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Homesteading for Beginners with Michelle Bruhn and Stephanie Thurow, Ep 195



Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a homesteader? A growing number of people are turning to self-sufficiency and sustainability in their way of living. However, homesteading can seem intimidating, especially when social media portrays it as an exclusive lifestyle requiring acres of land and living off the grid. The good news is that it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing lifestyle! In this episode, learn how Stephanie Thurow and Michelle Bruhn, co-authors of the book Small Scale Homesteading and absolute BFFs, are making homesteading accessible to everyone—no matter how much land you have. They share their experiences with gardening, chicken keeping, maple sugaring, and more, all while living on less than an acre in the suburbs of Minneapolis.


In this episode, we learn:

  • [06:43] Stephanie & Michelle’s homesteading journey
  • [13:08] The challenges of gardening in different regions (know your last frost date)
  • [16:24] How Stephanie & Michelle’s friendship and shared interests led to their book “Small-Scale Homesteading”
  • [17:55] Where can you find a range of cold-tolerant crops for your fall and winter gardens?
  • [19:58] Where can you find the perfect wind chimes to add a touch of beauty and mindfulness to your surroundings?
  • [17:51] What is the role of community in their homesteading journeys?
  • [24:32] What is the difference between gardening and homesteading?
  • [26:40] What inspired Michelle and Stephanie’s move from gardening to homesteading
  • [30:50] Tips for transitioning from gardening to homesteading
  • [40:21] Michelle on seed starting
  • [43:36] What are the easiest seeds to save?
  • [44:59] How can you preserve your homegrown food?
  • [46:45] Fermentation vs pickling
  • [48:36] What is water bath canning?
  • [51:21] Things you should know about raising chickens!
  • [01:01:13] Further homesteading stories and experiences from Michelle & Stephanie


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Small Scale Homesteading

Homesteading is the practice of self-sufficient living that often involves gardening, raising animals, and preserving food. It's a way to live more sustainably and reduce your dependence on commercial products. 

Homesteading on a small scale is possible and can be just as rewarding as homesteading on a larger scale. Stephanie suggests the key is to start small and focus on what you can realistically manage.


The Role of Community

One of the most important aspects of homesteading is community. Getting connected with other homesteaders will help you share knowledge, resources, and support. Homesteading can be a solitary practice—albeit much more tiring and lonely—but it doesn't have to be. You can find community through local farmers' markets, homesteading groups, or online forums.


Homesteading Tips and Recommendations for Beginners

If you're interested in homesteading but don't know where to start, here are a few tips and recommendations.

Setting Up a Homestead Garden:

  • Sun mapping: Create a sun map to determine how much sun different spots in your yard receive throughout the day. This will help you determine the plants you can grow depending on their lighting needs!
  • Grow what you love: Grow crops that you and your family enjoy eating.
  • Start small and scale up: Begin with a manageable garden size to avoid frustration and overwhelm and expand gradually if desired.
  • Succession planting: Sow different crops at staggered intervals to harvest throughout the season. Make sure you know your frost dates and plan around it.
  • Extend the growing season: Low tunnels extend the growing season by protecting plants from frost, warming the soil, and allowing for earlier planting and later harvests.

Food Preservation Tips:

  • Freezing: The easiest method of food preservation. It holds the nutrition well and is simple.
  • Food dehydration: Low cost to run and can be done by hanging herbs or using a dehydrator.
  • Fermentation: You create good bacteria through the process of fermentation. Examples of food you can ferment are beans and sauerkraut.
  • Water bath canning: For food that is acidic enough to be canned safely, such as jams and pickles. 
  • Pressure canning: For low-acid foods like vegetables and meats that are not safe to can with a water bath canner.

Chicken-Raising Tips:

  • Make sure your city or town allows it before starting.
  • Have a solid chicken coop that is well protected from predators.
  • Plan to see chickens daily and get to know their personalities and behavior to notice any unusual changes.
  • Provide clean water and fresh food for chickens daily.
  • Coop cleaning is required at least weekly, including scraping out all poop and replenishing bedding.
  • Your chickens won't lay eggs forever, so make sure you have an end-of-life plan for them.

Homesteading can be a rewarding and sustainable way to live, even on a small scale. By starting small and focusing on what you can realistically manage, you can create a homestead that is both productive and joyful.


Mentioned in our conversation:


Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Territorial Seed Company

Growing your own food does not have to be difficult! Skip the lines at the garden center and let Territorial Seed Company deliver top-of-the-line, healthy and hardy plants right to your door. They have a great line of pre-grown plants, an expansive seed catalog, and over 40 years of experience delivering the best seeds and plants for everyone's garden. Whether you are looking for leafy veggies, flowers or edible plants in either seed or seedling form, Territorial Seed Company has your back.

Get 10% off by visiting – discount applied at checkout.

Wind River Chimes

Bring more peace, serenity, and magic into your home with chimes. Wind River is a Virginia-based company creating premium handcrafted and hand-tuned wind chimes for over 35 years. If you are looking for a new way to grow joy in your life and find a moment of peace, a Wind River chime is the perfect addition for your home or garden. Plus, it's a perfect personalized gift for your loved ones!

Visit and use code GROWINGJOY to receive free engraving on all Corinthian Bells wind chimes.


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