Homesteading skills often seem obsolete or unnecessary in today’s world, but for those who practice homesteading, it can have a much deeper and more profound meaning…
With the rise of the modern homesteading movement, there are a lot of assumptions floating around out there about what it means to be a homesteader, and what homesteading really means. In my opinion, homesteading is whatever it means to you personally, but for those who may not understand much about homesteading, I thought I would share what it means to me.
Although we never actually used the word “homesteading” back then, I grew up as a child of homesteaders – a product of the “back to the land” movement of the 70’s. Hippies, homeschoolers, tree-huggers, or whatever other terms you want to apply to my parents, they were, above all, homesteaders. While other kids our age learned to play video games, build Lego sets, or identify TV stars, we learned homesteading skills like how to milk goats, churn butter, and identify dozens and dozens of plants, trees, and wild foods that grew all around us.
For many years as a young adult, I thought myself at a disadvantage in the modern world due to these “useless” skills I had learned instead of the ones that would have helped me “fit in” among my peers. It has only been in recent years that I have begun to realize what a gift it truly was to learn the skills of self-sufficiency and problem-solving that growing up on a homestead bestows.
Now that I am building my own homestead, of sorts, I find myself dusting off those skills I learned so long ago and feeling strong, self-sufficient, and proud of my “odd” skill set. I know how to plant and grow a garden (using organic and sustainable methods), how to make things with my hands, and how to raise chickens. I haven’t milked a goat in 25 years, but I have no doubt I could get the hang of it by tomorrow if I needed to.
But homesteading isn’t just about those physical skills – it goes much deeper than that. It may seem like the homesteading lifestyle is simply a nostalgic longing for the past, and that it doesn’t truly matter in today’s world, but I beg to differ – and so do many other modern homesteaders. I particularly love these words from Jill over at ThePrairieHomestead.com:
You see, homesteading IS about laying hens and homegrown potatoes, but it’s also about living your life on purpose. It’s about pursuing a life rich with meaning, not just possessions. It’s about hands rough from manual labor in a society that lives and dies by computers and pushing buttons.
It’s more than just the recipes and skills associated with this old-fashioned lifestyle. It represents something deeper…. It’s an intentionality. An awakening.
In this modern-age of every convenience we could ever desire, homesteading is a way we can return to old-fashioned values and ethics. It’s a way to teach ourselves and our children the cycles of life. And death. And how satisfying it feels to do something hard.
And throughout the process, we find ourselves gaining a measure of reassurance and much-welcome slowness in an unstable world that feels like it’s rocketing towards complete chaos more and more each minute.
Homesteading is not my religion, nor is it my god. I don’t think it’ll solve the world’s problems or bring world peace. But I do believe it is one very valuable way we can choose an intentional lifestyle in a modern world with a smorgasbord of shallow options.
It can be a roadmap for helping us to slow down and embrace what really matters, a method for more deeply tasting and appreciating the good things in life, and a blueprint for creating a more meaningful existence.
It’s way to take back control, at least in a small area of our lives and say “Yes, I know what the Jones’ are doing, and I know what culture tells me to do. But I’m purposely choosing something else and I will live this life of mine on purpose.”
And after 10 years immersed in this old-fashioned way of living, I can attest these choices yield a deeply satisfying result.
Whether you grew up on a homestead like I did, or you are just beginning to learn the skills needed for homesteading, I think you will find that the benefits of homesteading go far beyond any of the physical skills and competencies that you will learn if you choose this way of life. In fact, you will likely find that your whole outlook on life itself changes and that you begin to find meaning and depth in the simple, everyday activities of life – a feeling that I think far too many in the modern world are missing.
As Jill says,
What started as a simple desire to eat better food has morphed into an insatiable craving for a life full of meaning, deliberate living, and rich memories. And I’ve found all of these things in between rows of beans in the garden, nestled in baskets of brown eggs, and floating through the air on quiet evenings spent standing in the barnyard listening to the crickets chirp.
While not without heartbreak and hard work, homesteading is still one of the most beautiful and meaningful lifestyles I can imagine living.
So yes, I’m wholeheartedly convinced that homesteading does matter. It’s worth the time it takes to learn it’s nuances, and it’s worth the effort it takes to master the skills. It’s counter-cultural, unorthodox, and intentional, and we need it now more than ever, my friends.
I hope you have found inspiration and meaning in these words that help to give you a better understanding of what homesteading means – or can mean – to those who practice it. If you are already a homesteader, I would love to know what homesteading means to you! Comment below, or share your thoughts in our Facebook community.