What Does Homesteading Mean To You?
Homesteading Essentials are Met with Challenges
Homesteading is on the rise here in the United States. I am often asked “What does homesteading mean?” To our ancestors it was clear. A homesteader was pretty much equivalent to a farmer. You had a piece of land and you produced most, if not all of your family’s food from the land.
In our modern day, the lines of the question what does homesteading mean are blurred. The definition has many variations. The sum of them all is providing as much for your family as you can on the land you have. There is some disagreement about how much land you have to have to be a homesteader, but for me it’s an issue relative to the individual situation. Homesteading today we find it’s more about the degree to which we want to be self-sufficient.
Some people have huge tracts of land and farm absolutely nothing. What a waste. While still others have gardens, goats and chickens on their city lot. Does it really matter what we call ourselves?
What is a homestead? What does a homestead feel like, sound like and smell like? I think we can find out a lot about what does homesteading mean by considering the obstacles we hurdle every day.
Let’s face it, depending on to what degree you homestead and what degree of self-sufficiency you aspire to, there are challenges to our way of life. Let’s take an open look at them and how to overcome them. Maybe by doing this, you’ll discover what does homesteading mean to you.
When it comes to most homesteads and money, we usually have more homestead than money. There’s simply never enough which makes this the largest challenge for many of us. In our modern economy, most people exchange their time and freedom for money with a traditional job. On a homestead, we need our time and freedom to accomplish the chores and daily tasks which give us the self-sufficient lifestyle we hold dear. Needless to say, you have to be creative in solving this problem.
Some people take an outside job exchanging some time for money so they can live some of the life they desire. While others look for ways to make money online. Others sell products made from their homestead. Still others do a combination of these or are even more creative than this and make their own way. The goal of all these is the same: to be able to get up and meet the animals with a smile and of course a bucket of feed as we live out our dream of self-sufficiency.
Life in the 1800s was very different from now in many respects. No matter how much of a self-sufficient lifestyle you live, there’s always something requiring money. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a few friends or in a community of homesteaders, you may be able to barter for most of your pressing needs. You may have a skill or resource valuable in your group and this can be the key to being able to keep your need for cash flow to an all time low.
Let’s just get the weather out on the table because this is going to be a major reason for flexibility. This year (2016) has brought flooding to many in the deep south. After years of drought, they planted as usual only to lose it all to a flood in areas which have never flooded before. You may make plans to plant your garden on a particular day, only to awaken and find a downpour from heaven. Postponing your plans and moving on to the next chore is all you can do.
It isn’t only the weather which will keep you flexible or frustrated, it’s also the million and one ways something can come up on a homestead. It is not a question of if, but when. You’ll find you have to change your plans and turn 180 degrees on a dime!
Ready to harvest your garden? Well that may be the exact time one of your young horses gets colic. Then you spend a few hours leading a horse around in circles hoping for poop. Just ask me how I know! Bullet, our horse, became top priority in a matter of seconds a few years ago.
You must be flexible. If not, you’ll be frustrated. There’s never a day when all the work is done. There’s always a chore needing attention. It’s part of the homesteading life.
Take everything with a grain of salt and pinch of sugar. Frustration and anger will not help you accomplish anything. Don’t be unreasonable in your expectations of yourself or others. To be an overcomer, you’ll need to see the sunny side and have faith knowing there is a time and season for every good work on the homestead.
Do you have the skills to pay the bills? Well, on a homestead a skill is as good as money in the bank. You can barter skills, trade items you make, and some skills can become relaxing and even hobbies.
If you have a skill or two which allows you to make a little money, then you have a blessing indeed! Homesteading skills can include knitting (I’m learning this and loving it), wood working, metal working (forging), leather work, mechanical repair work, horticulture, food preservation and writing books or a blog to help others.
But have you thought about abilities which aren’t as tangible? When your cow is in trouble do you have a level enough head to think clearly, finding a solution before it’s to late? If you have to say no, don’t throw in the towel.
Do you know someone who keeps a cool and level head in the face of adversity? If so, all you have to do is remember who to call. We each have different abilities which come in handy at just the right time. The point is to reach out to people whom you trust and build real, solid relationships. These relationships can help each of us survive in the face of challenges. If we put our heads together and pool our skills and resources, I’m sure nothing will be impossible for us.
There’s never enough time to do everything you want done. I don’t remember many nights where we lay down and don’t think of something we wish we could’ve accomplished. Prioritizing is a skill someone on your homestead must have.
You know me, I’m a list maker! After all, the mind is a great work area, but a terrible storage bin; I wish I could remember who said that. If one of you guys remember, let me know in the comments, this is going to bother me until I remember.
Back to time. It can be an obstacle, but it’s manageable and can be used wisely. Having some down time on a homestead is important too; taking time to enjoy the fruits of our labor and the blessings of our homestead layout. Just when you have a relaxing evening planned, you find the fence is down and needs immediate repairs. So stay calm and keep flexible.
Your homestead is where you hang your heart, wipe the sweat from your brow with your sleeve, bind the bleeding cuts, and find the balance of your spirit in its breeze. It’s a place you find your own solutions to the issues you face. You’ll get by with a little help from those whom you love and trust. The freedom you feel on a homestead is almost tangible and visibly changes the people and things around us.
What does homesteading mean to you? Have you discovered your answer to this question? Let us know in the comments below.
Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack