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!  

Happy Homesteading! 


  1. That was a very good definition of Homesteading. I have to agree with all of that. We didn't have a garden when we were growing up. We went back to Michigan almost ever summer to visit our grandparents. The only thing I can remember canning is strawberry jam. It wasn't until I was married that I learned to garden and can. My husband taught me. By canning you can save on your grocery budget and you do serve better quality food.

    My husband learned to can one summer when his parents were gone and the peaches needed to be canned. He canned them for his parents.

    These are the types of things I am trying to teach my kids. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. It was just what I needed to hear today!!

  3. Thanks for that great post. We country girl wanna-bes need to be reminded that homesteading is about a lot more than living in the country. Thanks for that reminder!!!

  4. I was searching for books on homesteading--we too made the jump from city life to country life this past sept and I need some info on how to do all the country things and stumbled upon her book on amazon--I was able to preview the pages and I can see already it's going to be a gem--how wonderful to find a book that is written with excellent insight as well as Christian truth!

    As I was reading the preview pages I saw this nugget and I posted this tidbit on my blog (http://lilhouseinthedesert.blogspot.com/):

    An excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Country Living:

    "People are always asking me how I manage to get so much done. My husband asks me how I manage to keep track of it all. The honest truth is that I don't. I don't really get that much done, and Lord knows I don't keep track of it all. But for what it's worth, here are some habits I have that help me accomplish what I do:

    1) Don't discuss the obvious.

    2) Don't own a television

    3) Quit a job when you're losing efficiency.

    4) Go to bed when you're tired.

    5) Eat less salt and sugar, and use less heat.

    6) Keep lists of things to do and things to buy.

    7) Then get somebody else to do as many of those as possible.

    8) Don't drink coffee, tea, cola, or alcohol; smoke cigarettes; chew snooze; or use illegal drugs

    9) Sing a lot.

    10) Pray a lot."

    Thanks for all your blogs! I'm learning so much! Do you know anything about root cellaring? I'm interested in that too--thanks! -Pauline

  5. Jen@Balancing Beauty and BedlamMarch 7, 2009 at 1:37 PM

    Oh, I see that I am going to enjoy my browse here. My first visit, but your title caught my eye. As a city girl who bought land with her brothers and moved cross country to pursue a multi generational dream - I am all about this. :)

    Still a city girl at heart, the joy of 19 cousins growing up together is so worth the effort. :)

  6. Jen@Balancing Beauty and BedlamMarch 7, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    I thought this was blogger - yea... I didn't realize there was an entire line of blogs about homesteading. What fun!

    I haven't done a lot of posts about our homesteading...you've inspired me. :)


  7. Crystal,

    I love your blog and the emails. I have made your whole wheat bread...the best. I love that I can make 2 family size loafs at one time. I also wanted to thank you for helping me get more in line with God's will for me as a wife and mother. I work full time outside of the home but did stay home when my boys were smaller. It's difficult on many levels but being able to sort of homestead brings me back to what I was called to do and you have encouraged that.

    I live in the city and am THINKING about going to a u-pick farm and try canning some tomatoes later this year. I may be able to get my sister interested and we could can for both families. Any pre-canning tips would be appreciated. I don't have any of the material for canning, but thought I could get a little at a time till harvest time. Any thoughts or tips would be appreciated.

    Thank you and God bless,


  8. Great post!


  9. As someone who is new to homesteading, and is trying to learn all that there is to it, this is a great list of goals for me to accomplish. I have been trying to do most of these things on our little one acre "Homestead". I have so many goals for the future, and so much to learn!! But I've already been learning so much, I can't wait to see what the future has for our home! If you get a chance, come on over to my blog and see what I've had going on. I'd love any advice or comments that you may have for me!

  10. I loved what you just wrote here and thats totally how i think!

    My question is how did you manage to find the time to do those things when you had little children?

    I'd love to do more but am always out of time!

  11. Hi Crystal,

    I really enjoyed this post. I know your kids are older now, but I'd love to hear how you organized, made clothes, gardened, canned etc. when they were little. Mine are 2 and 4 and I'm able to can, sew, garden, etc. but only in fits and starts. It would be great to see some photos of your first garden etc. to help us feel like we're on the right track! I'm also interested in hearing how you did all you did while being pregnant for most of it! I'm impressed. How were you able to do it all back then? I'd love it if you could blog a little about that time in your life (I guess about 15 years ago!) It's so inspiring to me!


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