87: A Homesteader’s Response to Everyone’s Sudden Interest in Homesteading
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I recently received this question in my inbox, and it was the perfect mash-up of many questions I’ve received in the last couple weeks regarding my thoughts on the uptick of sudden interest in homesteading and self-reliance skills due to the current health and economic issues we are facing. The email said:
Hi. Curious what you think about all the people who are buying tons of baby chicks and all the seeds suddenly trying to prepare to feed themselves. Does that make you mad? Does this create shortages for you? Or are you just happy people are getting in to it? If so, do you think it will last?
After thinking through my answers, I decided I’d turn them into a post here. My thoughts were also recorded more in depth in a podcast episode, which you can find by pressing play on the black bar at the top of this post, or by finding episode 87 of the Farmish Kind of Life podcast in your favorite podcast player/podcatcher.
Am I mad about people’s sudden interest in homesteading and self reliance?
I’m not mad that people are getting into homesteading and self-reliance stuff. I don’t have a monopoly on it. I don’t own the concept of being farmish. And any homesteader or self-reliance supporter who acts like they do, should have their motives questioned. You’re not creeping on my turf by wanting to bake bread or get chickens. In fact, I welcome you to the club.
Does people’s sudden interest in homesteading and self-reliance create shortages for me?
Personally, it’s harder to find some baking supplies and ingredients, like flour and yeast. But that also means I get to be creative—like Ma Ingalls, you know? Homesteading is all about using what you have. And when you don’t have something to use? You find something else to take its place. Or you change what you’re doing.
Lately, I’ve been grocery shopping once a week. In and of itself, that’s not really that big of a deal. The issue is that if I can’t find something during that grocery shopping trip, I have to wait until the next grocery shopping trip. I’m not going to drive to several stores looking for something that I don’t really need. If I can’t find something, I’m not going back tomorrow to check again. I’m also not going to order a bunch of ingredients on Amazon that I don’t really need because I think it’s most responsible to not overload an already stressed system with “wants”. Because of this, there are a few things we’ve not had in our house for about a month.
And it’s fine.
What’s funny is that social media is a buzz with posts like our kids will remember this quarantine as the time mom baked from scratch and we sat down as a family and we had real food for the first time because we had time to cook. But my kids will remember this as the time Mom made fried chicken using a pre-made envelope of batter instead of making her own because she was trying to save the flour we had for making bread.
And it’s fine.
Shortages affect people differently. While they’re not necessarily fun to deal with, I do think they allow us to be creative in ways we might not have explored had there not been a shortage. It’s all about perspective.
Am I just happy people are getting into homesteading and self-reliance?
I’m very happy people are taking interest in more self-reliant living! I just hope that people who are buying up the flour, the yeast, the baby chicks, the seeds, (or whatever you’re seeing shortages of in your area) are putting the stuff to use. I hope that if they don’t know what they’re doing, that they ask. That’s why I (and other homesteaders) am/are here.
I think it’s very important that homesteaders pay attention to how they are talking about (and to) people who are new to homesteading and self-reliance. The reaction should not be “OMG, all these people are getting into it and they don’t even know what they’re doing and they’re going to waste everything and screw everything up!”
Will there be people who waste? Will there be people who don’t understand how to do something and screw things up?
But I don’t think it will be the majority. Could we have a little freaking more faith in human beings?
Yes, there are people who will be surprised when they realize it takes 4-5 months for a chicken to start laying eggs.
Should we make a list of all the things that you or I didn’t know when we got into homesteading?
Every person who figures out some aspect of homesteading and self-reliance is someone that doesn’t need to be taken care of in some way later. If we think self-reliance is as awesome as we say it is and blast it all over as the right way to live, then when people step towards that, we need to cheer them on and we need to help them. And yes, we need to be patient because there are going to be all. the. questions. But, you guys, there are no dumb questions.
Do I think people’s interest in homesteading and self-reliance will last?
I think for a few people, this current health/economic situation will be the kick they needed to hop into the self-reliant lifestyle with both feet.
Lots of people will be middle ground—they will use this time to find some skills they will continue to use, or will at least have the knowledge of what to do when they need it at another time. And that’s great! For some people, this is about learning skills and knowing you can do it when you have to, but not necessarily going all in forever and ever. I mean, I could live in downtown Minneapolis if I had to, but I don’t want to. I could live where it’s 108 in the summer if I had to, but I don’t want to. Some people will realize they could live the way that I live, but they don’t want to. And that’s fine.
I think other people will be really happy to go back to buying bread and chicken and lettuce at the store. And that’s fine. My job is to explain how to do things when people want to know how. It’s not to convert the world to self-reliance.
My thoughts as a homesteader…
I think it’s great that people are learning new skills, and I welcome their questions. As a homesteader who is always trying to live a more self-reliant life, I feel it’s my responsibility to teach others what I know if they come to a point they want to learn it.
** If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer, leave a comment below, message me on social media, or email me at [email protected]**
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