What does it take to be a homesteader?
People entertain the idea of homesteading because they have the desire to reduce their global footprint and/or to live a simpler, healthier lifestyle. What it takes is that initial desire, the willingness to learn, and possibly some investment in initial supplies. All doable and easily achievable, so what’s holding you back?
Chances are you’ve fallen into the number one myth we tell ourselves – “I can’t start until __(fill in the blank)__.”
There are 10 common homesteading myths that keep people in the land of hesitation, postponing the desire to homestead, constantly waiting for the perfect day to begin the journey. The day to begin the homesteading adventure, though, is now! When you dispel the myths, a wonderful eco-journey will greet you. Just take that first step!
Top 10 Homesteading Myths
Myth #1: You need to own a lot of land. In reality, you can live a more sustainable lifestyle in an apartment or condo. Space is not the issue. Traditional homesteading implies settling on land in a house and acreage is certainly desirable, but there are plenty of people homesteading on 1 acre or less and creating eco-friendly environments in small spaces. The key is to live responsibly within the space you have.
Myth #2: You can only “truly” homestead with free land. If we were living in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s this may have a ring of truth, but in 2015 the 1862 Homestead Act is no longer applicable. In modern times, we need to accept a more modern definition of homesteading and make it work within the parameters we have available. Just because you pay for your home and land doesn’t mean you cannot be a homesteader.
Myth #3: You have to prep for the zombie apocalypse to homestead. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a survival plan but it’s simply not synonymous with homesteading. You don’t have to stockpile or make preparations like a survivalist to live a more sustainable lifestyle unless you choose to.
Myth #4: You have to live off-grid. Plain and simple, you do not have to live in the mountains with no form of communication or access to the modern world. It’s perfectly acceptable to choose this lifestyle option but you can live in the city and still adopt a homestead style.
Myth #5: You need to have skills before you homestead or come from a farm background. This is the most popular homesteading myth I hear from people who are contemplating homesteading, but are hesitant to start. If you have access to a library or the internet, you can find and learn everything you need to know to begin homesteading. In addition to these resources, there are a wealth of classes available to help you learn some of the skills you may lack, such as proper animal care or gardening techniques, at your local extension agency, community center or college. All you need is the willingness to learn! The original homesteaders learned through trial and error, you have the huge benefit of history and modern technology to get you up to speed quickly!
Myth #6: Homesteading is hard and you can’t have a full-time job outside your home. Animals and gardens do need constant attention and I won’t minimize the fact that there is work involved in living a sustainable lifestyle, but there’s plenty of resources and alternatives available to find a desirable balance between work and homesteading. Options like self-watering gardens, easy compost setups, animal sitters, low-maintenance tools and other time-saving conveniences are available to help you.
Myth #7: Homesteading is easy and doesn’t take much time. On the flip side, some people con themselves into thinking that homesteading is a quick and easy process they can start in a flash, so they postpone until they have a pocket of free time to dive in and set everything up. Homesteading is a process and doesn’t happen overnight. However, don’t be afraid of the work or time involved. You can approach it step by step and get started today even by implementing simple things like starting a window herb garden, setting up a compost station or implementing a water conservation plan. The time to start is now!
Myth #8: You have to be 100 percent self-sufficient. I would love to be 100 percent self-sufficient and admire people who have taken the steps to reduce their eco-footprint to the lowest possible number. They are eco champions! There are some modern conveniences holding me back from being among them, such as my cell phone, laptop and dishwasher. But here’s the thing, I try to use my cell phone, laptop and dishwasher until they are nearly past the point of being obsolete and dispose of or re-purpose them properly when they’ve outlived their usefulness. I also try to be responsible with my purchase decisions and buy products that are energy-efficient, comprised of renewable or recycled materials, and ideally have a low eco-footprint, when possible.
Also keep in mind, that you don’t have to do it all. If you are homesteading on one acre, you may not be able to grow all of the crops you need to feed your family or animals. Truthfully, there’s no reason you have to. Bartering with neighbors or shopping at the local farmer’s market for organic goods is a viable, acceptable way to supplement your homesteading. We may not be able to be or choose to be 100 percent self-sufficient, but we can certainly get as close as possible by consciously walking the sustainable path and using all of the resources available!
Myth #9: You can’t make a living as a homesteader. If you want to leave your job and make a living homesteading, it is possible. Like any other business, you’ll need to do your research and choose a homesteading business that provides a viable income. There are plenty of profitable farming ideas and also a lot of artisan products to explore. You may even consider other sources of home income like tutoring, writing or pet-sitting to help support your homestead lifestyle. The key here is to have a plan and a budget established before you dive in. You can easily begin homesteading while you still have a full time job and work on a timeline for transitioning to self-employment.
Myth #10: You have to be a hippie, homeschooler, vegetarian or whatever label misconception you can come up with. My husband and I don’t fit easily into any of these category, nor do most of the homesteaders I’ve interacted with. The fact is homesteading is for everyone. If you have the desire to homestead and the willingness to learn how, you are the perfect person to become a homesteader!
What other homesteading myths have you encountered? What’s holding you back from taking the steps towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle?
Start on the path to homesteading today with author Barb Webb’s new book Getting Laid: Everything You Need to Know About Raising Chickens, Gardening and Preserving — with Over 100 Recipes! (ISBN 1632280213,) an encyclopedia of farm to table knowledge designed to empower modern homesteaders!