What’s the best way for me to learn how to create a rural homestead for myself?

What’s the best way for me to learn how to create a rural homestead for myself? I’m a 23 year old college student and I want to move to the country and produce as much as I can for myself directly.

Twenty seven years ago I did exactly what you have in mind, and my first step was to buy 90 acres of land in the middle of nowhere. This is where my wife and our kids live today. What we did:

  • built a house
  • drilled a well
  • created gardens
  • planted apple trees
  • learned how to earn a little money in ways that suit us, while still leaving us time to continue building our homestead dream

I’ve seen others set out to do this same thing, and I’ve paid special attention to what separates those who succeed from those who don’t.

The biggest surprise I had when I set out to build a homestead life was how important money still remains. It’s true that money is far less important out here than in a place where you need to buy everything, but it’s still nice to have enough income to keep basic vehicles and equipment in good order, and to buy a few luxuries. More than a few people I’ve seen who set out to create homesteads for themselves underestimated the need for financially valuable skills and end up working minimum wage, night shift jobs while their homestead dream grinds to a halt because they don’t have the time, energy and resources to keep it growing.

As far as manual skills are concerned, there are dozens you’ll need to learn, but if you’re the right kind of person for homesteading, then learning is fun. Great ways I’ve discovered:

  • struggle with real world challenges
  • ask for advice from people handier than you are
  • buy excellent tools to meet real needs as they arise
  • take full advantage of the many opportunities to learn online

When I set out to build my skills beginning in 1985, life would’ve been a whole lot easier with Internet access in the 10′ x 20′ cabin I called home for three years. The internet also offers many opportunities for earning money remotely.

Another issue is debt. Steer completely clear of it! Save up the money you need to buy your land outright, buy a used pickup truck and keep it going yourself as much as you possibly can. Your first job on the land should be to set up some small, basic but comfortable year-round accommodation.

Canada has many forgotten places that are perfect for self-reliant country living, and I’d love to see more energetic, idealistic people move out of the city and give rural life a try. Back when I was in your shoes, I chose the west end of Manitoulin Island for my big adventure, and there are still lots of lonely old small farms waiting to be adopted here by the right kind of people.