Thoughts on Modern Homesteading from our Community

Our readers open up and share their thoughts on modern homesteading and sustainable living.
From the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Facebook Fans
January 24, 2014
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Modern homesteading, and the merits of sustainable living, are very important to our Facebook fans.
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What does the term "modern homesteading" mean to our readers? Off-grid solar power, a large food garden and a root cellar, chickens in the yard and cattle in the pasture, hope for the future? Sustainable living is at the forefront of the minds of many of our Facebook friends. Our active and homesteading readers gave us their interpretation of this oft-tossed-about expression.

Are you on Facebook? Follow MOTHER EARTH NEWS Magazine to find even more great ideas and conversations like the one below. Learn more about our Facebook presence and how to use this cool social tool to best Connect with us.

Alicyn Johnson Modern homesteading = Raising and growing your own food, and generating some or all of your own electricity/energy. I think it could even include making your own resources to some extent. (Yarn, and thread for sewing and knitting, milk soaps, etc.)

Ann Raeside I think anything that brings you closer to self-sustained living, even the smallest thing such as having your own chickens or vegetable garden. Living as we did before grocery stores or modern convenience. 

Renee Tobin A modern homestead would be completely energy efficient with solar and wind power that generates enough electricity to supply all of the needs of the home, garden, sheds etc. I also believe it should have room enough to grow, harvest, and store ones own food and herbs for medicines and teas, raise chickens for eggs and protein meats that are uncompromised by chemicals. The use of reclaimed materials and/or earth friendly materials for a healthy internal environment. An underground shelter from nature’s rage and future stores in case of emergencies, with back up generators and weapons for protection.

Arielle Hall Modern homesteading is the attempt and drive for self sustainability. Whether it be in the country or the suburbs, as I educate myself on the subject what it means to me evolves. I started by growing a few veggies, then the addiction took over! I have hens and a greenhouse, I grow and I can. I freeze and I jam! I read and I learn as much as I can. It is my Zen, and my peace as being able to feed myself and my family without drive-thrus and traditional groceries gives me a confidence and sense connection I thought was left in my childhood. Modern homesteading to me is an awakening!!!

Frost Homestead Modern Homesteading is a lifestyle of simple self-sufficiency and algorism. It usually entails having a garden big enough to support the family unit and have extras left over for barter or sale. Chickens, goats, and other livestock are commonplace and reflect the location and size of the homestead. Homesteaders often have rainwater collection, and participate to varying degrees in living "off-the-grid".

Rural Living Today Our family's priority is to raise as much of our own food as we can and be wise stewards of our natural resources. For us that includes raising livestock, growing veggies and fruit, preserving food, making other household product, and living fairly simply. We like to know what went into our food products and have choices about how they're produced. It's a constant learning curve for our three-generation family.

Angie Beil Modern Homesteading to our family is re-learning old homesteading ideas and using them on a smaller scale to get the most out of our 1 acre. We use a green house and a chicken tractor over our garden beds. Planting trees has been a serious endeavor on our modern homestead, too!

Hayley Ryczek It's people like us, doing the best they can with what they have. Whether city dwellers shopping at farmers' markets and a window seal herb garden or like us with a large garden, flock of laying hens, making our own deodorant…we are all part of the solution. We all identify that we need to change, all and moving closer to the goal. None of us are perfect, but every little change helps.

Heather Hall Any little piece of that which moves me away from urban and toward rural — when I lived in an apartment it was a tomato plant on the back porch. Now it is fresh eggs from the neighbor and (at the moment) listening to the turkeys they have, waiting on the squash to fruit in my yard.

April Peterson Modern Homesteading is producing the things you consume yourself. Food, power, soap and more. Just about no one does it 100 percent, we all set our own goals. I only hope to reach 50 percent and figure it will be several years before we even get there. A large garden and chickens running around the yard are good first steps.

Katlyn Koester Doing anything to provide for yourself and your family: a small garden, heating with wood, a small flock of chickens, preserving food and cooking from scratch. Finding pride and pleasure in these things knowing you are caring for your family and possibly future generations. 

