Is the Homesteading Spirit still alive at Homesteading Today?

Discussion in 'Countryside Families' started by Melissa, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. Melissa

    Melissa member

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    Sometimes I just don't see it. What has happened here? Is there anyone out there who is really trying to be a homesteader? Anyone who still has the dream of self-sufficiency? Anyone who has a can-do attitude? Are you doing it? Tell us about it, give me hope!
     
  2. hillsidedigger

    hillsidedigger Well-Known Member

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    Its a matter of investment. With a couple or several more years of my working career, I hope to be able to afford to spend my full time on the properties and find it not necassary to go to a store for anything, maybe even earn a modest income off the properties.
     

  3. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    We moved to our homestead in 1979, with a mortgage, of course. Got it paid off 17 years later, about the time the kids graduated from high school.

    All those years I baked our bread, gardened, raised rabbits, chickens, cattle, and horses.

    When hubby's kidneys failed in the mid 1980's, I went back to college and then to work teaching. That reduced the time I could spend being a true homesteader.

    The kids grew up, moved away. Hubby got a kidney transplant and is working full time in the oilfield.

    I transitioned from school teacher to renovator of old homes and landlord.

    Although we still have cattle, goats, and horses and live in the country, my 'homesteading' is more focused on self-employment now. I do still quilt and cook and bake, but with the renovation and rental properties, I don't have much time to garden or can.

    It's a time crunch, and often the things I would like to do get squeezed out by the things that I must do.

    Just my little story.
     
  4. crafty2002

    crafty2002 Well-Known Member

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    I was watching the thread about buying land with my fingers crossed but it pettered out. I am still looking for land that I like and can afford that has good neighbors around, but sense the man is letting me do as I please, (for now mind you,LOL) with the 20 acre field behind me, I am working at it right here in the city. Hoping to get some chicks and rabbits come spring and I am already working on making my garden larger than last years. It was twice the size last year as the year before and I want to atleast double it this year. .
     
  5. crafty2002

    crafty2002 Well-Known Member

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    Rose, are there any school kids around that want to learn the things you know. If you were a teacher maybe you could get a thing going to teach the kids and get your garden and canning up and running again and not have to do as much of the work nor spend all the time there. Just a thought.
     
  6. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Man proposes, God disposes.

    I dreamed of a place with a cow and a horse and a path to a creek with fish in it.

    I GOT multiple sclerosis, and so instead I have 5 acres with asparagus and not much else, and contraband chickens in the back yard.

    It happens.
     
  7. SeptemberWolf

    SeptemberWolf Well-Known Member

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    Don't despair, Melissa. The spirit is alive and well, and just comes in different forms. We do what we can. Canning, farming, gardening, -- and a lot depends on the environment. For me, going off the grid is impractical; solar power for me would be only an additional power source because northeastern Minnesota doesn't get enough sunshine to allow for total solar power. Our growing season is short, and, unless a person hunts and gathers, farm animals that produce meat, eggs, milk, etc., are needed -- and those animals need heat. So, we here have to balance what is practical and affordable with what is wished and desired. Do we want to walk behind an ox to plow - sounds great, if you can do it, go for it; takes time, though. Are any of us truly self-sufficient - make all our clothing, tan leather for our shoes, weave, spin, grow grain for animals? How many of us buy things wrapped in plastic - can you find half of what you want that ISN'T wrapped in plastic nowadays? And then, how do we dispose of the trash - can't burn it, that would pollute the air - so we need to use garbage services: Well, you can see where I'm going with this. As I said, we do what we can. I sew, bake, garden, have poultry, but as yet must work in order to be able to afford more animals next year. However, I'm getting might fed up with being trapped within a system - I feel like I'm just a good little worker drone, making money only in order to pay bills. I'm hopeful, though, because I grew up in a fairly self-sufficient family and know how to can, sew, garden and so forth. Chin up, Melissa - there is hope.
     
  8. Melissa

    Melissa member

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    The attitude has to come first. Sometimes all I see are people with no initiative, no spirit and no gumption. Everyone wants to tell what they can't do or why it won't work. Well the time has come to figure out what can be done or why it can work!

