What is homesteading? The answer is different today than what it was more than a century ago. Homesteading in the early 19th century meant earning land by proving you could live off it for a few years. But today, the homesteading life has a new meaning altogether.
Starting in the early seventies, those fed up with our fast-paced society yearned for a simpler way of life. They wanted to think for themselves and find a life beyond working in a cubicle, the daily commute, shopping malls, fast food and cable television.
They wanted to grow their own food, build their own homes and live as debt free as possible. They wanted to cut down on costs so they wouldn't have to have that office job. They wanted to heal themselves naturally and do as many things themselves they could, including making their own soaps and lotions.
They wanted to live radically, free from a society that demands they consume and then pay for that consumption by working themselves into the grave, slaving away at a meaningless job.
The seeds of the desire to break free were planted in me in my late teens, when my mom first became ill with lupus. Mom was a feminist and had always been a firm believer in modern society, and yet by the time she was in her forties, that same society had left her sick, alone with a teenage daughter and frightened.
From the moment I saw that terror in her eyes, I was determined not to depend on a job that could use me up and toss me aside when I had outlived my usefulness. I wanted something beyond that routine of an ordinary job, putting my kids in daycare and all the stress that went with it. Which leads to the story about me and my homesteading experience.
Soon after I turned thirty, I met my husband Rick. He was a carpenter and loved the idea of back to the basics living. He owned the complete Foxfire series. It was a match made in heaven.
Rick rekindled in me the desire for self-sufficient living. I learned how to can vegetables and make my own bread. Because we lived in Denver, we didn't keep chickens, but I did have a garden.
My gardening skills were poor at first, and my first gardens were really pathetic. But I kept at it, and each year my gardening skills improved.
Me in my "office". I'm here most days, usually with an adorable little one in my lap.
Because the specter of lupus hung about me (I did have my mom's genes after all), I also became passionate about eating healthy. I began learning about homeopathy, alternative medicines, and herbal remedies. I realized I didn't have to call the doctor every time I got sick.
Eventually Rick and I moved onto a small acreage. At the time of this writing, I have goats, chickens and two hogs living around and about me. We also have two dogs, three cats and one lonely guinea hen - we started with five, but our dog killed at least two of the poor things and chased off the rest.
I have been pursuing the homesteading life for years now and still have much to learn. I expect to keep on discovering new aspects about this wonderful lifestyle until the day I die.
And what I learn, I share here, so I hope you'll enjoy visiting my site.
Homesteading is a skill that takes time and effort to learn. You don't buy a piano and expect to play Moonlight Sonata right off the bat without a lot of lessons and practice. The same goes with self-sufficient living. Don't move onto an acreage and expect to become a successful farmer the first year or even two.
Don't get frustrated if you start an organic garden and the bugs eat it all, or your dog kills your new chickens (it's happened to us more than once) or your loaf of bread falls. Don't get mad at yourself, and more importantly, please don't take it out on me. I am human and a sensitive one at that, and I don't like being yelled at.
Remember, it takes practice, so keep at it. You will get there.
Just like with life, I don't think you can ever truly learn everything about homesteading anyway. And that's part of the joy of it. It's never boring. There are all sorts of things yet to be discovered; new ways to prepare a dish, or care for livestock or grow food. Life is an adventure with new things happening all about me, and the older I get, the more fun it becomes.
It will be for you as well. So have fun, take time to laugh, and happy homesteading.
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