The thought of homesteading has fascinated me since I first read the Little House on the Prairie series, when I was in third grade. Finding a plot of land and working that land to support your family. There was just something romantic about the idea of self-sufficiency.
Now that I’m an adult with children of my own, the thought of a homestead still intrigues me. Not in the traditional sense, of course. It’s not like I can pack up my family in a covered wagon and head west. From where I’m at, we’d drive the wagon right into the Pacific Ocean!
No, the kind of homesteading that fascinates me is being able to make my small 1/4 acre of land work for me. Using the land to provide as much as I can for my family. After a little soul searching last weekend, I realized why the Backyard Homestead appeals to me.
Homesteading Provides a Buffer Against the Economy
I’m not one to worry about doomsday stories, but I do believe it’s going to be a long while before our economy completely recovers, if it ever does.
I want to do as much as possible to insulate myself from the possible inflation that’s coming. And the more I can provide for myself, the less I have to rely on others. Ultimately I rely on God, but I also believe he gave us our home and our abilities, and we need to use them. I don’t want to be one of those people sitting on the roof of my house during a flood, saying, “God, why didn’t you rescue me?” after three boats and a helicopter have come by.
Homesteading Teaches Hard Work
I’ve said before that I’m lazy. Nobody believes me, but I stand by that original statement. I’m one to cut corners to make a task easier, and that’s not always good.
The longer I homeschool, the more I realize how many corners I cut in school. How much I didn’t learn, because I knew it wasn’t going to be on any test. How many skills I wish I had, but didn’t take the time to develop.
I want my kids to have a myriad of opportunities. I want them to know about rural life. I want them to have chores that will wear them out, but allow them to be proud of a hard job well done. And I want to learn right along with them.
Homesteading Takes the Focus Off Material Things
I had been wrestling with this post and my feelings abut homesteading for a week, before I went to church on Sunday. There was something I was feeling, but I couldn’t put my finger on it, until our pastor nailed it for me this weekend. Material things take our focus off God. How true.
Even as a fairly frugal person, I get wrapped up in the material far too often. When I need something, it’s easy to run to the store to pick it up. Just hand over the cash, and the cashier hands you whatever you need. Or think you need.
As I traversed the mall last week, seeing display after display of “buy this right now”, I’m realizing I’m tired of the “stuff” treadmill. Buy, use, get rid of, buy more, use more, get rid of more.
At the heart of homesteading is self-sufficiency. As I said before, I know I’ll never be truly self-sufficient. I rely on God. But by using what he’s given me to provide for our needs, I turn less to money and retail stores. And I get to witness the miracle of God’s creation. Observing how plants grow. Learning the life cycle of a chicken. It’s all fascinating.
Is homesteading, even on a small scale, for everyone? Of course not. I don’t even know to what extent it’s going to work for me, as I haven’t really started yet. But after reading The Backyard Homestead last week (review coming), I’m amazed at how much one can do on a little plot of land. I’m excited to see how far we can take this!
Photo by gina pina.
I feel the same way! We are on our way to having our homestead though. We have a garden that gets larger every year. this year we are going to plant fruit trees and bushes. My husband is currently taking a bee keeping class and we want to get chickens soon. I can’t wait to provide more for my family than the store does. I think I have read that book before, I have read a bunch on the topic. Worth reading again though.
Oh, what a timely post! I informed my husband yesterday that I’d like to do a nice big garden this year. I used to do it years ago when I was a fulltime stay at home mom, but I’ve felt a little disconnected the past couple of years and I think it’s because I got a way from gardening.
And a few years ago I decided that I was tired of dusting and babysitting all of the extra ‘stuff’ in our house. I went through it top to bottom and everything that I didn’t use or want anymore went to our local thrift store that supports low-income families.
I think it would do lots of folks good to read through the Little House series again to get a refresher of the basics.
Feel free to email me anytime with your questions :)
Dear Friend – ENJOY the simple earthy pleasures this world has to offer! Chickens may not always be a “profitable” undertaking, but they are joys to watch, and the eggs come in soooo handy – and are so different from store boughten eggs. Look into chicken tractor-cages for helping you with the bugs in the garden. And good luck learning to pluck the little fellows when you find out they aren’t all hens :)
My kids had them from early days, and then as 4-H projects, but on my little town lot, I’m not allowed ‘livestock’… so, no chickens here.
Been drawing up my next series of edible landscaping raised beds… need something cheering to do in all this rain/wind :)
I have the same dream, which we are finally starting to realize now that we bought our home. I’ve been in the garage the last few days constructing homemade Earthboxes to garden in, as we have little suitable gardening area with direct sun. We are also planning on switching out some of the ornamental plants with edible ornamentals (berry bushes and the like). We aren’t quite ready for chickens but someone on our block has them because I hear them in the morning, so it’s definitely a possibility!
What a fabulous learning opportunity for your children! I’ve always been interested in homesteading, and look forward to reading about your experiences. :-)
You must check out homestead.org. And Carla Emery’s The Encyclopedia of Country Living is one of the best all-around manuals for getting started. It covers everything from gardening to raising livestock to birthing a baby to burying the dead.
This is something I plan on doing as well. My sister and I moved to a five acre plot that belongs to the family. I am hoping to get a greenhouse and garden started by spring. Oh and we plan on having chickens as well.
Lynnae! I love this! I am totally into homesteading too. We’ve got a nice sized garden and are looking into adding chickens. :)