Adrienne Cicelske A homestead is not just a physical place. It’s also a state of mind. Therefore, a person can homestead on 1000 acres or in a high-rise apartment. It’s all about doing what you can. =)

Sandra Deneen It's occupying whatever space you have more fully. Treating it as more than just a place to "crash." Making it a place that helps to feed, clothe, educate, recreate and inspire you. 

Melissa Hollis Whatever you are able to do as long as the goal is self-reliance. It could be as simple as a tabletop herb garden in a city apartment or as large as a full-working farm with livestock. Do what you can, keep on learning about homesteading and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Darlene Dollins Modern homesteading is a return to a simpler (not necessarily easier!) lifestyle. It is an adventure, a continual learning process that exercises the mind and body in a wholesome health preserving way. It includes growing food, and raising animals that provide something for your life--milk, eggs, fiber, or meat. It is learning how to live in cooperation with nature, enhancing the environment instead of damaging it. It is also letting go of many man-made things that distract, or take away from our focus. Clean living, clean eating, and loving life, THAT'S Modern Homesteading!

Bill French FREEDOM!

Bailee Layn-Gordon When I think of the term "MODERN homesteading" I think it’s just funny — this is the way my grandparents grew up: large gardens, gathering fruit in the pastures, putting food by, growing their own meat and processing it on the farm, and taking care of the land — but I wouldn't consider living off the land "modern/ green/ new aged" instead its just practical.

Susan Thompson Modern homesteading — to me —  means being as self sustaining as possible...depending as little as possible on store bought resources...

Irene Garner Doing what you can do to be more self-sustaining — be that a little or a lot. It all adds up in the end.

Todd McGee To me it is growing and raising our own food, living as much off the land as possible. I don't want to be off grid, that's not modern to me, lol. I like my a/c and the convenience of having modern comforts. Besides our electricity up here is dirt cheap, it runs between 50 and 80 bucks a month, depending on what you have plugged in. We just purchased 20 acres on a country road and that will be our retirement/ homestead. Lots and lots or work to do… 

Paula Hutson We always had big gardens when I was a child we canned and put up as much food as possible and it was out of necessity we had too to get by. Today I do it because I want to live healthier. I realized how much we were depending on the grocery store. Between friends we buy eggs, veggies, herbs and even wool and yarn from each other. We get together and make breads, noodles and preserve our harvests. And hopefully we’re teaching our children to do the same someday

Ella Evans It's inspiring to know that so many others are working towards the same goals we are! Every year we do a little bit more to make our little acre of the world something more than just a house on a piece of dirt. Our new motto is "what we can, when we can."

Lynn Allen What's old is new again. 

Carol Ellis King For me it means being more self sufficient, by producing our own meats, milks, vegetables, and fruits. Eliminating commercially produced convenience foods, by canning, freezing and dehydrating our own "fast" foods. We have a huge garden, lots of fruit trees, raise pigs for pork, chickens for the eggs, goats and sheep for milk and meat, rabbits for meat and income, horses for mowing and fertilizer as well as pleasure. I am teaching my children how to take care of the land, animals and preserve the bounty we are blessed with. Basically going back to our roots and the ways of our great-grandparents :)

Lee Robertson To me, it's the comfort of knowing, truly knowing where as much of your food as possible comes from. It doesn't matter if you live on 100 acres or not. The more you can do for yourself, on your own property, the better off you'll be. From gardening to raising livestock, anything you can do to ensure food for you and your family, spend less at the grocery store, or paying for services you can do yourself, the better. That's what we're working on. 

Lilly Lions Modern Homesteading: Recognizing what is truly important in life on this planet — raising (and loving) goats, sheep, cows, chickens, llamas and pigs. It means making our own cheese, soap and wool products, growing our own heritage crops using the by-products of our animals. It also means not wasting anything — re-purpose, re-cycle, re-furbish.

Most important of all it means passing on the love and learning to the next generation through hands-on training and teaching them to be aware and critical of what goes on in the world around them so that they can face their futures with hope and knowledge.

Waylon Cook Becoming completely self sufficient to abandon the rat race! Plus knowing your food is the best and safest is a plus! 

Jason Riddick I think it means not being 100 percent dependent on your job or government. Taking responsibility for your health, quality of life, and food and not depending on big business to provide you with your basic needs.

