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Its no secret, starting a homestead isn’t cheap. That’s why its important to know where to find free stuff for your homestead. With things being so expensive, it’s crazy to think that anything could be free right? But, homesteading is a simple way of life, and a lot of things we use, normal people would not see as a real “treasure”. Also, being a homesteader requires us to think outside of the box anyway. That’s how I started finding ways to get things that we need for free.
I started by making lists (im a real list maker) of projects on our homestead, then I broke those down into items we needed for those projects. I then looked at our day to day, and items that we needed and added those to the list. Then I started pondering at how I could possibly find what we needed for cheap or free.
While I did a lot of researching on my own, I also went to my local extension office for help. Speaking of awesome free things, your extension office is one of the best free resources around. Not only can they provide any answers or help you may need, they normally know your area, and the people in it. My local extension office lead me to tons of free things. I was able to take free classes, send off a soil sample, and learned tons about our area and who to go to for things that I need.
Through all of my research and physical searching, I was able to score all kinds of free things for my homestead. I am so happy to be able to share with you all!
Free Stuff For Your Homestead
Free Wood Chips
We use tons of wood chips around our homestead. I use them as mulch for my flowerbeds, for walkways in my garden, and around the kids swingset. Buying actual mulch gets expensive, and with the dyes added, I wasn’t feeling comfortable adding them to my compost pile.
Chipdrop is a company where you sign up to get free wood chips delivered to your house. These come from tree trimming companies. Rather than going to the landfill, they are delivered to you! I know a lot of people who have gotten lucky with this company, but, me being in a very small town, I have not.
What I was able to do instead is browse the yellow pages and call around to our local tree trimming companies and score my wood chips that way.
With the “build everything from pallet wood” trend, pallets are a little harder to come by than they used to be. But, finding them for free is still doable. Big box stores tend to reuse their pallets, or sell them in their stores. To find pallets, you are going to hand to check with smaller stores that would get big deliveries on pallets. Hardware stores, tool stores, small grocery stores. Those are the ones to talk to. Our local farm store, hardware store, and Harbor Freight, allow us to pick up free pallets from them. The best times to go, are on delivery days for them. Make friends with some of the workers to get the scoop.
Free poop? Easy right? Who wants poop anyway?
It seems though, that a lot of farms that produce the poo, use the poo. Find the larger farms, or horse farms. Those are the ones that tend to have more than they use. We learned through our extension office, that our fair grounds actually has a pile of horse manure free for the taking. And not far from us, there is a show arena that has a pile of free manure.
So with a little of research of your area, you should be able to find manure for your garden.
Something that gardeners and homesteaders seem to love, is a good ol’ fashioned magazine or catalog. For some reason, I feel more organized looking through a catalog and planning my garden, rather than trying to do it on my phone.
I started the hunt for free catalogs a few years ago, while planning my garden. I was able to get tons, and through that, I was able to find companies that I love, and have stuck with over the years.
Check out my post here to find a full list of free magazines and catalogs.
Paper and cardboard can be used in many ways around the homestead. We use it in our compost as dry material. I also use it to line the bottoms of my garden beds. I have recently found where plant pots and other things can be made out of paper mache. Newspaper is also handy for starting fires, and wrapping produce for storage.
We collect lots of newspapers from our neighbors and friends when they are done with theirs. Local businesses also give away any un-bought papers, as well as cardboard boxes. Ask around town and start collecting. It will sure come in handy.
Forget the fancy bags of soil and fertilizers. Compost is the best free thing you can do for your garden.
Other than this fancy compost bin that I keep in my house, I have not spent a dime on compost. How? Because compost is free and unlimited. You make your own scraps for compost, and so do businesses.
Here are things that you should be saving, and throwing in your compost:
- Veggie and fruit scraps
- Breads and grains
- Coffee grounds
- Egg Shells
- Paper products
- Dryer lint
- Tea bags
- Lawn clippings
- wood chips/ bark/ mulch/ old soil
- Cow/Horse/Chicken manure
Think about things before you throw them away. They could be the start of some awesome, free compost! If you do not create a lot of things to compost, check with local businesses. Some will be more than happy to save things for you.
There has been numerous times we have needed dirt on the homestead, and lots of it. To fill in spots where soil has eroded away. We have needed it to fill raised beds. But to buy dirt, can be expensive.
Contact local construction companies. Most of the time, when they are building new buildings, they have leftover soil and have to pay to have it hauled out. This may require you to shovel, but some of the companies happen to have a bobcat on site and will at least load it up for you.
