Oh, the burning question that we have heard time and time again. “Why do you homestead?” The curiosity that seems to be never-ending. The question that many families are now exploring, but the question is “Why?” The answer will vary from family to family, but the answer that I always find that is a common bond amongst all homesteaders is… independence.
That would be our reasoning. Independence is something that man has strived to have and to keep for thousands of years. The freedom to choose where we live, how we live, how we raise our children, and how we grow our foods. Homesteading allows for the freedom to express the rugged individualism that beats in every heart.
I found mine one day, that rugged individualism, when I stepped out in my own backyard and suddenly felt I had nothing to show for it. Sure, we had a beautiful home in “the burbs” close to all the conveniences anyone could ever want, but what was that teaching us? What were my children learning? They were being taught to continue the status quo, locking them into a cycle that just kept returning them back to the same starting point. I looked around at my beautifully landscaped yard but suddenly realized I couldn’t grow a tomato plant if my life depended on it. That had to change. It was going to change. And so it did…
Many folks somehow believe it is impossible to “homestead” in the suburbs. Well, I am here to tell you not to believe it. Up until just a few generations ago, it was not unusual at all for folks to have large gardens and even poultry to help sustain their families. Somehow, that connection was lost and now seems like a distant memory. We must not let it. We must be determined to revive it. During our first spring of our new found determination in getting back to our roots, we tilled just over a 1,000 square foot garden and researched everything we possibly could about gardening. I sought out every gardener I knew, spent time with them, and learned their ways. If they could do it, why couldn’t we? I even explored container gardening and gutter gardening. We were absolutely amazed at the amount of food we grew. I was ecstatic to have a reason to learn to can my bounty!
The following spring, we expanded the garden as far as we could stretch it. We added fruit trees, a compost, berry bushes, more herbs, and, my now forever passion, poultry. I quickly found how easy it is to love four sweet hens, and that if properly cared for and maintained, I realized they were less trouble than any backyard dog could be. Plus, we were given fresh, delicious eggs!
It was not long after that second year and all the new skills we were acquiring in gardening, canning, cooking, bread making, and animal husbandry, that God called us to a new life on a full farm. We were quickly outgrowing our urban paradise. After an extensive search for land and many prayers for God’s lead, we found the property we had been waiting for. We were fortunate to sell our home and “The Urban Farm” was actually an attractive selling point. We now live in the mountains in an old farmhouse with a new barn and a large flock of chickens, dairy goats, and a sweet dairy cow with a new heifer and all the wholesome milk we could ever want! We look forward to adding more animals in the coming seasons. This season we are working two large gardens over 6,500 square feet. We are growing corn, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, okra, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, peppers, edible flowers, herbs and more! We are currently looking into adding bees to our homestead.
Homesteading is certainly not a glamorous life, but is extremely rewarding. When we left the suburbs to live out on a farm, the first thing we quickly discovered was the amount of work. It takes us back to a time where the fruits of one’s labor are truly determined by constant dedicated hard work and prayers. We have been taught that the key to homesteading is many daily and seasonal chores and being prepared for the unexpected. After all we can’t control the weather. Failed crops will happen despite all efforts. Animals will pass. The circle of life speaks very loudly and clearly on the farm. However, the love that we put forth comes back ten fold… nothing beats watching your children gather fresh eggs from the hens they raised, opening that quart of canned green beans you grew last season, or cutting bread fresh from the oven and lathering it with your own homemade butter!
Homesteading is a calling. It is whispering to many people. It is a love and a labor that built this land and raised our previous generations, the greatest generations. Homesteading is a journey and an endless classroom constantly teaching it’s most dedicated pupils. It is the road my family has chosen and loves to share. So, embrace it. Take on the adventure if you hear the calling and enjoy a return to days gone by…
About the Author – Patara resides in the Tennessee Appalachia’s with her husband, 3 children, and a brood of crazy critters. She is passionate about getting back to the older, simpler ways of living and has dedicated herself to showing others how to do the same. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram at Appalachia Homestead.