I’m a little late on my Thanksgiving post because we had some delightful company over for Thanksgiving. But, I’m back for this week. I wanted to share with you some reasons why I’m so glad I get to homestead:
1. I eat better. One of the things that I’ve always loved about homesteading is that I know exactly what was fed to the animals that I eat. I know exactly what medications they’ve had and what illnesses if any that they had. I know what was used to fertilize the fields where my food is grown, and I know for fact that it was earth friendly. Nothing like goat and horse manure for the garden after it has properly decomposed. As a matter of fact, goat manure can even be used fresh because it’s a gentle manure on crops.
2. Exercise is much more enjoyable. When you are hauling manure, and you are helping animals that you care about and are raising for food, exercise becomes much more pleasant. Now, there is a mindest that you have to have about them though when you raise them for food. Yes, you care about them. But, you have to be careful not to let them become pets. They are livestock, not pets. That said, there is a lot of relaxation and pleasure in caring for them. It is also very peaceful working out in the garden or gathering wood.
3. It is a peaceful lifestyle. As a homesteader, I’m regularly doing things that while they count as work, I find that work peaceful and relaxing. There’s a sense of peace and calm out in the barn, whether you are watching a doe who looks like she might kid, or you are just taking care of the animals.
4. I’m never bored. There is always something that I can be doing. Working around family and the animals can be fun. For example, this winter, my mom and I will be building new shelters for some of the animals. It’ll be a team project. Then too, the more you hang out with your animals,the better you know them and the earlier you’ll recognize if one of them is starting to get sick. The sooner you know, the faster you can get them better.
5. It’s a healthy lifestyle. I have a balanced combination of food, work, rest, and friendships. The work is generally enjoyable, and we eat better because we raise most of our own food. We are forever learning new things, and so even our brains get exercised. We have made many friends along the way who are also homesteaders.
I could go on more on things that I love about homesteading, but I think I’ll save that for a future post.What are you thankful for this year?
When I was growing up in Mexico, my family had primarily white bread that was interspersed with corn bread. So, while I wasn’t picky about other foods, I wasn’t too keen on bread that goes crunch. However, Dad loved it.
He began working on creating a bread that was similar to French bread, but wasn’t a white bread. It was closer to the darker gourmet breads.
The longer I’ve been homesteading, the more I’ve grown to really love that bread. This bread doesn’t look like much on the outside, but it’s just bursting with flavor and it’s made from scratch so we know exactly what went into the bread. This is particularly important if you have allergies or have a family member with allergies. Many times, in factories, they produce many products in the same area. This means that while an ingredient may not be on the label of your food, it could still be in your food. For my mother and I, this can be a problem. Thankfully, with this bread, since it’s made from scratch, we haven’t been having any further problems.
This is a bread that is a must have if you are having soup or stew. We have a course on making sourdough bread on our website www.homesteadingedu.com
This bread is so good, that it’s hard to not eat a whole loaf in just a couple of days. Go check out the course and give that bread a try. You’ll probably like it. It’s not Wonder bread. This stuff has more flavor than that!
I know you’re questioning the veracity of this statement. I know you are. But I have an expert’s word for it. Homesteading leads to a longer life. Dan Beuttner’s Ted Talk indicates that there are six factors which lead to a life that extends past 100 years. He calls this the Blue Zone. Take a few minutes and watch his talk. Then we’ll discuss why homesteading leads to a longer life. I think you’ll see it, too.
See it? Let’s begin with why this is so important.
Life expectancy in the US is about 78, which is more than a decade short of what our potential says we should have. That seems like a lot. And you know what? I think that regardless of our lifespan, we should be living those years well. As Beuttner says, with extraordinary vigor. How long do you want to live? How well do you want to live? Homesteading can contribute to living long and living well.
Factors Blue Zone Cultures Have in Common
There are six things which everyone in the Blue Zones (zones in which long-lived people live) have in common. According to the Wikipedia page, these are:
How can a homesteading lifestyle contribute to these factors? Let’s break them down and see where our choices come into play.
