IF homesteading is defined as . . .

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Obser, May 15, 2006.

  1. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    IF homesteading is defined as complete self-sufficiency, it is IMO 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 a need for income it is all but unattainable IMO.

    IF homesteading is defined as above, the term may apply to hermits and 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 IMO. They may have been applicable in some instances a century or two ago, but they no longer serve to identify current homesteading or homesteaders.

    If one uses a modern 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. But they had a degree of self-sufficiency and they were far less dependent upon "the system" than probably 99% of the US population.

    Are these people “truly” homesteaders? They certainly are unless one applies an unrealistic definition to the term.
     
  2. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    I think your missing the point. Its like golf. A perfect score in golf is 18. Nobody will ever score that, the point of the game is to try and get as close to the "unattainable" goal.
    I think "hardcore homesteaders" are like golfers trying to get as far twards that goal as they can.

    I think there is a larger group that likes some/many aspects of homesteading, ruarl self sufficent living. These folks likley arent willing or able to make the extreme sacrifices necessary to be as completely self sufficent as possible in the world. Id lump anyone who works or recieves income from off the homestead to those with a few tomato plants on their terrace into this group. But we arent talking about these folks here.

    I do also think there are two types I see here of the more "hardcore types" The dropouts, who if they could, dont want to deal with modern economics and truely strive to be self sufficent in every way. Then there are those that make a living from ther homestead and are self sufficent, yet still dependent on the outside world for things they dont/cant do.

    So I guess the above paragraph would indicate two some-what distinct definitions and sets of goals. But the latter seems more like it could just as easily be defined as farm or other home based buisnes. So Im going to slap my definition of "hardcore homesteader" on the dropout type.

    I guess we are all like golfers! Some of us are trying hard and getting really close to perfect, others are just learning, and some of us enjoy playing to varying degrees.
     

  3. Jan Doling

    Jan Doling Well-Known Member

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    I don't think homesteading is defined...those that need definitions are probably not laid back enough to enjoy homesteading. True homesteaders are mavericks....we mak our own rules. If you figure out what those rules are, we'll have to change the rules!
     
  4. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    Jan, thats a good point, but:

    As people communicating we need common definitions so as to understand each others different perspectives. I dont think anyone here cares about labels, just the ability to understand each other as well as possible through a common language. I think thats the basis for this topic de-jour lateley, not anything more.
     
  5. End of the Road

    End of the Road Well-Known Member

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    Homesteading was NEVER defined as being free from a need for an income, but being free from a need for an OUTSIDE income. Going back to the 1800's when homesteading was in full swing most people couldn't keep the free land if they couldn't stay on it and make a living on it as there was no other sources of income for most of them.
     
  6. Niki

    Niki mini-steader

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    And some like putt-putt :D

    Seriously. Just think about it.
     
  7. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Au contraire- many taught school, ran a store, post office, left to work a few months and returned to live there enough to qualify. Review the pioneer women heomsteaders site recently posted...
     
  8. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    I agree. I think you have analyzed and deduced this issue nicely, although some people will not want to admit it.

    I get such a kick out of the various "are you a "real" homesteader" type threads on this board.

    You know the ones that either outright state or at least imply that you are not a real homesteader if:

    - you don't have a garden
    - you drive an evil SUV
    - you live in a macmansion
    - you don't live off grid
    - you don't have livestock
    - you don't eat organic food
    - you don't sew your own clothes
    - you don't do your wash in a bucket with washboard
    - you don't use coupons
    - you don't have X amount of acreage
    - you do go out to eat, or to the movies, or travel, or (insert favorite "non-homesteading" activity here)

    The list goes on and on and on...

    It's funny how us humanoids like to fit a lifestyle definition around our own ideas of how others should live, and then proceed to run them down when they have a different view of the lifestyle.

    I'm convinced that some people are just not happy unless they are ridiculing others lifestyle choices and motivations. I suspect in many cases this likely results from a lack of self-esteem on the ridiculer's part. The need to judge and run others down in order to make them feel better about their own choices.

    Sad, really.

    Wayne
     
  9. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    Really Wayne, I honestly havnt seen that much on this site. Perhaps a little distain for the trappings of urban and suburban life, but not what you describe.
     
  10. Qwispea

    Qwispea Well-Known Member

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    Very good observation Wayne. I couldn't agree more..as you absolutely have described a small percentage of some of the self-proclaimed homesteaders here. Don't ask me to name them as I won't do that..but they know who they are..at least the ones I'm thinking about.

    Anyway..why do some people tend to invent their own definition of "Homesteading" instead of simply going to the dictionary and using the most widely accepted definition? I don't understand why some people think it makes them better than me just because they prefer to raise their own beef instead of buying it from their neighborhood market. It just doesn't make sense to me how people can be so shallow about their fellow human being.

