In a fast-paced world dominated by technology and urban landscapes, there is a growing movement of individuals seeking a simpler, more self-sufficient lifestyle. These modern-day pioneers, known as homesteaders, embrace a sustainable way of living that involves growing their own food, harnessing renewable energy, and minimizing their ecological footprint. If you’ve ever wondered how to identify a homesteader, here are ten telltale signs that give them away.
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Dirt under fingernails (and conversely, dirty feet, dirty forearms, and dirt where you didn’t think dirt could ever be)
Both my mum and sister have beautiful long fingers and well-kept nails and lovely feminine looking hands. Mine, at some point in the day, has had horse shit on it. But you know what…
I love my hands.
Unlike my sister, who inherited mum’s hands, I got my dad’s. Chunky and solid. My hands can work hard outside. They can haul dirt and mud, work in the garden, build a fence, chop down trees and most importantly, hold the reins to my big Moosey boy when we go for a ride. They also help make the best hamburgers and fresh bread rolls, too.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do love me a good manicure every so often just to freshen up. But I get so dirty so quickly that whatever NASA grade polish exists on the planet would come off easily. And I can’t justify spending all that money for something so useless.
I’ve also always been a bit of a tomboy you could say, and that kind of thing has never interested me.
There’s always more than one project on the go at any given time
Busy is fake. I worked with a guy who was always ‘soooooo busy’ and never got any work actually done. He was always overwhelmed with work and couldn’t keep a schedule or manage his priorities. So I don’t like the word busy because it doesn’t mean anything. People are always busy. How are you? Busy. No, how are you, not how productive are you at this point in time.
That said, I am currently very well scheduled. Work full time hours spread over 4 days a week, helping my husband with a few businesses, running my own small artisan soap business and homesteading on top of it all.
The best days though, are the ones where I have worked all day outside and come in to some fresh cornbread (recipe for that soon!) and a drink. Where I am so tired and sore that I limp and hobble around. Where, when I go to bed at night it feels like my mattress is sucking me in and I wake up refreshed and accomplished. And the next day when I look at my achievement from the previous day, I know it did it myself. And I feel proud.
Those are my favorite days. I love every bit of them.
Food grown in your own vegetable patch tastes a million times better
I’m lucky that I live in a semi-rural to rural area. There’s still a lot of farms and people that produce vegies and you won’t have to travel far to find a stall with an honesty box and some very cheap fruit, vegetables or herbs for sale.
There is nothing better than a vegetable picked a few steps from your front door – it will always, always have better flavour than something that’s been shipped half-way around the country (or even the world!)
Once you have the experience of looking down at your plate and knowing where each and every component came from, you’ll be hooked. It’s the best feeling knowing that what you produced is what you eat.
Getting the first egg from your layers, ducks or geese, is the best feeling
Or when you pull that sneaky vine out and find a huge pumpkin, or pluck out your first big potato or anything that you have grown or produced on the farm.
Growing your own food is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done, and the first time experiencing the fruits of your labour is magical. It makes all the tough times, hard work, and disappointments worth it.
Having responsibility over farm animals and looking after their well-being is part of homesteading. And most homesteaders I’ve encountered show much more respect to animals they raise for food than any conglomerate or food production company.
Things that can be bought are often made
Nobody said homesteading would be easy. And homesteading becomes fun and interesting when the easy routes are not taken. That is where the joy of homesteading arises.
- Buying milk is 100 times easier (and cheaper) than keeping a milk cow. But why wouldn’t you keep a cow instead? They mow the lawns, the poo is good for compost, and lets face it, cows can be cute.
- Buying artisan bread to go with your spaghetti dinner is way easier than making bread from scratch. But shaping a dough, cutting the middle and then cooking it only to pull out a superb ear with gas popping is infinitely better than anything store bought.
- Buying neatly wrapped meat at the butcher is far less messy than raising or butchering meat yourself. But respectfully raising animals for your family’s meat consumption is a special journey of giving thanks to that which allows us to receive nourishment and life.
Homesteading, whilst labour intensive, can be empowering. And fulfilling. And an adventure. But easy? Definitely not. But for some reason, that doesn’t bother me. I’m just weird like that.
Homesteading is not about beating your laundry on a rock…
Yes, you can and will still use a washing machine and a dishwasher. Cos you know what, they are lifesavers. We’re not opposed to technology, us homesteaders. And if that’s what you think homesteading is…You’re missing the point.
