What is Homesteading?
I recently had an email from a very nice lady sharing with me that she longed for country life and a homesteading type of lifestyle but was in the city. She wanted to know what kind of book resources there were for learning about homesteading. My answer was first a book resource for her and then some ideas on what she could do right in the city.
Her question inspired me with a few thoughts I wanted to share. I sometimes get the sense that some believe that homesteading looks a certain way.. nice little spot in the country, big garden growing, chickens all around, a few little goats in the pasture, etc... But the one thing I learned from my years of living in the city is that homesteading has a different meaning today than it did back in the days where people homesteaded a piece of land. Today we live in a very different world. Homesteading to me is the means which I can help out my family’s budget and be a productive wife right here in my home where the Lord has called me to be. Even if a woman works outside the home, the home is a place that needs lots of TLC and attention and a woman’s desire to make a home is still in her heart.
When I lived in the city I had this dream of living in the country. It was many years before we actually were able to move our family out into the country. I remember thinking that I already have my little piece of land right here in the city. So I focused on my “homestead” so that I could be the best possible steward of what the Lord had already given me.
I began by cooking from scratch. I had the time in my day to make this a priority and feeding my growing family was a big job. I wanted to help out the family budget by buying less pre packaged food. So I taught myself to cook our favorite meals from scratch. This does save money! And if using good healthy ingredients it will improve the family health as well.
In two of the homes I lived in (one was a rental the other we owned) I grew a garden. That was extremely rewarding. The first garden I grew was not that big but I was surprised at how much I could contribute to each meal during the summer with what I was able to harvest. The savings from this was much needed at the time as we had 2 children and my husband was going through school and our budget was tight; very tight!!
In the second home I was able to have a bigger garden and had enough produce to do a little canning with the bounty. I learned to can by reading books and talking with friends and many older ladies from my church who canned. This was a blessing to us as well as a great feeling of satisfaction as I served my family my canned food during the winter.
Aside from cooking and baking (I started baking my own bread back in the first house) I also refined my sewing skills. I had many little children and it was a real blessing to be able to find fabric on sale and turn it into clothes for them and myself as well.
I also picked up my crocheting again. Something I had not done in many years. I found this to be rewarding and helpful. Between my sewing and crocheting I made many gifts for my family. Due to very tight finances and our desire to buy a home it was a blessing to be able to make the holiday time less stressful with my homemade gifts.
I learned and studied all about herbs and herbal medicine. I had a few health issues with my children and was not impressed by traditional medicines that seemed to just give me a Band-Aid to cover it up, so to speak. I learned all I could about herbs through library books (the internet was not a mainstay in peoples homes at this point). I was able to deal with a variety of issues and my children’s health dramatically improved.
All in all my point to this article is that to me homesteading is more about being a resourceful and productive wife than it is about living in the country. It is seeing what the Lord has already provided for me and making the absolute most out of it that I am able to. It is a focus on what I have, not what I want to have. Not to say that dreams are not a good thing. If there were no homesteading dreams then I would not be here on my land today. But the key to it all is being a good steward of what I already have as well as contentment with what the Lord has given me.
Now for that country living book resource that needs to be a part of every homesteading wife’s library: Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living . It is fun to read, very educational and you will learn a lot about every possible avenue of homesteading there is!