What is Homesteading…Exactly?

The definition of homesteading is a little fuzzy. At least it is to us. We’ve been reading a lot trying to come up with a definition. Mostly so we can decide what this experiment means for us.

Wikipedia says, “Broadly defined, homesteading is a lifestyle of simple self-sufficiency. The term self-sufficiency is usually applied to varieties of sustainable living in which nothing is consumed outside of what is produced by the self-sufficient individuals. Examples of attempts at self-sufficiency in North America include simple living, homesteading, off-the-grid, survivalism, DIY ethic and the back-to-the-land movement.”

Modern Homesteading Today defines it as, “Homesteading today means any home that practices the similar skills found on the early day’s homesteads such as growing  crops, keeping livestock such as goats, and producing basic furniture and clothing at your home.  Possibly you have heard someone describe  the way they live as simple or 1″back to basics” and what they are really talking about is homesteading today. What you may think of as the usual homestead tree farm or  small family farm is the most frequent usage of the word homesteading today.”

And when I read more, most often I see that this can mean any or all of the following:

1. Keeping Chickens – for meat or for eggs

2. Raising Turkeys

3. Gardening and preservation of the yield

4. Raising Pigs

5. Trying to make a living from your products

6. Smoking Meats

7. Keeping bees for honey

8. Attaining milk from goats

9. Making your own soap

10. Making your own cheese

11. Scratch cooking

12. Living off the grid (i.e. producing your own energy-eek)

13. Building simple furniture for your home

14. Sewing your own clothes, napkins, curtains, etc.

When I look at that list, I start to think we can’t successfully homestead in a suburban environment. After all, I’m pretty sure I can’t have chickens, turkeys, pigs, bees, or goats in my neighborhood. I can already hear what my neighbors would have to say about that! So, how, exactly, do I homestead again? Am I actually just going to have a big garden (if I don’t kill everything by over watering). And is that technically homesteading?

It would appear that creativity is in order. Again.

On another note, we met a family that has been homesteading for four years. They invited us to come take a tour of their property and see what they’ve learned along their journey. We’re really excited to go see them! And of course, we’ll post about that experience too!

Until next time…

Happy Homesteading!


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17 thoughts on “What is Homesteading…Exactly?

  1. Sounds good to me! I have plans, but my wife, who will remain nameless… doesn’t want to be “that neighbor”! Meantime, I want to have the chickens! This year we are going to do raised gardens all around, and being more intentional in our planting… and who knows… maybe a chick here, a chick there… 🙂 I’m walking along this whole thing with yall! Looking forward to sharing stories and hearing about the homesteaders that you met with… Oh, we live in the city and just have a double lot… but own our home, so a little more options!

    • Are you planting from seeds or buying plants? Where do you purchase from? And are you allowed to have chickens where you are?

      • Last year we planted from small plants… I am planning on planting from seeds this year. I ordered a couple of the mags that you had pinned… usually I purchased at the store, but who knows! We are allowed to have chickens in Toledo proper… I have the code and everything, one of our City Council Members has chickens as well, his family doesn’t even own a fridge or washer/dryer… So i have talked with him some too…

        Needless to say, that our kids are excited about the whole thing, They have enjoyed everything so far, except pulling weeds. That is one of the reasons we are going to raised beds this year. More control of what we are growing and maximizing our space. I have some vertical growing plans, compost bin plans and more this year. We did collect rain water last year for our garden… that helped out a lot!

      • I’m impressed! My kids are excited too. And no fridge or washer/dryer?? Whoa…I know a certain wife who will remain nameless who would have a thing or two to say about that. 😉

  2. JulieAnn, it is hard to nail down a “clear” definition of homesteading – but I think you’ve done a good job with it! I have lived in suburbia my whole life and have been successful on some level with homesteading in each place. Although you might not want chickens or other animals, it’s easier to start with a vegetable garden. You don’t even have to dig up the lawn. I use a variety of raised beds, GardenBoxes and SmartPots to grow everything from popcorn to leeks to tomatoes to strawberries. Then I can (tomato puree and strawberry jam) dry (popcorn and chopped leeks) or overwinter (leeks and carrots) to use when cooking from scratch. I would love to try other things on your list too, but my homestead is also a work in progress!

    • It’s so good to know someone else is finding success…whew! 🙂 I’d be very interested in hearing more about the popcorn. We love to eat it, and I’m planning on a couple corn plants so I’d love to hear how you go about drying it and storing it.

      • The problem I’ve had with growing corn it’s that you needLOTS of stalks for it to cross pollinate and grow properly. I had about 10 stalks a couple years ago and only got a couple very non impressive ears off it. Also I wouldn’t use pesticides, just organic soap, and little bugs wouldn’t leavethem alone. 😦 I’d to try it again someone

      • Well that was interesting, it just cut me off. 🙂 I was saying I’d like to try it again sometime, but next time I’m going to have to devote my entire 12×12 garden plot to just corn, at least.

  3. Really excited to follow your progress on this, My fiancee & I have been talking about doing something similar for the past year as well… But alas, apartment living doesn’t lend itself to true “homesteading” 🙂
    Good luck & I’m looking forward to what the other family you met has to say!

    • Apartment living would definitely be harder than suburban living! 🙂 But I bet you could apply some of the other methods like scratch cooking, and buying local to begin with. Glad you found us and hope you tag along for the ride!

  4. I am curious on how all this is going to work… I am just going to start with a garden this year as we get all the fresh eggs we want from two families in the church and many fresh chickens ready to eat from them as well… we are blessed that we don’t have to raise them ourselves!lol

  5. My nutshell definition: homesteading is the process of turning your home (which is a time and resource drain, relatively speaking) into a producer. Depending on lot size and your relationships with your neighbors, there are still a number of things you could do.

    A small bee hive-they help pollenate your garden and yield honey.
    There are breeds of chickens that are fairly quite. Specific breeds slip my mind. Eggs, meat, and compost material (aka poo). Rabbits are a possibility, again for meat and fertilizer, plus fur.

    You could also look into nut or fruit producing trees, herbs, or even mushrooms.
    Hopefully your not part of an HOA.

    Good Luck!

    • I’m not part of an HOA – but I still don’t know the code for my area. I’m going to look into that when we get a little closer to that stage of the game.

      I never thought about nut trees. How long after they are planted before they produce?

      Thanks for the suggestions~

  6. Pingback: Homemade Laundry Detergent « The Homestead Experiment

  7. This is very exciting! Look forward to hearing your successes, and funny stories. You could add fishing to the list. I loved fishing when I was a girl, and fresh fried blue gill – delicious! I once asked my grandpa to teach me how to clean the fish, but in his wisdom he said no. I was frustrated and asked why. He told me, “Honey, if you don’t know how, then you can always make a boy do it.” Ha!

  8. Sounds like you’re going to be a busy lady. My wife and I have been homesteading for several years. The work never ends. It’s a good and satisfying kind of work. Making your own world with your own hands is the best way to live in my opinion. Stop by http://www.trinitymountainhome.com sometime. We don’t try to sell what we produce with the exception of eggs. That’s just to offset the cost of the feed. We share our meat and vegetables with others who are motivated to be as self-sufficient and self-reliant as possible.

  9. My husband and I want to try homesteading, but it’s not possible for us to go “all the way” yet (we currently rent an apartment). There’s so much information available that it’s gotten very overwhelming and makes it difficult to start. I’m glad to have found a resource from someone who started in a similar situation as us. Thank you for creating this blog!!!

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