Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Homesteading! This term means different things to different people. Sometimes those of us who have embraced a different lifestyle of homesteading fail to realize that others see it differently. The person who lives in an apartment, has a one hour commute each way to work, and grows patio tomatoes and herbs in a window box, conserves water, and tries to reduce their carbon footprint, and strives to be more self sufficient are homesteaders on a different spot on the path to homesteading. There are those of us who have purchased or leased land away from mainstream civilization and have focused on going all the way who are simply at another point on the path to homesteading. In reality as long as you are headed toward a self-sufficient lifestyle, whether it is producing all your food or growing patio tomatoes, you can define yourself as a homesteader. Therefore, defining homesteading is difficult as it means different things to different people and is somewhat like trying to nail Jello to the wall.
We were asked, along with some other Mother Earth News contributors, to participate in a survey where we answered many questions on homesteading. The results were then condensed and included in a book that has recently been published, A Way of Life Less Common. That is a most appropriate title for a book on homesteading because to pursue self sustainability is a lifestyle that is considerably less common. So whether you are just beginning on the homesteading journey (and it is a journey) or if you have chosen a lifestyle that is not common you are on a different path than many people and probably moving toward homesteading. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide you are going to be a homesteader. It generally is something that starts out as a “eureka” moment and then grows slowly over time. It may be while you are sitting in traffic on that long commute to work, or when you are sitting in a park. Then one day you suddenly realize you have committed to a lifestyle that is somewhat different than many other people.
This book which we are privileged to be a part of outlines the process seven families engaged in to homestead. I would venture to speculate that if you took seven hundred families they would all have different reasons and equally different paths but a singular desire to achieve similar results. Homesteading is not simply a change of lifestyle but instead it grows into a totally different way of life. Some are able to financially profit from doing it and some do it for nothing more than the satisfaction of being more self reliant. Some of the most frequent comments I hear is that people tell me they could never do what we do. They wrongfully assume that homesteading means going without and just eking out an existence. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We have most of the modern appliances and electronics to make life enjoyable. What we don’t have is wasteful habits or a lifestyle that takes more than it gives back.
Homesteading is a mindset and dedication to being more self-reliant - just as simple as that. If you want to see just how different homesteaders are check out the book A Way of Life Less Common by Christine Dixon.