Thos of us who live or aspire to this lifestyle will all do things a little differently, or put our emphases in different places. There really isn’t any one rigid proper definition of what it means to homestead or be a homesteader, in my opinion.
I came across an interesting post on Modern Homesteading. After being criticized for not being a true homesteader, Victoria (the blogger) collected definitions of homesteading from her facebook friends then presented one of her own. I might not choose exactly the same words but I like the way she’s written it.
For me and our specific situation, the definition of ‘modern homesteading’ is this:
“Modern homesteading is living consciously, using as few natural resources as is comfortably possible. It’s learning and using the ‘old ways’ of living that were almost lost from the days when everyone grew and preserved their own food because they had to – keeping chickens, dairy animals and other small farm livestock, growing produce, canning, fermenting, dehydrating – because these are things we should all know how to do. It’s being set up to be comfortable without electricity if you have to, even if you never need to. It’s learning the skills most of our ancestors took for granted, like fixing things instead of throwing them out, buying quality ‘pre-owned’ items instead of new where it makes sense, knitting and mending, fence building and repair, and basic construction. It’s being pro-active about your and your family’s health and knowing how to prevent and take care of minor illnesses and injuries without a doctor. It’s knowing you have enough food put away to last you at least 6 months, which is what all of our ancestors did or they’d have starved. It’s building community and asking for help when you need it. It’s being as free from debt as possible. And it’s about doing it all using the modern tools we have available today in ways that allow us to reach our own personal ‘self-reliance’ goals as efficiently as possible.”
Here’s what it’s NOT about, at least in my books:
- Modern homesteading is not about being self-reliant out of fear, but out of love, respect and responsibility to our families and communities.
- It’s not about living 100% like we did in the 1800s (though I’m in awe of those who have chosen that life!), but rather taking small steps towards being more independent of ‘the system’, whatever that looks like for your family.
- It’s not about ‘me first’ and hoarding supplies, neighbours be damned, but rather sharing and planning for caring for others.
I’m sure there are plenty of paranoid survivalists who are living self-reliant lives as homesteaders. They are getting the benefit of the lifestyle, and I salute them for that, even though our motivations are entirely different. But in our case we don’t homestead because we hope to survive while others perish. We do it because we think it’s the right way to live and our dream is that everyone might someday homestead, in whatever way works best for them.
We believe human lives should be lived in harmony with the rest of nature. We believe that decreasing contact with and reliance upon chemicals and processed food enriches life. It seems very possible to us that increased self-reliance may someday become as much a necessity as a choice, but we try not to live this life in fear of that or anything else.
It’s a journey.