No-one can deny that the emergence of homesteading has been taken on with fervor over the last few years. In fact, despite my husband and I living this lifestyle for about 15 years now, we never called ourselves homesteaders until recently. This story is all about why we – as a collective – are so drawn to this lifestyle and my thoughts on its future.
Table of Contents
Getting away from the noise
I hate noise. I wanted to get away from the noise. From the cars, from the people, from noisy neighbours, from trucks and from the suburbs.
That’s how it all started for me. I always dreamed of living on more land than a suburban block. As a kid I always loved horses and wanted to learn to ride, and that just wasn’t feasible for my parents are the time. So in the back of my head I always had this romantic notion of living in a ranch style horse property with horseshoes hanging everywhere, trees, paddocks with white painted fences and a big country kitchen.
Not the most epic beginning to this story, I know…
Moving onto property
Moving onto an acreage property is the best thing I could’ve done for myself, and my mental health. I think without knowing it at the time, it totally eased anxieties I had around so many little things that probably don’t bother others most of the time, but me they do. The further away I am, the less noise there is and the more comfortable I feel.
It started with layer hens and garden projects and gave me a way to pass the time without feeling like a total loser. It was also an easy way to start my homesteading journey in a slow and safe way.
I started tinkering with baking breads and making sourdough starters, how to clean a chicken coop without bleach, how to fix fencing, and how to survive in torrential wet season weather with floods. A lot of the time I was alone, as my husband was working away and my parents live in another state. So a lot of these little jobs I had to work out on my own, or call Dr Dad Google and Facetime him.
I started a blog in the middle of it all. It wasn’t about homesteading, but it was about healthy living. I didn’t know a soul at the time who cared to hear me ramble on about this stuff and in hindsight, I was not in my niche at all. My bumbling online presence quickly became a welcome outlet for my unorthodox creative pursuits even if my following was small. That blog didn’t get very far and in hindsight I think that while I had the best intentions, it really wasn’t what I wanted to write about.
Homesteading as a lifestyle ideology
But 10+ years and a whole lot of life later, I’m still here, doing pretty much the same things. The cooking. The chicken-ing. The DIY farm projects. The garden. I have much more experience than I used to, which led me to the blogging.
I also still work full time in an IRL job, which I hope to be able to leave soon and part way through that, I also worked away from the homestead myself. So, it’s been a long and arduous adventure since that first day I set foot on my first acreage property!
More than just a fad
My fascination with this lifestyle has outlasted any sort of “shiny object syndrome” or trend chasing. Instead of asking myself, why am I doing this? I am consistently asking myself, why am I doing that?
When I think about why I haven’t moved to homesteading full time, I am both regretful and happy that it’s taken me this long to realise I should be doing this full-time. While some of the experiences over the years with my IRL work have been less than positive, I also needed to go through them to realise and see that my time there was up, and that that was ok, too.
See, I harbored a lot of angst about whether leaving my job made me less than. It didn’t. It was just challenging for me to reconcile with being ok doing that. And realising that I am not my job – it’s just another skill I have. And its currently a skill I am very honed in on.
The need to live a homesteaders life is as strong as breathing…
So why the draw to homesteading and what keeps pulling me back. Honestly…
I actually like making fresh jams, and sourdoughs, and baking my own bread. I enjoy gardening. I think it’s fun to have chickens pecking in the yard and I love how playful and friendly they are. I love looking after my horse, and sharing moments of connection with him. I love knowing I can hop on any time and go for a ride.
But those things alone aren’t enough to get me out of bed in the morning, or make me stick with something for 10 years, for that matter. With my IRL job, my motivation is solely the amount of money I get for showing up and doing the work.
But before I had this epiphany, it used to be more than that. I felt I was on a mission to save the world. I wanted to help people. I wanted to contribute to my broader community. I felt a sense of pride in my work and in my discipline.
Now, I feel a level of unattachment and dismay, and am bored beyond belief. I don’t see how anything I do contributes to anything positive, because it’s like playing whack-a-mole. Once you knock one out, another one pops up in another spot, and this continues until you just walk away.
Once upon a time, I thought that the reason I liked homesteading and the idea behind it because it was about mimicking the old ways. It was preserving traditions. It was “fun”. It gave me a little thrill to make soap from beef fat and hand-rolled pie crusts. It gave my husband and I food that was healthier than the junk from the store.
