Homesteading has become one of those “catch phrases” that you hear practically every day, in every corner of the world, and from every form of media. It is viewed by many as a passing trend, as a lifestyle that we are trying to reinvent from an old-fashioned, outdated manner of living that many view as archaic.
But it’s not. Homesteading is simpler than that. It’s a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, and of being able to support yourself and your family from what is on and in the Earth in front of you. It is farming not for mass production, or to feed thousands of hungry people, but to feed the people you care about the most—your family. It is growing enough food to help your family survive, and to occasionally produce other necessities such as clothing, crafts, and household items.
Homesteading can be done anywhere and at any scale. Some people, the “homesteader-preppers,” choose an all-in approach, building bunkers and root cellars and everything they might need for an all-out apocalypse. We aren’t that extreme. We just want to provide a healthier lifestyle to our family, one that is similar to what our grandparents and great-grandparents used to follow.
Beginning homesteaders often start with a small garden. Growing vegetables is an easy and inexpensive way to dip your toe into the lifestyle. There is little risk involved with turning up some bare dirt and planting some seeds. And the payout is huge! Just a small plot can produce enough vegetables to get your family through the winter.
You might also consider fruits, grown either in orchards, on the vine, or in a bush. Then the livestock! Chickens are the most common homestead animal, producing both eggs and meat, but you don’t have to stop there if you hope to become entirely self-sufficient. Ducks, geese, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, and cattle are other popular homestead animals. They grow more complicated and difficult to raise, of course, as well as more cost-prohibitive, but as you move through the development of your homestead adventure, you’ll no doubt want to increase the amount of purposeful animals on your farm.
And that’s where some planning and ingenuity come in. Start small! Build up your homestead gradually, working from a simple task to more complex ones. There’s no rule that your homestead has to have “x” “y” and “z” characteristics.
Homesteading is all about creating a productive home. This can be done no matter how large or small the property, or how meager or grandiose your finances. Modern culture tells us that to be self-sufficient is to be a radical, or to be somehow against the norm. Yet there is no greater feeling than being able to grow your own food, cook your food from scratch, build relationships with your family and other farmers, and to become more skilled at taking care of yourself.
Homesteading is a newly developed way of life that, in truth, used to just be considered normal life. Our grandparents weren’t considered “alternative” for growing their own food—that’s just what you did then. In returning to this simpler lifestyle, we’re honoring an ages-old tradition—and becoming happier, healthier, ad more secure in the process.