December 7, 2012

Question For My Readers: Why Homestead?

I have a question for all you homesteaders, wannabes, and folks interested in the lifestyle.

To homesteaders: Why do you homestead? What motivated you to get started and what keeps you motivated?

To those someday planning to homestead: Why do you want to homestead? What motivates you to work in that direction?

To those simply curious about homesteading: What interests you about it? Why? Would you ever consider pursuing it yourself? If not, what stops you?

I'm interested in your answers.


36 comments:

Sharmayne said...

We "homestead" on about 1/3 - 1/2acre of land in the country - I became sick of all the artificial foods in the big supermarkets, having to rely on big companies to supply all our needs. We are limited with the area we have, yet we are still able to remove ourselves from their vices to a degree. We have a few hens (no roosters allowed here on small blocks), fruit trees, vines & vegie garden, solar panels recently installed to reduce electricity costs, solar hot water, a wood heater, tank water & bore water. I make our own soap, washing powders & often barter other stuff. We have been in our current home not quite 3 yrs, but I started in suburbia doing small things & learning about 23 yrs ago.

Sue said...

Not quite sure I "qualify" as a homesteader. Where I live (high desert in Central Oregon) there is not really a way to raise everything I consume.

I do what I do because I can't imagine NOT doing it. The only thing harder than being a farmer is being a single parent, and I survived that (mostly). I don't fit in with my family (other than my kids) because of my life style, and I'm ok with that. There is something so fulfilling about raising animals and at least part of my food. Even when it is back breaking and demoralizing, it still feeds my soul. Pipes freeze, animals die, crops fail, bills pile up. And then a lamb climbs into my lap for a nap, and all is right with the world, at least for a while.

Annnightflyer said...

I feel being a homesteader is going to be the norm for people.With all the hubbub of the GMO and such,people are getting real scared and don't want to be sick.Which should make the insurance companies happy.We are going to do this because of food prices,health issues and down right want some peace and quiet!I think when you get older this is the smart choice.Besides living simple is all God wants us to do anyway.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Excellent questions Leigh, thank you.

Why do I want to homestead? I grew up on a farm; my heart feels empty surrounded by city...I need real life around me.
In purely practical terms, it looks like we'll be having another drought this year and I feel this may indeed be the new norm...producing my own food means I can control production to some extent, can use water wisely for crop production, and produce better-quality, non-GMO food. My family and I will be healthier, which is priceless but in the end...it's about maintaining the connection to the land.

Farmer Barb said...

What an interesting post! I was hoodwinked years ago into applying for a permit to keep chickens. The zoning board told me that because I had three children, I could not possibly keep chickens in a way that would not adversely impact my neighbors. On 7 1/2 acres. I was not planning a confinement house, only 7 or 8 birds. It was around that point that I jumped into it with both feet.

I feel very strongly that our health issues stem from our ignorance of what is put into us and onto us. When food comes from MY land with MY work it eliminates all the guessing. We are healthier as a family, we are more educated consumers and we waste SO MUCH LESS!!! Our friends are educated by proxy. They may not choose this type of life, but they get to see chickens and fresh eggs and now THEY know the difference. My neighbors now VALUE my homesteading efforts because I used them to save them and their homes from the recent hurricane. I also was the first and the fastest to clean up from it. Because I know how and I can and I share. We were without power for seven days and I did not have to leave my home. It is a choice not a chore. It is a gift that freedom to choose has given us.

Stephanie said...

I want to homestead because in my life, I have spent a chunk of it relying on assistance (food stamps) as a single mother. I do not like relying on the gov't to help take care of us.
By having even just 2 acres of land, I would be able to grow enough food to not need that anymore. I am a stubborn person, and being able to take care of myself is hugely important to me.

Carolyn said...

I dislike being around people (well, about 99% of them anyhow). And this give us the perfect excuse to be one of those "freaky hermit types" :)

And I like to be able to go out in the morning to let the animals out....in my skivvies.

And I'm now a milk/egg/meat snob so I can't buy store milk/eggs/milk, so raising animals requires a bit of homesteading land.

But mostly to get away from the city/rat race/pollution and do our own thing.

tami said...

Why I want to? Blame The Little House books and my love of critters of all shapes and sizes.

