Ever since the days of the early European settlers in America, homesteading has been an integral part of American life. Because the idea was originally used to help to populate the country and lay claim to the wild frontiers, the popularity of homesteading waned in the early-Twentieth century. However, homesteading has now taken on a whole new meaning and has regained its popularity in many states.
What is Homesteading?
In the twenty-first century, homesteading has now changed to represent a type of self-sufficient lifestyle which involves (almost) no reliance on outside organizations for food, clothing, property maintenance and many other aspects of home and lifestyle. This builds on a philosophical idea that to have true ownership of your lifestyle and property, then you should earn this ownership by laboring. Many people believe that living independently from the government or the economy will help them to maintain stability if there is a national crisis. Despite their attempts at self-sufficiency, most modern homesteaders choose to maintain a positive relationship with the wider community. This means that it is technically possible to “homestead” in urban areas, so it is not necessary to move out to the wilderness if you wish to homestead.
How to Begin Homesteading
One of the first things that you will need to do is to start to gather necessary tools together. These are the things that you will use to make and mend your clothes, home and garden. When you first consider homesteading, it is best to just get the basic tools until you get used to what you are doing. You will soon learn what tools you might need to get in future. By this point in time, some homesteaders are actually able to make many of the tools that they need. You should also find and plant your patch of land. Most homesteaders live next to the land that they plan to “farm”, but some urban dwellers are forced to get a piece of land elsewhere, such as a community garden. Where ever you start cultivating, make sure that you have the permissions which are required to allow you to grow vegetables according to local regulations. Growing food from scratch can take a long time, so don’t expect to become self-sufficient straight away.
As you progress down the homesteading road, you will find that you need to purchase fewer items every week. You will soon work out that many of the items that you thought were spent can actually be reused or repurposed as something else around the home. For example, the fabric from clothes which are no longer fit for purpose can be cut up and made into a patchwork blanket. Alternatively, you can use rags as cleaning products or an insulation material. As well as being great for cooking, baking soda is fantastic for use in homemade cleaning products. These are just a few suggestions for a couple of products. You will soon realize that almost every product has an alternative use.
“Living off the grid” does not mean that you have to completely eschew all electronic gadgets and move back to the time of the early settlers. Modern homesteaders often turn to alternative energy sources to provide the electricity that they need to power their gadgets, kitchen equipment and heating systems. The alternative method of energy generation which will be best for you will often depend on where in the world that you live. Many homesteaders also combine two or more energy generation techniques to help them to produce enough power to support their lifestyle choices. If you live in a sunny climate, solar cells can easily produce enough power to support your needs. Alternatively, wind turbines are an excellent choice if you live in an area which is exposed to the wind. If you are lucky enough to live near to a flowing water source, you can also install a water wheel which will generate power as it turns. Biomass boilers can generate heat by burning organic matter (wood, garden waste) which is left over from your home. These are just a few of the alternative ways that people get heat, power and hot water as part of their homestead lifestyle.
The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself
Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre