Homesteading is a lifestyle that values hard work, creative work, and living simply. At its heart, homesteading focuses on the basics of food, shelter, family, and community. The work is deeply satisfying but never ending. How do we find balance when we must combine our homestead life with responsibilities that takes us away from the home? Homesteading part-time is possible.
A breeze brushes the hair across my face, tickling my nose. Impatiently I brush it aside. But I am grateful for the rising wind since it has chased away the swarm of tiny insects that have been tormenting me these past few minutes.
All day I was looking forward to spending a few minutes of peace and quiet in the hammock, and finally here I am tucked away at the north corner of our small property. The creek trickles behind me, and as I look to the west of me, I see the sun is starting its decent.
Do you ever feel so busy that you hardly have time to think? Introvert that I am, I crave alone time for deep contemplation. I dream of the chance to sit in quiet and allow my scattered thoughts to settle. All day today as I gardened, washed clothes, made phone calls, cleaned, and prepared meals for my family, I kept looking across the field to the hammock, tempting me from out there in the trees. I suspected I would keep going from one necessary activity to the next, and never find a free moment. But finally I decided it was time to stop.
With my journal tucked under my arm, I slipped quietly away, and now here I sit. As my chaotic thoughts begin to slow, I search for mindfulness and meaning.
Two Lives – Homesteading Part-Time
Lately I feel as though I am living two distinct lives.
In one life I am setting priorities at my job, managing my time carefully, occasionally navigating hostile employee relationships, learning new things, sharing skills with my peers, and working with a team deeply committed to improving the lives of the disabled individuals we serve.
In my other life I am devoting my time and energy to building a homestead.
What exactly is a homestead, I wonder as I write these words? To me, a homestead is a place of safety and sanctuary. A place where we produce some if not most of our daily foods. Homesteading is a life that values hard work, creative work, and provides a deep sense of satisfaction. Homesteading connects us to the land and the life it supports, the seasons, and our local community. A homestead life values time with family and enjoying simple pleasures instead of pursuing entertainments that take us away from family and community.
When I am at home, whether I am cleaning, cooking, sewing, making medicine, spending time with family, or working outside, I feel a deep sense of contentment. Truly there is no other place I would rather be. I feel connected to this humble space, and nurtured by it, and I desire to nurture the land in return.
As author Jenna Woginrich so eloquently expresses:
We can sit on the porch and talk all day about philosophy and religion and what people want. But the conversation about what the human animal needs is pretty short — food, shelter, water, protection. … I find true peace and purpose in taking control of what I need.
Raising and growing your own food is more than a lifestyle — it is life. Contrary to popular belief there is nothing altruistic about it. Homesteading is the most self-involved way to live.
Taking control of what I need. Being the one to decide what I value instead of the government, corporations, marketing, and public relations people instructing me in what I need to be healthy and happy.
Yes, I can go to work and earn money to buy the things I need. But after 30 years of earning an income, I haven’t felt the same simple satisfaction that comes from making myself what I need. And this homestead life of mine, well, it is an experiment of sorts. How much of what I need can I comfortably make for myself? And by “comfortably” I don’t mean easy. There has been nothing easy about putting in the large garden we built from a blank space of lawn. Bleeding blisters, sweat stains, and sore muscles have been the price my husband and I have paid for this first garden. Not to mention the continuing hours of working the soil, building the beds, planting, weed pulling, watering, and mulching. But the work has been joyous, and deeply satisfying. The work has been shared by the man I love, and is a positive influence for my children as they observe me pursuing something I am passionate about.
My other life, filled with work that too often feels disconnected from anything meaningful, while often satisfying in small ways, doesn’t nourish my body and soul the way the work of homesteading does. I sometimes feel my other life takes too much of my time and energy, and between work hours and commuting, I am forced to compress my homesteading into a tiny corner of my life. I remind myself that life is often about compromises, and someday I hope to find a more suitable balance. But for now I will focus on the gratitude I feel for all that I do have.
As Rhonda Hetzel of Down to Earth says so well:
Instead of thinking you can’t have the life you want, just start doing things that will sustain you. Stop mindless shopping, create a budget, work in your home, develop a generous and kind attitude, let this new life create itself around you and then rely on it.
“Let this new life create itself around you, and then rely on it.”
If you “homestead”, or you want to begin, what are your reasons?
Or perhaps you have your own dream to fulfill, and I wonder, what’s holding you back?