Emmy Decker I think that "modern homesteading" means something different to everyone. That's the point. It's the drive within us to provide as much of our food, clothing and housing needs as we can. Whether that's a tomato planted in a pot on your high-rise balcony or a multi-acre, income producing farm. It's doing what you can with what you have. 

Deanna Ronningen For us it means we still work, but one of us doesn't participate so much in the daily grind. We have a large garden and are planning for year round planting and processing. Next week we'll have chickens. Next will be a plan to have solar water pumping and the last is a heat source as ours depends on the grid.

Mike Ellis Started with a small garden, then chickens, now expanding the garden and very soon will have honey bees. I hope to have goats one day. I will continue to plant low maintenance edible plants and slowly turn up the lawn in favor of more useful flora. Little by little trying to actually live the lifestyle so many others just talk about. 

Mark Mauney It recognizes that modern economic and social systems are unstable, unsustainable and toxic. I believe it must embrace the original "back to the land" call of Mother Earth News at it's founding; find a way to escape the city and suburbs as quickly and efficiently as possible to set up an increasingly self reliant, intentional lifestyle. Modern Homesteaders concentrate on being prepared through food and energy independence. Keeping their eyes open to the signs of the times and learning the wisdom and skills of our Agrarian forefathers. Pursuing liberty instead of frivolity. Modern Homesteaders innovate, invent and reevaluate at every turn…and ultimately have a meaningful legacy to pass on.

Louise C. Swette Our dream is to one day be totally off grid, and 90 percent self-sustained. Our plan starts with a sunken radiant heated cabin, a solar water heater, a solar array, garden, greenhouse, chickens, and a trio of cows. I also hope to raise goats and pigs! With my husband being in the army it makes it difficult, but not impossible! 

Cheryl Bunnell Modern homesteading is putting our family back in touch with nature in a suburban wasteland. For over two decades, we've practiced organic gardening, which isn't easy when our neighbors nuke their yards with chemical fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides. Each summer we comment on how you can hear crickets only in our yard. Over the past few years we've added a vegetable and herb garden, worm composter, compact compost bin, four chickens and a bee hive to our small suburban lot.

My backyard garden was inhaled when we added our chickens last year, so we now garden in redwood boxes mounted to the top of our cedar fences. 90% of our food waste is now recycled through composting and the hens. Since retirement, I've learned to make cheese, preserve food and make my own cleaning products. I'm sure we could do more, but limited acreage is an impediment to full blown homesteading. I often hear comments that all of the things we do are simply fads. I know that they are really a way of life and couldn't have it any other way.

Farley Smith I have a large garden and now have 3 chickens. Various fruit trees. The garden will have vegetables that I can preserve for future meals, chicken are providing the eggs. 

Kathy Malespini Modern Homesteading is having your own little place where you can grow what you like with some animals. Goats, chickens whatever you want. Real food for you and your family

DixieandMatt Brown To me modern homesteading is the act of pursuing a more self-sufficient lifestyle that is less damaging to the environment in the process. 

Sandra Christopherson Making do with what you have.

Heather Licari Balancing self-sufficiency, environmental responsibility, respect for fellow earth dwellers, and family wellness in whatever space one is lucky enough to occupy 

Maria McNamara Going back to the way it was years ago. Gardening, canning, root cellar. Trying to buy local. Would love to go solar but can't afford it yet.

Carol Schulmerich Being self-sufficient. Using and taking care of nature and giving back what you take so it is there for the next person.

Big John's Homestead We built the basis for our place over a quarter-century ago. We would have been updating so that we do not use as much as energy, we have much more garden area, and we are hoping to move a lot more towards self support AND sustainability in the future. We would like to go off the grid, install a well, and return to the days of raising our own meats and poultry. I have even thought of raising catfish in a huge livestock water tank. We also realize that we cannot remain consumers of things that Wall Street or Pennsylvania Avenue tries to market to us. 

Molly Carmody To me, "modern homesteading" is nearly equivalent to "sustainable living." For most folks today, buying 20 acres, building a freecycled house, installing off-the-grid alternative energy, and living only from your land is both financially and emotionally implausible. We'd love to do it, but we can't leave our jobs to afford to do it; it's a catch-22. So to me, "modern homesteading" means, "Living as sustainably as possible using the land and the house that you have, and getting the rest as locally as possible." Only have .10 acre? Grow what you can, preserve what you can, recycle, save water, and shop locally. It's more effort than 90 percent of the First World is putting out, so congratulations!

