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Yes, You Can Still Be A Homesteader

| 3/30/2017 9:45:00 AM

Country MoonRemember all the old westerns on television that showed wagon trains headed for “the West,” with the folks carrying all their earthly possessions in a wagon? If they made it through hostile Indian territory and floods and over treacherous mountains, they were promised free land on which to start a brand-new life. When we watch it on TV, it looks exciting and sometimes we wish we could be a homesteader. Alas, those days are gone ... or are they?

We are all homesteaders in one sense of the word, especially lately when more and more folks are fed up with modern technology and strive to get "back to the basics.” In that sense, homesteading is an antiquated word that has been dusted off and refurbished.

The homesteading ideal consists of a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. Many people confuse it with living off the grid, which, in reality, are two different things. Completely living off the grid means disconnecting from the electric and communication grid, generating your own water supply so as not to depend on the municipal water system, dealing with your own waste and sewage, and heating and cooling your home without natural gas.

This course of action is pretty extreme for most people. Even though it may sound like an adventure, how many people can actually pull up roots and move to an isolated spot to be completely self-sufficient? This would mean growing and raising all your own food, providing all your electricity and water, preserving your food, and having the knowledge to completely fend for yourself. On top of that, you would be giving up all sources of income and connections to family and friends. Some people manage very well in this setting, but they are few and far between.

Most people who want to homestead choose a less extreme measure, which does not involve living off the land totally. As with anything, there are different degrees in homesteading. This term actually came into being in 1862 when Congress passed the Homestead Act, which gave 160 acres of free ground to anyone willing to move west, build a home, plow the land, and live on it for at least 5 years. Hence, the wagon trains headed west and pioneers settling there. Some of the ranches of today were started from this free land. However, it came with a price. Although the land was free, anyone who claimed it had to possess a dire determination and be willing to dedicate their life to endless days of hard work.

Although the Homestead Act ended as recently as 1976 and free land was no longer given away, homesteaders still persist with the pioneering spirit and crazy work ethic. More and more Americans are choosing to unplug. Home Power Magazine estimates that 180,000 homes in the United States are completely generating their own power.

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