240: Maybe you’re not a homesteader

240: Maybe you’re not a homesteader

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I know, I know. You’re stressed out because you don’t think you measure up as a homesteader. You don’t think you’re doing enough. You worry about doing it right. And not only that, but there are parts of your life that don’t fit with homesteading and you feel like you have to hide those, or down play them.

Is that you?

Listen to me right now.

Maybe you’re not a homesteader.

Maybe you’re something else.

Life as a homesteader today

Life is more than what you do or don’t have in the garden. It’s more than whether you butcher your pigs or send them to someone else to do for you. Life is more than how many acres you have, how much lawn you allow to grow, whether or not you free range your chickens, what kind of bread you bake, or whether your diet is all home raised meat or organically grown vegetables.

And as more people get into homesteading, it’s almost as if it gets clouded with rules of how to do and not do stuff. As in, there is a socially accepted way that it all goes down (which hello, can we talk about how ironic that is? Homesteaders. Breaking away from the mainstream, but still having an “accepted way” to do things within homesteading?)

As more people get into homesteading, there’s also a kind of “look at me!” vibe. And the only way we get known is by what sets us apart:

  • Maybe it’s because you have that one angry emu
  • Maybe you live with your big family in a teeny tiny house
  • Maybe you raise everything your family uses except for salt—or at least that’s what people think
  • Maybe you have a cool way of planting that you happened to make a tiktok about and it went viral and now you’re the go-to for that way of planting—at least for this ten minutes.
  • Maybe you’re a more political type homesteader (even though you say you’re not political) and get really angry on YouTube about what the government is or isn’t doing and you relate that to what you are or aren’t or can or can’t do on your homestead.

As more and more people get into homesteading and try to take their homesteading vibe or knowledge off their homestead—to a podcast or a YouTube channel or a blog or whatever—it can change what homesteading feels like. It makes homesteading a “thing”, not just an experience you decided to dive into one day as a person or a family. Now, it’s a “thing”.

The problem with attaching yourself to “homesteading”

Back in the day, I attached myself to homesteading. As in, homesteading became my identity. And shortly after that, I attached homesteading (my identity) to a business. A lot of people did that because the internet and social media made it super easy. But that can actually be a problem because then everything you’re doing on your homestead becomes about business, it’s not about the homestead you wanted to build for your family.

And when you’re a homestead content creator who has done that for awhile—ahem, 14 years—you sometimes step back and try to look at the larger picture, and the choices people/other content creators make:

  • Some are pushing hard to be successful as a teacher in the homesteading arena,
  • some are like “dude, I’ve already taught you everything I know”
  • other are like “I don’t like where the community is headed and I’m gonna pivot”

I totally understand why people are choosing any of those options, and none of those options are wrong.

Ok, if I’m not a homesteader, what am I?

If you’re homesteading and it’s stressing you out—the vibe, the content, measuring up, doing the right or wrong thing—today I just want you to consider that maybe you’re not homesteading. Maybe you’re doing something different.

Maybe you’re lifesteading.

If homesteading is the process of building a homestead, lifesteading is the process of building a life.

I don’t own that word. I’ve never heard that word before, but I definitely didn’t make it up. I think it was something that flew into my brain because I needed it for perspective.

What we are building here is not a homestead, we are building a life. And there is way more to life than this homestead. And in an age where we find each other online the easiest by the labels we attach to ourselves, calling yourself a homesteader nowadays can very often mean you’re going to spend all day stuck in conversations about how to harvest wild yeast and whether rebel canners are descended from Satan, and are you even really a chicken keeper if you don’t free range them, and omg you tilled your garden? and omg why don’t you have goats?

We forget that the kids still have to get to softball practice.

We forget that mortgages still have to be paid (and for most of us, the homestead isn’t the way to make that happen).

We forget that the vast majority of people who homestead also have full time jobs away from the homestead (or have someone in the household who is working a full time job aside from the homestead) which somehow makes them feel fake or like there is something wrong with leaving their homestead to make money.

We forget that there are concerts to go to and cool boots to buy and motorcycle trips to take or cruises to go on or appointments to get to at the salon or the doctor or the mechanic’s shop.

And I don’t know why any of us are hiding that or pretending it’s separate from the fact we happen to grow tomatoes or know how to butcher a duck or know how to start a generator.

Don’t let homesteading make your life smaller

This isn’t homesteading. This is lifesteading. We are building a life. And as we are building that life, we are living that life.

This is your life we are talking about. Don’t make this smaller than it should be.

You’re not a homesteader. You’re a lifesteader.


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