Homesteading Leads To A Longer Life

Homesteading Leads to a Longer Life

Written by Flea Christenson from Homesteadingedu

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

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:

• Family – put ahead of other concerns

• Less smoking

Semi-vegetarianism – the majority of food consumed is derived from plants

• Constant moderate physical activity – an inseparable part of life

Social engagement – people of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities

Legumes – commonly consumed

How can a homesteading lifestyle contribute to these factors? Let’s break them down and see where our choices come into play.

Family

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 leads to a longer life when family works together toward a common goal – goals are great in all walks of life, but in homesteading they’re essential.

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.

Less Smoking

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.

Semi-Vegetarianism

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.

Sweet potatoes are both delicious and nutritious. They can be grown in upright containers. Sign up for our sweet potato course to find out more.

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.

George, our homesteader, is working with his sweet potato crop. George spends a lot of time outside year round.

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.

Social Engagement

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.

Legumes

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.

Tarahumara Purple Ojos beans
Beans, beans, the charmed legume
Eat a few and clear the room

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!

Homestead in health, my friends!

Flea

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Making Homesteading Pay part 2

Making Your Homestead Pay – Youthful Idealis

Written by George McLaughlin

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.

Community!

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.

Making Your Homestead Pay Part 1

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Making Your Homestead Pay Part 1

Homesteading can be more than just a way to feed yourself. You can both save and make money by homesteading. We’ve helped ourselves out by raising as much as we need and more. Some we barter, some we keep, and some we sell. So, what do we raise or grow extras off, and where do we sell them?

Well, for starters, we raise extra chicks, turkey poults and ducklings. We hatch twice a year and we bought the absolute best stock we could get. These, we sell on Craigslist, by word of mouth, myneighbor.com, and every once and again, the auction barn. We rarely sell through auction though because we get a lower price at the auction than we do through private sale. We see our livestock as cash on the hoof.

Sir Loin

We also got licensed to sell seeds, so we raise extra plants to be able to sell. In our state, it’s only $35 to get that license. Aside from selling sprouts, cuttings, and seeds, we also raise rabbits, goats, and occasionally with the goats’ milk, we bring up a calf to sell.

Because we raise dairy goats and chickens, we have milk and eggs frequently available from the farm gate. We also sometimes have yogurt and cheese, and maybe soap for sale. We also have it known in our community that we sometimes have fresh vegetables available at the farm. They just have to ask. Another thing that Jerreth said to tell you all to look into, is a stand at a local farmers market. If you don’t have enough extra to need a stand, you might see if a friend who has a stand might be willing to let you sell yours from their stand. Another thing that we do that is an excellent way to raise a little extra cash, is raise red worms. Fishermen love them. Gardeners that know enough to know, love them too.

I’ll post again next time with a few more things you can do to either save money or raise money with your homestead.
Until next time,
Emily

In Case Of Emergencies

Ice storm emergency preparedness picture
One of the spectacular ices storms that has hit our farm in the past.

Hey all,

I’ve heard that this winter is supposed to be a doozy here in the central/southern part of the United States. I thought I’d share some of what my family has learned about being ready for winter weather or bad weather in general. It’s important to be prepared for any type of emergency. On the other hand you don’t want to be a hoarder. So, what’s the difference?

Well, I think that one of our team members, Jerreth nailed that on the head. Here is her explanation about the difference between being prepared and being a hoarder: “There is a HUGE difference between hoarding and being prepared. Today’s politically correct like to blur that line and cause people to think that if you have extra food or extra anything you are being a selfish hoarder. A hoarder is someone who compulsively collects things and is incapable of stopping. They are driven by constantly obtaining more stuff. It comes to a point where there is never enough and you can’t walk through the home of a hoarder; there’s no room.

On the other hand, for many years, our state put out a booklet every year that was sent to every resident of the state. The booklet explained that people need to be prepared ahead of time for natural disasters and emergencies. The booklet told people what to have on hand and explained that though the government would try to help, it could be days or weeks before the government could show up. It is important that every citizen be prepared ahead of time for emergencies. The booklet also explained that when terrible weather is coming in, you do not want to be one of the last- minute shoppers fighting over a loaf of bread.”

So how do you manage to be prepared? Well, you need enough water on hand for 3-5 days if not more. Keep in mind that once a disaster strikes, you may not be able to have emergency personnel get to you right away. I personally would be most comfortable with having up to two weeks worth of water simply because I live in an area that is prone to storms that can make it impossible to get to the store for two weeks.

Flood picture
This picture was from Decmber of 2015. The flood waters finally receded enough for us to be able to get out. They were over the road even in places where there wasn’t a water source nearby aside from rain water.

You also need to have enough food on hand. We like to try to follow the Mennonite tradition of keeping a year’s supply of food on hand. This makes it so that even if we don’t have a natural disaster, but maybe we have financial troubles, we still have food to eat without having to rely on government help for it. It also makes it so that we aren’t having to worry about whether the store is out by the time we manage to get into town just ahead of an ice storm.

Another thing that you will need on hand, is first aid supplies. You may not be able to get to the store for a week or more after a natural disaster, and they may be out of what you need when you do manage to go. So, that said, also get enough animal feed to last a week or two.

