Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
The images most people get when they think of life on a homestead is that of the Amish community — people living off-grid without modern technologies — or the images of families living in the remote wilderness as glorified by reality television shows.
Homesteads come in all different shapes and sizes, from being in remote wilderness to a backyard in town, from ½ acre to several hundreds of acres, and everything in between.
While these are forms of homesteads, there is a very wide base as to what is considered a homestead and what is not. Most modern homesteaders live on-grid with modern technologies such as power, internet, and modern conveniences. Yes, there are those that are living off-grid with no power and no dependency on anything but themselves but the former is more common than the latter.
No matter what format each homestead is, one thing remains the same throughout, and in my opinion, that is the desire for each individual to achieve a sustainable lifestyle while continually lessening their dependence on outside resources.
Life on a Homestead is 'Simpler'
One thing that most people would state about homesteading is the life itself is simpler. Well, as with anything, living on a homestead has its ups and its downs, but generally most homesteaders can agree that they would not change it for the world.
Yes, life seems simpler compared to the fast-paced life of the city. You have your daily chores that you have to do, such as feeding your animals, watering your garden, milking your cows or goats, collecting firewood, or more.
However, if you actually look at it, life really isn’t more simpler than city life. In fact, there is much more work that you have to complete within the same amount of time that most people complete in their day. This work must be done each day and does not stop for inclement weather, does not stop for sick days, does not stop for vacations or days off.
Life on a homestead is hard work, it is constant work and if you don't do this work potentially you, your family, or your animals will go without food, water, or more.
Now, do not get me wrong. As the old proverb goes, “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy” (courtesy of Wikipedia). There is so much beauty in a homestead. Being able to take a dried-up seed and cultivate it into something healthy to feed your family, or raising an animal from birth, or getting your very first egg from your flock of chickens, is special.
The Joys of a Homestead
There is not a homesteader who has raised chickens that cannot tell you the pride they have felt when they bring in their first egg from their chickens. That egg is the best egg in the entire world, bar none. It surpasses every egg ever laid before it, because that homesteader worked day in and day out to raise, nurture, and grow their flock, and now they are able to reap the rewards of their hard work.
Every homesteader can tell you of their first time successfully canning their harvest — the musical pop of the metallic lids of the jars that every homesteader can relate to. The birth of a baby animal from an animal that they raised (and raised its mother before her and its mother before her and so on) is wrapped in the homesteader's pride.
The feeling of being able to sit back some days and look over your land and see nature working in harmony together because of the sweat of your brow. The smiles on your family’s faces as they gobble down fresh food from your land and you knowing that it is the healthiest meal that you could possible provide.
So, no, life on a homestead is not simpler than that of city life, because the homesteaders has to be doctor, veterinarian, event manager, midwife, accountant, salesperson, farmer, gardener and more all wrapped into one. But in my humble opinion, life on a homestead is more pure, more basic and far more rewarding, however all of this is in the eye of the beholder.
The Pains of a Homestead
Not everything is as joyous as it sounds on a homestead — life itself can be downright cruel and heart-breaking.
One of the biggest things every homesteader faces on a homestead is loss. This animal that you have spent years raising, taking care of, treating with respect and love is found dead across the field as you go out to feed it in the morning. That same animal who has greeted you every morning and has showed you affection in the only way it knows how. Now it is dead from a predator, dead from disease, or dead from something unknown, it does not matter what the cause is — it still hurts.
While we strive to work within the laws of Mother Nature, sometimes she can be very cruel. Spending many hours working on your garden pulling weed after weed, making sure the pH balance is just right, making sure the correct nutrients are in the soil, watering like clockwork and on any given day it is all taken away by floods, hail, storms or lightning induced fire — it does not matter what the cause is, it still sucks.
Homestead or Not
So, whether you choose to live life on a homestead or not, knowing that regardless of the size or shape we all face the same kinds of situations in one format or another. For good or for bad, it is how we choose to see and react to each situation that makes us who we are: homesteaders living a modern life on a homestead.
Shane Floyd has been passionate about homesteading and sustainable living for more than 40 years. Now located in Oklahoma, he is using his experiences and passion to create his own sustainable homestead on 7 acres of land, using the same principles and ideals of his ancestors with a modern-day twist. Read about his adventures on the Floyd Family Homestead website, and connect with Shane on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, and Amazon. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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