The way I see it, homesteading is all about mixing the best of the old with the best of the new. There is no way in this modern era that anyone would waste time beating their clothes on a rock. I mean, let’s be realistic.
I also very much appreciate my dishwasher and washing machine. Can I live without those things? Yeh probably. Do I think it’s wise to be prepared in case the future version of toilet paper during a pandemic takes all the power and fuel offline? Sure!
But in the meantime, I’m thankful to have electricity in my homesteading efforts. If I don’t yet need to be fully off-grid, I won’t. But even partially being off-grid, or having the necessary set-up in case of environmental disaster is very useful. I’ve been flooded in due to severe weather events more times than I could count, and my alternate things were what saved me during those times.
The old-fashioned homesteading lifestyle is one we heavily romanticise. And while there are romantic elements to it, I’m careful in my understanding that our homesteading ancestors lived the way they did out of necessity, and simple survival consumed a huge part of their day. Modern day homesteading is – in my opinion – choosing to live a simpler and slower life, not out of necessity but out of wanting to get back to your roots.
Living far away from most is what we enjoy. Really, we do.
Let’s be honest. I want to vomit when I hear someone say they live in the city or a suburban area. Like I get it – we all have different aspirations. But nothing could make me run in this world other than the incessant noise others make. I hate it.
Living out in the country, in the bush – is a personal choice and preference. Please don’t think I do this because I cannot afford to live elsewhere.
I know living this far out isn’t for everyone, and some people really, truly want to be within walking distance of the grocery store, but when I leave my property it’s for a purpose and I am thankful everyday that I can return to my safe space in the bush.
Picking up horse shit is not a bother, really, it isn’t.
Or any type of manual labor, actually. When you’re a homesteader, animal poo isn’t gross– it’s beautiful. Animal poo turns into compost which magically nurtures the soil and your plants. Embrace the animal poo.
I’ve recently made life easier with the purchase of a Paddock Blade. You hook it up behind anything with a tow hitch – car, tractor, quad- you name it, and off you go. It can clean an acre in 10 minutes! And I’ve tested it with great success!
If you’re interested in your own Paddock Blade, you can use code MILO100 to get $100 off your order!
Our property is a bit hilly and there’s a lot of small rock just underneath the ground surface which has made general mowing hard anyway. Using the paddock blade a bit each week doesn’t just pick up poo but also all the surface debris and rocks, making it a multi-purpose farm tool.
And because it picks up debris plus poop plus rocks, it makes light work of other homestead maintenance you may have, such as burn offs or maintaining your fire boundary.
When it comes to tools like this, you can spot the homesteader in the crowd when they get excited about being able to use such a tool to collect poo on their property over basically anything else.
If I don’t answer our phone, I am outside working. Don’t take it to heart
Sometimes we get so focused on the latest project, any semblance of a social life goes out the window. Not always, but sometimes… At least for me. I’m pretty horrible about meeting friends in town for lunch… It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that my brain is usually preoccupied with my latest homesteading project or catching up on errands.
And the argument may arise that you must have had your phone on you because you were posting IG pics. Yeh, I wouldn’t take that as gospel. These days you can pre-schedule posts and scale them and have stuff you filmed or photographed going over a whole month to help with filler content on slow days.
So yes, I do have my phone on me, I may be recording or photographing, but in general if I’m out and about outside, you probably won’t get a decent response out of me for something until I’ve come back inside.
I’m not a super human, nor better than you.
People often forgo logical thought when they realise not everyone follows the same ideology they do. Hey, we are all made as individuals, and that’s how it should be. I am not better than you or anyone else because I homestead. Sure, I have very strong opinions about it, but if you don’t do it then I understand that too. Sometimes, people are limited by their circumstances and other times sheer choice.
As much as homesteading is a choice for me, so may be going to the gym for you, or being more environmentally conscious, for example. Either way, we all strive to live our best and happiest lives and I think that’s what is most important.
Spotting a homesteader involves recognizing the signs of a lifestyle centered around self-sufficiency, sustainability, and a deep connection with the Earth. From vibrant gardens to renewable energy systems, these individuals embody a commitment to living harmoniously with nature while fostering community resilience. As we witness the growing interest in sustainable practices, homesteaders serve as beacons of inspiration, showing us that a simpler, more intentional way of life is within reach for those willing to embrace it.
So have you made the list yet? How many of these points do you currently do?