    You know, when Cale and I were just dating, we went out with a handsaw and cut enough trees to build a house. It wasn't that hard but everyone we knew thought we were crazy. Fortunately we were just stubborn enough to not listen to them. When we moved in here we had no running water, half the house was still dirt floors and there were no doors or windows. Most people don't want to give up anything to live the homesteading lifestyle. I guess it is easier not to.
     
  9. sancraft

    sancraft Well-Known Member

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    Right now I'm working 3 jobs and eating way too much McDonalds. Crap I know, but when you're hungry and it takes 3 hours to make dinner on a two burner, you just want to eat. I'm hoping that when the double wide gets here, we can finally setle into a real routine. I want to cook, bake, quilt, read, get goats again and horses too. Sometimes life just gets in the way of living. Also, I'm doing this alone. I don't have a DH that I can depend on. That makes a difference too.

    As I sit here, typing with blue fingers because my ex hasn't been here to cut wood and we had 3 days of rain. I can't tell you how thankful I will be to be able to turn the thermostat up for heat. Now back to bed where we all three slept because there is an electric blanket on my bed.
     
  10. Burbsteader

    Burbsteader Well-Known Member

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    I live in the city on a double lot.
    For some here, that means that I would never qualify. We have reasons for staying where we are and although I had hoped that we would end up with land, I can't say that will ever happen. I know that I have done more with my little property than many people I know that have many acres.

    So rather than wait for 'someday' that might never arrive, I chose to make the best of what I have. I know I can still get a lot done on my little piece of land. I am always looking for ways to be more self-sufficient.

    There are always going to be limitations to what I can do simply due to lack of space, but that doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of options still left for me.
    We have our chickens, fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, herbs, food plants such as rhubarb, our mason bees to pollinate (deathly allergic to honeybees),and our veggie garden. I have successfully raised many rabbits here. I am seriously considering a couple dwarf goats or a couple mini sheep.

    We doubled our garden last year and I have the plans on my desk to double or more the garden again this year.

    I am always trying to learn something new and always open to new ideas. I use the Path to Freedom website as an example of what I am striving for here.
     
  11. Melissa

    Melissa member

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    Sandra, I think you have the spirit of homesteading in your heart more than anyone here!
     
  12. SeptemberWolf

    SeptemberWolf Well-Known Member

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    Hard work - Melissa, you're so right. I was living in the Minneapolis area years ago, when my older sister was building her log home up north. She now has a wool operation going, sells wool, batts, rovings, etc., and just bought a little loom. She has sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, and horses. I've made some wonderful cheese from her goats' milk, and for Christmas we roasted one of the geese I raised. One of the biggest benefits of doing these things is - it's good cheap therapy. I work as a mental health counselor (watch out) and wish that every kid I've talked with could spend at least a year on a farm. There's something wonderful about taking care of animals; about walking into a cozy warm barn on a crisp, cold, snowy winter morning. I agree with you that it's way too easy to take the indoor route - watch TV, play XBox and so forth -- and not consider the consequences (using electricity, getting fatter, among others). I'm on my own, so it takes me more time to do some of the things that a couple or family could do, and that's probably my biggest limitation. However, I did re-do my own bathroom, laid a new kitchen floor, installed a wood stove, clean my chimney, build animal houses, plant trees, and put up fencing. This is because I amtoo stupid to know I can't do it...
     
  13. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I started 7-8 years ago with a picture of a barn tacked to the cubicle I worked in, and a link to the old countryside forum. With the great advice and help of folks on this board and its predecessor, we now own that barn and it is filled with cattle and chickens.

    We grow most of our own food and I learned how to preserve it. We are starting to sell our excess. It's an all organic operation.

    We have a ways to go, but it starts with little steps, lots of saving and reading. I'm a believer in snowball savings because you must plan and parlay all that you have to get something more. This is why I constantly post in the tightwad tips thread because those tips are what got us to where we are today--debt free except for a mortgage, with land, critters and the ability to feed ourselves with healthy food.
     