Why I won't? I married a guy who likes "city" too much and says he can't eat what he has too look in the eye. (Geez...What a twinkie!)

Why I'm curious? Well, I like my garden and I'm a homebody. Ya'll are my best source of information for living a smart, simple and healthy life.

DFW said...

We are planning our homestead in order to be able sustain ourselves without having to depend on the grocery store to provide for us. Plus we love animals & the solitude of the country. Also, can't beat seeing those stars shine at night.

goat girl said...

We homestead on 6 acres, trying very hard to produce most of our food and all of our energy. I would rather put my efforts towards that than going to the office and using the money I earn to buy food and energy. It's so much more satisfying and we get more of a sense of security from it. I'm with Tami on blame the Little House books! What keeps me motivated...watch the news, that's all the motivation I need!

Katy said...

I'm not scared of GMOs, I want to homestead because I think our country is going the way of Europe. With prices on everything rising, inflation, unemployment is still staggering, everyone is dependent on the government for survival. Whether it's SS checks, food stamps, or medicaid - we're fast becoming so completely dependent on government that it scares me.
I'm working toward buying my acreage and becoming self-sustaining, I have 3 kids and I'm a single mom. I think the future looks bleak and I am worried that a woman in my position is even more vulnerable than most.

Sue, a Florida Farm Girl said...

I don't know that I'd ever do the full homestead thing, but I'd definitely like a lifestyle that is closer to the earth. A place where your life revolves around the seasons and the weather and your own efforts to feed yourself. I miss that connection to the earth so bad living here in suburbia. I may get to live in the country again one day, but it'll be a task to achieve the rest because DH is a city boy and just doesn't see the need for a lot of the things I'm talking about. So, meanwhile, I live vicariously through folks like you and I appreciate all your efforts.

Michelle said...

I was raised in the country. We grew a big garden. We had horses, dogs, cats, and chickens. When I was little my parents raised pigs for meat as well. Daddy hunted, which also put meat on the table. Homesteading is in my blood. It is what feels right for me. Without active involvement in my own food production, and all those little lives depending on me, I would have no reason to get up in the morning.

I believe the day is coming when the skills of homesteading are going to be desperately needed by the majority of the population. I hope to be able to minister to those in need by teaching how to work with God's creation to provide for the needs of one's family.

Mim said...

To homesteaders:
Why do you homestead? It's what I am,
What motivated you to get started:
I was born this way,
what keeps you motivated? I haven't changed and still love what I do.

Woolly Bits said...

I am not sure that I'd qualify for a homesteader - we don't have enough land to keep animals other than chicks etc. but like all the others here I like not being dependent on everything we need! I can't produce everything myself, but I can do something more than just shop in a supermarket! same for textiles - I can make a lot myself, why should I order stuff from china etc..? I think at some stage in the future we will have to go back to a simpler lifestyle - and I'd like to be well prepared to do so! the future can be scary - but it would be even more so if I knew that I couldn't live without outside help at all!

CaliforniaGrammy said...

We always dreamed of homesteading . . . living off the land, off the grid when we were young marrieds. But we were never able to pull it off. I suppose we really never had the guts to just "do it!" Now that we're retired and living in the country we do enjoy growing our own veggies and raising egg-laying hens, supplying our own wood for the wood-burning stove for heat. I guess that'll just have to do for now.

I love reading your blog and admire all you and Dan are able to do for yourselves. You guys are awesome!

wildernessready said...

In Louisville, KY at this time. In the past, I lived on a section of land just off the Oregon Trail in KS. I miss the country and I miss the solitude. I am concerned about the direction our country is taking and would prefer to take care of me and mine.

5 Monkeys and a Chick said...

I guess I feel like Carolyn. People drive me nuts. Small doses are fine and I would like to find a man of my own. I spent my summers on the family farm and loved it. I read the Foxfire books and was enthralled with the wisdom of our elders. Been working towards this for a very long time. And it's almost here!!!

Mamma Bug said...

I would put myself in the "curious" category.

I am interested in homesteading mostly as a spectator, a hobby, or maybe as an insurance policy. The idea of homesteading appeals to me, possibly more than the reality.

