Modern-day homesteading is a consciously taken, voluntary decision to live in a highly self-sufficient manner.
At one time in our history, everyone was a homesteader and lived a life full of hard physical labor just to put food on the table.
Today, more people are choosing this type of lifestyle for themselves and their families, not so much because they have to, but because they want to. They do it because they desire something different than the 9-5 daily grind.
Although the 21st century homesteader has every convenience at his/her disposal — be it the latest farm equipment, or access to health care in emergencies, or staying connected to the rest of the world — this does not have to interfere with the homesteading lifestyle.
Keep in mind that homesteading is not an easy life. It takes a lot of commitment and physical labor to make it a success. Homesteading also is definitely not for the faint of heart or body. Setbacks, big and small, may besiege those who choose this life because they are exposed to the vagaries of nature like no other. In spite of all of this, the benefits of homesteading outweigh the risks involved for those who have made it their choice.
Here are a few of the benefits of choosing this lifestyle, noted by an avid homesteader:
1. Freedom and Independence
When we compare our previous experience of city life to that of our homestead life, the thing we enjoy here the most is the great sense of freedom.
Our modest accommodation in the city, being nearer to our workplaces and the schools the children attended, did cater to most of our needs. But it was a restrictive life at best. Restrictions on parking, restrictions on the time allowed in the park, in the gym, in the swimming pool, restrictions on sound levels permissible inside and outside our home, and even restrictions on the height of grass on our front lawn! Even though all these restrictions may be necessary for the peaceful co-existence of so many people in so little space, our body and mind gets shackled by them all.
Even after our move to the 6-acre homestead an hour’s drive away from the city, it took us quite some time to get over our inhibitions. We were wary of the friendly neighbors who shouted “hi” at the top of their voices from a mile away; we looked left and right before parking our car on the dirt road on our own property; we struck the nail heads ever so softly as if they were made of porcelain. Now, after enjoying all the freedom of this expansive living for the last four years, if we had to relocate into the city, we would suffocate.
Life on the homestead is no child’s play, though. It’s all serious business. But it’s a business run on your own terms, not according to what others dictate. Every decision we make, whether it is adding another cow, or keeping bees or planting a particular crop, comes with added work and risk. But the choice is ours. And we wouldn’t exchange our independence for the choicest job in the city.
2.Satisfaction of Living Responsibly
Whenever I read all those stories about little girls and boys working alongside their parents in their modest homesteads, it seemed so surreal. Now that I know how farm life instills a strong sense of responsibility in children quite early in life, I’m not so surprised.
Our two children get involved in the day-to-day activities without force or coercion. They just do what has to be done, without even compromising their school studies. No slouching in front of the TV after school when there’s a new foal to pet and a challenge to guess the colors of the eggs laid on that day. We thought the initial enthusiasm would eventually wear off, but we were mistaken.
Homesteads are great places for children to live and grow up. Living in a farm-like setting is an education in itself. They seem to see more, hear more and understand more. And there are more things for them to see and do hands-on, too.
Responsible living becomes second nature when you know how much effort goes into each produce. We get more milk, butter and fruit than we cans use, but our food waste is practically nil and we think twice about introducing anything into our place that would pollute the soil or the water in the pond.
Sustainable living, as far as we are concerned, is not foregoing all modern technology and living like hermits, but avoiding unnecessary expenditure and wasting of resources, and making the best use of what the land provides.
3. Joy of a Healthy Lifestyle
Ever since we started living off the earth, there’s a perceptible difference in our health status. Even our children seem to fall ill less often.
The fresh food we get to eat each day is part of our healthy lifestyle. Milk from our own Betsy comes straight to the kitchen, and we don’t get bothered by the fat content. Apples and berries plucked off the plants go straight into the mouth without so much as wiping the dirt off.
As for exercise, we have never once thought about it since settling in here. We were too busy, you see. No time to walk round and round the park when you make a hundred trips a day between the garden and the house and the barn and the house again. No need to haul those gym weights when we have a log fence to build. We have a lifestyle that keeps us safe from lifestyle diseases.
Homesteading has been great not only for our physical health but also our mental health. Half of all the psychological and psychosomatic illnesses today stem from brooding and despondency. In the homestead life is both hectic and relaxed. There’s never a dull moment, let alone a free one to sit and brood.
Overall, we would certainly say that homesteading is for us. It brings us new challenges and joys each day. It is a life that embraces all the goodness the earth has to offer and provides ample opportunities to be grateful for all with which we have been blessed. We take very little for granted on our small homestead and enjoy the solitude and sense of accomplishment that comes from being an active participant in life rather than just a robot on autopilot.
What are other benefits of homesteading that you would add to this list? Leave your reply in the section below: