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What is Homesteading?
In this age of high-technology and instant information, the idea of taking life a little more slowly is starting to gain some traction with people who are fed up with the modern mass-produced age. The appeal of getting back to a simpler time has grown into a number of varying disciplines and lifestyles that all have some things in common.
Many people have become concerned with the state of our food supply, since a large portion of our commercially grown food gets treated with toxins and chemicals on a regular basis. So, they have turned to their own gardening and farming to get back to a more wholesome way of producing less contaminated food.
Many people take this one step further to control the products they use in their homes, so that fewer chemicals are introduced into their personal space. This lifestyle goes by several different names, such as green living or being Eco-conscious. The basic idea is that you want to be environmentally-friendly with your lifestyle choices so that you are doing as little harm to yourself and to the Earth with your day-to-day activities. Sustainable living is another branch off this idea, where you try to use as few resources as possible and generally consume less. The things you do use should be renewable or at least recyclable.
And then there is homesteading. This is a tough term to define since it can mean different things to different people, and often is made up of ideas and motivations already mentioned above. It’s generally a lifestyle that closely resembles the small farms from about 70 years ago, when people produced most of their own food with a mix of gardening and livestock. They crafted things instead of going shopping and tried to be as self-sustaining as possible. That’s what you would call homesteading today.
The difference between a homesteader and a farmer would be that most farmers are in it as a way of making a living, but homesteaders are usually doing this as a way of supporting their own family in a sustainable and personal way. Sure, many homesteaders sell home-grown goods or crafted products as a way of earning some extra income but that’s not why they homestead.
Homesteaders are reviving many older skills that run the risk of disappearing in this era of factory-made goods. They are making their own cheese, spinning wool into yarn, canning up the latest harvest, baking bread, foraging for wild food and many other “old-fashioned” crafts.
Some people choose homesteading because it is usually a more environmentally-friendly way of living, but that isn’t the only reason. Other reasons are a little harder to pin down. Most people who homestead really just want to get back to a simpler way of life where they are responsible for more of their food and their own surroundings.
It’s a lot more than just gardening or just keeping animals or just learning old-style skills. The foundation of a homestead is how all of these things work together as a whole.