One of the things I have noticed many times over the years is the concept of “homesteading”. What pops into people’s minds is quaint hill folk living far off the grid, in a deep valley, on 100 acres. Where the wood fire never goes out, and they work from before dawn to sunset, dealing with hay in the fields, and animals in the quaint barn that has owls living in the rafters. Where one could get “free” land if they worked the land for a set time of years. It was a hard life. A lot of America was built on this in the 1800’s and into the early 1900’s, with WWII where it faltered, as America suddenly became obsessed with modern life.
Thing is, I knew people like this when I was young. My Mom had friends that lived high up in a low mountain valley. They built their home by hand, had a hand pump on their well, and no electricity. In the late 1970’s it was possible to live way out there. They didn’t have mail delivery or even a phone line up in that valley. They were society drop outs, part of the “Back To Nature” movement. When we’d go visit it was a long drive, but the payoff was we’d go pick mountain huckleberries after.
My Mom knew a lot of people who lived on the edge, in old farm houses that were settling into the ground. A couple who were both illiterate and he worked milking cows. It was a time in the early 1980’s when you could still live this way and no one cared.
But that isn’t all homesteading is. Yes, you can choose to live that way if you want – you just have to go far enough out and make sure that the local government allows it. You might be shocked at how many places you are required to have septic system, a well and tie into the power grid to lawfully live on the land. Some places don’t allow a person to live in an RV or camping trailer instead of a cabin or home. Not finding out isn’t an excuse, and sets one up for stiff fines or legal action if discovered.
When we started homesteading we went into it as a way of life, rather than a strict sense of rules we had to follow. This is a great definition of it:
“Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and may also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.”
And that leads to Modern Homesteading, which is what Kirk and I follow. This is one view of it:
“Modern Homesteading is a lifestyle and working toward self sufficiency. It is a process and can be done in the city, country or on the side of a mountain where we live. I believe it also means being more environmentally conscious and trying to lessen your impact on the environment.”
People often stare at me confused when I tell them Kirk and I homestead. They they ask if we have a farm. Well, we have both. One and the same. But we are a homestead first, farm second. It is a state of mind, and a set of goals.
“So, how does a farm differ from a homestead? A farm generates money by selling the livestock and/or produce from the land. … A homestead is a place where a person and/or family cultivates the land and tries to become more self sufficient. A homesteader strives to live off of the land by growing and raising what he eats.”
That says it perfectly.
And you can do this from nearly anywhere. You don’t have to leave the city or town to start, Urban Homesteading is another way to do it. Anything you learn will help you on your path. And you don’t have to go off-the-grid to do it. You can have running water, electricity and even live near a town. You can use modern tools like tractors.
10 Ways To Modern Homesteading
- Start reading. All that you can. Use your library system and the best ones consider buying in paper format to have on hand.
- Cut back on household waste. Learn to reduce and reuse. Think hard before you buy the newest and flashiest items. Do you need a new phone? Do the children need 20 new toys, when 5 would suffice? This plays into both saving money but as well having only what you need.
- Install a compost bin or pile. Not only does it save money in the long run with garbage, it uses up the waste to make free soil.
- Cut back debt and build an emergency fund. Don’t be beholden to others, or at least work on minimizing it. This allows you to live on less in the long run. Yes, the Koolaid is strong, but Dave Ramsey does have good points.
- Learn to preserve food. At first you won’t save money due to having to set up canning and dehydrating, but over the long run you will. But more than that, you know what is in your food. You know how it was processed. You are not supporting the 10 multinational food companies.
- Learn to cook from scratch. This goes far with saving money, but as well how to use food you grow and store. It’s also a lot healthier.
- Start collecting rain water. In nearly all states this is legal now. Especially if you are urban homesteading and are on city water. Use the water for irrigation and to have for emergency use.
- Work on making your area pollinator friendly. When we bought our current land it was not friendly at all. It was overgrown, dense dark forest and dead fields. The first year I spent planting a lot of lavender and herb plants. I put out water. I left brushy areas to nest in. We now have over 10 types of bees, both year round and migratory hummingbirds, many butterflies and quite a few birds year round. This has led to higher production in our gardens.
- Start growing your own food. It lets you control how your food is grown and for a small amount of money, you will eat many times the investment. Like anything, gardening isn’t easy at first, but becomes better every year you do it.
- Use solar power to charge batteries, and lower your dependency on electricity by replacing worn out tools with old school versions that are hand powered.
All the posts and articles I have written on homesteading.