Is the Homestead Lifestyle Really Worth the Effort?


Mosquito Mountain Montana HomesteadMy wife and I have had this discussion before. One of the times we were picking peas in the garden with the hot sun beating down on us we questioned the wisdom of putting so much effort into a project with so little cash value. We could get a "real" job and pay for a whole case of peas for about an hour's worth of labor.

It wasn't just the peas either. It was everything in the garden and most of the other things about our homestead life as well. When we canned our food we figured in the investment in our canners (four pressure canners), our electric food dehydrators (four of these as well!). We also figured in the work in preparing the soil, planting, tilling and harvesting. We also added in the crops lost to frost or excessive rain. Then came the cost of fencing to keep out the deer, elk, bears and moose that inhabit our neighborhood. We didn't even include the cost of canning jars (well over a thousand).

Then there are the times we lose ground like when the rabbit girdled five of our six apple trees one winter and we had to start our orchard all over the next spring. Or when the ground squirrels invaded our garden one week in the summer when we were gone (with the dog) and ate all of our peas to the ground.

our home 

A little math showed that we were not even earning minimum wage for the work we'd put into our garden and adding in the investments we had in materials, land, and machinery and, from the financial perspective at least, our lifestyle was a very poor investment.

About the only thing we came out ahead in was home heating. We have long winters and heat exclusively with wood. Comparing our heating cost with those of the people living in town we came out way ahead. But then I'd heated with wood for many years before we entered into full-time homesteading!

9/15/2014 1:59:32 PM

Steven, this is a great piece. We canned up spaghetti sauce last week: 12 quarts. It sells at the Price Chopper for $.77 a jar on sale. So a full day of work, and that's just the picking and canning part, for about $9 of food. Not to mention starting the seeds, planting, watering, weeding, etc. But it's our hobby and our joy to put up our own homegrown food. A labor of love to be sure.

9/10/2014 8:10:57 AM

Sounds like you have a wonderful life up there in the beautiful State of Montana!!

9/9/2014 7:51:44 PM

Steven, I'm not sure that I could go as far off the grid as you have. It was a dream at one time when I was young but now not so much. My homestead resides in the two vacant lots I'm developing into gardens and a back yard I'm developing into a fresh table garden. I call it urban farming. I haven't got it perfected just yet but I'm working on it. I really do feel at home when camping and just last week the power went off here. It threw all the neighbors in a panic but I felt like I was in my element and quite content until the power came back on. It was only two hours this time but in the spring the power was off for a couple days. You would have thought the world came to an end because the electricity was off. The 30 and below families in the neighborhood were not happy about no air conditioning. ***** Have a great off the grid day on the homestead.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters