How do you define "homesteading" and "self-sufficiency"?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Niki, May 14, 2006.

  1. Niki

    Niki mini-steader

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    The poll that was created was a good one and it is interesting to see who we have here. It prompts my question of how you define "homesteading" and being "self-sufficient". Do you consider them to be one in the same? Do you feel you will ever truly be completely self-sufficient?

    When I think of the two terms, they are inter-related, but not necessarily the same.

    To me a "homesteader" is someone who lives off the land as much as possible and lead a frugal life. Perhaps "going to town" on occasion to pick up supplies. There may or may not be a source of income, but I would think there would have to be - or at least quite a nest egg built up. To some degree a "homesteader" would still depend on the buying and selling of something in order to generate money for the supplies they need and are unable to create themselves.

    To be self-sufficient (again, from my perspective), is to be able to live life without any type of outside 'assistance'. While I am currently "self-sufficient" because I do provide for my needs and the needs of my family, I would not be able to currently do that without my job - rather, working for someone else. To be "self-sufficient" to me would mean that I could still function relatively well whether I had that income or not. "Self-sufficient" means that I no longer have to rely on the economic system of the world around me, but remove myself from it and still function and live well without it. It won't matter what the economy does because I will have prepared myself to be able to live without it.

    What are your thoughts?
     
  2. Sherrynboo

    Sherrynboo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    self sufficient to me means able to meet all of my family's needs without working outside the home and growing everything here. I don't see my family as ever being completely self sufficient but should be able to reach a degree of it.

    Sherry in GA
     

  3. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    Self-sufficiency to me means doing as much as possible for myself and my family and eliminating as much of the dependence on society as is feasible. It's about waiting to find something used rather than running to the store every time we need anything, about raising as much of our own food as is practical rather than just running to the Piggly Wiggly for frozen pizza and meat on styrofoam trays. To sum it up, I guess I'd say it means having the knowledge and experience to know what I need to buy versus what is being sold to me to make a profit despite a lack of need, and acting on that knowledge.

    Homesteading, to me, means having enough land to take the concept of self sufficiency to it's most efficient level. Be that an urban homestead with well thought out systems in place to produce as much as is feasible, or a rural spread where anything is possible.

    Combine them both and I come up with a concept of securing enough ownership and resources to be free of the fetters that confine so many people today to working their 40+ hour weeks. coming home and dulling their senses with TV, intoxicants and items of luxury that they've been convinced are now neccesary for their happiness. Voluntary simplicity with a caveat of absolute independance ( or as close as one can manage to it, in this day and age)
     
  4. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    I regard homesteading as a lifestyle choice that emphasizes closeness to the land and reduced dependency upon “the corporate / government system”.

    Self-sufficiency to some degree is implied, but is not synonymous with homesteading. Moderate self-sufficiency might be an attainable objective for homesteaders (providing some or most food, heat, water and reducing requirement for fuel, transportation, material goods). Extreme self-sufficiency, to the level of subsistence agriculture or “hunter-gatherer” culture, is not the goal of any homesteader I have encountered.

    Frugality is also implied without being synonymous. Consumptive lifestyles require dependence upon employment or investment (which can become unavailable with changing conditions) or inheritance (or theft) AND dependence upon others to supply all needs in exchange for money. “Needs” developed by advertising are contrary to frugality but are important to corporations.

    Freedom from “living in the box” of modern society is also implied (at least in my concept of homesteading). Many seek alternatives to living by the dictates or expectations of others. However, becoming a hermit, totally divorced from society, does not seem to appeal to most people. Partial or “selective” divorce probably applies.

    Preparedness to withstand changing economic or social conditions or disruption of power or fuel supplies seems consistent with homesteading. This does not imply extreme survivalism and expectation of SHTF scenarios – but rather a reasonable degree of preparation.

    Knowledge and skills that apply to the real world are implied in homesteading. Highly specialized skills or job training are typically intended to fit into a complex economic structure. Whereas generalist skills that relate to the Earth, plants and animals apply to a simplified lifestyle.

    Perhaps a significant factor in attempting to define or describe homesteading includes an attitude or a way of thinking about living in harmony with the environment instead of living in the “plastic” world of modern society far removed from nature and surrounded by man-made everything.
     
  5. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    to me, self-suffieciency is not participating in the rat race culture and not engaging in economics trade. anyone who pays a monthly internet bill could never be considered self-sufficient to me. then again, even grizzly adams traded for goods, lol.

    to me homesteading is balancing self-sufficiency with minimal cultural interaction. one farms and trades the extra for material things that are hard to make at home.
     
  6. Niki

    Niki mini-steader

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    Wow! These are really great responses!

    I have thought about what MELOC said about the internet and self-sufficiency, and perhaps this is where our views may differ. I don't look at the internet as a necessity (well, I do right now simply as a tool for learning as much as I can and printing off stuff as reference material for later), but I can be self-sufficient and still have internet access because if I lose internet access for whatever reason, I won't be affected by losing it. It may be an inconvenience and I may cry about it for a week, but I can live (survive) without it.

    When I was laid off a couple of years ago, that affected me - as I'm sure one could imagine. That is when I realized how dependant I was and not even close to being "self-sufficient". So I guess my view is that if a person or family can survive with whatever tie to the "outside world" that has been cut off, that makes them "self sufficient".

    I read where one person read that they would never be self-sufficient because they can't provide their own coffee. Now unless that person were to die without having some of that wonderful brew, then I suppose that is a good definition, but I will never be able to grow my own coffee, I will never have a rice field, etc., but that doesn't mean I will never be self-sufficient. If a time came that I could no longer have these things, it wouldn't break me, but just be a minor inconvenience - once I overcame the caffeine withdrawal symptoms :D
     
  7. bostonlesley

    bostonlesley Guest

    Interesting question..

    IMHO, homesteading goes hand in hand with some degree of self-sufficiency.
    A homesteader is an individual who possesses the skills necessary to provide his own basic needs of food, shelter, etc. yet may not always opt to utilize them on a daily basis. For instance, if push came to shove, I have the knowledge to "make do without" electricity, indoor plumbing, and central heating..yet I don't wish to live without those things on a daily basis.

    A homesteader is an individual who values being free..free of debt, free of the cookie cutter mentality of the city and suburban planners..

    One can be a homesteader and have 1000 acres of land, 1/2 acre or none at all..it's not land ownership that makes a homesteader, it's a state of mind.
     
  8. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    Bostonlesley, WELL said.

     
  9. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    In current U.S. society both are non-attainable. Homesteading by proving property and no monitary investment no longer exists in U.S. law. Even if you achieved almost self sufficiency you would still need to interact with current society to exchange goods for fiat currency to pay property taxes. Depending on society to provide that required fiat currency eliminates total self sufficiency.

    Limited self reliance is attainable within the current social and political structures though.
     
  10. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    The Homesteading concept is a lot like
    civil war reanacting. In actuality what is more important is using common sense to survive in a fast changing senseless world. Being capable and doing more for yourself is what allows you to attain your level of satisfaction in your life. It so allows you to have more than others (very materialistic) by doing more with less. You are trying to have more control of your surroundings and what you eat even though you are limited in your actual amount of control.
    The self sufficient idea of being able to remove yourself from the surrounding world is a bit of a fantasy as it never really goes away just because you close your eyes.

    Research some of the gurus of homesteading and you will find that they wrote books or gave lectures to the outside world for monetary reasons to keep their small world turning.
     
  11. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    Yet Another reason why I sometimes wonder how long I will stay in the USA. Between jailing more people per capita than all other places in the world and often for non-violent drug violations and for breaking laws that are designed to protect us, and with the fact that we have more laws than the Nazi''s and Stalin combined I would say calling America the land of the free is an exercise in delusion. I love america but I hate the idea of being a BRAINWASHED ROBOT and a SLAVE.
    P.s I once had dreams of being a subsistence farmer for the longest time I hate that it is not an option in our free country. :rolleyes:
     
  12. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    You would not have heard about the ones that didnt cause they quitely lived their lives out and were not gurus sometimes the hen that squawks the loudest is not laying the best or biggest eggs. If that makes sense I will patent it as I just pulled it out of my army hat. I remember reading a fabulous book about an old man in the 70's that was living in a VERY remote place in Idaho? he was like the last of the mountain men and the archtypical homesteader could make anything including his own guns "ok" he sold guns to bring in an income, though he never created books or a fan club not everyone is blessed with the ability to write like jnap31 who surprisingly gets by with hen pecking at his key board LOL Anyone know what book I am trying to remember
     
  13. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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  14. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    Those are wonderful pictures mpillow You have a great place,I especially liked the chicken coop on a trailer.
     
  15. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    I view homesteading as a completely unattainable, yet romantic notion. Something that with property taxes, health insurance, $3 gasoline, and $2000+/acre property costs is COMPLETELY a pipe dream in todays world. The last homesteader was Richard Proenecke, the guy that went to Alaska and lived alone in the wilderness for 30+ years.

    Self Sufficient means one is retired/semi-retired. They saved their money when they were young, made some excellent investments, and now have the financial wherewithal to enjoy life at their own pace.
     
  16. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    IF homesteading is defined as complete self-sufficiency, it is virtually unattainable in the present day and age in this country.

    IF homesteading is defined as obtaining free land, that too is virtually unattainable.

    IF homesteading is defined as being completely free from outside income it is virtually unattainable.

    IF homesteading is defined as above, the term applies only to hermits or some residents of third-world nations in subsistence agriculture or hunter-gatherer cultures.

    However, the above do not constitute a definition of homesteading in this country in the present time. They may have been applicable in some instances a century or two ago, but they no longer serve to identify homesteading or homesteaders.

    If one uses a current definition, perhaps including (but not restricted to) a degree of self-sufficiency and reduced reliance upon outside income, homesteading is quite attainable.

    I have met quite a number of people who I regard as homesteaders. None have received free land, none are completely self-sufficient, none were hermits, and most have some form of income (including sale of products of their land or their hand). None were completely removed from the outside society, nor showed any desire to be so.

    Are these people “truly” homesteaders? They certainly are unless one applies an unrealistic definition to the term.
     
  17. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Its a chix coop/a buck goat house(for timing breedings)/ summer pasture barn for milk goats....its quite a handy rig built for $72 and free crating from husbands work...

    The bays of the woodshed are also used come Spring for bottle goat kids/kidding moms/chicken brooding

    We have a short growing season so we try to multi-use/multi-task animals and gerdens...

    We call the barn on the trailer the Clampett Mobile :) We dont have a CEMENT pond though :)

    We only have about 6 acres here in China and about 30acres in Lexington(mountain pics) and another 5-6 where the green camp is near Rangeley....
    We plant and pasture in both China and Lexington (my parents live next door).
    Using what you have... to make the most of what you can use...for as little $$ as possible....within a short time-frame...