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Introduction to Homesteading

 

Homesteading dates back hundreds of years, being characterized by the desire to become self-sufficient. Homesteaders are usually found in the company of their own agriculture, preservation of foodstuffs, self-produced clothing, and even homemade textiles. Homesteading is often used by those who foresee imminent disasters approaching on the horizon and want to be completely prepared when they come.

However, the homesteading life has a rich history behind it, and is actually done for several reasons other than any feeling of danger. Some people just like the simple life, knowing that they have a piece of land all their own. Plus, the feeling of self-sufficiency and living away from the hustle-bustle of city life is highly peaceful for some folks.

If you’re interested in homesteading for yourself or just want to know more about it, the following discussion might be of help. We’ll start off with some history, and then get down to discussing how the process of homesteading actually works:

The Homestead Act of 1862

The term ‘homesteading’ likely originated with the start of the Homestead Act in the mid-1800s. This form of homesteading was much different from what it is today. The Homestead Act decreed that as of 1862, a person who paid a small registration fee and lived on the land continuously for over five years was allotted 160 acres of land. At the end of the five years, the person would be given ownership of the land and a deed to go with it.

This program was officially ended in 1976 under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. The Homesteading Act, however, was unofficially ended in 1935 when President Franklin Roosevelt took away the lands of the public domain in order to implement a country-wide land conservation program. From 1862 to 1976, over 783,000 people lived out their five years on their 160 acres and were given the deeds and ownership to their land under the Homestead Act.

Urban Homestead – Living the Real Simple Life (ABC Nightline)

Homesteading, as the modern term goes, simply means living a low-waste, self-sufficient life. The word “homestead” eventually evolved from implying the Homestead Act to a certain lifestyle. This lifestyle occurred when a large multitude of young adults, among many other adventurous people, threw off what was the “fashionable way of living”.

These folks decided to move out of urban and suburban areas, and go back to the rural areas of the country. The back-to-the-land movement completely changed the meaning of the word ‘homesteading’, as it evolved from a land act to people having self-sufficient lives in both urban, suburban, and rural communities.

More Evolving

The meaning of homesteading has evolved even further from the 1970s to the present day. This word describes a way of living that is all about self-sufficiency no matter where you live, be it in the central city of New York, or out on the farm in West Texas.

This style of homesteading focuses on the usage of less energy, eating whole, local food, and plugging your family into the life of the neighborhood. Overall, it’s just about making better decisions that ultimately improve the quality of life for your family, your community, and the nature that is around you.

All the Comforts

Now, some people might think this lifestyle means going without electricity, running water, or other essential comforts. This cannot be further from the truth.

Homesteading means not depending on the grid for electricity, or importing food from outside. It means knowing how to produce your own power, whether by air or water, and eating wholesome local food instead of the processed stuff available in restaurants or superstores.

In addition, it is ideal to be able to work from home if you want to lead a true homesteading life. Now, working a job from home does not mean craft sales or lemonade stands, but also includes real work designed to get you real money.

The Transition

The homesteading concept is now one of self-reliance. This doesn’t mean that one has to completely uproot their old life, quit their job, and start a self-sufficient farm out in the wild. While a bit of land for homesteading is still an important aspect, but modern homesteaders may even begin their journey in an urban apartment.

The emphasis here is on minimizing our consumption of energy, fuel, water, and other essentials of life. It’s also about making our own meals from scratch as much as possible; all while trying to reduce waste as well. In this sense, modern homesteading can be set in practice just about anywhere.

Your first step here might be to reflect and evaluate your current life. We should note how many resources we consume every day simply for the sake of convenience. For instance, we might use water abundantly in our kiddie pools and even swimming pools, while people facing a drought have to save every single drop.  The same goes for electricity, with people leaving the lights on and overcharging devices.

By making ourselves accountable or the water and power we consume, we’re likely to use only as much as we need. As a result, our consumption will go down, resulting in a better financial situation for us and an overall benefit for the planet.

Homestead Gardening for Urban Living

Many Americans have unfortunately outsourced their food to a large extent. This is a worrying factor, as food has a huge part to play in our health and well-being. Along with yearning for a simpler and less demanding life, urban homesteaders are also concerned with taking in cleaner, fresher, and pure food into their systems.

Even if you don’t have a rustic log cabin in the wood, urban homestead gardening is a great way to enjoy the benefits of this lifestyle. Reading up on growing vegetables and fruit is one way to start, especially if you already have a garden to work with.

Even if you’re living in an apartment, a window box or plant pots might be enough to provide at least a few meals every month. Start off small with a herb garden if you’re a novice gardener, and slowly work your way up.

If you can find other modern homesteaders in your area, you could all pool your skills and make life a bit easier. For instance, you might focus on growing fruits, while a neighbor could grow vegetables and herbs. Exchanging the produce will help both parties rely less on the supermarket system. You’re assured of getting homegrown food, while not having to do every single thing yourself.

A Guide to Homesteading

If anyone’s sufficiently interested in homesteading to consider the concept further, a proper guidebook might come in handy. For an introduction to the various topics surrounding this lifestyle, the title “Homesteading: A Backyard Guide to Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More” seems to cover it all. You can get this here:

This work covers several topics, which you may use as inspiration for going further. There are also several tips and tricks regarding homesteading tasks, which might come in handy at any moment.

Granted, this book is not a comprehensive guide, but it’s a decent one for giving you a homesteading tour. It’ll introduce you to several concepts which you may not think of otherwise. However, there are some areas where the explanation is covered in enough depth for getting the work done. There are even some recipes included, which a novice homesteader will appreciate.

Conclusion

Homesteading has been around for almost 150 years. The meaning has changed in the past 75 years from denoting a government act to a whole way of life. This lifestyle has been founded by people who desire a self-sufficient life, and who do not depend on others to get what they need; be it power, food, or work. The essence of homesteading is to always life self-sufficiently, which is quite a valuable skill.

There are several books and videos that we make use to get more in touch with the concept of homesteading. Invest in some of these works, and you might long for the honest, simple life of homesteading yourself!

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