What is Homesteading?


Homesteading is a term that goes back as far as the 1860’s when the United States Congress passed the Homestead Act, which gave ownership of 160 acres of land to a family if they were able to live on and cultivate it for five years. It was how the west was settled and the term has come back up in modern times, but in a different sense.

In current times, the term homesteading generally refers to any individual or family that attempts to live a self-sufficient lifestyle by utilizing the land and resources that are readily available. Some also refer to the lifestyle as returning “back-to-the-land.” The general principles include living off the land, introducing agriculture on a small or large scale, gardening and a simple approach to life.

Some people decide to live the life style to save money, while others reject the fast-paced lifestyle that so many people embrace and live with on a daily basis, especially in urban areas. It is also something that fits into many religious philosophies including simplicity, generosity and frugality. Homesteading gives those who embrace it a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in knowing that they worked for and earned the rewards, typically food, without relying on outside influences.

It can be overwhelming to first get involved in the lifestyle because there are a few upfront costs for materials, and it does require hard work and dedication to be successful. After the initial purchases are made, the materials pay for themselves. Keys to a successful homesteading life also include trading, bartering, repairing, recycling and repurposing items that you already have to remain self-sufficient.

One homesteading project you may want to take on if you’re new to the concept and interested in modifying your lifestyle is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. You don’t need large machinery or acres of land to plant a small garden in your backyard. Seeds are cheaper than paying for the actual foods and you can get everyone in the family involved in maintaining it. When the growing season ends, you’ll have more food than you know what to do with. It is even possible to trade the excess with other families who have items that you may not have had room for or thought about growing yourself. The extras can also be canned to eat during the winter months.

Animals are also beneficial to maintaining a homestead. A goat can produce up to a gallon of milk a day, which can be used for drinking or making cheese or even soap. Chickens are small and you can keep them to get eggs every day. Both types of animals can also be excellent sources of meat to sustain your family.
If your primary reason for modifying your lifestyle is to be friendlier to the environment, collecting rainwater with rain barrels is a way to use up to 1,300 less gallons of water each year. It can be used to water your garden or lawn instead of using the hose and helps preserve the Earth’s water supply and will save on your quarterly water bill as well.

Homesteading doesn’t have to have an all or nothing approach to it. You can choose to incorporate a few of the principles into your life or dive head first into modifying your lifestyle.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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