Jumping Headfirst into a Self-Sufficient Lifestyle
It’s one of the longest standing pursuits of humankind through history—homesteading. We have always instinctually attempted to find a path to self-sufficiency, even when the world around us has told us it can’t be done. But what exactly is homesteading and how where does the journey begin? Good news! We’re here to help you through understanding the lifestyle and to explain how millions of people have made it work for them. We’ll even give you the tools to show you how you can make it work for you and your family! So, what exactly is homesteading? In the most general sense, homesteading is formed around the concept of self-sufficiency. It is most commonly categorized as:
- Sustenance agriculture
- Preserving food by hand, at home
- Producing textiles on small scale
- Home goods
Generally, homesteading is a household compound for a single extended family. It is utilizing tools at a natural and sustainable level to acquire independence from the norms of American society. The goal is to be reliant on yourself and the people immediately connected to you—to show we aren’t dependent on where we live, but rather, how we live. And how we live can have a major impact on the betterment of the world. Historically speaking, homesteading has been a long-ingrained philosophy in American culture. Western expansion in the U.S. was solely dependent on those willing to homestead—those willing to further uproot their lives and croft their way into a new version of the American Dream. In modern times, homesteaders have built upon the traditions of early homesteading to including furthering themselves from the “grid” by adopting renewable energies, like solar, wind, and geothermic power. They also focus on planting and growing foods, as well as raising livestock for a multitude of purposes. At the end of the day, homesteading is about making conscious choices every single day in a means to connect with family, self, and nature—and furthermore, to understand how those entities connect to each other. You’re probably curious as to what the benefit is to choosing a self-sufficient lifestyle and why do people do it? People have a number of motives behind wanting to live sustainable lifestyles. The desire to be free of societal and economic expectation is a major draw. Creating, crafting, and producing can cut out a need for any normalized form of society’s economic dependency. Homesteaders often meet financial needs through selling their wares, but more often than not the goal is to become completely independent from the current economic systems we have in place in the U.S. Ideally, this would manifest through bartering and reliance on personal production of food and other necessities made by hand and with heart. When you choose to live self-reliantly, you learn more than you could ever imagine, and from a new and unique perspective. We’re so reliant on the modernization of the world that we’ve lost the instinctual skills to survive without its help. When living sustainably, homesteaders learn:
The ability to fend for oneself without intervention. For homesteaders this means learning to grow your own food, yield a harvest, and gain nourishment from it. Homesteaders tend to raise, grow, and preserve food that will last throughout a year, and are prepared for any event that might be out of their control (i.e. power outages, storms, etc.).
Knowing exactly where your food comes from. People who live a sustainable lifestyle are hyper-aware of the sourcing of their food and sustenance. It is quite possibly the cleanest diet a person can adopt. Knowing where your food comes from and how it got to your plate is not just healthy, it’s empowering too! Homesteaders know exactly what their animals have eaten, exactly what fertilizers have come in contact with their harvest, and whether pesticides were present. It’s one of the best ways to have true control over your bodily intake, knowing you are truly eating the cleanest food available.
Gaining a useful skill set
Realizing that life is about a constant state of learning, growing, improving upon what you’ve learned, and using said skills throughout life—you never know when you’ll need to know the skills of:
- Animal rearing
- Cutting firewood
Hard work isn’t a suggestion, it’s a requirement. There is essentially no end to the work and projects going on around any given homestead. Working hard is rewarded, of course, with playing hard, but enjoyment is more often than not rightfully earned. This is a good lesson to adults, but for children growing up in a self-reliant world, there are useful skills they can take with them anywhere in life. They will grow with an understanding of how important lending a helping hand is, be it on their own homestead, or out in the world.
Lesson in the life cycle
Powerful lessons about the cycle of life are learned every day when homesteading. Life, death, and the empathetic human condition is a deeply imbedded part of the lifestyle. Losing life is always hard, but accepting and grieving loss as a reality is part of our development as humans. We learn to accept that there are truths beyond our control—death being one of them. Witnessing a cycle of life play out in front of your very eyes in short spurts helps us to better reflect on the shortness of a life’s time, which will hopefully encourage a life lived fully by the observer.
A natural connection is formed when homesteading; with the Earth, the animals, the land, the family, and the self. Working together creates a bond that allows us to grow and learn together, while working with the hands helps bond the mind and body. In many ways, living a homestead lifestyle requires a constant understanding of bonding, connecting, and eventually letting go. So, how does one even start the process of adopting a self-efficient lifestyle? It’s obviously a big undertaking and not something that can be done overnight. The best advice is to start small. Try implementing a no- to little-waste lifestyle. Plant a garden. Watch it grow. Use the bounty. Get a feel for how simple everyday decisions can alter the way you approach the world. These small decisions eventually turn into big decisions. At the end of the day, whether the choices you make are big or small, it’s a choice that impacts the environment and the people, plants, and animals that inhabit it. Implementing a partially self-sufficient routine or adopting a fully sustainable lifestyle will make a difference—and that’s really what the homestead life is all about…making a difference. For more information on homesteading, follow these fascinating blogs and websites to help inspire your own homesteading dreams: