There is no hard fast definition for what homestead means. For some people a homestead means completely off grid with no reliance on anyone but themselves. Others believe that homesteading means growing their own vegetables. But as time goes on, the meaning changes for those people as well. Regardless of what this means to others, I am going to tell you what homesteading means to me and what it has come mean as well.
What does homestead mean to me?
At first, homesteading meant a way to take care of my family without relying so much on others. The thought of being at the mercy of grocery stores to have my food was slightly worrisome. If we couldn’t get food, where would we be? Not having access meat, veggies, fruit, dog or cat food, has the potential for disaster. There were a ton of holes in our food security. Once we became dedicated to the idea that we were going to homestead and become less reliant on others, we started learning to cook from scratch.
From scratch cooking is surprisingly easy. I wonder if we were raised to believe that it was so much harder so that there was more reliance on boxed and canned meals. Since being on the homestead, we have learned a ton when it comes to cooking, canning, and other food related skills.
I learned that if I can raise my own hens, I can get eggs that I don’t have to go to the store for. I could raise my own meat birds and rabbits to help save on meat costs. Also, I learned that if I learn to preserve those things, I can have them on stand by and make everything easier.
Sometimes meanings change
But as time has gone by and the continued strain on our supply chain, homestead has come to mean other things as well. It means being prepared and stocking up on items that we use a lot of: coffee, tea, noodles, canning jars and lids, and other necessities. Making sure that we have enough supplies if another snow storm hits. Will we have plenty of firewood, canned food, and fuel for the chainsaws and other equipment?
It has also come to mean finding random eggs in the hay barn, playing with goats, and impatiently awaiting the arrival of Champ’s babies.
Update: She gave us a beautiful doeling that we named Stella.
It means caring for the new chicks that will not only give us eggs but also lay our next meat chickens. Homesteading means learning new skills, facing challenges, and not giving up. It means doing the things you thought you couldn’t, only to realize that you are more than capable of building fences, buildings, and fixing all the things.
What Homesteading Doesn’t Mean
I can tell you that homesteading doesn’t mean judging others. Whether you have a quarter acre in the city or a hundred acres in the country, you are still homesteading if you are working to decrease your dependency on stores.
It doesn’t mean being unaffected when creatures die or need to be butchered. For some people, taking the life of a chicken is okay, but it still affects them in some way, even if it’s only gratitude.
Homesteading doesn’t mean easy. There is no part of this life that is easy. If you are hauling lumber for a barn or feed to your animals, homesteading is hard work.
You can’t be lazy and a homesteader. There is simply too much to do. Gardening, canning, working with livestock and more, there is not a ton of downtime. But when you see the fruits of your labor? It’s worth every aching joint, pulled muscle, cut and bruise.
I don’t know that homesteading has a meaning. I think homesteading is a spirit. It’s the spirit of being less dependent on the power grids, grocery stores, and other commodities. These people who want to homestead do it because they want to be independent. Whether that is a completely or partially independent, is not the point. Homesteaders simply want to take care of themselves and their community. Which is what homestead means to us.
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