In some ways, you would think homesteading would be far outside my list of interests. I am the breadwinner for my family, I love my stable job as a system analyst in education. I love being surrounded by technology, and I love acting as a bridge for others to help them understand and make use of technology. Most people I work with would be surprised that I read homesteading blogs.

However, I also find many aspects of the natural world quite appealing. I enjoy gardening, I like the idea of having a beehive, I love the country, and I've wanted a horse for as long as I can remember. My husband grew up in a rural setting and remembers it fondly. These things have lead our family to purchase 10 acres in the country, where we will have a modest home built next year. Now, our home will be largely modern standard dwelling. But, it is important for us to have a fire box. I also want to consider alternate means for powering our well pump. The same efficiency drive which has lead to my success in the workplace also bleeds into my personal life.

Last but not least is preparedness. I don't anticipate a catastrophic loss of infrastructure in my lifetime, but I like the idea of being somewhat prepared. I will probably have a larger garden when we are established in the country, maybe I'll try my hand at freezing and canning. I do think I will keep an emergency seed stock in case we need to grow more food. I like the idea of managing our "livestock" (a horse or two? a sheep? a goat?) on our pastures as much as is feasible. I do knit a little, and would love to learn to spin wool. While I don't suspect we will ever need to live apart from modern conveniences, I like to think I could gear up for that if I had to, and that my little family of three would do OK.

To make a long story short... as long as I have a job I love and a "geek tooth", I don't see us homesteading. But, it will be a hobby as time and energy allows.

Tina said...

I live in the city, and just like your posts. I would consider it, but now, as I am alone, I don't think it's possible.
Tina

Laura said...

I was a back-to-the-lander wannabe in the '70's, and never grew out of it. After the divorce and college (I'm a late bloomer), I hooked up with a guy with a big garden. I started growing culinary herbs for sale at a local farm stand.

My son always said that I was allergic to sidewalks, and even when I moved to Reno, and had the only house on the block with a sidewalk, I turned my front yard into the veggie garden. I then got sheep, bought 10 acres, and couldn't garden at all because of the climate (bottom of a lake bed at 4740 ft - lots of wind, 6 week growing season), but I wanted to.

Then I moved to Oregon. I lived for about 6 years in the Willamette valley and in the coast range. I couldn't get a handle on growing things there - it never got hot enough for tomatoes and peppers...

During this time, I raised sheep, chickens and turkeys. When the cougars killed 1/4 of my flock in one night, I decided the Universe was telling me I didn't need to do that anymore, and dispersed the flock.

The development of an allergy to fungus led me to move to Central Oregon (Hi, Sue!!), and I KNOW how to garden here! I still have poultry, and have plans to develop a breeding program so that I don't have to buy poults for the turkey project each year. I have access to home-raised lamb, beef and pork, as well as my own poultry.

My boss in Eugene is a vegetarian because he can't raise animals and eat them. I admire his honesty. I have friends who can't eat anyone they've met - that's ok too. However, I want to know what I'm eating, how they were treated and what they ate. I raise my own (or friends do) meat for that reason.

My veggie garden is developing, and I currently have beets and carrots in a "hoop" raised bed.

It's a start. I would love to own my own land again, but I'm not sure that's in the cards. I'm hoping that I can continue to live in the country for the rest of my life - I am truly allergic to sidewalks!!

Em said...

I think it is in my blood. I come from a long line of farmers on both sides and have always loved the country and the idea of being self sufficient. It is also to do with emergency preparedness and a lot to do with health and nutrition. I have just always found being in nature, growing things etc SO much more fulfilling and interesting that any modern forms of entertainment... except maybe SOME computer games haha.

Farmer Jen said...

My Mom was a great gardener, so that part is in my blood. I love to garden, to cook from scratch and to make my own stuff here at home rather than buy it in a store. I have always loved "natural" foods and natural ways. In the '70s I read books about solar energy, straw bale homes, making my own furniture, etc. I have the Foxfire book collection and really enjoy reading them. I collect cookbooks and gardening books and "how to" books. I live on 3 acres of land in the Sierra Foothills of CA and have an organic veggie garden in the summer, a year round herb garden and I keep chickens for eggs. I planted several fruit and nut trees the first year that I lived here. I buy produce and fresh goat milk from a local organic farm. When I buy stuff, I do try to buy local or at least made in USA products. Not always possible though. I try to increase my knowledge daily and learn to make or grow what my family needs and uses. The quest keeps me active and engaged in life.

