A dream. A longing. The word homestead means so much more now than the dictionary gives it credit for. ‘A farmhouse and outbuildings with acreage.’
That doesn’t quite paint the picture that many of us hold in our hearts. Those of us who actually own land, raise some animals and garden still harbor the dream of where and what and how we wish things could be.
Seven years of hard work on our small five acres has brought us full circle. From milking our own goats, making cheese, chasing cows and collecting eggs, we now sit on our homestead with no animals other than dogs and cats.
Severe food allergies, as well as allergies to dust from barns (think hay), has forced us to re-evaluate what we are doing, and what we must do to be able to accomplish this tenacious dream we have.
The dream of homesteading is still alive and well in me. So much of it was what we had imagined it could be. Gathering around the lantern light in the evening, each one of us working on a craft or reading or writing. For a time, we didn’t even have a computer.
Water was heated up on the wood stove, food pulled from our own store out back. Our harvest waiting to nourish our bodies.
But what is a homestead? What is the heartbeat of a homestead?
I think the answer would differ for many of us.
To me, it’s intentionally choosing to walk to the beat of a different drummer than the everyday music the world walks to.
It’s choosing to slow down. To build rather than buy. To create rather than consume.
Homesteading is about families gathered around, not to watch the latest reality show, but to talk, to listen, to use our hands in whatever way we are gifted in or curious about.
Sewing, quilting, whittling, knitting, weaving. Learning and never stopping.
Planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall. Filling jars with dehydrated food, canning tomatoes, preserving apples as sauce to indulge ourselves all winter long. Calling neighbors and family to join us for a harvest meal when all the hard work is almost finished. We break bread together, we stop and give thanks. Intentional community.
Caring for baby goats as they make their grand entrance into the world. Watching children kneel in awe of the wonder of new life.
Has it been hard work? Heck, yes. Some of it we can’t do anymore, and some of it we may never do again. But . . . the steady, persuasive wooing that comes from the homestead lingers on.
While we may not officially look like a homestead right now. I still feel it in my bones. I feel the beating of the heart of the homestead as I prepare my seedlings for our garden. I may be unsure of how much I can plant. But I know this, I can plant even if it is in containers outside my kitchen door.
I can water them, nurture them, and someday not too long down the road, I will reap a harvest, even if it is small.
The sounds of creation outside my backdoor call to me. The early robin calling to a mate. The peepers raucous symphony trumpeting the earth warming for planting time.
There may be no eggs to collect this spring. But hope is powerful . . .
There may be no goats giving birth in the barn this year, but I still hear their happy bleats inside my heart.
The soil may not be tilled as it was in other years, but the heart of the earth still beckons me.
Anywhere, anytime. We define what our dreams are and how we can achieve them. Homesteading is no different. What does it mean to us?
If I live in an apartment, can I still homestead? If I live in the city, can I find a way to create a piece of heaven in my own home?
A hundred times yes.
Define what the heart of homesteading means to you.
Write it down. What is it your heart longs for and why?
Simplicity? Sustainability? Back to the basics? Be intentional. Make the decisions to live differently. Turn off some lights, the tv, the computer, your phone.
Just for a while, learn how to make something. Weave. Knit. Live in the moment.
Homesteading is the journey. Not a destination.
The joy is in the journey and it can start right now, right where you are.
You can have a ‘be done with lesser things’ weekend. Clean out closets, storage, under beds.
Organize a bedroom or craft room. It’s freeing. Cultivate the life you want. Prepare the ground, plant the seeds and watch what grows!
Next time you go shopping, look through the produce department for sales and stock up! Bring home some extra bags of carrots, nice and fresh, and steam a pile of them. Chill it down and freeze them. You have ready-to-go carrots. Healthier than canned, and you did it!
Purchase a dehydrator. (This I can’t recommend enough.) I dehydrate 80% of all my harvest. So much easier and tastes awesome. Stores better than canned jars that take up so much space. My highlighted link is the one I purchased from Amazon. I have used it now for years and it keeps going strong. I even make yogurt in it! (I do make a small commission from sales. Your cost does not increase
And . . . it keeps much more of the nutrition intact.
No growing room? Support the local movement through farmers markets. You do so much for a farmer by purchasing from them. Not only do you help support their family, but you also strengthen the local economy, and save the family farm from going extinct!
As far as I am concerned that makes you a hero!
And as far as homesteading, if you don’t yet have your own land, that is the next best thing.
I hope I haven’t rambled on too much. Hopes and dreams of the heart are near and dear to me today. My niece lost her life last night in a car accident, and I can’t help but think how her choices are over. Her dreams on this earth ended with her last breath.
We need to find our land. Even if it is in the city, and stake our claim. Grab life by the horns and live intentionally, not pulled along in the currents of our present-day society and culture.
We can do this.
Write down your dream. Find your homestead’s heartbeat and walk in it.
You’ll find you are not walking alone.
Good friends and neighbors walk beside you.
“I make myself rich by making my wants few.” – Henry David Thoreau.