Did you hear about those toxic pumpkins?
Sometimes you just gotta shake your head at the internet…
Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet for creating connections, running my businesses, and meeting so many amazing, like-minded people. But this big, wide, tangled web is also the perfect medium for spreading urban legends, wild-eyed rumors, and just plain ridiculousness. And sadly, even though they’ve been warned not to, most people believe everything they read on the internet. It’s a bummer.
You’ve seen the urban legends floating around on Facebook and those pesky forwarded emails that end up in your inbox. Things like:
- Ice cubes being deadly for dogs…
- Tigers adopting baby pigs…
- Toilet paper shortages…
- And those darn toxic pumpkins.
When it comes to myths pertaining to modern homesteading, I tend to hear quite a few. While many of these myths aren’t near as outlandish as those flesh-eating bacteria bananas, they still float around and often prevent many hopeful folks from grabbing hold of their homesteading dreams. If you’ve followed me for very long, then you know I’m all about encouraging folks to chase their dreams like crazy. Therefore, let the myth-smashing commence!
5 Modern Homesteading Myths: BUSTED!
1. You can only be a homesteader if you start out with free land.
Eh, no. This one always makes me smile, and you’d be surprised at how many emails I’ve received from people asking me how we got our homestead for “free.”
I sure wish we had swiped up some free land, but alas, we have a mortgage just like anyone else.
In 1862, Congress passed The Homestead Act which gave 160 acres (or more) to anyone who was willing to move West, build a dwelling, plow the land, and live on it for at least five years.
But I have some bad news.
As of 1976, the Homestead Act is over. Done. Finished. No more free land for us.
So technically, that definition of homesteading expired several decades ago.
However. A new group of adventurous people (that’s us!) have adopted the title. And that’s where this new breed of modern-homesteaders comes into play. You still need the same pioneering spirit and crazy work ethic, but you do have to purchase your land, instead of getting it for free.
2. You need to come from a family with a ranching or farming heritage in order to do this homestead thing “right.”
Would my personal homesteading journey have been easier if I had come from a big ranching or farming heritage? Maybe. Or maybe not… When I was younger, I used to wish like crazy I had been born into a rural-dwelling family, and I was pretty bummed when I instead found myself growing up in a small housing development on a 1/4 acre lot.
But you know what? It hasn’t mattered. If anything, the delayed gratification caused me to pushed toward this homesteading lifestyle even harder, with more determination. I wanted it so bad I couldn’t stand it. My fascination bordered on obsession which worked in my favor. And I’ve done just fine learning many of these skills later in life anyway.
3. You’re going to have to turn into a hippie if you want to be one of those homesteader people.
Well, if you want to be a hippie-homesteader, that’s perfectly acceptable. However, it’s not a requirement to join the modern-homesteading club.
That’s one of the things I love the most about this homestead culture– you’ll find people from all walks of life and all political persuasions; we’re a pretty diverse bunch. I know homesteaders who have dreadlocks and wear tie-dye. I know others who wear boots and Wranglers. And they can all hang out and enjoy each other while they talk about who just finished canning what, and who’s taking the milk-cow plunge. It’s pretty awesome when you think about it.
4. If you’re gonna homestead, then you have to be completely off-grid, and grow every bit of food you eat from your land.
Thank goodness this isn’t the case! As modern homesteaders, we have the unique privilege of weaving these time-honored skills into our modern existence. Thankfully, most of us aren’t required to master them for the sake of survival (which is good, because we would have most assuredly starved during my rocky gardening years…)
We truly get the best of both worlds. Although growing the majority of the food we eat is a huge goal of mine, sometimes stuff just happens. And when it does, I have the grocery store or farmer’s market or local food co-op as backup. (Case in point: the onion-devouring turkey)
I’ll be the first to admit: I love my dishwasher. And washing my machine. Amen?
Could I live without them? Sure. But right now I don’t have to. And I appreciate that. Besides, if Ma Ingalls could have fit a washing machine in her log cabin, I’m pretty sure she would have.
5. If you want to be a homesteader, you need a LOT of land.
This is my all-time favorite myth to blow out of the water. In fact, I wrote an entire book on this very topic. Allow me to be super clear about this:
You can homestead where you are at RIGHT NOW.
Let me say it one more time:
You do NOT have to live in the country, own bunches of land, or have a milk cow to be a modern-homesteader.
Isn’t that awesome? I wanna scream it from the rooftops!
You can learn SO many skills and develop so much knowledge where you are right now. I’m talking to ALL of you: the apartment dwellers, the soccer moms, and the folks who live in the heart of the city. It’s possible. It’s doable. And it’s so darn rewarding you won’t even believe it.
In my opinion, homesteading is a mentality. A set of values. A skill set that includes the ability to sweat, work hard, get dirt under your fingernails, and appreciate the simpler things in life.
And guess what? you don’t even need to own a square foot of land to rock that mentality.
I’ve got tons of resources to help you get started homesteading, no matter where you live:
- How to be an Apartment Homesteader
- How to be an Suburban or Urban Homesteader
- How to be a Semi-Rural Homesteader
- Dear Homesteader Who Longs to Leave the City (an open letter)
- Your Custom Homestead: a 21-day Guide to Chasing Your Homesteading Dreams
So there you have it– Mythbusters: Homestead Edition. What are some homestead myths you’ve encountered?