A modern homestead has some similarities to a traditional homestead but has nothing to do with the 1862 Homestead Act. The 1862 Homestead Act was officially ended in 1976 by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
What is the definition of today’s modern Homestead? A modern Homestead is defined as a place where: Homesteaders grow a garden; Raise chickens or other animals; Reduce their dependence upon the commercial food supply chain; Many Homesteaders do not depend on public utilities for water and electricity.
All across the world people who live in what some call first world countries are realizing that the commercial food supply chain is focused on generating income and has seemingly lost sight of generating quality food for sale to consumers.
Since the 1970’s there has been a steady increase in families moving from the city and suburbia to the country with a goal of an improved lifestyle and raising healthier food for their tables.
There Are Different Classifications Of Homesteads
The popularity of homesteading has grown to the point that you will find websites and people who claim to be Urban (city dwelling) Homesteaders and Suburban Homesteaders as well as the more traditional Homesteaders who live in the country.
Urban Homesteading is generally characterized by roof top, patio or window box growing of some of the food eaten by this category of homesteader.I share more on Urban Homesteading in “Urban Homesteading⎮History, Dark Chapter, Types, Skills.”
For many this is also the first step in gaining skills to be utilized when a move to the country can be made. More information on moving to the country and country skills is discussed in an article I wrote titled “Achieve Your Country Or Homestead Dreams In 7 Easy Steps.
Suburban Homesteading has gained in popularity and is characterized by backyard gardens and, where permitted, the raising of chickens or small goats to supplement and reduce the family’s dependence on the commercial food supply chain.
For some people a Suburban Homestead is all they desire or all they can do given their need to live close to a job or for other reasons. Those living on a Suburban Homestead are to be commended for their dedication and desire to improve their lot in life and the health of their family members.
A Suburban Homestead is very similar to an Urban Homestead, only it is usually bigger. This is because many suburban lots are bigger than urban lots.
Country Homesteading has become the dream of more and more people who desire to leave the noise, pollution and crime of the cities and suburbs and become more self-sufficient as they improve their quality of life and the health of their families.
Country Homesteading is the traditional type of homesteading that is the goal of many city and suburban dwellers.
Homesteading Involves A Lifestyle Change
Beginning in the 1970’s in America there emerged a back to the land movement spawned by a desire to escape the cookie cutter sameness of city and suburban life.
To those back-to-the-lander’s a dream of being more in control of your future, avoiding the problems that plague the large cities and knowing that the food placed on the table was more nutritious and healthier than food from a grocery store were some of the driving forces behind an exit from the city for a country lifestyle.
When I lived in the city my typical day was involved with traffic jams, 24 hour noise from neighbors who had no respect for anything other than their wants and desires, the inability to take a deep breath of fresh clean air and the constant threat of crime.
There were days I felt like a knot of jangled nerves that left me needing to relax and unwind. I longed for a place where I was not bombarded with 24 hour non-stop noise, where I could take a deep breath of clean fresh air, watch a sunset that was not clouded with air pollution and know that crime was not an everyday event.
I, like countless others, found what I was looking for in the life style change to a Country Homestead.
Our homestead is a small one of about 2.5 acres. We’d like a larger place but are grateful for what we have now. We have neighbors within sight distance and there is some noise associated with the proximity to neighbors, but nothing like it was in the city.
There can be hours when the only noise is the wind in the trees, the crowing of a rooster or the cackling egg-song of a hen. The air is fresh and clean. It has been years since their has been any crime where we live.
We spend time each summer in our garden. We can, freeze and sometimes dehydrate garden produce for the off season. We have learned that time in a garden can be work yet at the same time there is a relaxation that is only understood by those who have experienced working a garden.
We have chickens, one rooster and a dozen hens. They provide us with all the eggs we need plus some to sell to friends who want eggs from organically fed chickens but are not in a place to raise their own.
Yes, there is work involved; cleaning out the coop, being sure the fence is secure, feeding and watering the flock and gathering the eggs each day. But there is more. We laugh at the personality of each chicken. We see them run to the gate of the pen when we go to take them food and water. Some of them want to be held and others don’t.