    Some of the definitions of a 'homestead' in my dictionary include:
    1. "..a dwelling with its land and buildings, occupied by the owner as a home and exempted by a homestead law from seizure or sale for debt."
    2. "..any dwelling with its land and buildings where a family makes its home."
    5. "..to acquire or settle on (land) as a homestead."
    6. "..to acquire or settle on a homestead."

    Going a couple words down the page in my dictionary..we come to the definition of "homesteading" as follows:
    1. "..an act or instance of establishing a homestead."

    Where does it say a person must be self-sufficient in order to be considered a homesteader? IT DOESN'T!

    I like the dictionary definitions..because it doesn't single out one person over another. IMHO..anyone who lives in and takes care of their current home should be considered a homesteader. Nobody is better simply because they are a bit more self-sufficient than another person. Some people do have a bit of over-zealous opinion of their homesteading life-style.
     
  11. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    On the other hand I find it funny that some people want to be so inclusive that they make the term homesteader meaningless. People who's only claim to self sufficiency is a few plants in pots on the patio and who are otherwise living the typical American lifestyle are NOT homesteaders. But heaven forbid we hurt someone's feelings by setting parameters for what a homesteader really is and is not. Rather like people who help their public schooled kids with their homework and call themselves homeschoolers. That's just silly!
     
  12. Qwispea

    Qwispea Well-Known Member

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    How is it considered 'inclusive' by opening up the meaning of homesteading to a larger group of people? It seems the ones who are 'inclusive' are the ones who want to limit the meaning of 'homesteading' into a much more narrow definition than what it actually is.

    Whose feelings would really be hurt by opening up the term to actually mean what the dictionary says it is? Wouldn't it be the ones who have narrowed the meaning in order to put themselves into an 'inclusive' category?

    I think Wayne is on the right track. Lets give credit where credit is due..
     
  13. End of the Road

    End of the Road Well-Known Member

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    Qwispea, by any chance are you confusing inclusive with exclusive?
     
  14. tsdave

    tsdave Grand Marshal

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    First off, you may as well forget about defining anything this day and age, its perfectly ok to call blue , red, and high, low. Good, bad ,etc.

    Next its not hard at all to homestead. Even today. Its easy and cheap. Noone wants to do it however. Its not 'their' definition of homstead. All you need to do is buy an acre of land bordering a national forest or reserve. dont build ANYTHING on it than can be taxed. Just a 'movable' shed or something. Next just walk where you want to go. Plant your vegies with a shovel and hoe. Use homemade traps to catch food (as legal). Fish alot (you will need a license but they are CHEAP for the amount of food you could catch). Raise some free range chickens, let them eat what they can find, if there gets to be too little food, eat them. Dont even bother with 'electric'. Maybe a flashlight and radio. Carry you water in buckets.

    Simple fact of the matter is the only thing you need to live is clothes, dry place to sleep, food and water. Everything else is luxary.

    You may have to work a day or two a year to pay the taxes, or buy some salt. But if you were half as smart as a rotten log, you could make it on your property. $500 / year would be vastly more than plenty here in MO.

    Like i said, nobody wants to do that these days, and if they did, they wouldnt be chatting about it here on an internet fourm !

    I think these days people have the idea of a 'gentle man farmer' not a homesteader. But i am in no way trying to define anything ! DONT SHOOT !
     
  15. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    If the term "homesteader" is defined (as suggested above) as: "anyone who lives in and takes care of their current home" the WORD is useless because it identifies everyone who lives in a house provided they sweep the floor occasionally.

    That would be little different than claiming everyone who has ever held a hammer is a carpenter. It might be useful to know that the term "carpenter" applied to those who had some skill in working with wood – particularly when hiring someone to build a house. To identify those who have knowledge and skill in building with wood as "carpenters" one is NOT demeaning those who are not carpenters -- it simply identifies those who are carpenters (useful information).

    How is it any different when identifying homesteaders? Why does definition of the term become emotionally loaded, with discussions of hurting people's feelings if they are not "included". Is it because many people aspire to the homesteader lifestyle and wish to be identified as such (and are disappointed when they realize they are far from their dream)?

    I do not see this thread as attempting to claim that anyone is "better simply because they are a bit more self-sufficient". Where did that come from? Is a carpenter "better" than someone who is not a carpenter?

    It is not a matter of including or excluding anyone, but of defining a TERM so that it (the term) has some meaning.
     
  16. hedgeapple

    hedgeapple Well-Known Member

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    i do not have much to say about the definition of homesteading except to say that what drew me to this forum was i realized that people who chatted on a homsteading forum would be discussing the things that interest me. i think our current world is so artificial in so many ways that something instinctive and intuitive in a number of people yearns for something more real and are thus drawn to areas of homesteader interest.
     
