Thursday, January 6, 2011

What in the World is Homesteading

I was a big fan of using the term "homesteading" until I realized many people have no idea what it means and can come up with some pretty mixed up, twisted definitions, so I fell off from using it much.  I wanted to clarify the definition.  No, if someone claims to be be a "homesteader", to have a "homestead", or to have a dream of "homesteading", that doesn't mean that they are necessarily some eco-extremist with dreams of living "off the grid" and talks of using reusable toilet paper.  Yes, there are folks like that out there, but that is not what I am thinking of when I refer to homesteading.  Countryside Magazine has the best definition for homesteading in my opinion:

"Our Philosophy: It's not a single idea, but many ideas and attitudes, including a reverence for nature and a preference for country life; a desire for maximum personal self-reliance and creative leisure; a concern for family nurture and community cohesion; a belief that the primary reward of work should be well-being rather than money; a certain nostalgia for the supposed simplicities of the past and an anxiety about the technological and bureaucratic complexities of the present and the future; and a taste for the plain and functional.  Countryside reflects and supports the simple life, and calls its practitioners homesteaders."

Basically, homesteading is a pragmatic term - we like the country, we like country stuff, we like oldies but goodies and new technology when it helps and doesn't hurt.  It is not a political movement nor is it a religious movement, though many country folk are religious - it's hard to live in the country and not see God.  Homesteading is a lifestyle choice.  Some homesteaders make a living off their homesteads, while others (like ourselves) are hobby farmers.  Like all lifestyle choices, there are trade offs.  There are days when I think I could be quite happy in a subdivision house in town.  There would be alot less work to do, alot more free time.  But generally I view the benefits of country life as outweighing the negatives both for myself and for my family.

If you are interested in learning more about homesteading, I encourage you to take a look at Countryside MagazineCountryside is written for the readers, by the readers.  As such it reads like a conversation, rather than a how to manual.  Mother Earth News is another magazine that often comes up with the topic of homesteading.  I can't in good conscious recommend it however.  There is a pretty solid liberal social and environmental agenda associated with that magazine.  If you go for that sort of thing, then you may like it.  Hobby Farms and Mary Janes Farm are other popular magazines - I have not personally checked them out.

When I have the time, I enjoy sharing what I am learning about small scale livestock raising and other country hobbies.  If you enjoy my writing, you can follow me on blogger, subscribe to my facebook page Still Waters Farm - Angelia Mercer, or get my tweets.  I also hope to publish more articles through Countryside Magazine in the future.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your country adventures!  Angelia Mercer

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