To put it simply, homesteading is the transition from the wastefulness of modern life to a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It's a throwback to the days of old and those who have embraced homesteading find they're able to save money, conserve energy and are able to largely live off of the items they're able to grow and raise on their homestead.
The term homesteading dates back to the Homestead Act of 1862, which was put in place by Abraham Lincoln in order to grant free land to early settlers willing to head West. These early settlers were given plots of 160 acres of federal land with the agreement they would improve the land and reside on it for 5 years. These plots of land came to be known as homesteads and the early settlers who claimed them and lived on them had to be almost entirely self-sufficient.
Modern homesteading isn't as rigorous as what was required of the early pioneers, as we have the luxury of picking and choosing the homesteading techniques that suit us best. The following homesteading techniques are all commonly employed by homesteaders across the nation:
- Gardening and subsistence agriculture. Homesteaders grow much of the produce they need, with the ultimate goal being to be able to live off the land and forgo grocery stores entirely.
- Food preservation. Harvested produce will only last so long. Food preservation techniques are employed by homesteaders to ensure they have food well into the winter months. Canning, fermenting, drying and root cellaring are all common preservation techniques.
- Raising chickens and livestock. Chickens are the most common animal found on homesteads and are raised for both eggs and meat. Goats and dairy cows are often raised for milk and other animals can be raised for meat.
- Frugal living. Homesteaders get by on a lot less than the average Western citizen. They craft many of the items they need and barter and trade for the items they're unable to make.
- Home remedies. While most homesteaders aren't opposed to going to the doctor or hospital when they're really ill or badly injured, many homesteaders choose to employ home remedies for minor ailments and injuries.
- Energy conservation. Homesteaders use less electricity, if they use it at all. The old ways of doing things don't require modern conveniences that suck down power.
The best part about being a homesteader is you don't have to go all-in and instantly start living off the land. You can pick and choose the techniques that suit you best and learn them in and out before moving on to other skills. Homesteading is going green in its purest form. By going back to our roots, we're able to conserve power, save money and become self-sufficient. Who would have thought stepping back 150 years would be the best way to move forward?