Homesteading in 2005

Crystal Miller


I often have ladies write me and the first thing they will say to me is, “We don’t homestead, but”, and then continue to ask me a question.  So I thought I would share what I think homesteading in 2005(and beyond) is.  What does it mean to homestead?  What is my definition?


When I was a little girl my parents bought me the Little House on the Prairie book set.  I totally fell in love with Laura, Mary, Baby Carrie, Ma, Pa and the homesteading life!  I remember wanting to live like that and milk cows, plant gardens, and make a 9-patch quilt.  I loved everything about those books.  They became for me the symbol of what homesteading is. 


Those books do give a wonderful picture of homesteading, at least for the 1800’s.  But what does homesteading look like today?  What are some of the basic principles behind homesteading and what makes a person today a “homesteader”? 


I looked at the word “homestead” and kind of had some fun playing around with the word.  I broke the word into two parts, “home” and “stead”. I came up with “steady at home” as one definition and then looked up synonyms for the word “steady”.   This is what I found for steady: stable, firm, fixed, solid, sturdy, sound, secure, and balanced. 


I liked those words even better as I thought of all the ways those words related to a home-centered life.  Here was my list of home-centered thoughts using the above words:


~Creating a home that is securely balanced; family members working side by side, serving others within the family, showing love for one another and having fun together

~Creating a home that is firmly fixed, that is to say, firmly fixed on a solid Foundation!

~Creating a home that is soundly stable.  A stable home is something to be counted on by the family.  Your children know that mom and dad will always be there, the good things about their home will not change.

~Creating a home that is solidly sturdy. This would be a home that is well built with family traditions, closeness, and love. 


Can you envision the blessings of a home like this?  I know that these definitions I have written are my own creation, but I liked the way that much of what made a homestead a homestead was interwoven in the definitions above.  Homesteaders (my minds definition that is) work hard to provide for the family, share much together in daily life, serve each other, can be counted on to help when needed, build family traditions and so on.


Is the concept of homesteading and all the blessings it can have with it gone today for the modern family?  I don’t believe they are!  The modern day homesteading lady has a love of home and a desire to find purpose in providing for her family as much as possible with her own hands.  Anyone from the woman who lives in a big city apartment to the woman who farms on 600 acres of land can homestead.  Homesteading brings with it a desire to produce from your own hands and a satisfaction of having provided needed necessities for your family. The labor involved in doing this creates a lifestyle that in turn produces the above mentioned blessings!


As you are ‘steady at home’ baking bread, cooking from scratch, canning, sewing, gardening, etc..  you are focusing on a life that becomes home-centered, family centered, and in my view you are homesteading! 


If you need a little direction on pursuing a homesteading simple life, I am sharing a few ideas on ways that you can begin to homestead no matter where you live.



Ways to “homestead’ today and enjoy a simple life:


To begin with, stay home more!  Home is really a great place to be. ~smile~ By staying home and learning to close off so much of the hustle and bustle of the world you can focus on simple things such as reading, talking together, making things, laughing together and creating special memories for your children and for you and your husband.


Learn new skills and work with your hands!  So much satisfaction can be found from working with your hands.  Start today by learning to provide some of the most basic things for your family.  The kitchen is usually the easiest place to start.  See how many meals you can begin to make from scratch! 


Learn to be frugal and find ways to stretch your husband’s hard earned money as far as possible.  Bake bread, cook more homemade food, eat out less often and avoid take out food as often as possible.


Learn to can and freeze food.  Make your own jam and can or freeze it.  Learn to can or freeze other inexpensive items such as your own cooked meats, beans, soups, stews: you can have shelves, or a freezer full of your own convenience foods!


Learn to sew.  I bought my first sewing machine 23 years ago. It was used and cost me $25.00. I sewed many years on it!  I have a very special friend who is an excellent seamstress and I was able to call on her for help as I taught myself to sew.  I still call on her with sewing problems today!!  ~smile~.  Find an older neighbor lady or a lady from your church who can teach you how to sew if you do not know.  It is a one of the most valuable, worthwhile skills a homesteader/homemaker can have.  Make clothes for yourself and your children.  Make some kitchen curtains and make matching potholders using up leftover fabric and old towels.  Turn a pair of old jeans into a skirt, or make a patchwork quilt or comforter.  You will not regret learning how to sew! 


Learn to knit and/or crochet.  This is one of our favorite winter time activities.  Knit or crochet an afghan a hat or scarf or mittens.  This is a great way to also be able to help out with gift giving.  My daughters and I have been invited to a baby shower soon and just last night Emily started a set of booties and plans on making a baby hat to match out of some soft and sweet feeling yarn.  The yarn cost me $2.57 and the love and time put into the gift will be long remembered by the Mama I am certain. 


Grow a garden.  This garden can be anything from a window herb garden if you are that apartment dweller to replacing flower beds around your house with tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce.  Or it can be a simple backyard garden that you will be amazed at just what it can provide for your family!  Or even a huge market garden if you an accomplished gardener! 


Learn to make soap.  This is a fun and rewarding challenge for the homesteader.  There was a time when every homesteader knew how to make soap.  If you are not ready for the soap making process completely try making your own laundry soap and save lots of money!  Laundry soap takes but a few minutes to mix up and can save you so much.


Raise some animals.  This can’t always be done in the city but if you have some land, even a little bit, there are options for you!  Try and raise some rabbits for meat.  I read, not long ago, of a couple who raised meat rabbits on the balcony of their apartment!  Get some chickens and have your own fresh eggs. Chickens are allowed in some cities, so check your local city codes to see if this might be an option for you. Try keeping a few beehives in your backyard too.  If you do have some land, raise a couple of goats for milk.  Raise a pig for your own meat.


Finally, work daily to keep a clean and orderly house.  Why do I add this to a homesteading article?  Homesteading is about the home.  A clean home is less chaotic and more relaxing.  It is much more motivating to expand on other areas when the house is in order.


The bottom line for homesteading today is that the spirit and desire to homestead is alive and well in many of us ladies.  The way it looks today is a bit different than it was many years ago, but the goals and rewards are much the same! 


Happy Homesteading and Many Blessings Ladies!! 


copyright: Crystal Miller






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