Homesteading is often thought as someone having a small family run farm out in the country where they grow most or all of their own food. While this is one example, homesteading is more of a lifestyle where one works to be as self-sufficient as they can with the resources they have. A person growing herbs in their kitchen window or canning vegetables from a farmers market or a friend’s garden is as much a part of that lifestyle as the family with a hundred acres.
If you asked 10 homesteaders for the reasons that they homestead you are likely to get 100 answers. People may start for economic reasons, for preparedness, for ethical reasons, or for health; but before long a multitude of daily joys begins to replace the intellectual reasons. The joy of preparing a meal that was grown entirely in your backyard, the taste of a freshly picked tomato, the beauty of a garden at its peak, the anticipation of the spring garden while looking at seed catalogs in the depth of winter, watching a chick grow from a fuzzy yellow ball into a laying hen…one could go on indefinitely.
While there are also many hardships such as the death of livestock, destruction or disruption of the garden by deer, rodents, birds or even your own animals, or the simple need to go out in the cold, heat or rain every day of the year to do chores, these hardships are small things for those who have learned to enjoy the lifestyle.
Because there is so much to learn when starting out, a community of like minded individuals who are working toward a similar lifestyle can be extremely helpful. Having people who are willing to farm-sit during occupational vacations, illnesses and injuries is very helpful in keeping people going. Those who have been at it longer can encourage those who are new at it with techniques they have found useful, crop and livestock types and varieties that work well locally, and diagnoses of problems and/or possible solutions. Those who produce an abundance of one crop can pass on that abundance to others. Those who have more land than they can effectively manage on their own can partner with those who have time but little land. There are always times when extra labor is useful to put in infrastructure, to kick off a new project, or to bring in an abundant crop. It is incredibly difficult to become completely self-sufficient but working within a community can increase the productivity and resiliency of everyone within it.