Note: Homesteading is a pretty neutral topic in my opinion. I mean, other than the drama that surrounds food freedom issues (like the sale of raw milk), most people are pretty supportive of the concept, even if they don’t want to do it themselves.
I’ve noticed recently that a handful of folks seem to be taking “offense” to the recent increase of interest in modern homesteading lifestyles, and I can’t help but scratch my head. This letter is not written to any person in particular, but I did want to address some of the negative comments I’ve heard coming from various folks.
Dear Homesteading Critic,
When I hear some of the ways that people try to pick apart the modern homesteading movement, I can’t help but feel rather perplexed.
In my opinion, homesteading seems pretty neutral and wholesome, but today I want to address a few of the common “objections” I have heard floating around.
Objection #1: “It’s just a fad.”
Maybe. But so what?
It’s possible that people are just trying to “Keep up with the Joneses” when they build a chicken coop in their backyard.
But maybe… Just maybe… The idea of being more self-sufficient and becoming connected to the land speaks to something inside of us… Maybe it inspires us to be something more than just mindless consumers dependent on produce departments and big box stores to give us everything we need.
Maybe… just maybe…. People are feeling the satisfaction that comes from creating and growing and producing and crafting and repurposing and they like it.
Sure– in the years to come, some people probably will end up giving away their chicken tractors and decide that tending a garden is a pain, but I’m betting there will still be a large portion of folks who will stick with it.
After you’ve felt the empowering feeling that comes from growing and producing your; own food, it’s pretty hard to go back to complete dependence on the grocery store… Just sayin’…
Objection #2: “Homesteading is a dumb name- you aren’t a “real” homesteader…”
Obviously, The Homestead Act of 1862 is no longer in effect. So yes, that definition of the word is technically extinct.
However. The online Merriam Webster dictionary has several definitions for the word “homestead,” and the first one is this:
1. A house, esp. a farmhouse, and outbuildings
That fits us modern-folk quite well, don’t ya think?
And honestly? I don’t know how else to describe what I do…
Even though I sometimes call our place a “farm,” to me, a farm or ranch is a large operation that makes a full-time income for its owner. Our 67-acre, “Old Macdonald” set-up (as in “E-I-E-I-O,” not the Golden Arches…) hardly qualifies as a working farm, even though it does produce an impressive amount of food for my little family.
Sometimes I call my crazy life a “mini-farm,” but that seems rather vague as well…
Therefore, I’m stickin’ with the term “homestead.” I like the word-picture it evokes in my mind when I say it– it makes me think of old-fashioned, wholesome, and worthwhile pursuits. And that’s what I’m all about.
So when someone asks what I do, I prefer to say “We have a homestead” instead of saying “We have a small piece of land that is technically non-profitable, but we have one milk cow and some beef cows and some chickens and some goats and a garden and I cook from scratch and I hang my laundry out on the clothesline.” Whew. 😉
Objection #3: “I’ve been doing this stuff forever… I don’t know why you people are suddenly so excited about it.”
True. Canning and milking and making bread and growing vegetables are old-fashioned skills– I most definitely am not claiming to have come up with any of these ideas. And I know there are many folks who were raised in the country and who have been practicing these skills for their entire lives.
However, keep in mind that not everyone was raised like that. In fact, many of us were not…
If you had a mother or father or grandma or grandpa who passed their knowledge and expertise down to you, that is SO awesome. In fact, I’m actually a little bit jealous.
But what about those of us who DIDN’T grow up in the country, or have a wise, seasoned mentor? What are we supposed to do?
I personally did not grow up in a farm. I grew up on a tiny lot in a tiny neighborhood. I would have loved to have a goat or a chicken coop or a root cellar growing up, but I didn’t.
I would have loved to have someone teach me how to make homemade cheese, but I didn’t.
I would have loved to have corrals to muck out, but I didn’t. (I actually used to push a wheelbarrow around our lawn and pretend I was cleaning stalls… Yeah, for real.)
I wanted something more, so I went after it. When people try to put me in a box and tell me I can’t do something, (“You can’t ride horses for a living– you grew up in town… You won’t ever own land, you grew up in town.”) I tend to fight and kick until I smash that box down. 🙂
As a young adult on my own, I chased down the rural lifestyle and claimed it as my own.
I don’t claim to be an expert, (I make a whole lotta mistakes!), but at least I’m trying.
Maybe that is why I get so excited about this lifestyle- because I know what it is like to want it so very badly and not have it.
And, that is also why I want to encourage those of you who are or were in the same boat as me. It CAN be done, even if you weren’t raised in this lifestyle. It’s still possible to grow and learn and change.
I’m a firm believer of doing things outside of your comfort zone- it definitely makes you a stronger person in the end.
So there you have it, my dear critic.
I suppose we homesteaders do look a little crazy sometimes— having access to every modern convenience imaginable, yet still choosing to do things the “hard” way…
If you ever have the chance to eat a meal made entirely from ingredients produced on your own land…
Or welcome a brand new baby goat into the world in the stillness of a darkened barn…
Or tuck your animals into their cozy pens in the midst of a raging blizzard…
Or work in your garden at dusk, all by yourself. Just pulling weeds and listening to the crickets…
Then I supposed you just might understand why we all get so excited about this crazy lifestyle too. 🙂
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