Homesteading versus Subsistence Living
What do you think qualifies a modern homestead? I think we all have ideas in our heads about Little House on the Prairie. Or possibly someone living off the grid who has very little contact with the modern world. But are those good representations for a modern homestead? Are they helpful models?
I am definitely open to discussion here, but I think that the historical homestead was a mix of self-sufficiency and utilizing modern conveniences. Even in Little House on the Prairie, they made use of the best technology they could. It was just more limited due to money and proximity.
In other words, I don’t think that subsistence living equals homesteading. I think home-based living that probably includes some
- growing of food,
- some raising of animals, and
- a fair amount of inventive projects from scratch
define modern homesteading.
You don’t have to homestead exactly like someone else
No one does it exactly the same way. Just like no one has exactly the same set of skills or opportunities. There is no shame in supplementing your homesteading by making use of modern technology or conveniences. Those things actually allow us to engage in more homesteading activities without working ourselves to death!
To put it another way, we don’t have to be be struggling through every day to qualify as a modern homestead. You don’t have to incorporate everyone else’s ideas of recycling or DIY to feel like a real homesteader.
Division of labor and continued learning
Even as modern homesteaders, there is an element of what is called “division of labor”. That means that it is most useful to spend our time doing the things we are good at and/or get the most reward for compared to what we could get by buying the same products or services from others.
That doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning and adding to your homesteading skills. I like to keep learning new things. But it’s really nice to not have to be stressed to learn or do everything at once. In a modern homestead, we have the option to pace our learning. This is beneficial in many ways.
- Pacing our learning lets us learn a particular thing more fully before we move on to the next thing. This helps us learn about it faster and probably more economically, as we waste less money figuring things out.
- When we have a solid base of some skills, we are better prepared to blend other skills with them in the most useful ways.
- Problem solving a new skill is less stressful when we don’t have other new things hanging over our heads that need to be done.
Defining your own homestead
I think it is helpful for us to try to specifically define our own ideas of what a homestead is. It helps refine goals and priorities. It also helps make a reasonable plan for the future that is more realistic and more fun. How would you define your modern homestead?