What Does Homesteading Mean?

I’ve been noodling on this question since I started the blog a month or so ago. What does homesteading mean? The Oxford dictionary definition refers to frontier life and settlers. In modern times, I think it has translated at its most basic level into meaning self-sufficient.

Of course it is more complicated than that. Which is actually pretty cool because it means that it is a term that is adaptable and personal. You can find all sorts of folks homesteading for all kinds of different reasons and that is so great.

So, is Keeper’s Croft a homestead despite having no livestock and no sewing machine? I’m happy to say with all the warm fuzzies and yearnings in my heart, that YES IT IS.

Traditional Modern Homestead

Say what? I want to talk about the traditional elements that make up most modern homesteads. But first what’s the difference between a farmer and a homesteader? Perhaps nothing. There are farmers who are not homesteaders – they grow a crop or livestock, usually just one kind to be sold on the market. A homesteader is overall more diverse then this, wanting primarily to provide for themselves. So, some farmer’s may also homestead, but a homesteader is so much more than a farmer.

Image by klimkin from Pixabay

The Traditional Elements

  • The Garden: Most homesteaders are going to try to grow as much as their own fruit and vegetables as they can.
  • The Livestock: Many homesteaders own some livestock whether it be a couple of egg-laying chickens or a whole menagerie of animals that are used for eggs, meat, fiber, you name it.
  • The Kitchen: Real food is used, cooking from scratch is king and preserving food in any and all ways are hallmarks of a homestead kitchen.
  • The Craftiness: No, not craftiness like a fox but craftiness as in creating things. Most often this craftiness leans toward the useful, like sewing, crocheting, woodworking etc… but I think many artistic endeavors fit as well. I would also slot under here being handy and doing many of your own repairs and building.

There’s some other, less universal elements that are also embraced such as homeschooling children and a pursuit of frugality and thriftiness in all things. Often, there is also an appreciation of the natural world. Sometimes there is a desire to be off-grid and out from under the thumb of government, corporate culture etc…. Many homesteaders would pride themselves on being prepared if the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow.

Finally, many homesteads also have an entrepreneurial element, selling excess goods from the homestead to help support operations.

How do I Homestead?

I’ve been so gratified to learn that homesteading is a big tent! There are no rules or police that will take your homesteading license if you can’t sew. The main thing that really unifies homesteaders is a mindset. A desire to live more sustainably, with less waste and more self-sufficiency.

My elements

So, what does homesteading mean at Keeper’s Croft? First of all, it recognizes that I am a single person doing this. I’m ambitious but also need to acknowledge my limits so I don’t get completely overwhelmed, which could have consequences not just for myself. It also has a heavy focus on that connection to, and respect for, nature.

  • I want to grow my own fruit and vegetable. I love to garden and have been limping along the last 10 years with a tiny shady yard. 2.6 acres with plenty of sun is a dream for me. My biggest frustration here at the beginning is that I can’t have my large, perfect, fenced-in garden right now. It’s coming, though!
  • I have no livestock but chickens are definitely in the future of Keeper’s Croft for eggs. There are a coop and run all ready to go! Ducks may also be added. I’d really love some dairy goats and a llama and there is room BUT I think I’d have to impact the natural areas of the croft and that many animals may be too much for me to handle. I will likely never have animals for meat production.
  • In the kitchen, I preserve as much as possible; learning new techniques to do so and new recipes to use the harvest. A no waste kitchen is a goal and I want to get better at long-term meal prep and increasing the amount of from scratch food I eat.
  • Being crafty is a real weakness. I don’t sew, crochet or knit and I’m not sure I ever will. There are other crafts I’d like to learn however, like making candles, soap and other beauty products. I also want to do as many of construction, management and repair projects as I can.

Eventually, I would also like to earn a little money to help pay for the homestead. Ideas I am working on are selling worm and bunny compost and selling seeds and starts of vegetables as well as native plants.

What does homesteading mean to you?

I am actually surprised at how many of the traditional elements I am already embracing and working towards. I’ll never weave blankets from my Alpaca’s wool and everything is still in its infancy but even so Keeper’s Croft is a fair approximation of homesteading in a traditionally modern sense!

What about you? Anybody can be a homesteader even if it is only in the kitchen or in growing a few vegetables in the space you have. Is there anything that you would add to this working “definition” of homesteading? What does it mean to you?

Book Recommendation

I love books and reading, so I can’t resist including a book recommendation with each post. The book will, in some way, correspond to the post.

It’s been harder then I imagined to come up with books that somehow link to the post topic, so this next one is maybe a bit of a stretch. City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong is the first in a series of books about a mysterious town in the middle of the Yukon woods in Canada. Casey Duncan is a cop whose past catches up to here and her only salvation is to be deported to the town of Rockton where she’ll be hidden from her enemies. This first book is particularly great, with lots of mysteries and action and some romance. And Rockton has this great flavor of being a small cozy mystery-style town with the crazy characters, but it has a harder edge as does the vast wilderness that surrounds it. So good!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Buying the book below from amazon will earn me a commission.  

If you want to know more about me and Keeper’s Croft, check out the ABOUT page.

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