  14. lonelyfarmgirl

    lonelyfarmgirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    well, I am currently stuck in the city on a 1/4 acre lot. I have rabbits, I devote about 50X50 to vegetable garden, I have berries. I homeschool and work part-time. I 'redneck' nearly everything to save money. I recycle, and I haul my water, because what comes out of our city well is unusable. When my house sells, I will move to a place I haven't found yet on minimal income so I can do more homesteading stuff. If it is a trailer or shack to start, so be it. we rarely eat out, dont use polystyreen things, try to feed my rabbits off what I grow most of the time, and am constantly searching for a way to make money that is not working at a job. Its the best I can do for now. In the mean time, read read read. I assure you, that spirit is alive here.
     
  15. midwsthomestead

    midwsthomestead joy seeker

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    Thanks for this thread, Melissa! I think we'll all be encouraged by it.

    This family moved to our country home a year ago this October past, on a gravel road out in the country. We have apple trees, dogs and cats and lots n lots of plans n hopes!

    This year,I learned to prepare and freeze apples from our trees and did a lit'l bit o' freezing of farmer's market vegetables as well--for the first time ever. I've learned so much about cooking, it's become quite a hobby o' mine! Lots of help from folks here at HT, whether in asking questions or reading already posted info. We've plans for a garden of our own this spring, growing and preserving as much as we can. I've hopes for chickens and eventually to be eating said chickens and even our own beef. We'll see.

    (I do wish more folks on the forum answered the asked questions cheerfully instead of using sarcasm and making the poster wonder why they asked! Tis what this forum is all about, learning and sharing. Even some good mods seem sneering in some responses lately--maybe I just don't know the 'background' going on.)

    There ARE folks out here learning and living the homesteading life, some on smaller scales than others, but I think it all counts--however your family does it.

    ~~Onward!~~
     
  16. tinetine'sgoat

    tinetine'sgoat Luvin' my family in MO

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    Kinda funny you mentioned that, we are getting ready to take the biggest step towards independence we have done so far. We have decided that life is to short to not ever take any risks. So we are going to look at 24.8 acres and have already talked to the bank. It will be tight for us, but this is our dream. We have decided to drill wells and dig cisterns instead of running water lines, putting in a wood stove for heat, my dh and FIL are going to build the house which we have decided on a small 1200 sq ft with basement. We already grow 90% of our meat, and can as much as the garden allows. We will be able to put 7 acres of the land in corn for the critters, and bale about 14 acres for hay. So we will need to buy less feed. Part of this is inspired by those of you on here, Sancraft and her cabin, Melissa and Cale building what they have since they were teenagers...you both took risks, big risks, and you are determined to keep with the ideals set in your heart and mind. We have done the best we can on our small acreage and we are ready to try our darndest to have our dream. I know it's not everyone's ideal life, but to me the idea of having room for a calf, no propane, fresh ground water, sitting in a house that we built is worth all the sacrifices that we will need to make.
     
  17. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    Melissa, I often wonder the same thing myself. The place I am on is the second built from scratch homestead for me and I hope to stay here as self-sufficient as possible until I die. I think it is good to have a dream and a goal, but at some point you have to start. The first time we lived in a tent with three very young children.....my oldest started kindergarden while we were still in the tent......while we built our home. The second time, this place, we had a 5th wheel camper.

    Being by myself here now, I wonder how long I can keep it up, but I still love it and plan to stay active and continue with being mostly self-sufficient as far as food goes and heat with wood etc.
     
  18. bachelorb

    bachelorb Well-Known Member

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    Well, I guess I really don't know what homesteading is. For me its about being self sufficient and farming on some small acreage. I can't do it now, but I'm working towards it. Its all part of a plan and at 51 I hope to put it into action. Right now, I'm trying to give my kids all the chances they need in life, so I'm working out right now to help pay for college for both of them and when the last one finishes, I can give up my town job.
    In order to get the plan going, we bought an old broken down farmhouse on the cheap. I've been working over the last two years with any extra cash I've had to rewire it, replumb it, and straighten a barn that termites had lowered one side about two feet. I've also torn down another house to get windows, doors, toilets, sinks, and other things (even a mailbox for goodness sakes....)Now were starting to get into real money things (appliances, cupboards, etc..).

    We've also started building up livestock (goats chickens, and cattle) along with everything that goes with it ( a free hay baler that I finally got working, a $25 sickle mower and old corn picker that should be working this spring). Oh yeah, then there is the 80 acres of land that the livestock and I are clearing. Eventually, we hope to sell the house were in after the boys move off and take that money to pay off the land.

