Homesteading is a term that has been popping up in my social feeds over the last few years. It is something I have become quite interested in, and something I am keen to incorporate into my life. In very simple terms, it’s really about becoming more self-sufficient. It’s a past way of life that lost popularity in place of convenience. But it seems that as we become more and more disillusioned with our lives, homesteading is becoming more appealing to many of us.
I have been a fan of avoiding chemicals in the home for some time. I try to eat organic, whole foods where possible. My aim is to reduce the toxic load on my body and in my home. Doing my teeny tiny bit to help the environment.
At the beginning of COVID, it really became obvious to me how much I relied on others for my basic survival needs. When the shelves were bare in the supermarket, and people were panic buying all the toilet paper, it really made me question how we live our lives. What would I do if I actually couldn’t get food? Or worse – water?
Personally I see homesteading as a way of living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. It’s about growing your own food organically, without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Raising your own livestock on a small scale. It’s about eating seasonally. Making your own clothes. Crafting and homemade gifts. Preserving food, and cooking from scratch. Reusing what you have and reducing waste. It’s about clean, healthy living, without the use of unhealthy chemicals. We get to re-learn the lost skills of settlers from the past, modernising them. Homesteading can help remove our reliance on others, our reliance on money, and to have our needs met by ourselves.
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What Is Homesteading?
Homesteading, is simply the act of working on or establishing a homestead.
What is a Homestead?
According to my dictionary – it’s a parcel of land, originally considered to be big enough to support a family. Or a main residence on a sheep or cattle station or a large farm.
I am no homesteading expert, I am just beginning my journey into discovering more about it. I think, however, that our modern day interpretation of homesteading comes from the definition under the Homestead Act – in which the US government made land available without payment. In turn, these settlers were required to improve the land by creating a home, and cultivating the land, which enabled them to live, and to settle the area. They grew food for their families, built their homes, and lived from the earth.
Homesteading or Convenience
Personally, being born in the 1970’s, I have always lived my life with convenience. Food was always available at the supermarket. I could drive to McDonalds and grab a burger if I wanted a quick meal. I never grew my own food, because I didn’t need to. I didn’t preserve food, because it was always available. I threw food scraps in the bin to be taken away. I bought more than I needed. There was no need to eat seasonally as food was (and still is) available all year round.
My attitude has changed a lot over the last couple of years towards this convenience. Convenience comes with a lot of cons, most of which are bad for our health, the environment and the other beautiful creatures that share this planet with us.
Convenience also requires money. Supermarkets can give us the organic, whole foods we are all wanting – but at a much higher cost to our wallets. So to have this requires having a fairly high income. And getting this income generally requires working long hours in a high stress job. You are away from nature, from your family. In my opinion, you are simply not living the life you were put on this world to live. We are making ourselves sick, to earn the money to afford the healthy food and lifestyle, so we don’t get sick?
It’s a weird loop. To me it seems wrong. I was in this loop for a very long time until burn out hit me in 2012 and I started to see a bigger picture.
Homesteading without a Homestead.
I think there is a modern day stereotypical homestead which does require a decent amount of land, in a rural area. We’re not talking hundreds of acres, but at least one. The zoning allows to legally have a small amount of livestock and other animals. It provides you enough space to grow food, and a large enough home with decent storage.
Unfortunately, we can’t all have the perfect stereotypical homestead for many reasons. But I think we can make do with what we have. I like to take bits and pieces to suit my own needs and situation, and build on these when I can.
I live in a small home, on a 700 square metre block. I have enough free land to grow my own fruit and vegetables, which I do (terribly –I’m still learning).
I could have some chickens, but again, not sure I am ready to figure out how to look after them. I could also maybe have rabbits, but nothing larger. The zoning where I live allows for this. But nothing larger such as a sheep, goat, cow or pig in the backyard. Check with your local council regarding their laws around which animals you can keep on your property.
I do not have space to store a lot of food. My home is small (which is fine by me as I hate cleaning). Homesteading is very much about eating seasonally. It’s about making and preserving the food you grew to feed you and your family throughout winter. Canning, dehydrating, pickling, all are coming back into fashion. But we need somewhere to store this food, and unless you live in a decent sized home, things can get a bit tight.
Everyone Can Homestead in Some Form
For my purposes, I see homesteading as something we all can do and is definitely worth it. We can adopt as much of a self-sufficient lifestyle that we can within our circumstances. We can grow as much of our own food as we can, even if it’s just a tomato bush on the balcony in a pot. It’s about reducing waste and recycling. It’s about not relying on convenience as much as we each personally can.
For me, it’s a step by step process. I personally couldn’t try to just change my life habits all at once. I know it would create overwhelm and I would give up and buy a burger from McDonalds. This is how I plan to create more self-sufficiency in my life, with small steps.
And hopefully, while I am learning, I can teach Marcus so these skills are passed down through the generations.
I enjoyed your definitions. Thank you
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