While the term "homesteading" originally meant grabbing a piece of land to claim as your own, modern homesteading is about more than locale. It is nothing more, and nothing less, than claiming your life and calling it your own.
Modern homesteaders focus on taking control of their lives. They give the proverbial one finger salute to corporate America, choosing to make their own way instead of waiting for someone else to tell them what they're supposed to want. The skills that our parents' and grandparents' generations generally put aside with the advent of mass-produced everything (baking, sewing, knitting, building, just generally making and doing it yourself) are at the heart of what homesteading is all about. Rather than depending on someone else for food, clothing, cleaning supplies, or furniture, you learn how to grow, cook, preserve, bake, sew, knit, or make it yourself.
Three Books for Modern Homesteaders
1. The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen
Coyne and Knutzen do an excellent job of teaching the basics of many common homesteading skills, including growing a garden, making compost, making many fermented foods, preserving garden produce, and baking. In addition, they provide plenty of good information and tips about human-powered transportation (biking and walking), solar and wind power, and setting up your own gray-water harvesting system. Also be sure to check out their blog, Homegrown Evolution.
2. Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich
This book was my introduction into homesteading, and I couldn't have asked for a better guide along the way. Woginrich writes about raising your own small livestock (chickens and rabbits), baking, gardening, making your own clothes and appreciating "old stuff" with a reverence that makes this book feel more like a spiritual guidebook than a simple how-to manual for the modern homesteader. Always encouraging, this is a great read if you're determined to live your life a little more fully. And you can get regular updates from Woginrich's own homestead at her blog, ColdAntlerFarm.
3. Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
Novella Carpenter farms in Oakland, California, where she took over nearby deserted lots to grow her food and raise her own animals. Her farm, Ghost Town Farm, is a fully operational urban farm. In the book, she details the process of how she came to be a squatter on unclaimed land, what it's like to raise pigs to butcher, and what it's really like to farm in the middle of an urban area. Carpenter doesn't pull any punches, vividly detailing her failures along with her successes -- a great read for urban and suburban homesteaders alike. (Carpenter's blog, Ghost Town Farm, is also a must-read.)
And Four More Blogs About Homesteading 1. Little Homestead in the City The Dervaes family (Jules, and his adult children Anais, Jordanne, and Justin) are urban homesteading pioneers, producing almost all of their food from their 1/10th of an acre garden in Pasadena. They also raise small livestock, cook all their own food, preserve, and use biodiesel for their vehicles. 2. Ramshackle Solid Eric Thomason and Julia Posey's blog about living the diy/homesteading life. The blog chronicles their various projects around their homestead, including building projects, gardening, cooking, and crafting. 3. The Walden Effect The Walden Effect is a homesteading and simple-living blog written by a married couple homesteading on 58 acres in Virginia. It chronicles life on their homestead, which is now in its fifth year. A great read. 4. How-To Homestead OK, I cheated. This isn't a blog, per se, but it is a great resource for homesteaders nonetheless. How-To Homestead is a repository of how-to videos for homesteaders. Everything from understanding humanure to making kombucha is covered here -- be prepared to lose a few hours once you start checking around this site. There you have them: three books and seven blogs about modern homesteading. What are your favorite books and sites about homesteading?