Homesteading has been around for centuries in one form or another. As all of you know, it is hard work and certainly isn’t for everyone. In fact, homesteading looks a little different to different people and in this modern day and age has changed considerably from what it once was.
So, for today’s article I turned to some city friends of mine and asked them what, exactly, they thought homesteading was. Their answers were absolutely shocking, and the more people I asked the more I realized that it wasn’t just my friends—it was everyone!
Today, I want to debunk some of those myths.
Homesteading is Easy
I suspect this misconception comes from a nostalgia at how much easier it must be to not have a crazy schedule with a 9 to 5 job in the city. No rush hour, no supermarkets… must be easy, right?
Wrong. Homesteading is far from easy, and it is definitely a full-time job. Forget about your idea of sleeping in or taking long vacations. There are probably animals to be fed or gardens (or maybe even fields) to be tended and a million other projects and things that need to be done around the house. Homesteaders commonly work all year long and get up early. The difference is that homesteaders do it because they love it, so you won’t hear a complaint. But that’s not the same as it being easy.
Homesteaders live in the country
When most people think of homesteading, they probably picture a huge house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields with a huge family working from sunup to sundown. While there are still places where people live like this, it’s far from the norm.
In fact, you don’t even have to have a huge plot of land or even live in the country to be a homesteader. Urban homesteading has risen greatly in popularity recently and there are plenty of ways that you can be a homesteader, no matter where you live.
All Homesteaders have livestock
While a lot of homesteaders do have some form of livestock, this is far from the rule. Urban homesteaders commonly don’t bother with livestock, and even if they do it probably isn’t the kind of livestock that most people think. Some homesteaders raise rabbits for food, or have a flock of chickens and nothing else. Homesteading doesn’t mean dealing with cows unless you want to.
Homesteaders grow all their own food
This is simply not true. Growing all of your own food would be a massive undertaking that would take acres of land and tons of people. While a lot of homesteaders have a garden from which they’ll grow (and can) veggies or fruit, it’s often a far cry from growing everything for themselves. Some homesteaders will, however, trade surplus with others for things they can’t grow. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll never see a homesteader at the grocery store!
Homesteading and Pioneering are similar
This misconception left me absolutely speechless. My friend (who lives in an apartment in the city and has done so her whole life) proceeded during my shocked silence to tell me that she always pictured homesteaders to be similar to the Old West pioneers or, at best, the Amish. Think flowered dresses and homeschooling and no technology. Think that terrible Oregon Trail game. Yeah. Not even close.
Once I managed to stop laughing, I could barely even begin to explain to her how wrong that was. Homesteading is all about living a little more old-fashioned and a little more simply. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a cell phone or that you’re going to die from dysentery. Honestly, people!
Homesteading is Cheap
I am not really sure where this comes from–it’s probably related to the idea that you don’t ever buy anything when you homestead (which we’ll touch on in a minute) but homesteading is far from cheap. Just think about all of the expenses your average city-dweller has, right? Now, add on costs of farming or gardening equipment, livestock, feed, gardening seeds, time… you get the point. It isn’t cheap in the slightest, but it CAN be rewarding.
Homesteaders are frugal
There is this odd misconception that all homesteaders are penny pinchers who never purchase anything, and when forced they always buy used things. While a lot of times the old-fashioned homesteading lifestyle does lend itself to being frugal (it is pretty expensive, after all), not all homesteaders choose to live this way. In fact, some homesteaders still keep their normal jobs and simply do the homesteading thing as an aside. This doesn’t make them any less of a homesteader, because homesteading looks different for everyone.
Homesteaders always Home School
I had one friend who told me that she thought homesteaders were recluses who always home school their children and basically never left the house. Obviously, while some homesteaders will choose to home school their kids, I don’t think that’s it’s something that ALL homesteaders do. And as for never leaving the house; I can’t even imagine how boring that would be! While living simply can help you appreciate the little things, it doesn’t mean you never want to go and do things like catch a movie or even just visit friends.
All Homesteaders are Self-sufficient
By self-sufficient, we mean living completely off the grid. No electricity, no running water, never purchasing anything from the store… the works. Obviously, we already talked about livestock and growing your own food, but what some people don’t seem to realize is that many cities have laws and ordinances that require houses to be hooked up to the water or electricity grid. Some homesteaders choose to harvest rainwater and have solar panels and such, but it’s not required to be a homesteader by any means and in some places collecting gray water is actually illegal.
All Homesteaders are Preppers
This last point actually sparked quite the debate about what, exactly, prepping is (hint: it’s not the zombie apocalypse). However, that’s something that we’ll address in another post at some point. For now, suffice it to say that while many homesteaders will put up food or make some preparations, they aren’t all preparing for the end of the world or the collapse of civilization. Most of them simply don’t want to waste food.
What misconceptions have you encountered in your homesteading journey?? Share with me in the comments!