Why homestead. This is the eternal question every homesteader must answer.
Why do we do it? Why reinvent the wheel of sorts, why put out the effort?
If you ask different homesteaders, “Why Homestead?” their answers are as varied as they are thematic. Usually, it’s something to do with getting back to a simpler life, reducing a carbon foot print, etc.
For me, the moment came when we suddenly were charged more for hay when a seller learned we moved here from an affluent part of the country and have horses.
In the horse world, people are decidedly more consumers than producers. Therefore, it must stand, we can afford to pay higher prices. That incident was the fundamental shift in my thinking. In short, I started homesteading because I was tired of getting ripped off.
The answer to “Why Homestead” became clear. I wanted to become more of a producer, and less of a consumer.
It hurts now to go to the grocery for meat because now I know sausage is usually the tougher parts of the pig and also the scraps left from the other cuts. Yet it still sells for $4/pound.
I can’t stand the cost of beef. We are on our way to producing our own pork. That’s some solace. We are further away from producing beef, mostly because of the cost.
I am working on the aquaponic system, which is slowly coming together. (Planning for 3 different types of fish and fresh water prawns eventually).
One thing I wasn’t prepared for, aside from the slow pace of things, was the financial side, which absolutely effects pace. I was prepared to build everything in a month, but that was just unrealistic. I also wasn’t prepared for the immense learning curve.
Things like plumbing to build my methane digester (I’m all about this methane digester, manure management is pretty much my life, and a part of homesteading I don’t see frequently addressed) and the aquaponic system.
Guess how much I knew about plumbing? It’s only slightly better now. 😉
The second reason I ventured into homesteading is after moving to rural America, after years of suburban/urban life, we couldn’t find any gourmet type food. Cheese especially. Our choices are cheap cheddars, or Swiss, made from who knows what additives. I’ve been dying for goats and sheep to start our own artisan cheeses.
Pretty much the only food you can get around here is super fried. And forget any Indian cuisine! (One of our staple cuisines. My husband had never even tried it before he met me, and neither had anyone in his family).
We decided to start our own chickens for meat, and not just eggs, when I read the USDA will allow chicken from China to be sold in the US. Now that I’ve studied butchering and taken apart whole chickens (we are still building our flock), I’m looking forward to harvesting from our own well-treated and well-cared for flock.
In addition to culling our excess roosters, we will add Cornish Crosses to our flock. While there might be more ethical or sustainable choices than that breed, I feel I will have an easier time emotionally butchering them since, if you let them live to long, it negatively effects the quality of their lives.
The two pigs we have here are for breeding, but their babies will be for butchering, or if they don’t breed, then they will be butchered, but it will be hard to do it.
I also like the whole idea of a closed-loop system, from everything from cooking to manure management. I like that after we fry chicken (I do like the occasional fried food!), we make gravy from the left over oil and chicken bits in the pan to make gravy (my husband likes biscuits and gravy for breakfast), and broth from the left over chicken and bones, which we use in rice, savory pancakes, etc in place of water to add extra flavor and protein.
Nothing goes to waste. Any leftovers go to the dog or the pigs.
We will install an orchard in the spring, and I’m looking at spots in the property for perennial beds (herbs, sunchokes and daikon radishes for livestock feed).
We are working on producing our own energy. We are actively looking at wind power, which seems an easier option for us than solar power, and at natural gas. With the wind we get and the animals, both are renewable sources of energy.
Since we have forested parts of our property, we are also looking at wood heating, which is a sustainable resource for us. I don’t mind staying tied to the grid for electric for now, but anything we can do to reduce our outputs, right?
We are looking at more sustainable heating options for next winter because of the cost of propane.
So, that’s why I homestead! Why do you homestead?
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.
We don’t homestead yet, but we got the idea after learning more about Genetically altered foods. The more I learn about the things in my food, the less I want to eat something I did not make. We no longer eat anything with artificial colors and we are doing everything in our power to get rid of GMOs. if I grow corn with my own hands, and raise meat myself I know I am giving my family the very best.
Personally I never saw myself as a country girl or wanting to do anything like this. I would rather lose my city diggs, then end up sick from food poisoned by the people who make it. I already know a lot about making sausage, bread and butter because my Maternal Grandmother is mountain people who live in a shack on the side of a mountain. My mother grew up with a cast iron stove and no running water or electricity in the house. That is how I learned I love modern comfort!
I know it is going to be slow going, but I just remind myself of what I am establishing to live a long life and have a refuge for my family.
Sounds like you already have a ton of homesteading skills. Is there a recipe for your sausage on your blog? I’ve been looking for a good one. Thanks!
No, But I guess I should do that. To be honest I have not done it since I was a kid. I was gonna make some this summer. I have to ask my dad for the recipe. I will look around. Because I am of a German background I prefer more German and Czech flavors.
I consider myself a Homesteader. I live in the city with so many rules about not allowing chickens, etc. Will I ever make it to the country, probably not. I am okay with that. I can still educate myself on cooking from scratch, doing laundry by hand. Gardening, growing herbs, preparing our body butter, soap, shampoo, sewing etc. Is it a harder life, yes, oh and still work 40 hours plus and raise 3 girls.It brings meaning to my life. I have accomplished and have taught my girls to appreciate hard work. I started off with the food because I did not want to eat processed garbage anymore.I do shop local to know where my food comes from. Do I pay a little more. Yes, but it is worth it to me. Now I cook because the price of food is going up all the time. So I put in the garden.Now we eat better. Once you learn one task I can challenge myself to another. I believe our bodies are made to be worked, not idle. After a long, fulfilling day, I treat myself to a wonderful bath and quiet time with a book. Not a T.V-do not own one and never will.Do I sleep, like the dead. I like many do not suffer from insomnia.I get a good nights rest to start over again the next day, knowing I am feeding my girls the best that I can, cooking it myself, saving some money, living a genuine simple life as I can in a big city.
I love your comment. One goal of this blog is to inspire urban/apartment/suburban homesteaders, since for years I was a condo-dweller, and probably would have been happier if I had an urban homestead guide. Please feel free to contact me with any topic suggestions!
Good for you!! You serve as a wonderful example to your girls!! What a blessing for them! You also serve as an example to others. We all need to do what we can with what we have. Don’t wait for some dream scenario to start making healthy sustainable choices every day!!
We don’t have land yet but the idea to homestead first came when watching some of those horrible Peta videos, I wanted to make sure any animals I ate or sold to others had a good life and were harvested humanely. As I’ve gained knowledge about what is needed to run a homestead and strategized on how to do it I was surprised at how much i already knew cooking from scratch for better taste, learning to sew as a child and working in my mother’s garden, caring for a wide variety of animals from personal interest. I looked at my own library in preparation for homesteading to find I had dozens of books on taking care of or building houses, from plumbing to roofing to masonry; several on gardening and farming and some preserving as well. I realized the farm had called to me my whole life and I never knew. Now it’s just a leap of faith.
What a great story, and one I recognize well! Thanks for sharing!
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