What is a Homesteader?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by GREEN_ALIEN, Oct 24, 2004.

  1. GREEN_ALIEN

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

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    Ok folks, I am looking for answers to the below question for a book that I am just getting ready to publish. The book is basically done and edited but the publisher and I wanted to expand some of the lead in information. By getting other opinions we can get away from a one sided opion. there will be two other questions following this one.

    What is a homesteader?

    Please note that any answers to this post may or may not appear in print, minus your name and info of course. It will not appear in print verbatim as we are more looking for data to compile.

    Thank you.
     
  2. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps calling someone a 'homesteader' is taking a narrow view about categorizing a person. One could be partially self sufficient and creative and still not consider themselves a 'homesteader'. It could be an occupation, state of mind, or it could be a lifestyle along with all the other pursuits a person may choose to do.
    For example, one can be a parent and a lawyer and a 'city dweller' and a 'homesteader'. There is no precise definintion about modern homesteading as it's an evolving lifestyle with interdependence of others ultimately.
     

  3. groovy mike

    groovy mike Member

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    "Homesteader" has come to mean someone inclined and able to provide for at least a portion of their own needs, especially food production.
     
  4. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    I hate to burst your bubble but there is no longer such a thing as a homesteader. The idea of "living off the land" is fully ingrained into the American physche (mainly through western movies/television), even though it has been completely impossible to live off the land for over 50 years.

    The initial cost of property, property taxes, home heating costs, health insurance costs, and transportation costs insure that one couldn't begin to "live off the land".

    The definition of homesteader is slowly changing. Now people consider someone that raises a garden, raises farm animals, and STRIVES TOWARDS being as self sufficient as is possible (given the world we currently live in), to be a homesteader.
     
  5. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Hoops I hate to burst YOUR bubble... but technically the govt. GIVING you 160 acres probably wouldn't qualify under your terms either. Think about it... even the "legendary, true" homesteaders still bought flour, coffee, cloth, Oh, and don't forget about the new "hightech" (for that time) sod busters that had to be made out of a steel blade that would cut the rough sod of the west (as it was known for breaking the iron plows) I think the truth is that homesteaders have NEVER been afraid to use whatever their means to get by. Can you imagine the old sodbusters saying "I ain't gonna use no steel bladed plow because it ain't what the old timers used..." And isn't that the point of homesteading to some extent at least... "Making Do!"
     
  6. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

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    homesteading I guess, to some is making do, however we don't. we have more now, than when we weren't homesteading.
    we have all the cream we want, milk, eggs, veggies, fruit, meant. and we raised it all. and with that we have a great feeling that we can take care of our selfs completely. even make our own power. and we heat with wood.
    one doesn't need to try to be self reliant, you can be, the oly thing you have to do is, pay your taxes.
    we love the freedom of homesteading. and the work. The seasons have meaning now. spring , planting, summer growing, and fall harvesting, and putting up. winter, doing daily chores, and just enjoying the fire, and the home cooking , fresh bread. hot cider.
     
  7. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    I guess that is where we need to check the definition of "Making Do!" To me it means enjoying the excesses (and selling them or trading for other things) and being patient for other stuff, or learning to do without it. I agree and think we probably both agree to what homesteading is, but perhaps speak about it in a different way. To me "Making Do!" might include using a tin can and a pie pan for a chick waterer instead of buying one or finding a use for all that free wood that you picked up from the neighbors garbage...

    Making Do offers the freedom that you speak of... at least to me.

    Just my .02
     
  8. Dawndra

    Dawndra I'm back

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    Bob, I agree with you!
     
  9. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Well.. no fresh bread here (husband has issues with wheat and sugar) but I'm with Debitaber... we're infinitely better off financially homesteading than not. The savings in winter fuel alone will pay a good portion of our taxes this year.

    Argueably we could buy organic produce and meats, take up jogging for exercise, and achieve the same level of heath another way, but it would be expensive, and we'd be bored our of our little wee minds.

    "Homesteading" does not necessarily mean "hanging on by the skin of your teeth." It can mean "really nice lifestyle and money in the bank."

