This off-grid Colorado homestead features solar electric and hot water collectors.
PHOTO: ROBBIE GEORGE
In today’s parlance, what does it mean to be a “homesteader”? Modern homesteaders, to us, are folks who choose to focus significant portions of their time and energy on the things that matter most in life — self-reliance, homegrown and nutritious food, secure shelter, as much freedom as possible from financial worry, and leisure time to do whatever they enjoy most. Historically, homesteading has been a rural enterprise, but the version that is emerging in the 21st century is not exclusive to the country. Can you live in an urban apartment and still call yourself a homesteader? You bet!
In the old days, homesteading meant a life of backbreaking work as people carved farms out of the wilderness without the modern tools and conveniences we take for granted. Today, going “back to the land” is an entirely different experience, thanks to the many electric-, gas- and solar-powered tools at our disposal. Growing a big garden is still work, for sure, but it’s nothing like it was in the days when homesteaders had to plow with horses. Today, often, the work is its own reward.
Some of us choose to be homesteaders simply because we get satisfaction out of doing for ourselves — growing and cooking great food, building furniture or even our own homes, and learning and perfecting new skills. In past generations, homesteading was about survival. Today, homesteading is often an art.
Some of us have discovered that homesteading can be a less expensive way to live, leaving us with more money for things that matter and more time to relax and pursue hobbies or adventures. And some homesteaders are seeking a greater degree of security than the contemporary American lifestyle provides. They find security in independence — from debt, from declining and polluting fossil fuels, and from the industrial food machine.
Whether you’re an optimist who thinks the world will somehow solve the problems we’re facing, or a pessimist who is deeply worried about climate change, Wall Street shenanigans, energy issues, and/or political unrest across the world, choosing to orient your life around your homestead is a wise decision.
We are seeing a new surge of interest in homesteading as people recognize the security and satisfaction of becoming more self-reliant, and as they also discover the joy of a deep connection to nature, to the land, and to the food and shelter it provides. This interest drives many of our new homesteader bloggers, such as Cam Mather of Homesteading in Canada, Sherry Leverich Tucker of A Modern Missouri Homesteader, Liesl and Myles Petersen of Small Farm Chronicles, Deanna Duke of The Crunchy Chicken, Victoria Gazeley of City to Country, One Step at a Time, and more whom you can find on our blogs home page. We look forward to a day when everyone is a joyful steward of his or her home — and of our home planet.