You wouldn’t think something as expensive as furniture would be free, but it can be. A lot more often than you think too.
Not only do I find furniture along the side of the road, but on Facebook marketplace as well. Many times people just want stuff gone. Sometimes they are moving, and can’t take it, or just don’t want to look at something anymore.
Rather you personally need the furniture offered or not, free is an awesome deal most of the time. I have made a ton of money by just getting a piece of furniture from someone and flipping it. Some cleanup, a light sand and paint, and I can turn a $100+ profit easily. Sometimes even damaged furniture can be transformed into a different piece. Check Pinterest for ideas, and think twice before passing up that dresser on the side of the road.
Seeds are becoming harder and harder to find it seems, unless you know where to look.
There are a few ways to score free seeds:
Did you know that most stores throw seeds away at the end of every year? Yes, towards the end of growing season, big box stores tend to throw whatever is left over, away. Most seed packs have a date on them. Don’t be alarmed though, most seeds have a longer shelf life than what these companies give them. I have had seeds stored for years still germinate. Ask around in the local garden centers to see what they do with their seeds, and when you need to watch for them.
2. Free Heirloom Seeds
There are also a few other ways to score free seeds. One of them being http://www.freeheirloomseeds.org/. Here you can get free seeds, just pay postage. I know many people who use this site every year.
Every spring, I see more and more companies offering free packs of seeds, for one reason or another. Here are a few I check every year.
Sign Up for your Free Seeds | Air Wick® US
Bring Back The Bees – Cheerios
ARM & HAMMER™ Seed Giveaway (armandhammer.com)
4. Extension Office
I’m not sure about yours, but my extension office here is Ohio is outstanding for resources. They know exactly where and how to help. Free seeds included.
5. Seed Libraries
Do a search for “seed library” or “seed bank” in your area. Big cities seem to have them, but I was very surprised that my tiny town has one as well.
6. Seed Saving
I am not sure why I have this one as the last one, because it is the most important to me. I have learned over the years how to grow and save my heirloom seeds for future growing. Not only has this helped me save money, but it allows you to save more than what you will even need. I love to have extras for safe keeping, and for giving out to others who are in need.
There are a few different ways to go about getting free firewood. Owning a chainsaw can really help.
After a bad storm, you can drive around and look for downed trees and ask people if they want them removed. This helps them, and you both.
You can also look for people needing trees removed, and if you have the experience and can remove safely, you can not only get the wood for free, but you may make a little money doing it.
From time to time you can find where people have had trees cut down, and just need the wood removed. This is another awesome opportunity to score free firewood
It is more likely that you will find these opportunities in towns, cities, and subdivisions. You can also post an add or facebook marketplace post advising that you will remove downed trees and wood.
Lumber shortages have made it a little more difficult, but it IS still possible to score free lumber.
Check listings for people needing barns or decks taken down. If you have any experience doing this, this may be a way to get free, used, lumber (given it isn’t completely rotten).
Also, ask around at your local home improvement stores and lumber yards. Sometimes they will get “damaged” lumber that they cannot sell. Sometimes it is twisted or has some minor issues, but may have good, usable sections in it.
Scrap metal, for us, is easy to come by. A lot of people in our area just want it gone. Old fences, cars, car parts, appliances. You name it. And most think that it isnt worth scraping themselves. They are wrong.
My husband also works in a body repair shop. His boss even thinks its a waste of time and just wants it gone. About once a month we will take in scrap, and just from what he saves from work, we easily bring in an extra $300 a month.
Old rotors, doors, hoods, calipers. All of these things add weight, and scrap yards weigh and pay by weight.
I hate the look of junk sitting around, so he has a specific place that he stores it next to the barn and then takes it in once a month. This is just an awesome way of bringing in extra money.
Foraging and Herbal Medicine
We have all been lead to think medicine is expensive and you have to go to a doctor for it every time. Enter herbal medicine. I just recently started looking into more herbal ways to deal with my health. Little did I know, I can find many herbs right in my backyard….for free!
I know that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is so awesome to know that free food can be found from foraging, and that free remedies and medicines can be made from plants found right in your backyard.
Look up the benefits of dandelions alone. Just, a lot to think over here.
If you are interested in learning, look for herbalism Facebook groups to join. There you will find tons of information to get you started. I was also able to score a few herbal remedy books at the thrift store for under $1 each. Make sure you google and use plant apps to properly identify them before using!
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