Our two German Shepherds give us protection and companionship. We keep them in a fenced in back and side yard where they can run and play and at night they want to be where we are. Each has his or her own personality and we get lots of enjoyment out of watching them and playing with them.
Something we noticed after moving to the country and adapting a homestead life style was we no longer found ourselves watching TV as a routine part of our life. We realized how shallow most TV programs are and we discovered that we missed little and mostly none of the TV programs we had come to believe were essential to our happiness!
Yes, homesteading involves a life style change. A change that rarely has jangled nerves. There are long periods of peace and quiet and air pollution is rarely seen. There is a peace and serenity we did not experience when we lived in the city and suburbs. As long as we have a choice in the matter, we’d never go back to our previous city or suburban lifestyle.
Homesteading Satisfies Our Pioneering Spirit
I grew up reading about the westward expansion of America. About hardy pioneer families who put everything they owned into a covered wagon and headed west. How they tamed the land, built their cabins, grew their food, raised their live stock and families.
As an American, the idea of going west always intrigued me. I married a lady from the west and moved her some 2,500 miles east where we raised a family. But the west kept calling and 15 years ago we moved west in our modern version of covered wagons.
We settled in the mountains. Adapted to a new lifestyle. Accepted the ways and ideals of our new home in the western United States. Some things remained the same.
We still attend a church of the same denomination as we attended when we lived 2,500 miles further east and we still believe in freedom for every person to believe according to his or her own conscience.
But we did not bring our preconceived ideas from the east to the west. We learned the ways of the area we moved too. We did not try to change the laws and ideas to fit what we had left in the eastern part of America.
We moved where we did because we knew this area had ideals and laws that reflected those ideals and laws we desired to live under. We had no desire to change it to the ideals and laws we had left behind. That too, is a sign of a real homesteader.
You do not move to a new area of the country and then proceed to try and change it into the area of the country you left behind. You do not change your morals, your sense of right and wrong, if you have a good sense of right and wrong, that is accepted almost anywhere.
But you do not bring ideas of how people should live, work and act that were the norm where you used to live and attempt to change your new home into the same place you moved from.
Part of growth and the pioneering spirit is to adapt to new ways and ideas as long as they are moral and lawful.
Homesteading Leads To A Sense Of Community
In the early American West, the settlers learned that survival, that life, was easier when people came together and worked together to help each other in tough times. This concept of community is what made America great. It is a concept that many who call themselves American’s have lost sight of.
In one sense a homesteader is light years ahead of a Prepper. Sadly, I have met and know several Preppers who want to be isolated, to be singularly self-sufficient and live life their own way without any consideration or interference from even those who would be willing to help them.
Very few Preppers with that mindset would be able, by themselves, to survive a natural disaster.
A Homesteading lifestyle lends itself to knowing and understanding how to take from nature what nature has to offer and to use that knowledge to give to others with less knowledge and ability.
A Homestead life style involves sharing, helping others, teaching others and learning from others. Only in that way can we meet the potential each one of us has inherent inside of us.
What Is A Homestead?
A homestead is a place where you can live and learn how to care for those less fortunate than you are.
A homestead is a place where you learn the true meaning of the Golden Rule: It is more blessed to give than to receive.
If we had more homesteads and more homestead spirit in our world today, our world would be a better place for all of us to live in!
What makes something a homestead? A place becomes a homestead by the attitudes and desires of the people living on it. If those living on a piece of land want to become as self-sufficient as they possibly can, that makes the location a homestead. It can be in the city, suburbs an on rural property, but it is a homestead.
How does a homestead work? A homestead is a place where those living on it want to supply as much of their physical needs as can be done on the land they have. The desire to be as self-sufficient as possible is what makes a modern homestead work.
What classifies as a homestead? This question is related to yet different than the first question above. Any place where those living on it want to be as self-sufficient as possible classifies as a homestead. A homestead is classified more by the attitude of the people rather than by how much land they have or how much produce they grow.