Homesteading has become quite the trend. I think that’s a good thing, which is a good thing in and of itself because we like to call ourselves homesteaders. That word has kind of a romantic feel to it. Kind of retro without being quaint. Rustic, even, like a splintery board from yesteryear.
But I digress.
The homesteading movement, I think, is also indicative of a cultural shift away from corporate consumerism. While many in my generation have experimented with this kind of lifestyle, it seems like it’s the millennial generation who have really embraced the idea of homesteading. The idea of it goes against the very trends of modern society which their parent’s generation (my generation) were weaned on. Perhaps that’s the point.
But what is homesteading? That’s a mighty big word, with many different interpretations. Perhaps a good enough answer to that question might be: Depends on who you ask.
There are several people writing about homesteading these days. Some good, and some not so good. A plethora of resources exist for the beginner, the novice and even the advanced homesteader. With that said, and even with all the information out there that abounds, I still get funny looks when I’m trying to explain to a non-believer what we’re up to.
You know that look. Scrunched up face. One eyebrow kinda rising above the other. Hint of self aware humor in the eyes. It’s that “Oh dear lord I’m dealing with a lunatic” kinda look. Have mercy.
I think what this look signifies are all the misconceptions people still have when it comes to the homesteading lifestyle and those who partake in that lifestyle. Perception is reality, and in the absence of information the human mind creates stories about what we think is the truth. We can’t help it. These little untruths grow until they become myths. They are mostly harmless, these myths, but I’d like to believe that if we could set some of these untruths straight they would no longer be a barrier to more people seeing the virtue in pursuing a life outside of the cultural rat race.
What are some of these myths? I think you’ll recognize them when you see them.
Homesteading is a hippie thing
Because only hippies care about their food, their environment and quality of life. Right? Truth is, homesteading is for hippies. But it’s for yuppies, cowgirls and businessmen just the same. That’s the beauty of this kind of lifestyle. Anyone can participate. You don’t have to grow organic food to be a homesteader (although I think you’ll be healthier if you do). And besides, who said hippies had the market on everything organic anyway?
Homesteading is a girl’s only club
I think this myth has developed because many of the popular bloggers and voices in the homesteading world are women (which is a great thing, by the way). But right along every homesteading woman is (usually) a willing husband working hard at sharing the load behind the scenes. My wife and I share different passions and responsibilities in our homesteading journey, and there are many things we enjoy doing together. But the point for us is just that. We are in this together. Homesteading wasn’t effeminate for the pioneers and it certainly isn’t for most of us modern homesteaders either.
You have to own acreage or a farm
A neat thing has been developing over this past decade. The idea of “urban farming” has become more popular than ever before. People living in normal neighborhoods converting their yards into edible gardens has really created a kind of counter culture that is exciting to me. . The backyard chicken flock has become more than just a fad as well. I’ve even seen people who raise goats and pigs in their backyard, right in the middle of suburbia, some on less than an acre of ground. You don’t need to own a large amount of land to homestead. Honestly, you don’t technically have to own land at all. Modern homesteading can be adapted to any living arrangement.
You have to live off grid to homestead
Some homesteaders do live off grid. But many of us don’t. We have internet at the house. We have satellite. We don’t have a wood stove (unfortunately) and we cook on a gas stove. Your lifestyle. Your rules.
You can’t homestead if you have a full time job
I long for the day when we can be fully self sufficient on the homestead. But that day won’t be anytime soon. I work a full time job, and often I joke that I work to support my real job on the farm. But mostly I’m not joking when I say that. Many a farmer today will tell you they work in town so the can continue to farm.
The other side of this myth might well be that homesteaders have tapped into some kind of fortune that allows them to stay home. Again, I think this is fostered by some of the more popular bloggers online who have figured out how to make the homesteading lifestyle pay for itself through various means (doTerra, blogging sales, etc). But there are no shortcuts in homesteading. That’s kinda the point. The ones who have figured out how to not have to work at a “normal” job didn’t start there. They had to work hard and save money in order to get to where they are today.
The thing about myths is they’re just stories. People will always believe what they want to believe. No matter how popular the idea of modern homesteading becomes, I think it will always be kind of counter culture. Which is fine with me. I’ve always been fond of going against the grain.
The point I want to get across is really this: don’t let the stories other people are telling themselves keep you from pursuing the lifestyle you want most.