But I’ve since realised my obsession with homesteading has deeper roots. It’s taken a lot of years and a lot of thinking to realise that.
Digging deeper and understanding my why
I read a lot about creativity and content development, particularly lately as I yearn to refresh my old academic teachings and ensure that I am up-to-date with content creation. Every post, every video, every section of content will talk about finding your purpose, working on your niche. That if you do that, you will always have content and you will always have and be around the things that make you happy, that make you really light up.
Some people are born intrinsically knowing such things, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm. Rather, it’s something most regular people must work to uncover. It’s a jigsaw puzzle of self-reflection, journaling, and brutal honesty with yourself.
At least, that’s how it was for me.
As I analysed, and pondered, and journaled, and ruminated, it became glaringly obvious to me that it’s a mistake to categorise homesteading as nothing but a cute, old-fashioned hobby or style of décor. There’s far more to it than that. I’m going to even go as far to say that it’s crucial to our modern existence. Especially with what’s happening in the world right now, I think its fundamental to our evolution and continued ability to thrive in the globe as it is.
Sound dramatic and a bit utopian? Allow me the chance to explain.
Technology is awesome. And in the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know that I rely on my iPhone, my camera, and my Alienware laptop to get a whole lot of stuff done. I’m not ashamed of that. There is no way on this planet I would survive without the internet. And while I have a small desire to go fully off-grid someday, I’m thankful for many of the modern advances I have access to and enjoy. (Running water and I are BFFs.)
As globalization and the industrial age took over and technology became our new obsession, we as a society successfully eliminated everything that once helped us to feel grounded, connected, and whole. Things that brought humanity balance and equilibrium for millennia have been substituted for cheap, shallow alternatives.
Let’s look at it like this:
- we eat fast foods and cook less food in the kitchen
- we eat and use fruits and vegetables stored in tins or plastics, highly processed, highly refined, or engorged with chemicals
- we don’t really socialise anymore. We don’t know our neighbours. We are afraid and angsty about others that are not like us.
- We sit in offices, at desks and under artificial lights for days and weeks on end. We are getting fatter.
- We don’t move around or walk. We feel that our productivity is tied for how long we sit at our desks. We skip meals, and then try to compensate our energy with sweets.
- We do things because of obligation, rather than choice. Even when we try to start endeavours like going to the gym or eating healthier, it’s not because we want to do it, it’s because of a societal pressure to fit in and fit the mould of the world around us.
- We don’t go outside
- We’re always looking at a screen. We watch tv and look at our phones and tablets at the same time.
- We contribute to mass consumerism because we want automation. We want the instant mashed potatoes instead of doing it ourselves, because somehow saving 15 minutes to make a dish at dinner time can be repurposed for more screen time elsewhere.
We’re living in a shallow, fake, shell of a world. We contribute to it through so many of our actions, even if we wish we didn’t and even if we are proponents against it.
I am convinced this shift in our elemental human existence is playing a massive role in why so many people are disillusioned. Disconnected. Depressed. Anxious. Purposeless. BORED. (Yes, it’s entirely possible to be bored while have a calendar full of activity).
When I was in Canberra, I tried to keep life normal (amongst a sea of abnormal behaviours) by sticking to a routine. Now that I am back home and in a better mental space, I cannot return to those things that once gave me a routine. It’s almost like it served its purpose when it needed to, and I’ve let it go.
I personally, am bored out of my mind at my IRL job and cannot think of anything more boring and soul crushing than that job. It consumes so much of time…thinking about how much I don’t want to do it.
I find it fascinating that there is such a fascination with all things “farm” these days. But I’ve noticed most folks stop after they get some cool décor items and watch a modern day western.
It’s time to go deeper…way deeper. It’s time that we look at ourselves in a new light.
Why are we so drawn to the #FarmLife, #BushLife?
It’s because we know deep in our being that cooking a meal from scratch, growing a tomato plant, or creating something with our hands isn’t an out-of-touch concept to be stuffed in the box of nostalgia and the “good ol’ days”. For some reason in this era of consumerism and globalisation, this is made out to be a far away concept, almost Neanderthal in scope.
These actions are the very fibre of our human existence and have been for eons. And they still have full potential to provide humans with deep, rich, satisfaction, even in a day and age of having everything accessible at the push of a button.
But maybe that’s precisely why it’s giving us so much satisfaction. Because being out in the bush, mending a fence, fixing or producing or growing or making something is filling a void that ’touch-of-a-button’ lifestyle has taken away from us.