  17. Ol'Reb

    Ol'Reb aka Mr T-Bone

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    :shrug: HOMESTEADING DEFINED :shrug:
    :baby04: I personally like the first definition. :baby04:


    "It's not a single idea, but many ideas and attitudes, including a reverence for nature and a preference for country life; a desire for maximum personal self-reliance and creative leisure; a concern for family nurture and community cohesion; a certain hostility toward luxury; a belief that the primary reward of work should be well-being rather than money; a certain nostalgia for the supposed simplicities of the past and an anxiety about the technological and bureaucratic complexities of the present and the future; and a taste for the plain and functional." --- JD Belanger, Countryside Magazine

    "Over the last hundred years or so, the term "homesteading" has evolved to a new meaning, and there are about as many interpretations as there are homesteaders. To us, the modern homesteader is someone who strives for autonomy; to become as self-sufficient and self-confident as possible. We don't mean by this that all folks calling themselves homesteaders are automatically enrolled in some sort of worldwide self-sufficiency contest, either. Each person has to decide just how far he or she wishes to take self-sufficiency...To us, "homesteader" might be the antithesis to "consumer." Even the term "consumer" implies that one only consumes: continually buys, uses up, and buys more. A true consumer gives nothing back to the planet in return. A homesteader, on the other hand, creates, nourishes, and nurtures. A homesteader is a worthy steward to the Earth." --- Skip Thomsen and Cat Freshwater, The Modern Homestead Manual

    "Homesteading has more than one meaning. It used to mean qualifying for free government land because you lived on it, built a house on it, and so on. Now it means living on the land and trying for at least some degree of home production of your needs, especially food. When people who were raised in cities try to accomplish that, I believe it can be every bit as much of a challenge for them as crossing the plains was for our pioneer ancestors. People go to all kinds of places to do their homesteading: the suburbs of their city, the mountains of Appalachia or the western United States, the northeastern United States, the Midwest, northern California, Alaska, Canada, Mexico. No matter where you are or go -- if you can grow a garden and raise some animals, you're a homesteader. And a fortunate human being!"
    --- Carla Emery, The Encyclopedia of Country Living
     
  18. menollyrj

    menollyrj Joy Supporter

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    I don't think you can define homesteader using outward appearances because to me, the real core of homesteading is the attitude shift from "someone else will take care of me" to "I need to try to take care of myself when I can." For some people, "when I can" is more frequent than for others. There are those who supply their own electricity (if needed), water, food, clothing, soap, furniture, wood, etc... because they have decided that they can and want to do so. I'm not one of them, but I admire them for their decision.

    I think of our household as a homesteading lifestyle for several reasons. We do purchase our electricity, but I use my clothesline when possible, open windows often, keep the AC on 75, heat on 68, and turn off lights when we leave the room. We do have a TV. We watch it nightly for an hour or two (usually cartoons), but on the weekends, the kids spend hours outside, and I anticipate that in the summer, those hours outside will increase dramatically. I can quite a bit (and want to do more this year), have a garden (my first ever), own a few head of cattle (3, I think), and have a few chickens. When I go to the grocery store, I sometimes use coupons, but I always compare prices, and I always go with a list to keep me honest. We eat at McDonalds sometimes. I shop at Walmart when I must. I purchase Hamburger Helper. I work full-time outside the home and sell Avon in my "spare time." So what. Big deal.

    I don't think you have to forego modern conveniences to be a homesteader, and I think reducing the question to a matter of who has less modern "stuff" is misleading and oversimplification. I also agree that we are mostly unwilling to be extreme; that is, to give up EVERYTHING and live in the woods. We are homesteaders because we made a decision to simplify and give up the notion that bigger or more is better. We don't need the newest or most expensive; we can be content with where we are and what we have, and I think that is at the core of homesteading - being content with what you have and who you are, accepting that others may think you are crazy, redneck, weird, or any other adjective you have heard. This isn't a definition you are going to read in a dictionary anywhere because the meaning of modern homesteading is too new to make it to a dictionary. Maybe in 15 years, the definition will be updated...

    -Joy
     
  19. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    Thank you Ol'Reb, nice research. The first of the definitions is my preference also (though I might suggest a couple modifications). The people you quote and YOU have experience and insight into the matter of what constitutes homesteading.

    We expect that all is well at your homestead. Same here.
     
  20. Ol'Reb

    Ol'Reb aka Mr T-Bone

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    All is well here, in fact we were just talking about you... Were your ears burning?
    We ate some of your taters tonight, they were very good.

    The definitions are definately broad, and you will get a different respose (probably) from everyone you ask. the main thing for us, is the lifestyle. The goal to attain some symbolence of self sufficiency. To become less relying on outside sources and to live free and work hard.