Homesteading won’t automatically cause us to put our families ahead of other concerns. However, growing our own food, working the soil, caring for animals – all of these things can lead one to choose the concerns of others over our own. We’re aware of a broader world, including the soil and creatures around us.
Homesteading creates a sense of harmony in the home. Working together makes homesteading better and easier. That said, family harmony, putting the concerns of others ahead of your own, is ultimately a choice you have to make. You may find that you have to make it daily in the beginning. Eventually it becomes a joyful choice.
I have only two things to say about less smoking. One, smoking more or less is a choice one makes, just like anything else. Two, I’m going to assume (since I don’t smoke) that one would smoke less if one were a homesteader and active. The little I know about smoking is that the reasons for continuing to smoke, while varied, outside of simple enjoyment, are relaxation and reduced anxiety.
Homesteading is a physical endeavor. It works both the body’s muscles, as well as the brain. I’m making another assumption in saying that relaxation and anxiety will both change with time when one chooses a homesteading lifestyle. Even if the choice is as simple as making your own Greek yogurt and sourdough bread on a regular basis (we offer classes on both of those). I know that I’m making a lot of assumptions here, but if you’re a smoker, give it some thought. And please, weigh in in the comments. I’d like to know more about your choices and challenges. Our homesteaders would love to talk with you about why this lifestyle may help to change your smoking habit.
Growing your own food in a garden means that you’ll be eating your own food. Notice that it doesn’t say total vegetarianism. Limiting your red meat and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake help promote a longer life. Maybe you live in an apartment and think you can’t grow your own food. Let’s look at two things you can do, short term, to increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
1 Container gardening – Whether you have a balcony, a patio, or just a window, you can grow food in containers most of the year. Click this link to see the idea behind container gardens. While living in the city, I’ve always had herbs growing in my kitchen window, as well as plants in almost every windowsill in the house. Growing food inside may not replace all of your fruit and veggie budget, but it helps. It’s fresh and delicious. We’ve also grown containers of tomatoes and other vegetables on the patio. Google is your friend, as well as our site. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way.
2 Farmer’s Markets – Maybe you can’t grow food indoors or elsewhere (college dorm or some other situation), but most cities and towns have farmer’s markets during the growing season. Not only do these offer fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, they can also offer grass fed meat grown locally. Explore your town and look for fresh food to take home for yourself and your family. It makes a difference.
Constant Moderate Physical Activity
Our homesteaders tell us often that they’re more limber and agile, well into their 50’s, because of their homesteading lifestyle. It’s a very physical lifestyle, requiring planting, tending, harvesting. If one includes animal husbandry, there’s daily care for the animals. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll see how that plays out over time. One cannot be a homesteader and lead a sedentary life.
Also, constant physical activity, while contributing to a longer life in general, is actually relaxing. Spending time outside with the plants and animals is relaxing and rewarding.
While it would be easy enough to isolate oneself as a homesteader, it’s better done in community. Here are just a handful of ways one can homestead in community.
• Seed saving – the sharing of heritage seeds involves interaction with others
• Animal husbandry – there’s always more to learn about the care of animals, and especially when one of your flock is ill or pregnant – interacting with a homesteading community is an education, as well as life saving
• Swapping goods and services – it’s nearly impossible to grow everything which you and your family need, so bartering for the things you don’t produce can be both fun and beneficial
I’m hoping our homesteaders weigh in, in the comments, with other ways to engage socially as a homesteader.
This one was a surprise to me! But it shouldn’t have been. Legumes, or beans, are one of their biggest staples on the farm. Legumes are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and protein. One can probably exist on beans alone if need be. And man alive are they tasty if cooked right! Stay tuned for recipes in the future. It’s our goal here at HomesteadingEdu to add recipes to the coursework, enabling you to truly utilize what we’re teaching.
