When many people think of homesteading, they picture a far off, rural, place where people live off-grid and only off the land. This is true for some people, but the vast majority of modern homesteaders are, in fact, living much like you. They may have an urban homestead, where they grow food in all their available spaces and source food locally. They may be suburban, with a little more space. They could be living off the grid, or they could have every modern amenity available to them. The truth is: Homesteading today looks very similar to everyone else’s life, but with an eye toward sustainability, self-sufficiency, and healthy living.
One thing you may find among homesteaders today is the love of some of the old skills. Though they may use modern practices, there are times when the old skills come into play, simply because they WORK without fuss. They usually don’t cost a lot to do, and they often do not require special training or tools. These old skills can serve a homesteader well.
Garden Practices: Homesteaders count on many modern garden techniques to increase yield and to make gardening easier. But, you will also find that they use many of the old, time-tested, skills of yesteryear to plan their gardens. This can be companion planting, special crop rotations, weather forecasting, and the use of heirloom varieties specific to their region. Homesteaders are marvelous at the use of old garden tools to save time and energy (both physical and fuel based) and very often use creativity to bring those tools and techniques into our modern style of gardening.
Animal Husbandry: The care of animals is an important part of many homesteads. Modern veterinary care is nothing short of amazing, and most of us develop a working relationship with our veterinarian. We can also use many of the “old” techniques to help our animals thrive in today’s world. Feeding practices, cleanliness practices, and some homeopathic medical practices can help reduce veterinary costs and make our animals happier and healthier. Of course, it should be noted, the health of the animal is always the number one priority. We rely on these animals on the homestead for many reasons so it is important to seek veterinary care anytime something is seriously wrong.
Homekeeping: The keeping and care of the home can be sped up by modern practices, and many times that is a VERY good thing. But, in an effort to avoid toxic chemicals in modern day cleaning products and still have a clean and well-kept home, homesteaders may turn to old practices and techniques. Soap making, the making of cleaners, and the use of products such as vinegars, essential oils, and other products can help the modern homesteader reduce the toxins in their home in a simple way. The truth is: It is actually not more work in most cases. It is often just a matter of choosing better products to support your home and family.
Land Maintenance: Homesteaders often study old text to learn about land maintenance. The rotation of livestock, fence building, and land care practices of old still work well today. Because those practices were so well documented, we can turn to them in an effort to learn how to care for our land in the most sustainable way. Sometimes, admittedly, these practices can be more labor intensive than some modern practices. However, in many cases, they reduce the impact on the land and help us to ensure that it can be used well for generations.
Food Preparation: Our world today is full of convenience, which seems like it would be a very good thing. Food lasts longer, is easier to prepare, and takes less time to make. But, it does come at a cost. Convenient foods can be more expensive and can be filled with chemicals, which many families wish to avoid. Finding ways to use old recipes and techniques in today’s world can really boost both your budget and the nutritional value of your food. Luckily, these skills are also well documented in cook books and homekeeping books. Many times, the recipes or techniques may make you laugh (and if nothing else, reading about some of them are good entertainment!). But, other times, you can pick up essential skills to use what you have produced on your homestead.
Learning old skills doesn’t have to feel old-fashioned. You may find them relaxing and charming. They can make you become more intentional in your actions throughout your homestead. As you learn them, and your knowledge base grows, they can also be an amazing jumping off point for new creativity.
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