Homesteading, which was all the rage in the late 1800s, is now back in style! Much like fashions from the 80s, it’s time has come again.
Well, not actual, traditional homesteading, where the government gives you 160 acres if you can sit your butt on it for five years, a la Little House on the Prairie. That kind of homesteading ended in the 1970s. I knew this before I wrote this post, because my husband and I actually looked into it, thinking that we could get some free land from the government. We couldn’t.
Modern homesteading now refers to the trend of living off the land, as much or as little as you want to. Composting, vegetable gardening, grey water recycling, raising your own meat are all part of modern homesteading. The ideal is to get to the point where you are completely off the grid and self sufficient, but of course, that takes years to achieve, and might in the end put you into “crazy survivalist” mode, rather than “self sufficient homesteader” mode.
My husband and I got interested in homesteading back when we were living in San Francisco, which is maybe almost the worst place to do it. There’s very little open space there, and sunshine is more of a myth than a reality. But still, we poured over The Backyard Homestead and dreamed of setting up our own little homestead one day. (Also, that book is awesome. It doesn’t go into great depth, but as an overview of what you can do, it’s invaluable.)
In the end, we did get our homestead, three sunshiny acres to do whatever we pleased with. Now I still have visions of us being completely self sufficient one day, the husband, kids, dogs, and I living out some pioneer dream straight out of a country song. But there’s one small problem with this:
I’m kind of lazy.
I mean, I can hold down a job, and I got a Ph.D., which isn’t for the faint of heart, but when it comes to the kind of life my great-great-grandmother led, well, I’ll take some technology, thank you. So this series will be about my attempts to do it myself, but by taking shortcuts that would have my great-great-grandma laughing at my attempts to “rough it”.
How does this relate to my writing? Well, I’ve set my series in the same time period that my great-great-grandmother was living in. So many of the things I’ll be describing would also be done by my characters on a day to day basis. So if you’d like to get a little better idea of what life was like in the 1890s and laugh at me in the process, feel free to follow along.