Sarah Churchill Active participation in your family's health and survival through a reconnection to natural sustainable living. Relearning the seasons as we miss melt-in-your-mouth strawberries in January and suffer crazy sore muscles through the spring. Taking stock of the summer harvest while patching work pants beside the fire as the cold wind hammers the windows. Teaching our children where our food comes from, that hard work feels good, and playing in the dirt is fun. Giggling as you discover the first sprouts of spring. Honoring the Earth and our place on it. 

Caren Pita I'd say it starts with a mindset that says, "I want to provide for at least some of my needs directly, instead of exchanging my time and energy for money and the money for my needs."

Ambur Johnson Modern homesteading to me reminds me more of urban homesteading. I live in a subdivision in a township. I have chickens, a garden, rain barrel, this year I am going to make my own cleaners, put my clothes out on the line more (except underwear) and work on being more self sufficient!

Sarah Spoonhour Triska What does "Modern Homesteading" mean to me? We recently went on a homeschooling field trip to a State Park. There at the park they have an exhibit that shows the way people lived back in the 1800's. They have actors there that explain all the workings of the farm and why the people then did what they did. As we were going through the farm my children said "Mom why are we here there is nothing to learn?" I asked "Why do you say that?" They said "Because we do all the same things at home." Here on our farm we raise pigs and steers and bulls for food. We milk our Jersey cows for fresh milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream. We have a huge garden and an orchard. Our chickens are completely free range. We can as much as we can with what we get from the garden and our fruit trees. If there is something that we have extra of we usually trade with the local Amish. When we get a little further along we plan on getting solar panels and a small wind turbine. Then the only thing we will be missing is a well.

Sharon Bonorden Modern homesteading is taking care of what we have, being content with the basics of life, and taking care of our family and community to the best of our ability instead of expecting someone else to do it for us. This might mean raising our own food or it might mean getting together with the neighbors and making the drive to a farmers market where good food can be purchased in bulk and preserved. It might be swapping car repair for some homegrown meat, or offering to pick the fruit off of an elderly neighbor's tree and preserving it in exchange for keeping part of the finished product. Modern homesteading is more a state of mind and lifestyle than a collection of skills (although skills are important as well).

Connie Murray Veggie gardening and chicken keeping really lets your children and their friends see where food comes from — the Earth, not the supermarket. It’s fun to watch fluffy peeps become hens and little brown seeds become crops. Not enough room in the suburbs for cows but I can dream! 

Tammy Wert Brackbill Modern Homesteading is doing what you can with what you have. Trying to be more self sufficient, raising food, preserving food, teaching these things to the next generation. It also entails using and teaching other self sufficient ideas like sewing, knitting, etc. And the biggest thing is enjoying all these things!

Delinda Briggs To us, it's living off-grid, raising our own food. The modern part? 3G cell and internet service and satellite TV — for food shows only!

Open Range Real Estate It means supporting off the grid living and no more depending on others for our essential life staples. YOU have control over it all, especially if there's some unforeseen emergency that makes those resources unavailable.


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Post a comment below.

 

Dbarr1
2/12/2014 2:54:06 PM
Modern homesteading means being as self sufficient as possible for you and your family- growing/raising your own food, using as little electricity as possible, even with solar panels, harvesting rainwater and gray water for nonpotable things like irrigation. Besides being self sufficient it also means taking care of the animals, plants, natural resources and world around us as best as possible to continue to be able to be self sufficient.

mikeraydj
1/29/2014 5:12:04 PM
I feel Modern Homesteading is all of the things that have been previously mentioned and a feeling that cannot be expressed in mere words. It is a connection and a investment in your past present and future. It is to take control of your own life and realize that your own labor is rewarded by the good things of the earth. That you are stepping up for your family and truly providing for them. You are claiming your stewardship of this land and the land tells you if you are doing well. That as in most all good things, simplicity is beautiful, elegant and worth striving for.








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