If you are on the outside looking in, homesteading can feel like an overwhelming transition from the common way of life these days. Speed and convenience are the catalysts for society and admittedly, this makes life a bit more manageable with our hectic schedules. Who doesn’t love to jump in your car, head to a store, swipe a card and come home with everything you think you need and want?
However, the normal way of life is having severe consequences on us as a nation. Our physical health is suffering significantly from the “go-go-go” lifestyles and the pre-packaged, artificially flavored “food” this nation is consuming at ridiculous rates. Our relationships are suffering from the lack of face to face contact, ease of legally dissolving marriages and utter physical and emotional exhaustion of all of our responsibilities. Our mental health is suffering. The majority of the population, including children, are using antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications or utilizing alcohol or illegal drugs to self-medicate.
We are left feeling starved. Starved for food that does not leave us feeling sick and empty, starved for emotional fulfillment and pride in our accomplishments. Starved for a true connection to someone or something. There is another way. There is another life. Homesteading is where I found my answer.
Homesteading is a general term for living off the land and being self-sufficient. It is the basics of what our country was built on and it worked for decades. It is filled with the clucks of contented chickens, the crisp taste of home-grown vegetables and the sound sleep of working hard and accomplishing a goal. The beauty of homesteading is it can be individualized in every aspect. You don’t have to sell your apartment or suburban home and move to the middle of nowhere. You can start exactly where you are.
“All good things are wild and free.” Henry David Thoreau
Do some research and find out what you are interested and passionate about. There are so many causes for concern in the way our society functions that the options are endless. One of my passions is the ridiculously poor quality of our nation’s food.
In 1970, the US spent 6 billion dollars on fast food. In 2006, this expense increased to 142 billion dollars. McDonalds alone feeds 52 million people daily (Reference). 52 million people, including lots of innocent, growing children, are eating food that is chemically enhanced from animals who are not given proper nutrients in the first place.
And we wonder why heart attacks, cancer, diabetes and obesity are killing us by the thousands?
In my opinion, food should be grown under a warm sunshine and out in the open air. Cattle and chickens should be given proper nutrients and respectfully culled to nourish our families. If you want fresh food, you don’t have to go buy a farm. Look into organic markets, local farms and food co-ops. Support those that are giving their time and efforts into growing and raising food as nature intended, if you are not able to yourself.
Whatever you find that you believe has a better way of being done, do it. Talk to local farmers, other people who are currently homesteading and do plenty of research online. The great thing about homesteading is there are many different ways to accomplish the same goals. You get to decide and that’s one of the most important freedoms we have.
Start small. As you do more research, you will become inspired to get involved in many homesteading projects. Focus on a few main changes or projects you would like to make, and start there. You don’t want to become overwhelmed with too many projects, this is the opposite goal of homesteading. Homesteading focuses on hard work and caring for your body, soul, mind and the land in a peaceful, natural way.
Some simple projects to get your feet wet:
- Grow a garden
- Raise chickens
- Start a compost pile
- Make your own laundry detergent
- Cook a meal with locally grown ingredients
Whatever you decide, remember it is about you working with your own two hands (and your family/friends) to accomplish a goal. It is incredibly rewarding to use your own mind and body to do something productive for yourself and your family. It is incredibly validating to know you didn’t have to pay someone to get a job done, but instead you did it with your own time and energy.
Homesteading is forgiving. There isn’t a hard line between the right way to do things and the wrong way to do things in homesteading. Luckily, if your tomato plants develop blight, that doesn’t mean you have to go without tomatoes for a year, like it did in the time of our ancestors. We are exponentially blessed with the option to live in the best of both worlds. You can utilize your own efforts, but also if need be, use what is readily available to you. One of the joys of homesteading is learning from the mistakes you make, as well as the mistakes others have made before you.
After a few homesteading projects, I can almost promise you will begin to view the world differently. You will walk with a prouder stance, feel more respect for yourself and your ancestors and feel more physically and emotionally satisfied.
I work as an emergency room nurse in a busy, rural hospital. I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend. I got married, bought a house, began working as a nurse full time and graduated with my bachelors degree in a matter of a few years. I was left feeling tired and frustrated at my endless to-do lists and responsibilities. I was working so hard and yet felt like I had little to show. Homesteading changed my life and my attitude.
Over the last year, as my homesteading practices have grown, I have developed an incredible sense of peace and pride. I know that if something were to happen to society or government as we know it, I could provide for my family. I know that if something breaks around my homestead, I can fix it or figure out how to fix it. My homestead is my respite for the chaos of the emergency room and the duties of my personal responsibilities. The work on the homestead is hard, but is more rewarding than I could have imagined.
While true 100% lifestyle change to homesteading may not be for everyone, there is a benefit in incorporating some homesteading principles. You owe it to yourself and your family to change your perspective and spend a little more time together working toward a common goal. Laugh, work hard, learn and grow. Nourish your body, your mind and your family with a journey into homesteading.