Upon finding a spider crawling up the bathroom wall, I neither scream nor reach for a shoe. (Both reactions have been exhibited by my younger sister.) I can’t kill these fascinating eight-legged creatures when found in the house. Instead I gently scoop him or her up in a Dixie cup or on to a piece of junk mail and take them back outside. Maybe I read Charlotte’s Web one too many times—but I just can’t do it. I don’t like the idea of ending even the tiniest life. Some people would say that makes me too sensitive to live as a homesteader. But I don’t believe there to be a cookie cutter mold for what it means to be a homesteader. And this caring so deeply is what makes me the homesteader I am today.
Anyone (that wishes to) can build a homestead. It’s not going to look exactly the same from person to person, or place to place. But that’s the beauty of this life—you can make it look however you’d like. You can do what you are comfortable with, and that is still your homesteading life. Of course, having certain qualities will be helpful in homesteading (i.e. hardworking, not afraid to get dirty, etc.). But even those traits can be cultivated if homesteading really is a dream of yours.
Recently, I was watching a homesteading YouTube video. The individual in the video stated that you cannot be a homesteader if you can’t handle the realities of hunting to keep your animals and plants from being eaten. My plants and animals are so dear to me, and I will do all I can to protect them before resorting to killing. I am not a hunter—although I understand why people do it, and that it can benefit the environment when done properly. Yet, I can’t be something I am not.
As I listened, I first questioned my own ability to homestead. This person seemed to know more about this life than I do, maybe he is right. But then I asked myself: “Who says homesteading must be done a certain way? Who made the rules that a homesteader must feel this way or that to make it in this type of life?” Can I strive to not harm anything, and still be a successful homesteader?
Webster defines homesteading as “the home and adjoining land occupied by a family.” Nowhere did it state that you were required to be a hunter (or be able to squash spiders in the house). Well, that’s easy enough. I have a home, on some land. Mother Earth News writes that homesteading today typically refers to living a life of “greater self-sufficiency” which is the overarching goal of my homesteading life.
I can still be a homesteader, even if I don’t feel and think the same way about the process of building a homestead as my neighbor does. I will homestead to the degree that feels right to me, and I will not worry about the opinions that state otherwise.
It takes a balance of many different interests and ideas to make life possible—whether that life is in the country or the city. My interests and ideas will be the center of my homesteading ventures. And they will not likely be the very same as the next persons. Yet, they serve a purpose and they don’t knock me out of fulfilling my dreams to live with great self-sufficiency. If that is your dream too, you can make it happen one step at a time in your own fashion.