    Probably not homesteading in the strictest sense, but I'm sure that even in the 1800's the sod house settlers looked at the log cabin settlers with a different view being a Homesteader
     
  19. pyrnad

    pyrnad Well-Known Member

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    Melissa, I bought my 25 acres 10 years ago. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this place. I raise a cow, pig, goat, chickens, and turkeys for the freezer. Grow all of the veggies we eat. Fresh from the garden in the summer, and from our freezer in the winter. I have goats for milk and cheese, chickens for eggs. I work at least 10 hours a day tending the animals,milking etc. I love what I do, and I will never give it up.
    It is getting harder to do this though. Farm land being split up for house lots.
     
  20. sewsilly

    sewsilly Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Melissa and all,

    This is my version of homesteading. About 25 years ago, a year before we married, we 'renovated' a family home, in my family for 5 generations. We had to hire a bulldozer to get to the door (trees had grown up). FIL stood on a ladder, at the 'back door' (read hole in wall) and said "you'll never turn this into a home". We worked a year, doing the work outselves, except for electrical. The home predated 1900, and had little in the way of 'modern amenities'. We added only what we needed to live a simple comfortable life.
    Those additions included a new chimney, wood heater, back up heat pump( 5 years in) a hot water heater and new appliances. We peeled 1930's 'linoleum' off the floors and refinished the heart pine that we found. We worked at other jobs, sometimes, two each, to afford the materials. Three years later, when the first little one came along, I stopped 'work' and stayed home.
    From the day following our honeymoon, we've had chickens, goats, and a variety of critters to feed, help us work and entertain us. We've refurbished turn of the century outbuildings (a cotton house, a commodity house a number of barns and sheds and animal pens). We have always farmed, for ourselves and to share and to sell, and I've canned and preserved,dried, frozen. The menfolk hunt and supplement with that. As the children came, three in all, we strove to raise them in an earth respecting/self-sustaining mindset. Noone has 'objected' and all pitch in and help. They're now very independant teens and young adults and are extraordinarily thoughtful of their impact on the earth. We live on property that borders an 'untouched' river. Very little impact, and no development for about 50 miles either way.
    We've swam and played and fished it's banks nearly daily. Several times a day, we host folks, mostly kids and church groups, for a day on the river, innnertube floating, playing in a natural woods and dinner over an open fire. Boy scouts regularly camp in my woods.

    I realized recently that we lived 'differently' than most, when a bunch of marching band officers (16 to18 yos') came over for a 'river day. Before heading to the river, my 17 year old led them on a 'team building' ropes kinda of course, that he'd built in the woods. Nearby is a swing, built by the youngest kid in the family. It hangs from a massively tall tree and though you climb on the swing on land, you (dangerously enough) swing into open space over a very steep valley. Talk about a rush... The city kids haven't stopped talking about it yet. At the end of the day, we fed them food from the garden and homemade rolls. They haven't stopped talking about that either.

    We are currently in another transition. My husband was downsized from yet another banking job in early summer. (this gets tiresome). I teach part-time, without benefits. As people who have lived sensibly and financially responsibly for 25 years, we've managed ok though this time. My biggest fear is lack of insurance, but so far so good. Instead of whining and fussing, DH has caught up on many projects here (new fencing, repairs on house and barns),larger gardens, attention to the woodlot, taking down a barn a tree fell on, etc, etc, etc. We've managed on my income. It's not been awful.
    Then comes Christmas, where we made ALL presents except three smallish things for the kids. Luckily for us, we've not raised spoiled brats. They seemed genuinely happy with their gifts and excited as they each gave their homemade gifts to each other. We were warm and fed and had many friends in and out all day. We all are readers, and we all got some new books, via an exchange and we've had a fire, cookies and coffee and a spirited romp through the woods.

    As I watched my little crew (and a number of 'spares) romp ahead of me, wearing hand knit stocking caps, knowing there was chicken stew on at the house, I couldn't help but reflect that the last 25 years have been good ones, that currently we're doing just fine and I sat on the river banks and made plans for the future.
    We came back to the house, fed up all the animals, cooked the bread and sat down to eat. We were thankful to God for our blessings and our being together.

    We consider this homesteading and it works for us.
    hugs to all,
    dawn