By Rachel of This Original Organic Life
The word "homesteading" is likely to ignite one of two reactions in many people: it may either fill you with warm comfort in anticipation of home-cooked meals, hands in soil, and the healing powers of essential oils . . . or it may shut you down immediately with visions of hours spent preparing a meal that is finished in a matter of minutes, calloused hands, and no time or energy to enjoy life outside of survival mode.
While homesteading can be a romanticized term or notion these days - especially with blogs running around (like mine!) that show its finer sides through well-crafted photography and clean counters (*author's note: I promise, my counters are often dirty, and the light is not always shining ever-so-quaintly through my kitchen window) - it is just as frequently written off as too much work, something only "extremists" do, and an unnecessary hobby, especially for those of us that live in the city and work full-time.
I fit into this latter category, as an urban-dweller and full-time-worker. I also fit into the category of homesteaders who are doing what we can to live more lightly on the earth, create things from scratch, and connect with where what we are consuming (physically, mentally, emotionally) comes from. This to me is what homesteading is.
While homesteading is about being more self-sufficient, I also believe it is very much about community. Homesteaders strive to not rely on larger systems (like industrial farms for food, power companies for electricity, and big box stores for things that can be crafted by hand), but instead turn toward ourselves and our local communities to come by what would have previously been available.
If you're curious as to how other folks define homesteading, I invite you to read through a few of these articles:
Don't be too frustrated if you aren't Suzy Homemaker (or Suzy Homesteader, for that matter) right away. Start with one simple thing you want to accomplish - whether it be one thing each day, one project over the course of a month, or something you'd like to integrate by the end of the year. You don't have to do everything all at once - in fact, most of us can't do it all, and if we tried, we'd go a bit crazy.
Though homesteading is one of the main topics on my blog and here on my guest posting for Ashley, I am certainly not Suzy. I'm Rachel! And you are you - so find an entry point into this world of homesteading that works for you. That leads me to my next point . . .
You may not be moved to make your deodorant from scratch, sew your own clothing, and make your own yogurt and sauerkraut, and that is fine!
The beauty of the world we live in now is that there are many wonderful people and businesses that are doing these things in a way that is sustainable, healthy, and completely trustworthy (try handmade venues like Etsy, your local farmers' market, or resources like Local Harvest and The Better World Shopping Guide).
That being said, there are still many ways you can jump into the world of homesteading. Enter where you feel called.
Do you like to cook more than you like to clean? Then maybe pick up some whole foods recipes to cook from scratch and skip making your own cleaning supplies for now.
Do you enjoy tinkering with turning old into new and crafting? Then try some simple but neat DIY projects to implement into your home rather than buying something brand spankin' new.
The whole point is to enter where you feel drawn to and get going that way - then if you start delving into other parts of homesteading and turn into Suzy Homesteader along the way, well, more power to you.
Find someone who you are inspired by and is a few steps further along the path of homesteading. This person can provide you with not only a portrait of what it looks like to homestead (and that it is possible!), but also with real knowledge, tips, and ways to put some things into practice.
Your mentor doesn't even have to be someone you know in real life. In fact, many of my homesteading & healthy-living mentors are others in the blogging world who share amazing advice on the topics I'm interested in.
Some of my favorites are:
. . . and real, live people (okay, those bloggers are real people, but I've just never met them) like Marguerite Ramlow of Artha Sustainable Living Center and Lisa Kivirist & John Ivanko of Inn Serendipity, both in Wisconsin.
This principle can apply to cooking, making cleaning supplies from scratch, gardening, brewing your own beer, and so much more! Making things in bulk not only tends to be better for the environment, but it also allows you to condense your work into one day or time period rather than doing a bit here and there.
When Monday hits, I have to be ready because otherwise I'd eat fast food and purchase quick-fixes to things. I like to use my weekends and free time to cook big batches of soup and other meals I can eat throughout the week. This way, when the busy-ness strikes, I am already set and don't have to succumb to the many quick & cheap - but also unhealthy & questionable - options out there.
"I just don't have enough time."
While I understand that we are all very busy, and this is likely the biggest barrier between many of us and the homesteading world, it is important to realize that if we shift things around a bit, we may find much more time on our hands than we ever thought we had.
This principle goes hand-in-hand with the idea of simplifying that is paramount in homesteading. Simplifying isn't just a physical practice of cleaning out our closets and trying not to buy more than we need, it is also a mental/emotional practice of eliminating the unnecessary practices and habits that may stand in our way of a more clear, simple life.
Here are some ways we can all make time/simplify:
- - Watch less (or no!) television
- - Step away from the computer
- - Exercise
- - Clear out clutter in your home/workspace
- - Learn to say "no"
- - Set goals and ways to accomplish them
- - Prioritize commitments
- - Have a place for everything
- - Establish routines
- - Create a weekly meal menu
- - Live within your means
- - Take some time alone each day
- - Let go of unwanted/unhealthy relationships that are bringing you down
- - Let go of habits that take up your time in an unproductive way
- - Let go of perfectionist tendencies
I hope these 5 easy tips help you find your way into homesteading. Remember, it is a practice that looks different for everyone, but one that I think you'll find very rewarding in many ways!
Do you have any suggestions for simplifying your life or making more time for the important things?
What are some other tips you have for entering the homesteading world?
Please share in the comments section!