What is Homesteading?
Once upon a time, Homesteading was defined as any dwelling place, with land and buildings where a group of people settled. By today’s standards however, Homesteading is described as living in a self sufficient way.
A plot of land is typically utilised for subsistence farming, whereby vegetables, herbs, fruit and sometimes poultry and other livestock are kept and grown. The produce that comes from the land is traded for goods not grown on the land, for example beef may be exchanged for eggs or sheeps milk from a neighbour or trader.
Welcome to part one of our series on Homesteading.
We have created this series to condense the expansive amount of information about creating a homestead into easily digestible bites for you to enjoy and be inspired by…
Types of Homestead
It’s crucial to understand that you do not need acre upon acre of land to have a homestead.
- An apartment homestead can be forged from within the confines of the modern one bedroom city flatlet. If you have access to pots and a rooftop or balcony space, or a very sunny windowsill; you can grow food. Some city dwellers even have a few hens on their balconies as pets, which also provide them with fresh eggs.
- A smaller homestead is the complex or estate dweller with a small outdoor gardening space. Don’t underestimate how much can be done with a smaller garden. Crops can be grown vertically up trellises and walls to maximise growing space.
- An urban homesteader lives in a property within an urban area, and has access to a garden. There is space for larger structures, such as a pig pen or a chicken coop.
- A large more traditional homestead is usually on a property in a more rural area, away from the city and its conveniences.
- If you do not live in an apartment or house, but in an informal settlement, you can still grow food and live sustainably.
We have touched on this topic very briefly but will discuss these types in detail in Part 2.
Taking the Plunge
Many people are discerning that their passions for gardening are taking a turn for the serious, becoming more than simply a hobby. The realisation is also growing that the food we consume is not as nutritionally adequate and wholesome as it once was. Factor into this food prices; and homesteading is becoming a popular road to pursue.
From this growing consciousness, stems a group of people who are turning their back gardens into growing, living food sources, and pouring their energies into becoming as self sufficient as possible. There is a movement towards making and growing what we need ourselves.
Can you believe that even locally, in our sunny South Africa, we have found a few people who lead the homestead lifestyle, and who will undoubtedly inspire you – read below to find out more…
Understanding the Homesteading process:
There are some things you will come to realise as you build your dream of homesteading. There are steps to take, and processes to put in place, and nothing happens overnight. So become friends with Patience – she will come in handy.
Starting small is imperative. Keeping plants alive is amazing. Preserving food is a big step forward. But until you are really ready, keeping animals is a task and a huge responsibility, so don’t take that leap until you have the capacity and resources to really care for them.
You don’t need to rely on the electricity grid. Many homesteaders live (and love living) off-grid, which means that they are detached from the remote infrastructure of main power support. Solar power and wind power are forms of energy supplied by nature, that many homesteads utilise. As your journey into homesteading progresses, your mind will take you to thinking of all the ways you can conserve energy and use alternative forms of energy.
Next, being a homesteader is more than being frugal. Some go as far as to making all their staples – buying bulk rice, sugar and flour from which to make bread, cookie and muffin mixes, even making their own pasta. This however is not everyone’s approach; for some people, just to grow their own lettuces and herbs is a way of being more self sufficient.
For more information on self sufficiency and waste free living click |HERE|.
Real Life Homesteading Stories
Some folk have taken the Homestead road full time – click |HERE| to read all about Elisabeth and her husband Johan’s homestead in the North West province. We spoke to her and she generously allowed us a glimpse into their day, which spans from milking goats, feeding chickens, cleaning housing for animals, making soap to sell to the public, vegetable gardening, house chores and more! It is something that clearly brings them joy, and it’s an eye-opening blog to read.
Pictured below – Johan caring for a goat who is under the weather – something that should be taken into consideration is that animals get sick too and you should factor in the hours and resources you will need to care for them.
The Reality of the Work Involved in Homesteading
From 5.30am until well past sunset, there are chores and tasks to be done. Johan and Elisabeth only tend to the vegetable garden after 5pm when the heat subsides. A method called rotational grazing is used to move the goats around the farm to different paddocks.
There is, above and beyond the daily tasks, activities and chores which must be done on a more infrequent basis. This is the reality of self-sustainability. If the work is not done by you, it’s not getting done at all.
Some examples of these other, less frequent chores, may be checking on the health of the animals, de-worming them, weeding the garden, canning and preserving food and starting seedlings for the next season.
Are you thinking of becoming a Homesteader? Ask yourself these questions:
Can you save money on food? If so, how can you achieve this?
Do you have the knowledge, ability and space to grow food?
Do you feel equipped with the sufficient knowledge to take on a new way of living?
Are you interested in incorporating livestock into your homestead?
Ask yourself how you could change your energy consumption patterns, if at all, and if solar or other energy sources are within your reach.
Are you wanting to conserve and keep water, for use on the land, and for your own personal use?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will love part 2 of our Homesteading series. We are continually researching this topic to bring you the most helpful information to help you on your homesteading journey.
Food for thought:
CARE and ACRE are made of the same letters.
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