Monday, April 16, 2012

Is Homesteading for Me?

I can't express enough how many great blogs I've found. One that peaked my interest early on was The Homestead Experiment.  JulieAnn, her "Hubs", and their 3 young children are from Ohio, and have decided to jump headlong into the homesteading lifestyle. What is homesteading? Homesteading can be loosely defined as a return to a simplistic life. You know-gardening and preserving, poultry and dairy farming-that kind of thing. It was the lifestyle of your older parents or grandparents. I've been following their progress, and the more I read, the more fascinated I become about this natural way of living. And it made me consider my role in the family.

Now, I'm not sure why, but I feel a bit at a crossroads in my life. The headlines today are questioning whether being a stay-at-home mom is actually work. Well, duh...of course it is! But it has made me consider whether there is more I can do at home to benefit my family. The answer to that, for me, is yes. And let's face it, it can't hurt to be as self-reliant as possible these days, right? The times we are living in frighten me sometimes (that could be because I watch too much of the news!).  But really, it would be empowering to know that we don't have to depend on others quite so much for our needs. Finally, our financial situation is changing. We will soon be debt free (the subject of another post to come), and the only areas to save money now are on electricity and food. Considering all of these factors, homesteading seems like a good next move--a better way of life.
Perhaps you share my situation or concerns, but aren't ready to make this kind of commitment.  Not everyone has an abundance of property for all of this. Nor can everyone take the time to milk a goat everyday. But it doesn't have to be all of that for you. I think of homesteading as being as natural and self-sufficient as your situation allows. Do you have the space for a container garden? Can you sew? Could you make your own laundry soap or cleaning products? Do you hunt and preserve your meat? I believe homesteading can be done in some degree in everyone's life.

So I consider--is homesteading for me? (Humor me as I rationalize...)

Do I have the time to devote to this lifestyle?
Well, I don't work outside of the home. At the present time, I have an Etsy shop that brings in more personal satisfaction than money.  And I wouldn't have to give it up, just scale it back some. So why NOT devote my time to making homesteading a way of life? It would be time well spent, and beneficial for me and my family.

Do I have the space for a homestead?
Yes! We live on 3 acres. Our house sits on about 1/4 of that space. We have plenty of room for gardening, fruit tree groves, and a greenhouse. And hopefully, city ordinances will allow us to have chickens and goats.

Do I have any experience to draw from?
We have had a couple of gardens before that did yield some vegetables. And, as luck would have it, my husband is already taking a Master Gardener class! Yipee! His background is in turfgrass management, so he is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to plants and weeds.
I have frozen my vegetables before, but never canned. But I'm totally up for that. As for chickens and goats--eeh, not so much. I do love animals though, so that would be exciting for me.

What would I hope to gain from homesteading?
Oh my, there are so many benefits!

Financially, I would expect to save money on my groceries and necessities. And by making less trips to the store, I would save on gas. Speaking of gas, if our entire property was filled with gardens and barns and chicken coops, we'd spend less trying to keep it mowed.

There are health benefits as well. The physical work required would be much more activity for me than sitting in front of a sewing machine all day. Plus, making my own foods from scratch is healthier than any processed food. The same goes for my soap, shampoo, dryer sheets, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, deodorant, toothpaste (and the list goes on). All of these things can be made with all-natural ingredients that are often better than their store-bought counterparts.

Self-sufficiency is a huge benefit. I would love to know that, in case of any crisis or emergency, that I was prepared. It would be quite personally satisfying knowing that my hard work was benefitting my family in such an important way.

Homesteading would teach my children responsibility and the importance of hard work. Oh yes, it will be a family affair! I will not get on my soap box about laziness in our society today. And it runs rampant, especially where we live. Children need to learn that nothing is free. Everything must be worked for. Enough said on that subject (I feel my blood pressure going up!).

So, with all of that said, I cannot think of a good reason NOT to homestead. And we might as well start sooner rather than later. Yes, I'm a bit obsessive.  I've already started doing my research, and I'll share my knowledge and experience with you along the way. I'm going to just take one step at a time, and watch the small changes add up to a whole new, natural way of living. 

4 comments:

  1. Go for it Angela...We have a tiny yard but we put in tomatoes and have strawberries. I am going to grow some pumpkins this year too. Pat has all the gutters on the back of the house run to one downspout that runs under a path and into the pond he built which is what we use to water the plants. a lot of the area around us are large lots and small farms. The honor system is used to sell the excess produce and eggs. The library has an incubator in the lobby right now with chicken eggs and next to that a display of the books available about homesteading. Don't try to do it all in one fell swoop. Do a portion this year and see what works then go for more.... Our cash crop is acorn caps. I pick them up from our back yard... It is the neighbors oak tree and sell them in the etsy stop. Pat just shakes his head in amazement.

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    1. Acorn caps? I should send you mine!
      That's just what I plan to do. I'm starting small this year-some homemade household items, some tomatoes, maybe plant some fruit trees, perhaps a clothesline. The more I talk about chickens, the more intimidated I get! Just one step at a time...

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  2. Aww - thanks for linking to our blog! I'm excited to follow your journey. And I'm slightly jealous that you get to start with 3 acres at your disposal. :) Oh to have *that* kind of space...but then that would probably mean I'd have moved further out of the city. And that doesn't jive with this city-girl's personality. ;) Happy Homesteading!

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    1. Thank you! Luckily for me, I live in small-town Mississippi. And the 3 acres is actually in town! I do love learning from you and others. Hopefully it leads to trials and *less* errors ;)Thanks for reading!

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