Playing homesteading is something we talk about a lot here at Northern Homestead. We usually do not call it that, but we would call it gardening for the weak, sick, and lazy gardeners, or how to keep garden chores enjoyable, or the deep chicken litter method and so on. The idea is to simplify and bring more joy into daily homesteading tasks. However, Pure Living For Life has started a debate that this is not real homesteading, it is just playing homesteading. Well, we are here to encourage you to start (playing) homesteading, and here are 5 reasons why:
1. Homesteading is not about where you live
If homesteading would only be possible on an own piece of land, too many people, including us, would maybe never be homesteaders. We would still be dreaming about the day we can finally move out to the country, have that perfect land, and start real hardcore homesteading.
Homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make. (From Homegrown and Handmade)
Start homesteading wherever you are. In fact, I often think that people without much land can be even better homesteaders, simply because they do not have all the extra space. You see, on our urban homestead we too have a garden, greenhouses, chickens, and fruit trees. What we don’t have is a lawn to mow, fences to fix, and windbreaks to care for. We just joyfully play homesteading with what we have.
2. Homesteading can be done in (almost) any house
To build your own beautiful homestead home is a dream many have. But let’s face it, so many of us will never have that chance. The reasons many of us will never build a house are not just financial. You need health and ability to do so. Watching Alyssa working away is a joy, but I myself would never be able to do what she does. Even if I could turn the clock back and be as young as her again. God has not granted me the health that she has. I’m very grateful for all I can do, and I’m happy to live in a small house.
Truth is that neither the size, nor who built the house, or when was it built matters for homesteading. What matter for homesteading is if the house is built so that it can be converted to a homestead. Does it have a homestead kitchen, food storage, preferably a cellar and/or cold room? Make your house into a homestead, even if you can’t build your own.
3. Homesteading is not about hard work in the dirt
What’s important is not how much hard work you do, but how much you get out of all the work of homesteading. I grew up on a homestead and know that homesteading can be hard work, there is no mistake about it. My parents not only grew vegetables and fruit and raised chickens for eggs like we do, but also raised animals for dairy and meat. However, a lot of tasks my parents did the hard way, we do the easy way with the same results. How you do things and how much is totally up to you, the homesteader.
With the deep chicken litter method we have eliminated the “dirty work” to almost zero. The girls do most of the composting for us. When the compost is done it is spread on our no till garden beds, eliminating even more hard work.
Personally I do not feel that we ever work overly hard. Sure, there are times when especially Jakob is really busy with converting our old garage into a food production place or building a greenhouse. Also, garden beds and chicken coops do not emerge just by themselves. Homesteading is extra work, but so is building a garage for toys or a deck for entertainment. The difference for homesteaders is that we choose to build things that often cost little but give much.
4. Homesteading is about using your natural gifts
We are all different, and just as different are our natural gifts. Use those natural gifts in your homestead. One might be good in building, one in gardening, one in animal husbandry, and so on. In our home we might not build our own furniture, but we sew new covers for the furniture.
Use your talents for your homestead, and you might be surprised how fun and rewarding it is to be a DIY-er in the areas you can.
5. Homesteading is about food
Food is our most basic need. Wikipedia‘s definition of homesteading is: “Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.” In other words, growing and/or raising and preserving food is the first priority in homesteading. One can not call themself a homesteader if food is not on the to-do list!
That being said, most of us will not grow everything we eat, but start with what you can and grow as you go. We have lots of information on our blog about growing food even if you don’t own a speck of land. And even if you have all the land you need, gardening does not have to be hard and dirty work. Charles Dowding is a great author who shows by example how easy growing food can really be.
Same is true for preserving food. Start with what you can and go from there. Canning is by far not the only way to preserve food. Dehydrating, fermenting, storing, and freezing are good ways, too. Some of them are more sustainable than others, but all are great ways for a modern homesteader.
Let us encourage you to start homesteading today, even if it might look to some more like playing. Being a homesteader is a noble thing, don’t let it become a subject of argument.