Homesteading Where You Are
When we think of homesteading, most of us think of expansive pastures, dense orchards, tractors, fences as far as the eye can see, a house with a wrap-around porch, and a big red barn.
That’s the ideal, but what if you don’t have that right now? What if you live in a neighborhood in the city? Or in an apartment? Is homesteading out of the question for you?
Not at all. A homestead isn’t acres or barns or even pastures.
A homestead is simply a place that produces the calories your body needs to survive.
This isn’t the typical description of a homestead, so you may need to let that sink in for a minute.
A homestead grows calories.
The sole purpose of a homestead is to feed the people who live there.
When you think of a homestead in that light, all of a sudden the picture we all carry in our mind changes, you can grow calories in all kinds of places!
So homesteading doesn’t have to be a far-off dream. You don’t have to rush to buy the first piece of land you see, or go massively into debt to be a homesteader. You can do it right where you are.
Let’s take a closer look at this idea.
We have an adversarial relationship with calories. We all know they are the things that make us gain weight, and a huge percentage of us spend most of our time counting them and resisting the things we love because of them.
But if we can cut through all of that, we’ll find that a calorie is just a unit of measurement, here’s how Oxford Languages defines it:
Calorie: the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C, equal to one thousand small calories and often used to measure the energy value of foods.
That’s it. A calorie is just the unit of measurement we use to show how much energy is in the things we eat.
It seems like a small thing for the amount of attention it gets.
There was a time when people spent their every waking moment sourcing the calories they needed to survive the day. If they succeeded, they woke up the next day and did it all again. To be honest, we still do, we just call it “going to work”. Most of us source our daily food by earning the money to buy it.
Homesteaders are people who want to produce their own as much as possible, for various reasons that usually boil down to food security.
To a homesteader, calories are THE most important thing and understanding them becomes more important as the size of the homestead goes down.
In other words, the smaller the homestead, the more important it is to understand calories. You have to make your space produce the most calories of the highest quality in the most efficient manner possible.
Now you have the basis for all the decisions you’ll make from this point forward:
Does this thing I’m thinking of growing / raising / (or buying in order to grow or raise something) produce high quality calories efficiently?
Calories fall into three very broad categories:
The foods in each of those categories are made up of fiber and nutrients. Those are the things that determine the “quality” of the calories we are consuming. We all know that calories aren’t equal, that if a hot dog and potato chips has the same number of calories as a piece of roasted chicken and broccoli, we are getting more fiber and nutrients from the chicken and broccoli meal than we are from the hot dog and chips, so those calories are better.
The homesteader’s job is to grow better calories.
The small homesteader’s job is to grow them as intensively as possible.
The next posts in this series will talk about how to get the most from your homestead whether you’re working with a patio or pastures.