Homesteading Leads to a Longer Life
Do you see it? Do you see how homesteading leads to a longer life? If you don’t, please weigh in in the comments. One or more of our homesteaders would love to chat. I suspect, since you’re already here and reading our blog, that you’re probably considering homesteading and its benefits. Why don’t you join us here on our journey? This blog is always free, and the classes aren’t expensive. Our homesteaders are thorough and interactive. Join us!
Oh, and I’m Flea, one of the former urban homesteaders. We sold our city house and are in the process of buying five acres in the country. So I’ll be learning right along with y’all! You’ll probably see my journey here, complete with the mistakes I’ll make. I look forward to walking with you!
Have you ever read My Side of the Mountain? I was in elementary school when I read it. It fired many people’s imagination back in the 70s, when there was a tremendous cultural surge of interest in getting back to the land. In a nutshell, it’s a fictional account of a boy who fleas to the woods with little more than the clothes on his back and manages to live in a hollow tree, staying warm and fed using just his personal ingenuity. When I read that, I was fired up! I wanted to do that! (For part one of this two part series, click this sentence)
Real Homesteading Involves Community
However, over the years, as we (Jerreth, our family and I) learned and experimented with self sufficiency, I realized that stories like My side of the Mountain are just that: stories. Most folk would be satisfied with neither the lifestyle nor lifespan of those who have had to do such a thing. For most of recorded history mankind has lived and functioned in community. This means that no one does everything. Some are much better at something(s) than the rank and file. Each has a complimentary place in the community, In community we all live better. I would hate to have to do everything for myself!
It is Possible to Make Money from Homesteading
So what about making money from homesteading? Well, it can be done. It’s not easy when compared to earning money by working a job. On our best years we’ve made about $5000.00 from the homestead. Some years we have only broken even. That income cost a whole lot of hours of work! However, we homestead for more than money.
Let me say up front: You have to love what you do. At my job, on Fridays, friends frequently ask me if we have any special plans for the weekend. Usually by their standards, we don’t. We’re going to do pretty much what we always do. We’re going to do stuff on the homestead. But you know what? That’s what we love to do! Those hours, spent on the homestead can’t be tallied up the same way as hours at a job. This is a way of life, one which we love.
The Homesteading Lifestyle Enables One to Eat Better
In homesteading, one can eat better. For example, our normal meat is pasture raised. It’s firmer and more flavorful. I understand it’s also more healthy. I’ve had people in a health food store ask if I’d sell them pasture raised chickens. Well, hmmm… no. Why? you might ask. For two reasons: 1) we want to eat them ourselves. And 2) If I asked what they are worth to me, they’d probably not pay it. They’d think I was money grabbing. (Worth = cost of feed and value of time invested, plus consideration of the extreme quality of that meat and practical impossibility of getting it any other way.)
Homesteading Skills Enable One to Live More Economically
Through homesteading one may eat more economically. (Keep in mind, though, eating homegrown chicken will always be more costly than store bought.) We save money in the garden by producing food with low input. We don’t use costly equipment, fertilizers or irrigation. We save money by entertaining ourselves by homesteading. We save money by making delicious meals with homegrown ingredients and by using “life hacks” that are not commonly known in our society. We even save money in the winter by heating and sometimes cooking with wood we cut and process ourselves.
We make some money selling surplus products from the farm. We make some money selling surplus animals. We make some money selling sweet potato slips, etc.
Sometimes we barter with other like minded people. Sometimes we simply share (give) as we see need and we believe the Lord would have us to help.
Through our homesteading lifestyle we do gain a lot of friends and acquaintances. We are richer for this. Not only is it wonderful to have friends. But we often help one another!
Homesteading is a lifestyle of learning. We continually learn how to utilize and develop the resources we have. We learn how to do things better and, oftentimes, more economically. The homesteading lifestyle helps one to gain resiliency.
This is a photo of some purebred Buckeye chicks. In early spring we often hatch these and sell them. We easily paid for a fine incubator by selling chicks and now it’s a nice supplement to our income.