For decades, Americans have been under the trance of aerating, fertilizing, and seeding lawns. The pinnacle of a front and backyard, was literally Bermuda grass and a white picket fence. The measure of a good yard was how vast an expanse of monocultured grass you could create.
We are living through a revolution of self-reliance and independence, where vegetable and herb gardens are even showing up in front yards around the nation. People are looking at their land much differently now. It is more of a resource and can become home to something like a small flock of egg producing hens.
Let’s look at 8 projects that you can DIY in your backyard, to create a more healthy and self-sufficient homestead.
Outdoor Fitness Area
Fitness has long been a dirty word amongst homesteaders. It has been one of those things that people hate to hear. It’s hard work and it sucks, and it hurts but it makes you a better person. Nothing builds your will to live and your capability the way that cardio and strength training do. There is nothing on a shelf that can replace a body and a mind that is working optimally.
So, why not create a small outdoor fitness area in your yard.
- Hang a Heavy Bag
- Invest in Kettlebells
- Build a simple set of monkey bars for pullups (the kids will play, too)
- A simple inclined bench with a bar across the top can be the best place to do sit-ups
- A short bar that is anchored to the ground can give you the ability to do difficult pushups outside.
Choose some or all these options. A simple box built of wood can be jumped up on for a great workout. Don’t forget, your outdoor fitness area will also get you in the sun more, and that is critical. Vitamin D deficiency is fast becoming an epidemic in our nation.
Constructing An Outbuilding
The types of outbuildings you can build vary widely. You can do things like build an outhouse as a backup waste management system on your property. A barn for keeping livestock is another option. You might also create a workshop for working wood and metal.
Working wood with blades and shaping metal with heat are two of the most underrated skills when it comes to self-sufficiency.
Outbuildings can also be great for storage of equipment and items that are not negatively affected by weather.
No matter how urban you might be, you could own some semblance of livestock. Many localities are changing zoning laws to allow for things like a small flock of chickens. These new rules often allow for hens only, egg laying, no slaughtering, and a small group of around 6 birds.
However, you can call the zoning office in your area and get the full scoop. You might even have enough space for a small pygmy goat! These little goats can produce some serious milk! Milk and eggs need to be part of your backyard.
Whether you shoot traditional bows, compound bows or even crossbows, a simple range will get you outside using those weapons more often. An archery range can be as cheap and easy to build as a few stacked hay bales with some red spray paint on them as a bullseye.
If you want, you can add some foam deer and turkeys or just more bales at different heights and distances.
Excellence at archery requires a dedication to shooting on almost a daily basis. You will also learn how to hunt this way. If you have a fun archery range, you will look forward to shooting that bow each day.
While a mushroom farm sounds extravagant it is merely a collection of hardwood logs that are inoculated with shiitake spore, or some other edible mushroom. These logs can be stacked or stood up together in the woods and as long as they are ‘knocked’ or activated each year they will produce mushrooms in the fall.
A mushroom farm not only gives you access to mushrooms for cooking and eating, but also gives you a product that you could sell locally!
One of the best projects that you can create with minimal materials in your backyard, is the root cellar. The root cellar is a multi-use build that is underground. Because it maintains a consistent temperature you are able to store all kinds of things inside a root cellar.
Some people use these rooms to store vegetables, hang meat or even keep food storage. These were the refrigerators of the old days when consistently cool temperatures were required to keep food from spoiling.
Shelter For Native Animals
We are living through an age of invasive species. Whether they are growing on the ground before us, in our rivers or in the microbiology that surrounds us, we are ‘under attack’. Native species are also feeling the pressure from these invasive species.
On our property we have created a small orchard of native Paw Paw trees that love our wetlands. They were being choked out by invasive species. So, we started pulling those invasive and the paw paws thrived. Every September we are gifted with that incredible tropical fruit that survives the southeastern winters.
Animals need the same kind of care. If you build the right structures you will be able to shelter and protect native species and they will reward you in return.
Bat boxes are better than bug spray! Bats eat lots of mosquitoes a night, and when you build some bat boxes and place them around your property, you will keep the bats close by and, nightly, they will sift the air around your home for those nasty biting mosquitoes.
Bat boxes are simple builds that can be done in an afternoon and great to do with kids.
Owls are another form of pest control. The damage that small animals can do to things like animal feed and gardens is outstanding. Moles, mice, rabbits, and the like can eat you out of house and home if you are not careful.
Just like with bats, you can create a safe haven for owls on your property. Owl boxes will keep these night hunters on your property allowing them to be a natural pest control.
We are all well aware of the trouble that bees have been. They are dealing with mites that are invasive and are destroying bee populations around the world. However, a pollinator garden inside a simple raised bed will provide a new safe haven for your bees and a source of nectar for local hives.
In return these bees will pollinate your trees and plants year over year.
This might sound silly but having a simple ridge pole set up between two trees gives you the ability to do all sorts of things. This can become a hub for you to practice a variety of survival shelters.
- Tarp Lean-to
- Tarp A Frame
- Primitive A Frame
- Primitive Lean-to
These are just four examples of things that you can setup on a simple ridge pole. Building these shelters will give you an edge in homesteading. You can also add to these locations and create a full scale bush-craft camp!
These projects can also be done with the help of your kids. Get the family involved and you can round out your perfect homestead.
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