What is homesteading? It is a popular word, lately, but what does it really mean?
Some people think it’s a rough, self-sufficient, minimalist lifestyle in remote areas, while others think that you can be a homesteader even in a city as long as you’re producing most of the things you need. So, there’s no such thing as a clear definition of what homesteading is.
However, the ultimate goals of all kinds of homesteaders are self-sufficiency and independence. There may be differences in strategies and ways to achieve these goals, but it doesn’t change the basic idea.
What Is Homesteading Today?
For me, homesteading is all about freedom. We live in a hectic world that limits us more than we can imagine. It seems like all the conveniences and wonders of the world are at hand, we just don’t have time to reach for them or use them. The shallow culture of consumerism and materialistic lifestyle push us to yearn for more, even if we don’t have time to enjoy what we have already acquired. Homesteading is both a practical and philosophical choice to make life simpler and take your destiny into your own hands.
In practice, it covers two closely related processes. Homesteaders are trying to produce more or less everything they need. The other goal is not to be reliant and dependent on the grid and modern society. It doesn’t mean that you have to cut your ties with the rest of the world, though. It’s just about being in the driver’s seat and avoiding going with the flow.
What Homesteaders Do
Truth be told, with modern technologies it’s easier than ever to become a homesteader. Solar panels and wind turbines are becoming more efficient which allows aspiring homesteaders to have their own power source. And this is probably the toughest challenge at the beginning of a homesteading journey. However, getting off the power grid is not the first priority of homesteaders.
Growing Your Own Food
This is typically the first step towards a self-sufficient lifestyle. Sustainable agriculture and permaculture are the principles of working with nature instead of against nature. So, homesteaders grow their own veggies, fruits, and grains. They also do it in a sustainable way.
If you want to eat meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal-sourced food, you’ll need to raise your own animals. If you’re inexperienced, chickens are the best way to start your animal farm. When it comes to livestock, you’ll find huge differences in types and numbers of animals. Anyway, unless they are vegans or vegetarians, all homesteaders keep some animals.
Other Ways to Provide Food
Agriculture and animals are sustainable ways to provide food. But most homesteaders like to diversify their diet by foraging, hunting, and fishing if possible. It includes some knowledge about local herbs either for food or natural remedies.
Veggies, grains, and fruits don’t ripe throughout the year. Some of them can last for a long time while others need preservation. So, homesteaders usually learn several techniques to preserve food. These include fermenting, canning, drying, dehydrating, making cheese, jams, and jellies, and more.
Water is essential for survival. Going off the grid and aiming for self-sufficiency is impossible if you don’t have an alternative water source. Collecting and storing rainwater, and digging wells are the most common ways to provide water.
Homesteaders commonly possess or develop handicraft skills. The idea is to make household items – from furniture pieces and clothing to soaps and candles.
This is probably the most daunting aspect of homesteading. Some homesteaders start small and use a regular electric grid while developing all other aspects of their lifestyle. Others use old-fashioned oil lamps or homemade candles for lighting their homes and live without electrical appliances. There’s also the option of using power generators.
However, modern homesteaders often use renewable energy from solar panels, wind turbines, or even mini-hydro plants if possible. Obviously, when it comes to power, there’s no typical “homesteader’s way”. Nevertheless, the goal is common: relying as little as possible on public utilities.
What Homesteaders Don’t Have to Do
None of the aforementioned ways and techniques are compulsory. Homesteading is all about being self-sufficient and not restrained by society norms. So, all solutions and techniques are optional. It’s the purpose that matters and not the vehicle that will get you there. Homesteaders don’t have to give up any modern conveniences or even luxuries as long as they can support most of their needs on their own.
Why You Should Consider Becoming a Homesteader
What are the most dreaded words in the English language?
Actually, I have no idea, but for me, mortgage and credit make the top of the list. Well, seasoned homesteaders have already forgotten these words. And it’s only the beginning.
Homesteaders earn more than they spend. Homesteading gradually teaches you to forget about buying things when you can make them instead. You’ll have fewer bills, you won’t think about investing outside your home, and you’ll forget about stupid wishes such as designer shoes or luxury cars.
Anyhow, financial restraints as well as financial ambitions are the walls of the prison in which urban dwellers reside. Getting rid of these chains allows you to find the freedom you could never achieve in cities.
You can also apply for a homestead tax exemption that will further reduce your bills.
Studies have shown that spending time in nature benefits both our physical and mental health.
If you choose to homestead, the list of benefits is pretty long. You’ll breathe fresher air, you’ll drink cleaner water, you’ll walk and exercise regularly just to do your chores. And you’ll know exactly what you eat. I can’t promise you’ll have a healthy diet, that’s up to you. But there will be no chemicals or pesticides in your food unless you decide to put them in there.
While you can’t avoid stress completely, you will reduce it tremendously. The drought will decimate your harvest, the rain will flood, things will break, so it’s not a stress-free life. But, it’s a completely different kind of stress, almost natural.
Homesteading will teach you to reevaluate your priorities, goals, and values. In cities, we are so often under pressure, that we feel stress even when there’s nothing stressful going on. When a homesteader faces a problem, he has to try to fix it and move on.
We’re Meant to Live Like That
For thousands of years, it used to be the only way we lived. Except for Pharaohs, emperors, and a few more, the rest of humanity lived self-sufficient lives. We never knew any other way until The Industrial Revolution. I am not saying that we should get rid of all amenities of modern life, but homesteading is way more natural to us than social media and the internet.
As our planet seems to be spinning faster and faster, more people consider reconnecting with nature and searching for a better, more peaceful way of life. Homesteading, prepping, survivalism, off-the-grid, simple life, and back-to-the-land concepts are some of the ways to try to live a simpler but fulfilled life.
Homesteading has some obvious advantages but it also comes with some tough challenges. At the end of the day, I am not sure that it is a great lifestyle for everyone. But I do believe that homesteaders have a better chance to create a perfect life.