Chris said...

I thought I wanted to be a homesteader, but when I moved here I realised I just wanted to be an observer of nature.

Nature doesn't ask you to justify your reasons for anything. Sometimes it embraces you and other times it rejects you. I found that intriguing.

I found my systems were far inferior to the sustainability I saw happening to animals in nature. I found it so hard to compete, so inevitably gave in to adapting to nature instead of fighting it.

I don't know what to call myself now. I attempt to nurture eco-systems before I attempt to nurture specialised plants or animals. They just don't do so well without the eco-system to buffer them. I found I didn't do too well either, when I didn't embrace the eco-system first.

It's weird, I set out to be something in a system which ended up changing me instead. Perhaps it doesn't make much sense, but that's what it is. ;)

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Homesteading is rather a grand term for me -smile-. I've known since I was 6 years old I wanted to live on a farm and have animals. Daddy always had a garden and Mom taught me how to can when I was 13. It's my life...not a lifestyle...my life. Dave and I bought Thistle Cove Farm in 1995 and spent those years re-building the farmhouse, the barns, fences and our lives. Eventually, I'll sell this place but will buy another place, closer to family, that has acreage. My horses, sheep and alpacas will go with the dogs, cats and I.
I've given up the huge garden but keep a few herbs, tomatoes and the like for personal use. For canning purposes, I buy from young folks up the valley and will, as long as possible, can, dry and put up my own food.
Dave's death and age are now dictating how much I can do; I'm trying to be wise in deciding what can and can no longer be done.
God blessed Dave and I; He continues to bless me.

nancy said...

I'm doing the urban version, working full time. Luckily I have summer off, so that helps! I find a huge satisfaction in growing and preserving ssome of my own food- fruits, herbs, veggies, eggs. We planted 3 fruit trees so far, berries, and other perreniall veggies. Between "food security" (knowing what's in it) and caring for what you ingest, there's nothing like it.
Hubby won't move out of town (yet) but I'm hoping towards movig to a more rural area and getting about 2-5 acres. I'd get a couple of goats, some ducks and establish more of a permaculture food set up, with a more low impact home. It all takes time and planning...

Foy Update said...

As an aspirational homesteader, Why do I want to homestead? I guess the answer is I don't. I want to buy healthy food for my family that is grown locally with out chemicals or hormones. I think Carolyn sums it up well in a note I shared on my blog: 10 steps to eatting locally year round. Here's an excerpt:

In 2000 I moved to Iowa and bought a house with an acre of land assuming that I was going to do exactly what I had done in North Dakota, grow all our food. But it became clear that the deer, groundhogs, raccoon and other beings thought they owned the land.

Growing a large garden would require declaring war—not something I was willing to do. The creatures taught me a new goal, community sufficiency.

By community I include the farmers, the animals, the pollinators, the prairie grasses, the disabled man down the block, my neighbors – all of them. This means that I attend to all these relationships when I am growing, buying, preserving and storing food.

In Iowa I raise some food but mostly get it from two CSAs (community supported agriculture farms) that deliver boxes of produce every week and the farmers market.

To read the whole article go here: http://foyupdate.blogspot.com/2012/07/notes-on-eating-locally-year-round.html

Amanda said...

Great question! My husband and I are young and grew up in cities, lots of people ask us why the heck we moved to the middle of nowhere to grow food and animals. I think it has to do with our desire as humans to connect deeply with something. For many people, they get that through the work they do, the people they know, or some other identity they have in life. For us, it was about understanding the earth we live on, how we nourish ourselves and others, and how can give back and truly enjoy our time here.

SarDee said...

I think Mamma Bug could have written my comment for me! But I wanted to add that there is a great sense of satisfaction when a job is well completed... whether that be building a new chicken coop or expanding the garden. There is nothing better than the feeling you get in the dead of winter when you have a fire in the stove and a pantry full of food! We won't ever be "homesteaders" since we enjoy being linked to the world but I love the animals and working God's land.

Bernadine said...

