If you’ve been thinking about diving into homesteading, you may have a few questions. And if you’ve already been living the modern homesteading life, you’ve probably been asked a few questions about it. Below are answers to the seven most common questions we are asked about our homesteading lifestyle.
* Homesteading? I thought homesteaders were the people in the 1800s who went out west and got free land. Can you do that in Illinois? (or Florida? or London? or ______?)
* Can you learn how to do this stuff if you didn’t grow up on a farm?
Absolutely! When we moved out here, our livestock experience consisted of two cats and a poodle. We learned by reading books and finding mentors over the internet. And we made a lot of mistakes!
* You don’t seem like the type to do this sort of thing. You look so normal. Isn’t it mostly hippies who do this? (or conservative Christians? or the Amish? or ______?)
* Are you off grid?
|A moveable chicken pen used by urban homesteaders|
Lots of modern homesteaders are living the dream in suburbia or even in big cities. Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts, a Google group, has more than 500 members! When I was writing Homegrown and Handmade, I interviewed several of those members and learned that many of them also have gardens or bees. Some compost, and some live without a car, which is pretty easy to do in a city with a great mass transit system. I interviewed one couple that lived in an apartment, and on the roof of their building, they had chickens, bees, and hoop houses for winter gardening. They also did a lot of canning!
As you may have concluded by now, there are no hard and fast rules about what a modern homesteader can or cannot do. However, it’s the self-reliant attitude of most modern homesteaders that sets us apart from those who are content to buy everything from the store, eat fast food daily, and work out at a gym. We want to eat real food and get real exercise without ever lifting a dumbbell. And rather than viewing cooking, chopping wood, and domestic arts as drudgery, we see them as a way to increase our self-reliance and live a more meaningful life.