    But I would like to add that "homesteading" also takes up a fair amount of one's leisure time. So you have less time to be bored. I think a great deal of excess time is spent "shopping" simply out of boredom and that happy feeling one gets when one acquires something. Just MHO
     
  10. Dawndra

    Dawndra I'm back

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    I also think that homesteading is a mind set. Being as self sufficient as you can be where you are at... not necessarily a remote cabin in the woods...
     
  11. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    I also disagree with Hoop, it is possible and it is done, I view it as a way of life,
    it isn't about getting land for free, it never was, it is about living and making a way of life for yourself, it may take outside money to get it done, but it took out side money for the people way back when too. Having a place to call your own, paid for, if by money earned to pay it off, or by the sweat and blood to make it a liveable place to call home. The early pioneers and homesteaders didn't move into ready made places to live, they had to buy their food and tools etc until the land was improived to the point it could suport them, that took out side money, be it from work, savings or inheritance. Wagon wheels, harnesses, and cookware ect; ect; ect; didn't sprout from the ground ready made. They where bought. They got a boost from the Gov. by getting the land without money upfront, we get a boost by getting tax breaks for items we need to build this place into a productive farm, it all boils down to sticking it out through hard times, and getting to the point of having your stuff paid for and producing more than you need to survive.

    Those that do not have land, maybe a homesteader in their hearts and minds, but I am among the few who are living on land and going without many of the modern trinkets of life, (I have plenty others though) We started here 2 years ago with bare land, not even a gate to get into the place, no house, no barn and no surface water, we have done everything but drill the water well ourselves. I lived here in a 16x16x16 box through a cold dark winter, cutting ice from the stock tank with an ax, bare handed and bringing it in to melt to keep animals watered, no insulation in the walls or roof, no windows and no elect. most of the time living here alone while my husband works off farm to earn the money to make improvements, just like families had to do, all those years ago.
     
  12. vtfarma

    vtfarma Well-Known Member

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    Homesteading to us means getting by on what we grow for a majority of our food, because we want to. We own our own company and work on our "farm". We grow our animals with dignity and respect and butcher them the same way because that is the right thing for us. We like to know where our food comes from. We like to teach those "city slickers" that move out here in the country what a baby being delivered looks like while preserving the privacy of mama and baby. We have more neighbors who just stop in when we are working now than ever before. They come to watch us change the light bulbs as we joking say. They buy eggs, syrup and meat. They get recipes and produce from the garden. We have young and old alike who just come for the peace. They bring treats for the animals, apples and yesterday's waffles. The elders and the newbies bring their memories and share them with us. We have a huge family in our little area of the country. We have our 12 beefers, 9 pigs, 16 turkeys, 28 layers, 6 dogs, 4 cats, 2 kids and us AND all the people who we have grown to love.

    We buy no meat or eggs at the store, and very few veggies. We conserve and use our resources wisely. We are not tree huggers just logical. We respect the land and those around us and expect the same from them.

    Homesteading is not an exact science, it is what each of us does to make our "homestead" the best that we can make it. There are some who can get by without electricity or running water. Some day we would like to get 1000 acres in the middle of no where and do just that. Not now.

    If we did not work at our business (me from home) hubby and employees doing service we could not afford to continue to add on to our farm. So that lifestyle enables us to do more. We bring a little bit of us to every aspect of our lives and that is what homesteading is to us. We are true and honest about what we do. We have grossed more than one person out who popped in for sugaring and realized that we were butchering pigs instead.

    Beyond all else homesteading means keeping it in perspective, keeping your sense of humor and keeping an open mind. We wouldn't have it any other way.
     
  13. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    I think homesteading is a state of mind, rather than any measure of accomplishments. It's doing what you can as much as you can to live a more healthy, independent life style. It's a value system putting health and independence above power, possessions and money. There's a degree of homesteading one can do in a city apartment.
     
  14. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    I posted more about what I think about homesteading. It is at a blog that I have started. Here is the link. I didn't want it appearing in the book so I just figured I would point that way and you are interested in reading... great. What is Homesteading?