6 Upgrades to Make for Life on the Homestead

Reader Contribution by Kayla Matthews
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Photo source:Upsplash

Homesteading life offers a ton of advantages. You don’t need to rely on the grocer for food when you can grow your own. With sufficient upgrades, you can live off-grid entirely and free yourself from utility bills.

However, this degree of rugged self-reliance requires a substantial investment of money and good, old-fashioned elbow grease. As the leaves begin changing, start making upgrades to your property. You can improve self-reliance and add beauty and value to your home.

1. Perform Maintenance on Machinery

You don’t have to worry about wastewater disposal if you’re connected to a city sewer system. If you’re connected to a septic tank, though, now is the time to inspect it. Call in a professional maintenance company every three years to examine the pump. Every six months, walk around the tank to check for leaks. Exercise care with what you dispose of where — your toilet isn’t a trash can, so don’t flush paper towels or cleaning wipes.

If you have a tractor, perform your winterizing now. Tap off all fluids and clean your air filter. Give the exterior a thorough washing with a mild soap solution to remove any dirt and grass particles. If you don’t use plows and other machinery during the colder months, cover them with a blanket or tarp to protect them from the elements.

Have you installed a steel water tank for irrigation and livestock watering? Now’s the time to inspect that, too. Carefully examine the foundation for any cracks. Check the outside for the presence of rust streaks, which often indicate leaks.

2. Upgrade the Payload of Your Truck

Trying to pull a trailer that exceeds the payload of your pickup can lead to costly repairs — or worse. The strain of hauling heavy loads uphill can blow your transmission. These cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to repair depending upon the type you have. Additionally, overload on one side of the vehicle can lead to rollover accidents. These incidents cause 35% of traffic fatalities each year.

To upgrade your payload, start with your rear springs. These support the majority of the weight of your trailer. Replacing them with heavier-duty models improves your ability to haul loads.

Add coil-over shock absorbers. These remove swaying and vibrations from bumps and potholes. They help improve the stability of your vehicle. You can also lengthen your truck bed with extensions or install bed racks.

3. Remodel Your Kitchen

Your kitchen is the heart of your home. It’s where you nourish yourself and your family. It’s where you gather to talk about your respective days and where you bake up memories.

Doesn’t such an important room deserve a facelift? Remodeling your kitchen won’t only increase your enjoyment of your home — it could also save you money. ENERGY STAR appliances have saved over $150 billion since the program launched in 1992. Engineers today design specifically to improve efficiency, meaning if your machines are more than a decade old, you’re wasting unnecessary dough on utility bills.

Adding an island and an overhead pot rack expands food preparation space and puts needed cookware at your fingertips. Plus, you can hide unsightly recycle bins within. Installing LED lighting under cabinets illuminates cookbooks and recipes without needing to turn on harsh, overhead fluorescents. This saves both energy and your eyesight.

4. Build a Compost Bin and Water Tank

Hopefully, you’re already in the habit of composting. Why waste money on chemical fertilizers when you can make your own? An upgraded three-part compost bin provides you with a constant stream of material ripe for the garden.

Create your bin by building many panels first to serve as your skeleton. Then, assemble them and surround them with chicken wire. Begin by putting scraps into the first bin. As they ripen, shift them one compartment over and reuse the first for fresh scraps. By the time the compost moves to the third area, it’s ready to use.

If you don’t save rainwater for irrigation, now’s the time to install a steel or plastic tank for doing so. Check with your local ordinances first — some jurisdictions prohibit rainwater collection by private citizens. Assuming the practice is legal, a steel vessel offers more durability than a smaller, plastic tank. It does require more maintenance, however.

5. Go Solar or Expand Your Current Grid

Have you procrastinated over going solar? If so, you’re missing out on valuable tax savings, as well as giving a handout to your utility company monthly. Save yourself money and do your part to protect the planet by installing panels now.

If you already have a home solar system, consider expanding it to your RV or camping ensemble. Manufacturers today create portable solar panels. This allows you to get even further off-grid when you go on holiday without running a gas-powered generator.

6. Construct a Greenhouse

Enjoy fresh produce all year with a greenhouse. You can build an inexpensive model using repurposed materials. If you have the time and space, you can make one big enough to grow small fruit trees. Even if you’re limited in area, you can still grow many veggies year-round using this method.

While you’re at it, why not line a sunny kitchen window with a herb garden? You’ll add more nutrition and flavor to your family’s meals when you can snip a fresh sprig of oregano or basil to add to pasta dishes.

Making Life on the Homestead More Comfortable and Self-Sustainable

Life on a homestead frees you to save money and become self-sustaining. You want the place you hang your hat to reflect your unique style, too. Get going with these upgrades and enjoy a more stylish, comfortable property today.

Kayla Matthews has been writing about healthy living for several years and is proud to be a featured writer on a number of inspiring health sites, including Mother Earth News. To learn more about Kayla, you can follow her on Google+, Facebook and Twitter and check out her most recent posts on


Mother Earth News 52 Homestead Skills follows homesteader Kimberlee Bastien, as she learns one homesteading skill per week over the course of an entire year. The book details all of Bastien’s adventures, from building a beehive and becoming a beekeeper to creating her own laundry and dish soap. Whether you already live on a homestead, are transitioning onto one, or are only thinking about it, 52 Homestead Skills will help turn your dreams into a life worth living.

Packed with skills such as making deodorant, building a chicken chunnel, and freezing jam, the 52 projects in this book will prove helpful to any homesteader (or anyone just looking to do more on their own). Life on a homestead might not always be easy, but as Bastien writes, “The learning never ends, and that’s OK. Because life without a challenge would be boring.” This book will help you through even the hardest parts of living on a homestead, and add a little bit of fun to the mix! Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

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