While the definition of homesteading has changed over the years, homesteading today is, at its core, a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines self-sufficiency as the quality or state of being self-sufficient. More specifically, to be self-sufficient is defined as [being] able to maintain oneself or itself without outside aid.
Homesteading is encompassed by a variety of skills which enable a family to live with limited assistance from the outside world. That being said, there is not one proper way to commit to homesteading. While the resulting goal is generally the same, you’ll find that many people who claim this lifestyle have differing ideas of what it means to them. Their objectives could entail one or more of the following:
- Growing vegetables and fruits
- Raising animals for meat, dairy, eggs, etc.
- Preserving food by canning, dehydrating, curing, smoking, etc.
- Producing electricity by means of solar, wind or water
- Building shelters
- Collecting rain water
- Hunting and foraging
- Making clothing or supplies
- Storing food or other necessities
- …And much more!
Why commit to this lifestyle?
1. Emergency Preparedness
Life in society as we know it today might not be sustainable under certain conditions. Many families would lack proper knowledge of how to care for themselves outside of the current model of living. Unexpected events can leave us without access to things and places we are accustomed to having at our disposal. Even if you aren’t facing a societal crisis, a personal emergency can come up at any time. Having extra supplies and food on hand can make all the difference.
Here are some scenarios to consider:
- Natural Disasters
- Power Outage
- Medical Emergency
- Vehicle Trouble
- Violent Crime
- Terrorist Attacks
In an ideal world you would never be forced to experience such a thing, but our world and our lives are imperfect and the best you can do is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
2. Financial Security
Admittedly, you aren’t going to start saving money overnight. In fact, the initial cost of starting up a homestead can seem burdensome at the time, but you need to consider the rewards that you reap after you sow the seeds. Ultimately, you will reduce your need to spend outside of the home to maintain your lifestyle. The tasks that you decide you are capable and willing to undertake will determine how much you rely on external sources. If you have a surplus of certain items, such as produce or eggs, you can also generate income. The more you are willing to commit to, the more control you have over your situation, which will likely allow you to feel more ease and less stress about your financial situation.
Generally speaking, if you are in control of your food, you are in control of your health. There are exceptions to that rule, but healthy dietary habits can be a crucial step in paving the way to a healthy life. One important thing to consider is what is in the food you are eating. What better way to stay familiar with your food than to grow or raise it yourself? By growing your own food you can avoid:
- Questionable herbicides and pesticides
- Added hormones and antibiotics
- Foods stripped of nutrients with artificial vitamins added
- Excessive amounts of sodium and sugar
- Dangerous bacteria exposure
Additionally, you get the health benefits of being outdoors, such as the production of vitamin D. A 2010 Harvard Health Letter highlights the reasons why time outdoors can be good for the human body.
You may or may not be convinced that homesteading is the right choice for you. Maybe you do have an interest in such a lifestyle but don’t know where or how to start. Just remember that progress is progress, no matter how small (definitely not a “Horton Hears a Who” reference).