My husband and I want to live a true homesteading life. And the urge is nearly irresistible. But it can be easy to feel discouraged when things don’t seem like they’re progressing. Maybe you feel that way too. But there’s hope for us both!
All great accomplishments must start with a “Why?” And why we want to live a homesteading life is simple.
- We want to recapture our freedoms
- The homesteading lifestyle most aligns with our values
- We believe it’s the way of life God intended us to live
Reclaimed freedoms are the biggest reason my husband and I choose a homesteading life for ourselves.
Time is one freedom and valuable commodity we don’t ever recoup. The necessity of 2 full-time incomes (or 1 sizeable one) to meet the cost of living in our area on the East Coast makes it difficult. Plus commuting takes away from home and family too. Despite a decent job market and reasonable commute, it’s incredibly expensive nonetheless – in time and energy.
However, leaving the city and modern office jobs means we’ll have more time to be entrepreneurs! And that means reaching another level of financial freedom. Homesteading life has costly expenses too – especially considering we’re rookies. Being first-generation homesteaders means a steep learning curve. But we believe the financial setback of those lessons will be temporary.
The goal of our homestead is maintaining a high level of self-sufficiency. And that includes bodily autonomy. Depending on what God provides in nature for our health and well-being. Becoming acquainted with the plants, herbs and foods that can heal our bodies. Coming full circle as we raise animals and plants then harvest, preserve and enjoy them before composting remains to start again.
And personally, I would welcome an environment that believes in the natural biological process of birth too. A place where midwifery care and home-birthing is a norm and not taboo.
The freedom to travel is another thing we look forward to. Though that might be limited based on what our homestead manages.
Lastly, we want the freedom to worship God and raise our kids as we’re taught in the Bible. That can be done in the city for sure. I do think it might be easier for us though in a less polluted environment than we’re in now.
Secondly, the homesteading lifestyle aligns with our values.
We value time with family and intimate community. And the most beautiful part of this new lifestyle is that those things just come naturally.
So rather than trade our time at 9-5’s building someone else’s dream, we have set out to build our own. No longer satisfied to trade precious time for dollars with rapidly decreasing value. Homesteading may take more time than the modern desk job. But, it’s work the whole family can do together. I imagine baby-wearing our way through garden preservation season. Or my husband working on projects in the shop showing our oldest the way.
Stronger family bonds are forged in the hard work and (sometimes) harsh realities of the homestead life. As parents, we’ll be able to teach all sorts of valuable life lessons on the land. Our kids will also be able develop real character and work ethic in a gentle way.
Homesteading will connect us with more like-minded couples and families. People that can come alongside us, but that we can bless also. Our hospitality muscles will be strengthened. And our calling fulfilled.
Most of all, I look forward to living a simpler life – not necessarily easy. But enriching. Giving us both greater satisfaction than money. I am excited for the legacy we will continue building. I’m excited that someday our kids will return home with their own kids or friends. And we’ll share stories and swap memories over a woodstove and cookies. We may not get it all, but we’ll sure come close.
Another reason we’re choosing to lead a homestead lifestyle is we believe it’s the way God designed us to live.
In the beginning, God created a garden. And he put 1 man and 1 woman in charge of tending and populating it. I believe that is what He saw as best for mankind since that’s how He created the world.
There’s nothing wrong with industrialization or technology, etc. But the convenience of life robs us of most of the basics. We don’t understand where food comes from or how to love our neighbor as more than ourselves. Too many families are broken or disconnected. And as a result, societies are crumbling.
Homesteading doesn’t fix this because sin is the root problem of all mankind. However, my husband and I feel led to this way of living. So, we will obey.
But how do you go about making a plan for something as big as this type of lifestyle change? Finding people who are doing what we are trying to do is one place to start. The problem is, outside of YouTube channels and some recently discovered IG pages and Facebook groups, we don’t personally know anyone still. It feels like we’re hindered by what we don’t know AND who we don’t know.
Nonetheless, we’re living a starter homesteading life in our 1-bedroom apartment in the middle of a busy city. And it’s not stopping us.
Our first pregnancy journey last year opened a few doors for us. Our midwife’s assistant and her husband had a 1-acre homestead outside the city. They have 2 girls, 2 goats, a few chickens and a garden. But more importantly, their home was full of love and laughter more than anything else. It was also beautifully decorated with handmade wooden pieces her husband carved himself.
From where we were standing in an overcrowded, outdated apartment complex they had a pretty sweet setup. We’ve been able to glean precious gems from our whole midwifery team ever since.
