We had the pleasure of dining with wonderful people over the weekend and even though the meal spanned over four hours, the conversation was never lacking. In the midst of our chatter, this ‘ol blog got brought up. Aw, shucks! One of the guests asked me if we did in fact own a “homestead” – to which I nervously laughed in response, turned bright red, and excused myself from the table to go to the bathroom because whenever I get nervous I automatically have to urinate like a race horse.
But I did laugh. I didn't know what to say! So I replied with a “Well….umm….I guess in a way…”
You see, this particular question-asker was from France. And he wanted to know how one defines a “homestead” this side of the pond.
That, my friend, is a great question.
How would I define a homestead. Hmm.
When I Googled ‘definition of homestead', the answers were pretty vague. For example, “the home and land which a family inhabits”.
So it could look like this:
Or like this:
Or even like this:
Whoop whoop – maybe we do have a homestead after all! It's pretty interesting though that I'd never really thought about this question, as the term ‘homesteading' has truly come full circle and once again has become part of everyday conversation.
Currently, because we do not own our home and therefore cannot inhabit it with animals, our ‘homesteading' consists of gardening for our produce, preparing our food for winter storage, food preservation in the form of canning, dehydrating, freezing, etc., shopping & gathering food locally, establishing relationships with the ranchers that provide our meat and the dairies that provide our milk, and dreaming of the goals ahead.
We are producing. We are learning to respect the seasons & their potential. We are learning to respect our food and the sources it comes from. We are learning to be more responsible consumers by producing more of what we can for cheap. We are learning to eat seasonally, for the most delicious and nutritious choices. We are continually learning how to wean ourselves from grocery store purchases and more towards a self-sufficient menu. We are baking our bread and *eek!* learning to make our own pasta! We have dirt under our fingernails and boxes of produce on the porch. We are brewing our own wine & beer…and kombucha. We are making our own meat stocks, spice mixtures, and desserts. We are homesteading, baby!
Plenty of people homestead from the city, too. It's not a term reserved for us country folks. Oh, no. Urban homesteading has become quite the trend in cities, in the form of fire-escape grown vegetables, community gardens, CSAs, locally-sourced meats and milk, farmers-markets, etc.
But on that note.
In my mind, homesteading is more than food.
When I think of homesteading, I think of time spent together around the kitchen table. I think of holiday traditions and the priority of family. I think of quiet nights spent at home with a cup of tea, pouring over scripture. I think of homemade Christmas gifts and winter nights spent working on crafts. I think of simple living – stripped of the overbearing pressure and rush of city life. I think of a life that is focused on producing…and not just consuming.
An old-fashioned life, if you will.
Honestly, I can't really offer you a definition. I'm just as flabbergasted trying to come up with one as I was when I was asked the initial question! (Flabbergasted. How's that for a word?)
I suppose I would consider homesteading more of a state-of-mind. A sweet, sacred, and beautiful state-of-mind.
And while there is nothin' wrong with a beautiful state-of-mind, I hope that in actuality our homestead will grow to include peach trees, pear trees, apple trees, cherry trees, apricot trees, almond trees, walnut trees, an old barn, a country farmhouse, a dairy cow, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, maybe a few peacocks, barn cats, and a giant & productive vegetable garden with so many tomatoes I have to haul them off with a dump truck. Oh. And more babies.
I'm just sayin'.