Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
By carefully evaluating what's really a true necessity, we're able to increase our self sufficiency, for example by planting apple trees.
Homesteading is to me to live in self-reliance, simplicity and mindfulness. To be able to do that in a way that feels true to what we believe in, I've found that it demands a narrow definition of what I put in the word enough. In the spirit of self-sufficiency, we want are needs to be limited, so that we can keep meet them at home.
For us, homesteading is also about acknowledging that we as humans are a part of the natural world and it's a responsibility to use natural resources mindfully so to not waste them. To me the natural world is the real world and I also believe that most kinds of excess creates a barrier between me and it, whether it's in the form of participating in the modern, illusionary financial system or the mental distractions of having too much to maintain and manage.
We often choose to get by without things that would compromise these factors since it would distance us from how we like to live. By keeping a clear and uncluttered view on the difference between a true necessity and a constructed necessity we're able to increase our self reliance instead of wanting things that ultimately create dependence on sources beyond our control. By for example being satisfied with eating food we can produce, even if it sometimes means a limited range of variety, we know we're in control of our food supply. If we find that variety too slim, our solution would be to expand the range of crops, improve our storage capacity so more food last longer or increase our creativity for how to prepare the food, rather than resort to external sources.
In modern society many have constructed necessities around things like big cars, over-sized houses, gadgets and weekend getaways requiring long drives or flights. A cell-phone is one example of something many consider necessary today but while it might add some convenience for me, I do fine without and rather not have to make the money to pay the monthly bill. This might sound like a restriction, or deprivation, but is to us a path to increased freedom in our lives. If our basic needs are few (how much money we need, for example, or how many material belongings need maintenance and management) we can swiftly move on to other pursuits, such as leisure time activities or creative projects or helping others.
To know when enough is enough is the biggest challenge with homesteading in the 21st Century and is contrary to the contemporary ideal that more is merrier, big is better and growth is greater. The challenge lies not only in making many deliberate decisions, but also to hold out against the norm that one ought to take what one get get, necessary or not. For the past few years we've decided to close the Hostel in early September, long before most seasonal business in the area. Each year we are approached by people questioning this decision, stating that we could make so much money by staying open a few more weeks. By voluntary and intentionally choose not to have over to have and by keeping our definition of enough narrow, we can meet our financial need within a few months of running the Hostel and then focus on providing our food from the gardens, improving our homestead and enjoy the quieter season at home, together.
Photo by Dennis Carter
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