabric type. Pulling together components and tools for a sewing project is a snap, and even though I don’t really have all of my sewing items within arms reach, I can bring what I need to the kitchen table quickly, and I’m on my way to starting and finishing my project much more quickly than if I hadn’t had my boxes made up.
The homesteading lifestyle is one of the most freeing ways to live in that it drives us toward self-sufficiency like no other lifestyle will. However, our freedom is blocked when our homestead is so packed full of tools and supplies that we never get around to starting the projects that are designed to free us.
Some disorganization on a homestead is to be expected, but when it gets in the way of our goals, it wastes our time, money, and energy. Organizing our homesteads to fit our needs will encourage the flow of learning and practicing self-sufficiency, producing more sure results and a steady homesteading journey.