But it got me thinking of what I could do or learn now to give us an advantage before landing on the homestead. The list wasn’t as long as I thought. And I was encouraged by that. I was inspired and motivated because now it felt like I had somewhere to start. And regardless of whether I have personal trainers to walk me through some of these things or not, I’m determined to do my best to master as much as possible before we leave the city.
So here’s how we’ve set about beginning our homesteading life where we are right now. Small steps that are laying the foundation of something grand. You can do this too!
It begins with knowledge. Replacing what you don’t yet know with what you can find out.
We read books about skills we need to live on the land. Books about how to select the land. And books about being self-sufficient. We attend conferences like the Homesteaders of America yearly event. And search for webinars or courses like the School of Traditional Skills that pertain to what we want to learn. We found a collection of info in the Off-grid Bundle, check it out!
We’re investigating homesteading income opportunities that could be right for us. We listen to podcasts. And as time allows, I sift through community webpages/forums and Facebook groups.
Side note: the Homesteaders of America hosted a Woman Homesteaders conference in NOV-2022 in Swoopes, VA. The ticket price was too expensive for us this year, but I have no doubt every dollar was well worth it. For more info, read about it here.
All of these avenues produce gems in their own way. And they spark ideas too. Much of it will eventually help lead us to our homestead.
I sometimes call what we’re doing “apartmentsteading”. And it isn’t a failure or a handicap. Instead, it’s our beautiful beginning. I’m embracing this way of starting. To jumpstart our journey back to the land, here are several things I’m learning.
Homemaking is a BIG part of the Homesteading lifestyle.
So, I’m learning the lost art of homemaking via podcasts and books mostly.
Homemaking to me is a term that touches every area of the home. From cultivating relationships to managing finances. But I’ll be focusing a good portion of my energy on things that happen in the kitchen. This includes growing food (like herbs and small things indoors). Preserving food, meal planning and cooking from scratch. I began canning this summer and have been equally pleased and thrilled with each item we’re able to put away into our #cantry.
But the kitchen will also be where I learn how to use herbs to make salves. Infuse oils for healing. Make tonics for our apothecary.
Outside the kitchen, I’m learning how to live with littles – though this season is very short indeed. Raising children is completely new to me but by God’s grace I’m finding my way into new routines and habits. The littles phase won’t last long, but being a role model sure will! I must learn to be holy, patient and tender if I want my kids to do the same.
Lastly, there are practical skills I need to learn to be truly self-sufficient. This includes things like learning to sew, processing livestock and repurposing items around the house. The list can be as long or as short as you like. But I’m all in on this journey. So, I expect my list will grow indefinitely over time.
Just learning by reading isn’t enough to get us there. Here are some things we’re practicing now. These habits will help us endure the tough times of a homesteading life.
Financial literacy skills – this means budgeting, analyzing and strategically planning. We’ve also gotten more serious about financial investments for our “retirement” as well as for our kids.
Food preservation – the number of techniques is almost endless. So far, we’ve started using mylar bags, freeze drying, pressure and water bath canning, vacuum sealing, fermenting and seed saving.
Winter seed sowing – this is new to us but it will jumpstart our growing phase. The concept is you start growing things in winter then transplant them in late winter/early spring.
Auto mechanic projects – this includes changing brakes, oil, spark plugs and other fluids. It also includes basics like jumping batteries, changing tires and general upkeep of our cars.
And by pulling it all together, we’re crafting a very rough draft plan. One that will take us to the homestead of our dreams.
We don’t know exactly when that will be. Maybe our next steppingstone is a beginner’s home with only 1-acre, but the right to do with it as we will. Perhaps we’ll stay semi-local for my husband’s current day job. At least until we can financially afford to move to a different locale. That’s key since we want to start out as we intend to go – self-sufficiently.
Lots of details still need ironing out. But in the meantime, the practice is essential to successfully living a self-sufficient homesteading life outside the city. If you’ve been thinking or feeling like the circumstances you live in make it impossible to change, take a different approach. There are likely small steps you can take now to propel your future self further. It may not seem like much, but they add value to the larger picture and depth to your story.
Mr. Traditional read me a motivational quote once that said,
Everything you want is on the other side of ‘HARD’.
I believe that. I want a large village, but I have my family. I’d love an open kitchen with a pantry for kitchen tools and foods. A nice root cellar or basement to store those goodies. But we have a bedroom closet and working kitchen. I want a house with (nearly) unlimited potential to grow, but we have a home right now and creativity to use its space wisely.
The story we want to read is the one we’re building right now. And although sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, we’re learning to enjoy the leaves right here where we are.
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