Homesteading has become the "in" thing to do these days. I see lots of companies capitalizing on that. But their definition of homesteading isn't the same as mine.
A $1300 chicken coop. Really? Do the chickens lay more eggs? Is it self-cleaning?
Solar systems costing upwards of $20,000. How is that ever going to pencil out as saving on electricity? Sure, you're off the grid, but you're still dependent on expensive equipment that has to be supplied and serviced by someone.
How sustainable is your garden if you are purchasing all
kinds of fancy soil amendments?
To me, homesteading is living more simply and
sustainably. It means using what you
have on hand. It means thinking outside
the box instead of running to the store every time you need something. I am not against modern conveniences. My car gives me freedom. My washer and dryer save me time and
pain. The internet enables me to work
wherever I can connect, and my computer and Kindle carry tons of paperwork and books electronically for me. In fact, hey, if somebodywants to spend
$1300 on a chicken coop, that's fine with me. I might even admire its "purtyness". But I don't call it homesteading.
So how do I define "homesteading"?
In the city: keep
some chickens, if allowed. Mix the
eggshells, chicken poop and fruit and veggie scraps from the kitchen into the
garden soil to amend it. Grow what you
can and eat it. Go hunting or fishing on
the weekend. Make a camping trip of it
and bring home your catch. Can, dry or
freeze your extra food and eat it. Conserve water. Do dishes in a
dish pan and throw the water on the garden. Buy your clothes from yard sales or thrift stores and embellish and
alter them on the sewing machine. Save
your recyclables and turn in what you don't re-use for cash at the local
On the road: Whether
you live in an RV or just travel a lot, there are a number of things you can do
to homestead on the road. In an RV: drive slower to increase gas mileage. Cook from scratch. Learn to recognize a few wild foods you can
gather and eat, like dandelion greens (great in salad or sauteed), mint
(wonderful tea), crab apples, pinon nuts and fish. Choose dispersed camping or inexpensive
campsites instead of always pulling in to hook up.
In a car: If you are
on the road a lot for business, children's activities, or other reasons, pack a
cooler and a snack bag or box. The
cooler will have water, fruits and veggies and sandwich stuff or other
perishables for the day/weekend. The
snack bag will have dry goods (snacks, raisins, coffee, tea, etc.), dishes and
utensils. For hot meals pack a small
camp stove and fuel. You can set up at a
rest area, park, or large parking lot to cook your meal or heat your water. Sandwiches are easily assembled on top of the
At the homestead: Here in Northern Arizona it is very dry, so we conserve and reuse every possible drop of water. Dishwater goes on the garden, rinse water and bath water go into the washing machine or flush the toilets. Cooking water is cooled and put on the garden. We grow what we can and eat what we grow. We preserve any extra and eat it later. The milk from the goats and cow is made into butter and cheese. The whey is used for cooking or fed back to the chickens. The shells from the chicken eggs are crushed and fed back to them for extra calcium and grit. We fish and eat what we catch. We eat the cows and goats and chickens. Bones get made into nutritious soup broth, then the bones are fed to the dogs. Meat scraps get fed to the dogs. Bread scraps go to the chickens. Fruit and veggie scraps go in the compost heap, thence to the garden. Need I say it? The animal poop goes on the garden.
Our gym is the wood pile, the hay bales, the garden, the
repairs that need done. Our
entertainment is the dark night sky with billions of stars, watching the
critters play, taking a walk around the property or playing with the critters.
Old milk jugs become feeders, planters, grain scoops and
watering cans. Old buckets are used for
kindling, water, toolboxes and planters. Old clothes and linens are used for cleaning rags, then oil rags, then
sometimes even compost. We make do,
rarely buy new, frequently do without. Not because we have to, because we have found that living more simply is
simply more living.
For more of Mrs. D's Homesteading adventures, stop by the website and blog: www.mrsdshomestead.com Around The Homestead.