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The phrase “modern homesteading” has different meanings to different people. History and lost skills are experiencing a revival in modern society, but what does it really mean? What does a modern homesteader do? And how can you do it yourself?
When we first started our off-grid homebuilding journey, I knew I wanted to write about it. One of my major goals was to share our knowledge and experiences with others who want to do projects similar to ours. I also knew that I wanted to network with other like-minded bloggers, but where to start?
I wasn’t really sure where natural building techniques like cordwood and off-grid applications like solar and rainwater harvesting fit in. But in my online searches, the topic of “homesteading” kept coming up. At first, I wasn’t even really sure what that meant or how I would really fit in. Truthfully, it was kind of weird to fit into that mold.
Why? Because I felt fraudulent.
See, in our area, most people don’t call this lifestyle anything. It’s just what you DO.
I’m blessed to live in an area where so many people keep chickens and bees, raise goats, plant gardens, and preserve the harvest. We get excited about the spring chicks arriving at our local farm suppliers and we rescue plants destined for the dumpster at the big box stores. We frequent the farmers market for things we don’t grow ourselves and sell some of the things that we do.
Yet here I am, not having any chickens or bees. I am a C+ container gardener at best. And between my sisters-in-law and I, I am the only one who has never canned anything. Ever. Though I did get a pressure canner for Christmas so I have zero excuses now.
But I kept writing within the topic of homesteading because it does seem to have the most likely enthusiasts for natural building and off-grid living. Perhaps you yourself are in that crowd! It’s been nearly three years of evolution since I started networking with other homesteaders, and you know what I discovered in the process?
The world of “modern homesteading” is diverse and vibrant!
It’s rural and urban. Novice and expert. Rich and poor. It spans a wider range of people than you would ever imagine, and all because we share core values like sustainability and self-reliance.
I’ve learned that this lifestyle isn’t just the label that you put on it. As one of my friends succinctly stated, modern homesteading is “simplistic and sustainable living that utilizes modern conveniences”. There are so many beautiful ways to do that!
So if you’re like me and you haven’t felt like a “real homesteader” because of the things you don’t do, take heart in the things you’ve already got!
Here’s a dose of inspiration from my fellow homestead bloggers about what “modern homesteading” really is:
“To me, modern homesteading is a mindset. So many people are trapped in cities by their jobs, but they dream of a homestead lifestyle…freedom from modern systems and increased self-reliance, etc. I truly believe a person can begin homesteading no matter where they live by growing their skill sets of interest: cooking from scratch, growing food, fiber arts, making body care products, learning to use herbs, carpentry… and more.
Homesteading is a journey and a personal evolution.”
-Heidi V., Healing Harvest Homestead
“To me, modern homesteading is doing what you can where you are. It doesn’t have to be a 500-acre farm, it can be in an apartment, a house, rental, living on an acre in a travel trailer, 10 acres, whatever you have access to, you can start where you are and do what you can. 🙂 Even a preschool daycare can homestead. It’s about learning skills and taking charge of your own future.”
-Christina K., Little Sprouts Learning
“To me, modern homesteading is the process of becoming more self-sufficient. You start by doing one thing that makes you feel more independent, and that just snowballs into doing more and more things for yourself. Whether it’s for fun or part of a goal to become completely off the grid. It’s just so satisfying to be able to do and make what you need on your own.”
-Laura S., You Should Grow
“To me, modern homesteading is taking control of your food supply and your health. It’s great to have eggs from my own chickens that are raised ethically and produce from my garden that isn’t treated with harmful chemicals. It can be a garden so big you have to till it with a tractor, or a window herb garden and tomatoes growing in buckets on your balcony. Every bite of clean real food is one step closer to a healthier you!“
-Lisa, Murano Chicken Farm
“To me, modern homesteading means connecting to our history and using it to enrich and add meaning to our modern lives. Just as you go to an art museum to appreciated paintings from 500+ years ago, homesteading is a way to step back from modern conveniences and appreciate the way life used to be, if only in a small way. It’s an act of mindfulness in an otherwise chaotic world, that reminds us not to take anything for granted. As the parable goes, “Once you carry your own water, you will learn the value of every drop.”
-Ashley, Practical Self Reliance
“To me, modern homesteading means trying to balance what is good for you with what is good for the world. It means growing and producing much of what we need ourselves (self-sufficiency), but not disconnecting from the community and world around us either because part of why we homestead is because we know these practices are good for the environment and for our local community.
It also doesn’t mean “all or nothing” – we call ourselves “homesteaders” or “aspiring homesteaders” but we don’t do everything that it might mean to others to homestead (we don’t have animals for example, but barter for eggs and buy local meat from local farmers when we can). I think everyone has a different reason they come to homesteading, and I love that we can still relate to each other even if we do it for different reasons.”
-Carrie H., Happy Hive Homestead
“Modern homesteading is a new movement that it is growing rapidly. The people that want to become more self-sufficient. People who are sick of the rat race, sick of trusting others to grow their food, or just plain ol’ sick.
Homesteading is getting in touch with our old traditions. Things that have served humanity well for so many generations.
You do not have to live on lots of land to embrace the homesteading movement as it is a state of mind and a set of skills.
If you enjoy the fruits of your own labor, want to live a healthy more fulfilling life and get in touch with our roots, then modern homesteading might be for you!”
-Dana T., Piwakawaka Valley
“To me modern homesteading means connection. It’s being in touch with our basic needs, interacting with the land, and giving our children deep roots. Moving towards this lifestyle is a way for me to feel life more fully. It provides the pinnacle of quality food and relationship with those around us. More tangible is the health benefits, the economic advantages, the time spent in nature, and the opportunity to do all that sustainably.
For me, homesteading simply brings me closer to the wholesome lifestyle I choose with my spouse and for our family.”
-Kristen M., Growing Wild Roots
“To me, modern homesteading is taking the best of the past and mixing it with the best of the present. We are lucky to live in a time where we have access to both traditional wisdom and modern improvements!”
-Mindy W., Our Inspired Roots
“To me, modern homesteading is exciting and we are on a new part of our journey!”
Al, The Country Sage
What about you? Leave me your definition of “modern homesteading” in the comments below.
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To see how we built our house step-by-step, you can read our homestead progress updates and find out more about our cordwood homestead project here. While you’re at it, be sure to join us on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest too. Thanks for reading!