Monday, November 25, 2013

Questions About The Definition of Homesteading

I've had this subject on my mind for a while.  One day as I was scrolling through Facebook, I noticed a post where someone was asking about living "off grid".   He basically asked if having gas appliances was considered being off grid?  The answer from most of the people who left comments was, "It might not be sustainable, but it was considered "off grid"."  So with that being said, it got me to thinking, "What about homesteading?"  What's your definition of homesteading?

Is it making a living off of your homestead?  Does having a job outside of your home disqualify you as being a homesteader?  What about living with electric from the grid?  What about solar? Sooner or later the batteries will go bad.  At what point does just "farming" become homesteading?  

I would really like to know your thoughts on this!!

So until next time,

Small Farm Girl, just wondering........




16 comments:

NancyDe said...

I have been wrestling with that question, as well as various perceptions of rural life over on my blog, too. The definition of "homestead" is "a house and the farmland it is on." I guess the real question comes in when you make it a verb - and it seems like it's a continuum of how you develop the land to become more self-sufficient.

Catherine said...

I think it's a matter of mind-set, proportion, and possibilities.

Mind-set: I don't think that what source you get your electricity from matters as much as your mind-set when said electricity fails. The homesteaders of the 1800's used coal and lamp oil, which weren't exactly "sustainable" and I don't see anyone out there disputing that Laura Ingalls and her family were homesteaders! (As for off-the-farm jobs "disqualifying" you as a homesteader, Pa worked for the railroad, remember?! And Laura, well, she did something literary...I think ;P) The Long Winter just about killed them, because they were dependent on "new fangled" inventions like coal stoves...so they burned hay for heat and axle grease for light, and the townspeople worked together to keep everyone from starving. What determines a homesteader is how you handle it when the "unsustainable" you depend on goes away. Can you live without electricity, grocery stores, gas stations, TV, propane/gas?

Proportion: IMO, the difference between a gardener, a prepper, and a homesteader is the proportion of sustainable vs. unsustainable. If you only grow enough from your garden to have fresh vegies with meals, I'd classify that as "Gardening." If you buy lots of preserved food to stock up on, but don't produce much/any to preserve by yourself, I'd classify that as "Prepping." If you grow enough to preserve for winter use, and can produce some of your own protein (eggs, milk, fish, chicken, beef, goat, deer, etc.) you qualify as a homesteader.

Possibilities: The one thing that seems to identify homesteaders is their ability to solve problems by thinking outside the box. No room in the garden to grow potatoes? Use old tires! No access to a wood lot? Cook on a rocket stove with sticks! Homesteaders are the ones that, when you visit their homes/farms, you find yourself looking around and thinking, "Wow! That's a neat idea!" And you're probably a homesteader if your next thought is,"I wonder how I could adapt that to work for me!"

small farm girl said...

So Nancy, what your saying is farming and homesteading are the same thing? Hmmmmmm....

small farm girl said...

Good answer Catherine!!!!!!! Your sooooo smart!!!! :)

Sunnybrook Farm said...

We use what ever is available and plan for not having it available. Plan "B" attitude is our kind of homesteading instead of some idealogical view of not using what is not sustainable. Use it while you have it.

sista said...

I am in total agreement with Catherine. Pioneers didn't use electricity because they didn't have it. As a 60 year old homesteader my hubby and I are planning to go solar and hopefully wind power and feed back into the grid the excess so we have it to use later. Battery backup will keep us secure when the grid isn't available. Homesteading is using the resources available to you however these days you have to take the environment into consideration also.

The Homestead Lady said...

Hi, My definition(may be different from others) is a home no matter what kind on some land and that land is being used to sustain your family. For instance, we live in a mobile home, on 18 acres and raise a variety of critters for food consumption as well and money making. We also garden to feed our family. I do not really consider us a "farm" as of yet, as we do not fully financially support ourselves off our homestead, but we are working on it. Being off grid or on grid doesn't make or break a homestead...we are off grid for now but are going back on grid...We have said we are an off grid homestead...we use propane for many things, so even with the grid power we are a "partial off grid" homestead. As for preppers, I guess some call us that, but we prefer to called homesteaders...I suppose we do the same things as preppers, but without the 'stigma' some preppers get stuck with. So basically a homesteader is someone who lives a sustainable kind of life, on or off grid. They are DIY'ers, with many, many skills under their belt. They are independant thinkers and extremely resourceful. A farm is a set up on acreage and crops or animals are done on a very large scale and they are able to fully support their families from their land. HTH!

The Homestead Lady

NancyDe said...

Farming sort of implies profit, but homesteading, maybe profit, maybe just providing for yourself. I think it could mean anything on a continuum from providing a few of your needs to providing all of them (which isn't happening for me, yet.)

small farm girl said...

I agree!!!!

small farm girl said...

I have kicked around the idea of getting solar also.

small farm girl said...

That's a VERY good exclamation!!!!

small farm girl said...

You guys are amazing me by your definitions!!!!!

Kellie from Indiana said...

I think defining things box people in. We are in a modern world so its hard to definitely be a homesteader in the old sense. Everyone has their gadgets that make things easier for whatever it is they do. But to me homesteading is self reliance, be it for food, energy, etc.

Leigh said...

Very interesting question (I know I'm late but I just got to your blog and have found so many interesting things to look at). I had never heard of homesteading when we bought our 5 acres almost 5 years ago. I had always thought of it in the 17th and 18th century sense - settlers turned homesteads into farms.

From my research, I've come to the conclusion that in general farming is thought of as a business, i.e. people farm as a career or their work. Homesteading, OTOH, is more about meeting one's own needs, i.e. self-sufficiency or self-sustainability. So it has less to do with whether or not one is off-grid, but everything to do with goals. Most of us are working toward self-reliance step by step. How we get there is as individual as snow flakes!

small farm girl said...

That's what I'm beginning to think too.

small farm girl said...

That's what I'm beginning to think too.