Homesteading is one of the subsets of simple living, but in many ways it can be quite complicated. Because homesteaders tend to rely more on themselves than on stores or big systems, there’s often a lot of work to be done.
Still, simplifying life to the point of being self-sufficient or nearly so reduces stress, decreases reliance on others and generally makes lives better — and those are all goals of simple living.
Define Homesteading: What Is It?
Historically, homesteading in the United States was defined as settling and taming a previously unsettled area. Land grants and other government programs gave parcels of land to settlers for free or for very little cost, and the settlers were responsible for making something of the land. Free or cheap land giveaways don’t exist anymore, however, so the term homesteading has taken on a different meaning.
Today, there’s an active back-to-the-land movement in the U.S. and around the world.
People who choose this kind of simple life are choosing self-sufficiency and a sustainable life, often with as little interaction with large public systems or corporations as possible. They are committing to growing or making as many of their foods, clothing items and possessions as possible.
On a smaller scale, many who live in a city or near one choose so-called urban homesteading.
These people don’t move away from the city, they simply disconnect from it in other ways. In most cases, this means growing food on their property — a kind of small-scale sustainable agriculture — and being more concerned than the typical modern family about the acts of homemaking and raising their families without the tainting influences of society.
No matter how self-sufficient or independent you want to be, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. For generations, homesteaders have learned their craft from the relatives and townsfolk who came before. Unfortunately, that tradition has been lost in many families and areas. There are, however, some very useful books available to help reintroduce you to the joys of homesteading.
One such book has a very long title, but the length of the name is an indication of just how complete this resource is. Called The Homesteading Handbook: A Back to Basics Guide to Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More — and available from Amazon — it really does thoroughly cover the topics mentioned in its subtitle.
According to the book’s author, Abigail Gehring, a self-sufficient lifestyle is a responsible choice given the depletion of the world’s resources and the reigniting economic crisis from which the planet never seems to completely recover.
Gehring shows how homesteading can be a money-saving lifestyle as well as a green one.
With every kind of homesteader in mind — rural farmers to urban and suburban dwellers — this book contains plenty of information to get you started on the road toward self-sufficiency.
While you’re ordering, however, it might be worth picking up another book, The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading: An Encyclopedia of Independent Living by Nicole Faires — and also available from Amazon . It also contains a complete introduction to self-reliance, survival, sustainable homesteading and preparedness.
It teaches specific tasks like growing produce all winter, making bread without a bread machine, finding alternatives to everything from electricity to toilet paper and much more. It even tells you how to make linens from nettles and how to raise a water buffalo. What other book will tell you that?
This full-color book with 400 illustrations simplifies every aspect of simple, sustainable living down to tasks anyone can do without much training. Even better, the author and others have tested every piece of advice to make sure it works.
True homesteading is a rewarding but grueling process of taming a piece of land and working with it and other resources from the area to create an original life that doesn’t depend on outside help.
Anyone can incorporate some aspects of homesteading into their daily lives, however.
Whether that means making your own clothes, raising chickens or planting some lettuces on a balcony, one taste of homesteading will leave you longing for more of it — and less of life as most people know it.