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I’m finding more and more that what we’re trending towards, its overall name is ‘homesteading’. It means a lot of things to a lot of people though.
Here is the wikipedia description:
Broadly defined, homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Pursued in different ways around the world — and in different historical eras — homesteading is generally differentiated from rural village or commune living by isolation (either socially or physically) of the homestead. Use of the term in the United States dates back to the Homestead Act (1862) and before. In sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in nations formerly controlled by the British Empire, a homestead is the household compound for a single extended family. In the UK, the term ‘smallholder’ is the rough equivalent of ‘homesteader’.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homesteading
There are a ton of different degrees of this. I think the general thought is you’re ‘homesteading’ if you’re working towards self sufficiency. For us it means learning more and more about actually living off the land, learning how to grow our own food – weird to say that, cause for thousands of years, up until 50 years ago probably, everyone just knew how to do that. It means learning how to raise and husband some basic farm animals (chickens, pigs). It means being willing to slaughter your own animal if needed and having the knowledge – at least the books around – should it be required. It means living a sustainable life, trying to use renewable energies (solar power for electricity, burning wood for heat and domestic hot water, etc). THe idea is that if the whole world shut down (and it soon will due to economic collapse) would we be able to live / survive. LIkely the answer is that we could not at this stage, we aren’t developed enough. Could we ramp up to meet our family demand? Then in that situation you get into other families going hungry, the eventuality would be that we would be feeding at least a few other families who otherwise aren’t prepared so that factors into the equation.
And its not just an ‘end of the world’ idea either. Its a lot about getting great exercise, fresh air, healthier food (much healthier), and getting satisfaction and fulfillment out of doing ‘real work’, work that mankind has been doing for generations and thousands of years. And then you add all those things together, the effect multiplies and al the sudden, we’re living longer, better, more contented and actually enjoying and participating in Gods creation much closer to the way He originally meant for it to be used / enjoyed. Not 100% there but closer to it anyways.
Multiply the above by the good effect of taking load off the industrial supply chain, lowering our carbon footprint etc, and in now time the world gets better, the climates equalize, earth goes back to doing its own sustainable thing. I could go on. The good effects of more and more people doing this sort of thing are exponential in good return.
We haven’t officially decided on a name for our house, good old houses always have names. For now, it will be the Gallant Family Homestead as a whole (land and house).
Our homesteading experiment currently includes the following which I consider some of the goals towards homesteading (and the list will never end probably):
- heating with wood – locally purchase from the next town over actually. Grown on island, supporting a local business – as opposed to support oil sands development or middle eastern countries etc by burning oil (wood is also cheaper!)
- powering what we can with solar power – chicken shed lighting. This is an ongoing and costly project if we want to expand it to powering the house. For now it will be a learning experience, test bed and emergency backup for critical things should the power go out
- Owning chickens -the chicks are for eggs right now. This year we’ll raise more meat birds, and then the dual purpose Chanteclers going forward
- Part of this is incubating our own birds – instead of relying on others to provide ‘seed’ birds, chicks for growing to keep our flock up in numbers, we will be incubating all our own. With this we will expand our own flocks and won’t have to rely on others. See my posts about our Brinsea incubator which is currently cooking round #2 of eggs, this batch a Star Cross red variety for egg laying
- Raising a pig or two each year – this will be our first year trying to raise pigs. Should be a lot of fun, a lot of learning and a LOT of meat at the end!
- Growing a larger garden – the attempt will be this year, for me at least, to greatly expand our garden and produce a lot more vegetables for food or feed or for sale. Our lawn is good at growing grass that I spend gasoline cutting, why not have it grow vegetables and not waste gasoline and in turn have it add resources to our family instead of subtracting resources (money / gas)
- Planting more fruit trees – back in the day, your fruit isle would be the orchard out back, not the grocery store. God grows this stuff for you if you just plant a tree so why would you pay for it? We are a crazy crazy bunch these days for purchasing stuff that literally does grow on trees :S . This year we will be planting two pear trees. We already have 4 or 5 apple trees on the go. The neighbour this year too will be planting an orchard. the only downside is that these trees are really more for the next generation, i.e. our kids. Because they take 10 or 15 years to really start producing lots of fruit. So this is for a future generation.
- Being able to pump or collect our own fresh water – check and check. We have a fresh water spring that i use for watering our chickens/ Since our river is tidal, it doesn’t really freeze much so access there is rarely out of the question. Plus we have an old hand pump well ready for action and does work.
These are just some of the things. The big excitement this year will be the pigs so stay tuned for blogs on that.
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