Have you ever fantasized about a simpler life? One where you could wake up with the rising sun, work in your garden, and feel deeply connected to the earth? If so, the homesteading lifestyle could be right for you. Modern homesteading involves living a self-sufficient lifestyle while embracing traditional skills alongside today's technology. Here's how.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Our Personal Homesteading Journey
Eleven years ago, our family left the Toronto suburbs for a beautiful off grid home in Canada's Northwest Territories. While it's just a 40-minute drive to the nearest city and modern conveniences, we decided this was an excellent opportunity to pursue a more sustainable lifestyle and start transitioning to homesteading.
That first summer, we started working on our homestead garden to grow our own organic food. I was heavily pregnant and planted easy-to-grow vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and lettuce in a raised bed.
I learned the gardening basics with a very short growing season and loved bringing fresh produce and healthy food into my kitchen. And by the way, I should mention that off-grid living isn't a required lifestyle choice to join the modern homesteading movement.
In 2020, we decided to get backyard chickens, so we started researching how to build our own chicken coops for remote areas, as we live in an area of extreme winter cold and a wide variety of predators.
We started with twenty Western Rustic cold hardy chickens to produce our own meat. We then added Barred Rock chicks and loved raising our own chickens for meat and fresh eggs.
It was a practical step towards self-sufficiency, and our kids loved learning poultry care and other basic skills. And over the years, I've shared my insights and tips on raising chickens in multiple chicken blog posts.
Eventually, we expanded our homesteading activities to include raising turkeys. I plan to add goats and rabbits to meet our basic needs for meat. We're taking small steps, trying new things, and gradually moving towards a simpler way of life.
Understanding Modern Homesteading
The modern homesteading movement means different things to different people. The term' modern day homesteader' may conjure images of individuals living off-grid, cultivating your own food, and leading a self-sufficient lifestyle, especially if you're on social media.
Yet modern homesteading offers the opportunity to use the modern technology available today to help modern-day homesteaders meet various aspects of their sustainable living goals. Different online gardening planners and apps, online communities, and learning skills via youtube videos are some of the easiest ways to learn about and embrace sustainable practices.
Evolution of Homesteading
The concept of homesteading has evolved. In 1862, the Homestead Act allowed US citizens to receive up to 160 acres of federal land if they agreed to cultivate it and live on it for at least five years.
Nowadays, technology plays an integral role in modern homesteading practices. For example, renewable energy sources like solar power or wind turbines are a great way to become more energy-independent.
Today, the heart of modern homesteading embraces practices that promote sustainability—for example, replacing throw-away plastic wrap with beeswax wrap and choosing mason jars for food storage. It's about zero-waste living and making your own cleaning supplies. About home preservation of food grown in a backyard garden.
And it's about subsistence agriculture, growing enough fresh food for your family's needs.
Modern homesteading may include crafting items by hand or buying what you need from a local farmers market and businesses in your local community instead of relying solely on mass-produced goods in big box stores.
This shift towards a more sustainable way of life as part of the modern lifestyle benefits the planet and brings us closer to understanding nature's rhythms and cycles. It empowers individuals with the knowledge and skills needed for survival while nurturing an appreciation for simplicity amidst our complex lives.
Research the many ways modern homesteaders can make money. Selling the produce, eggs, meat, etc., you produce from your homestead. Turn your fiber arts, canning, baking, or woodworking hobby into an income stream with an Etsy store.
Start a homestead blog, or teach others skills you learned via workshops. My friend Franziska offers various workshops at her farmstead, operates a farmer's market stall, and sells CSA boxes each summer.
Your homestead can serve as both your home and a business venture. Developing multiple income streams from farming activities in a rural life is key to making this lifestyle work.
Taking Advantage of Renewable Energy Resources
Besides agriculture, another promising aspect of modern homesteading involves harnessing renewable energy resources. Solar panels are great for powering up your property and may even allow you to sell excess power back to the grid. If you want more insights on how this works, check out this comprehensive guide.
Leveraging Your Skills and Craftsmanship
As a modern-day homesteader, consider offering classes or workshops where you teach others essential homesteading skills such as beekeeping or cheese making. Your firsthand experiences make these lessons invaluable, and organizations like Homesteaders Of America offer plenty of opportunities for sharing knowledge with fellow enthusiasts.
Ideal Locations for Homesteading
Choosing the right location is crucial when setting up your own homestead. Consider factors such as climate suitability, local laws and regulations regarding farming practices or raising livestock, safety considerations, land prices, and access to clean water sources.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Modern Homestead Location
Climate should be one of your primary considerations when you're ready to buy homestead land. Ideally, you'll want a place with a temperature suitable for year-round crop growth. (Yeah, we don't have that here.)
Local laws and regulations can significantly impact your ability to farm or raise livestock, so it's essential to research the zoning regulations in the areas you're considering.
Safety is another key factor to consider. Look into the area's crime rates and natural disaster risks before making any decisions.
The cost of real estate can vary significantly from region to region, so make sure you clearly understand what fits within your homestead budget. Access to clean water sources is essential for farming and everyday life on the homestead.
If you need help figuring out where to start looking, search online. Some homesteading programs in small town regions in Canada and the United States offer free land as they try to boost their populations.
FAQs About Modern Homesteading
To wrap things up, let's address some frequently asked questions about modern homesteading.
Q: What is modern-day homesteading?
A: Modern-day homesteading involves living a self-sufficient lifestyle, which includes subsistence farming, using renewable energy sources like solar power or wind turbines, preserving food at home through techniques such as canning or dehydration, practicing zero-waste living, and engaging in craftwork.
Q: Is homesteading on the rise?
A: According to this recent Washington Post article, it may be. More and more people are seeking control over their lives and resources. Homesteading allows individuals to be more sustainable and independent from mainstream systems.
Q: Why is homesteading trending?
A: The trend towards self-sufficiency comes as people crave simpler lives with less reliance on consumer culture. It also reflects a growing environmental consciousness among the public.
Q: How do I start a homestead lifestyle?
Starting your modern homesteading journey is about getting honest with where you're at. Take a hard look at your skills, how much cash you can spare, and the time you can realistically put into this.
And think about planting a little veggie patch or raising a couple of chickens. Remember, it's okay to start small and learn as you go – and don't forget to tweak your plan as you get the hang of things.
Try Modern Homesteading Today
And there you have it—a brief overview of modern homesteading. This movement embraces the old ways and new technology to help modern homesteaders pursue a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. Remember, you don't need acres of land, cows and horses to enjoy the simple life.
Start small, with activities like food preservation to reduce your grocery store dependence. Explore transitioning to renewable energy sources and generating income from farming activities.
Begin researching ideal locations for your homestead based on climate suitability or access to clean water sources. Now that you're equipped with knowledge and inspiration, it's time to start your own homesteading adventure.