Today I celebrate the fact that we now have actual internet at our house! After a year and a half of only being able to get some partial use from the internet on a smart phone (with very little phone service) or by going to the library to use the computer, I am giddy with excitement at the idea of being able to start offering some new blog posts and newsletter updates again. So as I sat down this morning with my cup of coffee I was faced with the question? What on earth do I write about first?
That is when it dawned on me that I started this blog, Homestead State of Mind over 3 years ago, and I never really have explained myself or my choice of title.
SO, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…” (if you didn’t just sing that in your head, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.
The term homesteading originally referred to the Homestead Act, of 1862 of which granted 160 acres to any US citizen willing to settle on, and farm the land for at least 5 years. Side Note: My own great grandparents homesteaded land in eastern New Mexico that our family is still blessed to own and it is one of my favorite parts of my heritage. Now-a-days, obviously there is nowhere in the US that you can actually “homestead” by those terms (yes, even here in Alaska.)
So why is there this large movement of people claiming to be homesteaders? I’ve actually heard people criticize those of us who use the term “homesteaders” for not living off only of twigs and berries, just as I have heard people criticize those who use the term “off grid” for having electricity and internet in their home.
It comes down to this, Homesteading IS a state of mind. It is the desire for a more self sufficient lifestyle & a simpler way of life.
Here’s what it means (and doesn’t mean) for our family:
- It doesn’t mean that we live only off of the land, with no outside income. My husband works a regular job, and provides for our welfare because that is what God has called him, as a husband to do. However, he has intentionally chosen work that doesn’t consume him or take him away from his family for large periods of time. Once upon a time, he was a supervisor in the oil and gas industry in charge of multi-million dollar projects and was on track to just keep moving up the career ladder, but for the sake of his sanity and our family’s welfare, he stepped away from that career path and never looked back. We have absolutely no desire to chase a dollar or “keep up with the Jones” in any way shape or form. Our vehicles are functional, not fancy & our home is comfortable and cozy, but maybe not exactly chic.
- It does mean we have a subsistence lifestyle which means we try to live as self-sufficiently as possible. Subsistence is defined as the means of maintaining or supporting oneself. We hunt, fish, forage, farm and garden for as much of our food supply as we are able. We preserve food for winter by canning, freezing or dehydrating the food that we raise, grow, or hunt. Our yard is our garden, we don’t have a carefully manicured lawn for the neighbors to compete with, we have vegetables to feed our family with. The reason we love going to all this extra effort rather than just buying what we need is that it is important to us to not be completely dependent on others for our survival. We want to be producers, not consumers, as much as possible.
- It means we worked hard to become debt free and we do things as affordably as we can so that we keep it that way. If hard work can save us some money, that is what we are going to do. This past week, my dear hubby cut and peeled logs, milled them as needed (with a chainsaw) and that ended up saving us hundreds of dollars in lumber for our current project of building a bigger shop before winter.
- It can also mean living a more remote or even somewhat isolated life in order to achieve that simpler way of life. For our family, that meant moving 3,000+ miles away to the Alaskan interior where subsistence and a simpler way of life is more attainable. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t live a homesteading lifestyle where you currently are; it is all about making the choice to separate yourself from the rat-race of commercialism and keeping up appearances, and just live your life.
This is just an overview of what a Homesteading State of Mind really means. Later on I’ll share some small, tangible ways that you can change your state of mind too. (That is, IF you want to…)