As we’ve become so very worldly, we’ve left these ideas in the dust in the name of progress and efficiency.
In actual fact, we need these skills now more than ever…
Studies on anything from soil bacteria to time spent in nature continue to show the positive effects to our nutritional levels and mental health. Recently I saw a video on how much more nutrients soil grown vegetables have compared to hydroponically grown, even when they’ve been fed with nutrients and special feed.
I myself started practicing something I call ‘grounding’. With this practice, I take 20-30 minutes a day and sit outside. I do nothing. I don’t take photos as is my normal intention to do. I don’t listen to podcasts trying to fit in all the knowledge I must consume to make myself most prepared and ready for the world. And I don’t listen to music.
In fact, I try everything possible to sit down and make as much of my body touch the ground. Sometimes I take my shoes and socks off and put the dirt between my toes. I lay there, and I think I start to meditate sometimes. I focus on a sound or the breeze. I listen for the kookaburras or try and hear the sound of my horse munching on grass. I do this until I feel rested. And I get up when I feel rested.
Regular practice of grounding made me feel as if I had just had a massage. It was like the earth gave me some energy.
So, do you see what I’m saying?
This, the world – the current state of affairs – this which we are trying so hard to navigate in, is an exceedingly complex issue, and I’m not naive enough to think homesteading is the only answer. But it sure as heck is one of the best solutions I can think of at the moment.
You don’t have to get a milk cow.
You don’t have to move to the middle-of-nowhere Australia in the red dirt.
You don’t have to become the champion buck rider at the country rodeo.
BUT you do need some of these old-fashioned practices in your modern life. Whether you live in Brisbane or Melbourne, or anywhere in the world. You need to try and be self-sufficient, in some way. Because here’s the thing – next time the toilet paper shortage won’t be toilet paper. It could be food. It could be medicine. It could be fuel. It could be any single thing we take for granted every single day.
No matter where you live, it’s about experiencing the deep satisfaction that comes from creating something tangible with your own two hands.
Nurturing a pot of basil in the window and then gently tearing the leaves to add to your feta pasta as you breathe in the aroma wafting through your kitchen, slicing your own home-grown tomatoes for a fresh sandwich, on your own freshly baked bread.
Simplicity and joy in life can be found not in the extravagant or grand, but in the regular. It’s just that we’ve been chasing the extravagant and grand for so long, we’ve forgotten to stop to appreciate the regular.
Kneading yeast dough with the heels of your hands simply for the sheer joy of it and because you know your family will love homemade French bread for brunch. Even though you can easily go to the store and buy a loaf. This is homesteading. This is self-sufficiency. This is what I mean when I say back to basics, traditional…
I don’t know exactly what this will look like for you, but find something you can create. Something you can grow. Something you can craft or build with your hands. Because these are things every human needs, whether they are a homesteader or not.
These are the things that bring satisfaction. Balance. Peace. A sense of accomplishment. Joy. Connection. Confidence. Stability.
And that, my friends, is what gives me joy and what has given me joy every morning. When the pandemic hit and we were all told to work from home, I realised then and there that I could never step foot in an office again. I had to, of course eventually, and it killed my soul instantly. I immediately lost interest for anything else happening in that world because here’s the thing…. nothing changes, ever.
The same bad people will keep doing the same bad things. The good people will keep trying to fight them. There is always someone corrupt, or involved in nepotism somewhere. You can work your ass off and train and upskill and learn everything and still be looked over because you aren’t conforming to what the broader societal expectations are. The bad stays bad, and the good stays good, and in the middle is everyone else.
Chickens are fun, making mandarin jam is great, but it’s more than that. Homesteading is more. It’s in the deepest part of your heart. It’s the flicker of light in your soul when you think you just don’t have it in you. It’s what keeps you sane in an insane world. It’s what gives every fibre of your being purpose.
I want to shift things in my life. I want to be part of the group of adults who know how to do stuff. Make stuff. Cook stuff. Grow stuff. And who are more centered and peaceful because of it. Homesteading is so much more than the sum of its parts. And that’s why I’ll be here in my little corner of the Internet crowing about it until the cows come home.
This is only the beginning. I hope to spend more time writing and philosophising about the world as I see it. If you’re interested in seeing what else we do around the farm, make sure to keep reading and link in with our socials. We update regularly on the progress of our projects. You can also subscribe to our blog to make sure you get all the round-ups and updates first!