As I wrote in the first part of this series, Homesteading: Getting Started , we consider the “why, when, what and how” of homesteading. Today we’ll look at one of the list items on the plan – “why”.
Be sure to check out the links at end.
If you are considering homesteading, the “why” is easy to answer. It’s the reason(s) you have decided to homestead in the first place. Here are just a few reasons why people desire to homestead:
Freedom – I’d have to say this is probably the best reason! To raise and grow your own food without the interference of bureaucrats is a beautiful thing! You have control of that food source from seed to table. You know who handled it, if it was pesticide free, how it was treated, and you grew or raised what you wanted to. You will have freedom from dependency on the food industry. You could also implement water wells, wind and solar energy systems, and rainwater collection for even more independence.
Connection with Mother Earth – I believe one of the contributing factors to America’s unhealthy lifestyle has much to do with the loss of connection people have with their food. Food is taken for granted. Where our food comes from is taken for granted. How our food is treated is nary a thought to most. Conscious consumption is a critical component of good health. When I prepare a meal supplied by the garden and/or our chickens, there is so much appreciation for it. We don’t waste our food because we realize that the hen worked hard to produce that egg; or the chicken whose life was taken to feed us is to be honored and shown gratitude; or the tomato, squash, lettuce, or okra that grew in our garden to nourish us took time and nurturing. It fosters an attitude of gratitude.
Security – If/when you are able to grow enough to preserve, you will have plenty of food saved for hard times whether it be economic reasons or your snowed in for an extended period of time. If you raise livestock, then you have a readily available source of food as well.
Health -Homesteading is all around a healthier lifestyle. Not only will you be eating healthier, you also get plenty of sunshine (vitamin D), fresh air, and activity. Getting your hands dirty is also a mood enhancer, according to recent studies. Studies have also shown that children raised on farms have lower rates of allergies and asthma.
Stewardship – You will learn to and almost automatically do things that demonstrate good stewardship to the earth, environment, property, and health. This in itself creates a positive response to the body, mind, and soul. We are in a symbiotic relationship with Mother Earth and caring for and protecting the earth and environment around you creates healthy living conditions for you, your plants, your critters, and your neighbors, which spreads out like a pebble on a pond, creating good vibrations along the way.
Character building – You will make mistakes, you will feel like you’ve failed at some point, you will be challenged in ways you did not anticipate but you will persevere. You will learn so much from those so-called mistakes and failures and be richer for it.
Entrepreneurial opportunities – Depending on your available time and resources, you could turn your homestead into a source of income. You may sell surplus produce, jams/jellies, eggs, or perhaps you make an awesome hot sauce from homegrown produce. You could find a niche at the local farmer’s market. You could give tours of your homestead or lead a workshop on a particular skill that you have honed. There are limitless possibilities really and this can be an incredibly fun and creative outlet.
Retirement plan – This was one of our main reasons to homestead. We hoped to create a mostly self-sufficient farm to provide for us in our latter years, something to keep us active as well and supplied with healthy food. I don’t really like to call it “retirement” rather we are working toward life long goals of homesteading.
Simple pleasures – I know several homesteading families from all walks of life, homesteading in various ways. Some have children, some are retired with grand-kids, and some are young, just starting their families. There is one common thread – we all enjoy the simple things a homesteading life offers. We enjoy the hard work which allows us to enjoy the down time that much more – relaxing with friends or just ourselves, in front of a fire on a cool Autumn evening or under the shade of trees in the Summer, watching our chickens forage, or the goats graze – these simple things bring great pleasure. We prefer a home cooked meal (where all or most of the food was provided by our farms) over a fancy dinner in the city. We enjoy the quiet, slower pace of life and connecting with family, friends, and nature. It may sound overly romanticized but don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bonfires and stargazing, it is a lot of work! But that’s why those moments of simple pleasure are that much sweeter.
Happiness – When you have more freedom, security, better health, a connection with nature, and a sense of control and self sustainability, you are happy! Not the superficial, fleeting joy that a new toy brings, but real, lasting, true happiness. After all, that’s what all of us desire, isn’t it? I believe happiness is cultivated in our interpersonal relationships and a healthy relationship with the earth that literally supports us rather than the accumulation of more “stuff”, big houses, fancy cars, exotic vacations and more toys. Homesteading is not the only path/journey to happiness, but it’s a pretty darn good one!
This obviously is not an exhaustive list. Everyone will have different “whys”, but these are very common and almost always included. Please feel free to share some of your reasons to homestead.
Next, we’ll tackle the “when”, “where”, and “how.