I realise that on the surface this sounds a little glib but the point I am trying to make is that most of the people who end up asking this question get bogged down in planning and replanning, and re-replanning. They spend YEARS looking for the perfect place, or animal, or time. If this sounds like you, if you have a binder full of information and a head full of indecision .... NOW is the time!
There is never the perfect time or place, unless you have just won the lottery, then I'm sure a real estate agent could find it for you. My point is start SOMETHING. If you live in a small apartment grow herbs on your windowsill, learn to preserve food, buy a dehydrator. Learn to knit or sew. What ever homesteading means to you, pick one skill that you could take on right now and learn to do that skill.
You don't need to learn everything at once. Choose a skill and learn, get comfortable with that and then add a new one. You did not learn to add, multiply, and solve quadratic equations all at the same time. Take small steps, and before you know it you are miles from where you started.
I know a young woman who wanted to grow vegetables. She had been born and raised in the city, but she wanted to have a garden and sell vegetables. She was working in a small town here in Nova Scotia and lived in a small apartment in town. She had met me through work and I happened to mention something about our pigs. That was how the conversation started. This was before we had a market garden but I knew a few vendors at our farmers market so I said if this was something she really wanted to do she might be able to find a way to learn from these farmers. She was in her first job since graduating from university, and was working long hours to pay for her student loans and living expenses, so she wasn't sure how she was going to make this work.
I introduced her to three different farmers, she began buying her vegetables from them, she learned that if she came to the market a little later in the morning, things were less busy and the farmers had time to talk. A couple of weeks after I had introduced her, she had figured out a plan.
She approached each of the farmers and asked if they would be willing to teach her about growing and running a market garden in exchange for free labour. Two of the farmers agreed. One farmer had trouble finding people to work the markets. Surprisingly people don't like getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday. So she began getting up bright and early on Saturday, she came to the market and worked at the market stand for a local farmer, she helped set up the stall and display the produce. She talked to customers, learned what people were looking for. She spoke with the farmer about the difficulties he faced in getting product to market and a host of other things.
When the market was over for the day, she would help the first farmer break down the stall. She would then load her bicycle into the second farmer's truck. She would drive with him to his farm and spend the rest of the day working on his farm before cycling back home. If the weather was good she would also bike out to the farm on Sunday and work with the crops again.
While this may sound exhausting, you will soon find out if market gardening is something you will truly enjoy. This young lady continued this schedule for the rest of that summer. She obviously made an impression as the second farmer drove her back and forth the following spring so she could help in the greenhouse, and learn that side of the business. She continued to work for the second farmer the next summer, trading work for a CSA share and some cash.Last winter she was transferred to another town. She decided she had enough knowledge to begin gardening, so she made some inquiries and rented a garden plot from a local farmer this spring and is now growing her own vegetables. The last time I heard from her was last month, she is thinking about buying a 2 acre piece of land and starting a small market garden.
So, as I said, there is never a perfect time to start anything. I am sure plenty of people told Lindsey that she would have to wait until she paid down her student loan or got married or some other well intentioned advise.
My point is that sometimes you have to get creative, there may be no obvious avenue to begin your journey, but where other is a will there is a way.
The internet has made it possible to have in depth knowledge of every skill you could imagine at your fingertips. It allows you to connect with like minded people from near and far. After all it is how you came to be reading this.
Decide on a skill, learn it. Choose another, and repeat. You have now started homesteading. It may not look how you thought it would, but you have started a base to build on.
Hope this has some of you thinking. Have a great day everyone.