What does homesteading mean? Can someone only homestead on a farm of 100 acres? What about the rest of us,who rent, or live in the city?
My husband and I live in the suburbs outside of the DC metro area. Currently, the hubs is in the military and has another 9 years until retirement. Our financial plans, our homesteading goals, and our “forever farm” are easily 10 years down the road.
So what does homesteading mean to us, and how do we achieve it in our current situation? Homesteading is measured in mindset, not numbers of acres or chickens.
1. Financial Freedom
The first and most important part of any homesteading dream is freedom from financial constraints. Living a simple, self-sufficient life means getting rid of debt, spending less than you earn, and investing more inside your home than outside of it. Every time you skip the drive through, instead of helping out McDonald’s profit margin, you’re investing your money in your health, your home, and your future.
Currently, in our homestead, we have already paid off our credit cards, are working on paying off our auto loans, and always make sure 10%+ of our income goes into savings and retirement. We make the majority of our meals from scratch, always pack leftovers for lunch, and always repair or re-purpose anything that needs it before throwing it away.
2. Food Freedom
Living a homesteading lifestyle means growing what food you can, investing in your community and buying what you can from local farmers. Again, we vote with every dollar we spend, so spending a dollar at a local farmer’s market makes the statement that you prefer to invest in your community and small scale farming than large, chemical-laden agro-business.
On our 1/3 acre homestead, we have a robust raised garden bed that provides enough produce to feed us, with extras to can. We’ve purchased half a cow and half a pig from local farmers, and make everything we can from scratch, before buying it in a store.
3. Energy Freedom
This may be the hardest category to homestead in for those who are still renting or living in the suburbs. Living “off the grid” is important to any homestead. The ability to generate your own power is extremely useful in the case of emergencies, natural disasters, or simply to reduce your monthly electric bill! While someone who is renting or lives in the suburbs, being completely off the grid may not be possible, consciously reducing the amount you spend, means you need less in the end. This is true not only for electricity, but gasoline, water, food, etc.
4. Freedom From Stress
Homesteading means a different set of values, goals, and priorities from what our current society promotes. It’s a return-to-the-land movement, a simpler set of values, a reevaluation of priorities. Do you need that high-paying job? Do you need to keep up with the Jones’? How many social responsibilities do you really need? Living a homesteading lifestyle means recognizing the freedom and beauty in living more simply. Living more simply means living without stress. There will always be stresses in Homesteading. Taking care of animals, and livestock is not an easy lifestyle, but I find these stressors wholesome and come from stewardship of the world we’ve created around us, not from the external world’s perceptions and demands of us.
5. Freedom of Time
Piggy-backing on #4, living a simpler life means also having more time. When we leave the hustle and bustle of the rat race behind, we suddenly find ourselves with time to pursue other interest and hobbies. We have time to be with ourselves, nurture our relationships with friends and family, care for our homes and land. You may have longer hours some days, but there’s always an ebb and flow.
Homesteading is not easy. When you decide to grow your own, make everything from scratch, care for livestock, you will inevitably work harder than any 9-5, but the work is healthy, honest, and rewarding.