I'm interested in homesteading because of my growing awareness of the questionable food practices in our country. The more I learn, the more unsettled I am. I want to provide local healthy food to my family and myself. Growing or raising it and supporting the local Farmer's Market seems like the only sure alternative. Working as a nurse, I see how bad food and bad habits are literally killing people. A bigger factor is that morally, I can't turn a blind eye to how livestock are treated or how companies are genetically modifying seeds. It's my very small way of trying to make a difference. Using my wallet to send a statement that I want better practices is my method of sending a message to Monsanto, Cargill...

Autumn said...

We are in the early stages of "trying" to homestead. We have 6.3acres, mostly because I always wanted to keep horses on my own property. Once we got here, we decided we wanted more than just horses, even though they take up most of our space (4 of our 6 acres). But, we plan to add chickens in the Spring 2013 and maybe honey bees the following spring. I have the privilege of being home part time with our new daughter since hubby got a new and better paying FT job. We hope one day that we can be sustainable enough for both of us to be full time homesteaders!

famousthecat said...

Living in a city, I think of "homesteading" more as community building. I really want my life to be focused on growing good food for people who may only have a convenience store in walking distance to their house for food, working with schools and community groups to change that (or to take ownership of their own food-worlds, a la community gardens or canning or whatever that might mean), putting gardens in schools, etc. We can do all we want on our 1/8-acre of land, but I think, for me, what it comes down to is community.

suburbandigs said...

I'm not certain I could call myself a homesteader but we do try and make the most of what we have on our current patch of earth. We have solar hot water and PV, keep chooks, nearly 30 fruit trees, a decent sized veggie patch, insulate, ride bikes, minimise, borrow, reuse and recycle. We're a long way away from where we want to be, but we acknowledge that every step will take time and we build on the rewards that each foot forward yields. You have a wonderful blog, I'm going to book mark it.

janamama said...

I suppose it all comes down to a desire to live an authentic life. My authentic life. I desperately crave the freedom to make choices about my family's health and well-being independent of an external system of controls (HOA for example). I also can't imagine a better day than one that starts with a garden tour while the kettle boils and an apron pocket filled with fresh berries and weeds to trade for chicken eggs.

I enjoy the intellectual and creative challenges of making do with what we have or finding ways to make what we need. I make my own hard cider, jellies, jams, bread, soap, pasta, yogurt, some clothes, bags, medicinal salves and deodorant. These are of the best quality if I do say so, myself.

It should be noted that my family lives in a high-end subdivision right now (read neighbors concerned about every darned thing) and am saving like a fiend to buy land of our very own. Yes, I am the odd duck around here although my neighbors seem to think I am equal parts brilliant and strange.

Another VERY important reason to become more self-sufficient is security in the near future. Food prices have increased dramatically in the last decade and regardless of whether the SHTF anytime soon or not, I want to be on my own land when it does.

One more factor in my determination is that I have issues with the corporate machine that is running this country and don't wish to encourage it by being more of a consumer than I have to be.

I could go on...I'll bet most of us could.

Oh, and thank you so much for this wonderful blog; it brings much delight and illumination.

Catherine said...

I just found your blog and am enjoying it immensely.

As to why we homestead; I became concerned enough about the economy back in '06 that I decided a mortgage-free, productive farm was the best way to provide for my children. I bought a fixer-upper on 10 acres and have been homesteading ever since. I married a like-minded, absolutely wonderful man last year who is now sharing the adventure. Next year, the fixer-upper will be "almost" done and the farm should finally turn a profit on its own!

What keeps me motivated? Knowing that I am providing a great life for my children--with lots of room for imagination. The satisfaction of growing/raising our own food, without the chemicals in processed food that we're allergic to. And the joy of looking at our farm and thinking, "We did that. We've done a good job."

Anonymous said...

Homesteading here, but not off-grid. We grow most of our own food. Horrified every time I go to the store at the prices and the trend toward preprepared foods with all the additives, as Americans like it convenient. Don't know how families afford it, but they do and still manage to dine out regularly. That's craziness to me. We live as much as we can on a cash basis; will be completely debt-free by May and that means everything, including the house on 10 acres. I find that as important to disaster preparedness as most people see stockpiling food. Prov. 22:27 says of debt, "If you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you?" We have no guarantees about tomorrow so need our ducks in a row. I'm not worried about tomorrow but feel being debt-free is our best position, and providing our own food has been our greatest resource. Gardens away!