Homesteaders are a unique breed. It takes guts, perseverance, grit, and a little insanity to throw off all modern convenience for a simpler (but much harder!) way of life. Here are 7 things that homesteaders do differently.
1. Homesteaders Pride Themselves on Self-Sufficiency
A homesteader’s idea of self-sufficiency isn’t moving out of our parents’ house at 35. It’s building our own, making our own, growing our own. It’s about not relying on anyone or anything else for our electricity, our food, our clothing, our lifestyle.
I made my headboard out of old barnwood. It weighs a ridiculous amount, and it’s not very attractive. But you know what? I know where the materials came from. I know exactly how many hours and nails and splinters went into making it. And when it breaks, I’ll know exactly how to repair it. So it may not be beautiful to many, but it’s beautiful to me.
We spend hours tending to the garden, to animals, to our land so that we know exactly where our food comes from, the sacrifice that went into it, and to know we can feed our families no matter what happens.
2. Homesteaders Spend Their Time Differently
We spend hours in the garden, nurturing a single plant. We spend hours blanching, peeling and canning tomatoes. We cook from scratch. We knit and crochet our own blankets.
Homesteading definitely isn’t easy. We have a non-stop barrage of projects, plants and animals that need constant attention, and a household to run. And often we’ll spend these hours into our gardens, only to have them wiped out by Mother Nature. Or spend months breeding, nurturing a pregnant animal, only to have the baby die.
But our time is always well spent. We may be exhausted at the end of the day, but we go to bed at night knowing we would never have it any other way.
3. Homesteaders Appreciate What They Already Have
When you can’t run to the store – either because you live in the middle of nowhere, or don’t have the funds, or simply don’t want to – you have to take a closer look at what you already have. Everything becomes more valuable when it isn’t easily replaced.
Everything we own can serve multiple purposes. It something breaks, we simply see how we can repair it, or reinvent it into something else.
Last week I started to teach myself how to sew, but I didn’t want to go to the store to purchase fabric. So I found an old shirt that never fit my husband right, and crafted a satchel out of it. Now something that was never used helped teach me a valuable skill, and will have a second life as a bag.
When food, and clothing, and furniture (and our lives) are so quick, and cheap and convenient, we take for granted everything in our lives. (I personally think this is one of the reasons kids and teenagers suffer from depression and bad attitudes – they’ve never worked for anything they own, so nothing has value).
4. Homesteaders Learn What They Don’t Know
Homesteaders are not content letting others fix our cars, or grow our crops. We want to raise our own chickens, so we teach ourselves what we need to know. There is so much information that we’re losing as the rural, homesteading lifestyle dies out. As people rely more and more on civilization, on supermarkets, and the electric company, we’re losing touch with the natural world around us.
School children don’t know where our food comes from. They can identify more logos for companies than they can types of local plants.
As homesteaders, we seek out the old knowledge. We look for books like the Foxfire series to teach ourselves how to butcher pigs, how to build a cabin, or different types of wood and their uses. We study the Old Wives Tales to continue our verbal tradition of wisdom.
Check out my post 140+ old wives tales to see what I mean.
Or check out my latest post: The Ultimate List of Free Gardening e-Books.
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5. Homesteaders Are Brave
We may not know it all. We may not have degrees in animal husbandry. Maybe we’ve never raised a pig before. But we don’t let that stop us. We try, and fail, and get up and try again. It takes a deep well of resilience to be a homesteader.
We will spend hours building up our compost pile, planting, watering, and tending our crops only to have a late frost or disease come through and wipe them all out. But we don’t give up. We’ll try again next year. And the next. And the next.
Living off grid can be scary. Without electricity, or modern convenience, we HAVE to be able to provide and care for ourselves. We own all of our responsibility. No one will come save us if we screw up.
6. Homesteaders Are Clever
There’s something to be said for redneck ingenuity. My husband can Macgyver a solution to almost any problem with duct tape and bailing twine. We often don’t have the option to run into town to buy a part, or a piece of something we need to finish a project. That’s where our creativity comes in.
Homesteaders thrive under challenges. We have to look at what we already have available to us, and create a solution. To see this amazing creativity in action, get a tractor stuck in the mud. Suddenly homesteaders are master mechanics, engineers and physicists.
What’s the saying? Necessity is the mother of invention?
7. Homesteaders Have Different Priorities
Non-homesteaders will never understand how exciting it is to smell a handful of fresh compost, or harvest that first egg from your chickens, or pick fresh peas for your dinner.
I love poop. I hoard horse poop like it’s going out of style. I’ve seen what composted horse poop can do for plants and it’s worth it’s weight in gold.
I feel my sexiest wearing muck boots and dirty jeans. Hard work is sexy. Many of my friends would disagree if I showed up to a nice restaurant smelling of manure.
An American Homestead features this post on their podcast! Head on over and have a listen!
Now it’s your turn! What do you do differently as a homesteader? What do you do that your non-homesteading friends just don’t get?
Friday 12th of October 2018
I think you summed it up very well! Excellent post!
Friday 4th of August 2017
It's all so true! My coworker asked me what my husband got me for Valentine's day. They expected me to say "nothing", because we don't usually worry about holidays like that. But this time, my face broke out in a huge grin and I said, "A truck bed full of horse manure!" I was tickled pink. They think I am crazy!
Wednesday 7th of June 2017
This article is awesome! When I go through this list I find myself just checking each part off as I go :)
Sunday 28th of May 2017
Great article! Heard it from An American Homestead Podcast.
Tuesday 30th of May 2017
Thank you! That's awesome to hear! I'll have to go check out their podcast.