Homesteading in the 21st century is different than it was in the 19th and 20th century. Nowadays, we aren’t living on land for a certain time in order to get said land. So, what does homesteading mean? Keep reading to understand what someone means when they say they are a modern-day homesteader.
WHAT DOES HOMESTEADING MEAN?
Homesteading is basically just a lifestyle of self sufficiency. Most of our American society relies on grocery stores or the drive thru for food. Not many people know how to grow food or even how to harvest food, let alone preserve the harvest.
However, homesteading isn’t just about growing your own food. There are many variables to what level of self-sufficiency one can be. Some homesteaders use electricity that they buy while others run only on solar power. Even within the homesteading community, there are many different levels of how self-sufficient one is. Some people even do something called urban homesteading, which is being self-sufficient in town.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF HOMESTEADING?
Every homesteading story will be different. One person might homestead because their health requires them to. Another person might homestead because they can’t afford modern conveniences with their household income. The next homesteader you meet might just be a bored retiree.
Generally though, I think I can speak for most homesteaders when I say we homestead because we crave it deep in our souls. This strong desire pulls us toward homesteading.
Most homesteaders do not want to rely on an outside resource in order to survive. Homesteading provides a freedom that isn’t really explainable on paper. The best way I can describe this freedom is to have you imagine 2020 again when everything shut down. Most people were in a panic. However, my life basically remained unchanged. There was no worry about whether or not my family would have food to eat. There was a worry about having to use rags as toilet paper though.
Homesteaders typically start homesteading by taking some sort of control of something with their food. Food quality matters to a homesteader. When you know what goes into growing or raising your own food, your health improves dramatically.
Back in the dirty 30’s, it didn’t matter if you had a wheelbarrow full of nothing as there was nothing to buy. What mattered is that you knew how to survive. Homesteading is for survivors.
HOW DO I START HOMESTEADING?
Start with what you have! That is the best thing you can do. Even if you don’t own your own land, you can learn how to keep a sourdough starter and bake your own sourdough bread. Right there, you are being self-sufficient by not relying on store-bought bread or even by store-bought yeast. Whatever your situation is, wherever you are, you can start doing something. Find a farmer that is producing wholesome local food what you would want to produce and get what you need from them for now. Be resourceful. Start reading books and watching youtube videos.
Let’s say that you are ready to take the plunge though. You bought some land and are ready to go. Taking care of animals and growing your own crops sounds romantic, but it is tough work. The simple life of homesteading is a facade. So, prepare yourself. It’s going to be a fun ride.
I am a firm believer in learning by doing. Reading before actually doing is great, but honestly, until you are actually hands-on, you won’t ever know the situation fully. So, know your goals and start small. There will always be something that needs to get done, but even just a few projects every year can drastically change your life. Remember, this is your homestead. You get to decide what takes priority and what gets started first. Most people start by getting some chickens, but maybe you want to start with getting bees. Perhaps, your route has no livestock and all you want to focus on is solar energy.
Whatever your goals, continually work towards them making wiser choices.
POPULAR HOMESTEADING ACTIVITIES
Most Americans are constantly looking for entertainment. Going out to eat, binging the latest Netflix series, or hanging out at the local bar are all normal forms of entertainment. However, on the homestead, entertainment comes in different forms. Things like:
- watching your livestock
- preserving food
- ax throwing
- four-wheeler rides
- and so much more!
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF HOMESTEADING?
Honestly, there are so many disadvantages to homesteading. The biggest one would probably be that you are cut off from society, depending on where your homestead is located. (Although, this can also be a con. If you need something from town, it takes a good 30-60 minutes to get there. You also might have difficulties getting the internet out where you are.
Homesteading is hard work. Physically and mentally. You might be able to cancel your gym membership but at the same time your heart will break when your favorite livestock dies.
There are no actual rest days. Every day, something needs to get done. So you probably won’t be sleeping in on the weekends anymore.
When just starting out homesteading, it takes a lot of up front work. When starting a garden, you have to wait to get food. If you want animals, fences and water need to be installed.
WHY IS IT CALLED A HOMESTEAD?
Houseofnames.com says the ancient roots of the Homestead family name are in Anglo-Saxon culture. The name Homestead comes from when a family lived near a hermit’s cell. The surname Homestead is derived from the Old French word ermite, which means hermit. The Old English word stede means place.
Pretty fitting, as most homesteaders like to be hermits.