The other night hanging out with friends, the conversation led to our recent change in lifestyle. After explaining how we compost our human waste and cook our food in a wood oven, one of Dean’s friends asked with a look of complete confusion, “How did you get into this?” As if to say, “You used to be so normal!” I am sure many of my close childhood friends are asking the same. Never would they have guessed that I would have chosen an off-the-grid lifestyle, especially on a farm!! There are some days that I wake up and find myself asking the same question. It is wild to recall the events of the past 8 years and to see where we have arrived. I would have to say we have been guided here. Never in my wildest imagination could I have come up with something so far removed from the lifestyle we were living. But we had a dream and sometimes you just have to jump in and take the risk not knowing where the journey might lead. Had I known where it was going to take us I might have turned and run in the other direction. Sometimes it is better that you don’t know the outcome of the dream. Fear would have caused me to miss out on the most exciting adventure of a lifetime. We have by no means “arrived” but it is the journey that is so satisfying. As a family, we have learned so much, grown tremendously, and experienced the satisfaction of working hard towards and seeing the fulfillment of our own dream. The best part now is that we have the opportunity to share it with others. Some will be inspired. Some will think we have completely lost our minds. What I have come to learn is that we are modern-day Homesteaders. Below I am including an article from Mother Earth News that really hit it on the nose for Dean and I. We are just part of a movement that is happening all over the globe as people long to simplify, return to the land and grow some good food. Enjoy!
Why We Homestead
In today’s parlance, what does it mean to be a “homesteader”? Modern homesteaders, to us, are folks who choose to focus significant portions of their time and energy on the things that matter most in life — self-reliance, homegrown and nutritious food, secure shelter, as much freedom as possible from financial worry, and leisure time to do whatever they enjoy most. Historically, homesteading has been a rural enterprise, but the version that is emerging in the 21st century is not exclusive to the country. Can you live in an urban apartment and still call yourself a homesteader? You bet!
In the old days, homesteading meant a life of backbreaking work as people carved farms out of the wilderness without the modern tools and conveniences we take for granted. Today, going “back to the land” (hoʻokuaʻāina) is an entirely different experience, thanks to the many electric-, gas- and solar-powered tools at our disposal. Growing a big garden is still work, for sure, but it’s nothing like it was in the days when homesteaders had to plow with horses. Today, often, the work is its own reward.
Some of us choose to be homesteaders simply because we get satisfaction out of doing for ourselves— growing and cooking great food, building furniture or even our own homes, (or tree houses) and learning and perfecting new skills. In past generations, homesteading was about survival. Today, homesteading is often an art.
Some of us have discovered that homesteading can be a less expensive way to live, leaving us with more money for things that matter and more time to relax and pursue hobbies or adventures. And some homesteaders are seeking a greater degree of security than the contemporary American lifestyle provides. They find security in independence — from debt, from declining and polluting fossil fuels, and from the industrial food machine.
Whether you are an optimist who thinks the world will somehow solve the problems we’re facing, or a pessimist who is deeply worried about climate change, Wall Street shenanigans, energy issues, and/or political unrest across the world, choosing to orient your life around your homestead is a wise decision. We are seeing a new surge of interest in homesteading as people recognize the security and satisfaction of becoming more self-reliant, and as they also discover the joy of a deep connection to nature, to the land, and to the food and shelter it provides.
Mother Earth News, June/July 2011 pg. 8