Lately, I’ve been fuming over an issue that has disturbed me in times past. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I struggle with the homestead label. While I use the name on my blog from time to time, at this point, I don’t use it to describe my lifestyle! I prefer to use other terms, such as ‘traditional’ or ‘country’ or ‘cottage’ living.
After returning to particular social media accounts, I’ve been wrestling with this question once again: what IS a homesteader?
WILL THE REAL HOMESTEADER PLEASE STAND UP?!
I just don’t get it. If you have answers, please enlighten me. From all I can see, the online world claims that anyone can be a homesteader, regardless of situation or circumstance!
Folk living in apartments, raising basil on their windowsill, cooking from scratch, practicing frugality are homesteaders.
Urban dwellers with a 8’x12′ raised garden bed in their back yard and a few fruit trees along the fence line also carry the label.
So does the individual who lives just outside city limits, keeps a few chickens, a small garden and practices home canning.
Those who raise animals for meat, who grow and preserve at least 50% of their food are also entitled to the same name.
It’s not the heart of the homestead movement that I question, but rather the way in which we toss this title around.
HAS THE HOMESTEAD LABEL LOST ITS INTEGRITY?
To those of us who promote the homestead movement…don’t you think we’ve overdone it… just a wee bit?!
Telling someone they can ‘homestead’ in their apartment? In their urban back yard where animals are strictly banned? That cooking from scratch places them in the same category as someone who lives with the sobering reality of raising, then slaughtering their own animals?
Folks, something’s not right. It’s one thing to claim that others can implement aspects of the homesteader’s life. And it’s another to encourage others to embrace the title and proudly display it regardless of situation and circumstance.
Are we slowly robbing homesteading of it’s integrity? Opening doors for confusion, for others to ridicule the movement?
Please don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge advocate for natural living and the heart of the homestead movement. But in my books, natural living isn’t the same thing as homesteading. While these two things often overlap, I do see them as separate entities.
In fact, I’d say the ‘homestead’ movement has swallowed up other useful labels that are better suited to some folk’s situation. Labels that make sense and don’t take 2 minutes to explain to a listener.
WHAT HAPPENED TO BASIC LABELS?
What would happen if we returned to basic labels that existed in plenty before the homestead craze?
Someone grows a garden in their back yard. Great! What’s wrong with calling them a gardener?
Others are passionate about cooking from scratch. Can we just label them as real food cooks?
Some have an interest in canning food for winter. Awesome! They believe in food preservation!
Folks who are conscious about keeping a natural, organized home? Sounds like a homemaker, doesn’t it?!
It wasn’t only homesteaders who made their own soap, canned food and kept gardens. Longer ago, even urban homes were outfitted with all this and even had some kind of root cellar. Know what else? They didn’t carry the homestead label. It was just another facet of their urban lifestyle.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
If someone invites me over for dinner and also throws in a “by the way, I’m a homesteader,” I don’t expect to drive downtown, pay for parking and climb five flights of stairs to reach their door at the top of an apartment building! I’m glad to see they have five tomato plants growing on their deck, along with a pot of lettuce and another of basil. Good for them!
Doesn’t use of this label seem…somewhat foolish?
The individual may have a burning desire for country life. They may be saving for a move to a little hobby farm or homestead (hey, that’s us!). Perhaps they spend an hour every day, researching the how-to’s of gardening and raising animals. Again, good for them!
But until you are there, you aren’t there. Know what I mean? It’s like claiming to be a farmer when you live in the city and have a 10’x12′ front yard. Just doesn’t sit right!
SOMEONE EXPLAIN IT TO ME, PLEASE!
Maybe I’m thick headed and don’t understand the whole homesteading movement. But could someone explain why we are pushing people to claim a label that doesn’t suit their current situation or circumstance?