The last thing on my list which is still very important, is cash. In the event of a natural disaster, the banks in your area may not be open. It’s very important to have so that you are able to buy anything you need from neighbors, should they have what you need for sale.

You don’t have to go out and buy all these things at once. That would be very expensive. The best way to get all the things you need is by buying a few extra items every time you shop. That way, you build your emergency supplies

Balancing The Homesteading Life Part 2

Balancing The Homesteading Life Part 2

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Hey all,
I’m sharing part 2 of my multiple part series on simplifying your life and making your homestead not turn stressful for you. You need to keep a balance. So, with that said, here are some more things that we’ve found have helped us on our homestead.

As I mentioned in the last post, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your garden or livestock that it becomes overwhelming. We do need to take a break for our loved ones. Stuff is just stuff. Sometimes the garden will need to wait. Be present for your family. Take time for friends. When they remember you, you want them to remember you not for the way your homestead was always immaculate, but for being a warming, loving and caring person who took time out to really love them.

Time with Keli

Also, while you are working on your homestead, look for deals. Lack of money can be a big burden. You don’t always have to go pricey on everything. Sometimes, you can find a great deal on just one component of something you would like to have, and you can get the pieces over time to make something, or you might be able to barter with someone to get an animal that you would want. For example, we’ve bartered meat before in exchange for a doe on the hoof that we really wanted. Craigslist can really be your friend. Keep your impulses in check and don’t buy something before you are sure that it is exactly what you need.

Also, be a learner. Being a learner means that when you have something horrible happen on the homestead, because bad things can and do happen to good people, you take it as a learning opportunity. A learner maintains a positive attitude, and asks questions about how to solve their problems. Learners try to make sure they are linked in with community because everyone can still learn something, and sometimes someone else in your community will have the answer to your difficulty. A learner is a person with perseverance.

Until next time,
Emily

 

 

Balancing The Homesteading Life

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Balancing The Homesteading Life

Hey all,

This next topic that I’m going to be writing about will be coming in a series. This is just part one of that series. I wanted to talk to you all about something that every homesteader deals with at some point in time.

Sometimes, it feels like life is snowballing and you have things piling up at the homestead. It can be very overwhelming. How do you deal with that? How do you manage to keep it enjoyable despite the amount of work that needs doing? How do you keep it all in balance?

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First off, you don’t have to maintain absolute perfection. Homesteading is not about having your place look like something out of Better Homes And Gardens. It can still look nice, but sometimes you will need to let something slide that you feel ought to be gotten done that day. Homesteading is about learning and enjoying the process. It’s not a competition about who can have the neatest looking garden for example.

Because homesteading is enjoyable, it is easy to let things snowball, such as one of the challenges that we have to remind ourselves about, it is possible to keep one too many doe kids. The amount of milking involved past a certain number of does, is more than we can handle. (sometimes this is exceptionally hard if there was something you really wanted in your flock, but you have all the does you actually need)img_2578

I mean seriously, they are so hard to resist especially when they are this tiny!

You also need to keep in mind that more is not always necessarily better, whether gardening or livestock. You can plant too many gardens or keep too many heads of livestock. Sometimes, you have to make the decision to cut back on how much work you have. Sometimes, you may need to sell some livestock to do this. It doesn’t have to be permanent. The key phrase to keep in mind is “for now” Sometimes, “for now” you need to cut back. The dream is not ended, it’s just put on hold.

Stay tuned, I’ll be back with more that you can do for simplifying your homestead and your life.

Until next time,

Emily

Homesteading; The Good Life

otcp_wheelbarrow10_30_2014Homesteading; The Good Life

Life when you have a homestead is rich! Oh, it’s certainly a lot of work, no doubt about it, but the life quality is excellent! For example, right now on our farm, we are enjoying fresh tomatoes, green beans, okra, squash, corn, and fresh herbs for cooking.

We also harvested potatoes, onions, and garlic earlier. We will be eating potatoes for many months to come. The onions and the garlic will last almost until next harvest.

Another thing that we enjoy about homesteading, is that for about 10 months of every year we enjoy fresh milk and make our own cheese, yogurt and ice cream. We also have eggs, chicken, ducks, and turkey meat year round. Since we also raise goats, we have our own Chevron.

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Every two years, we raise a new calf and after two years we butcher that calf and enjoy higher quality beef than what you can get in the store.

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Sir Loin, our calf hanging out with his buddy. Spice is one of our milk goats.
Sir Loin

We also raise sheep and enjoy eating mutton. In the past we have raised wool sheep which give us the pleasure of not only having mutton, but also having fiber which we then wash card and spin to be able to use for knitting or crochet.

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Some of our flock with their lambs
We also raise our own honey, which helps with allergies because it’s local honey.

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As I’ve mentioned before, our extra livestock is money on the hoof. The livestock pays for itself, and it’s not a burden on our income and we also know what is in our food because we know what went into the animals.
There is also a pleasure in knowing each of the animals on the farm, and being around them. Raising livestock, while it is a lot of work, is also relaxing and rewarding. The same is true of working the land.