Featured Image: Jill Winger, taken by Liz Osban
Homesteading is a way of life based on self-sufficiency and the idea of living off the land. It's been around for hundreds, even thousands of years – but most people in the US associate homesteading with Westward Expansion and pioneers. Your mind’s eye might picture something like “Little House on the Prairie” when you think of homesteading, and you aren’t wrong. A homestead is all about people living and working together to do things like grow and preserve food and do other things without being so dependent on modern amenities.
This way of life is fruitful and rewarding, as what you make and what you do directly benefits and impacts you and your family. It can also be incredibly challenging. Thankfully, there are plenty of successful homesteaders out there who have put in the work themselves and are now helping others on their homesteading journeys. More on that later!
Homesteading is becoming increasingly popular; and it's no wonder why! In today's modern world, the idea of getting back to ones' roots and living off the land is attractive to many people. Modern homesteaders tend to be focused on self-sufficiency through growing, raising, and preserving their own food. Many homesteaders today use renewable energy sources, too; like wind or solar. The homesteader lifestyle can be incorporated in small pieces or big chunks, and ranges from getting off the grid entirely to keeping backyard chickens or a rooftop garden. If you or your family is working towards becoming more self-sustained, you just might be modern homesteaders!
Jill Winger, a modern homestead blogger, "helps people leave the herd and grow their homestead dreams, no matter where they may live." She and her husband, Christian, knew they wanted more than the standard American life. They were determined to have a more meaningful life experience, but they had no idea what it would look like. The couple moved from the city and bought a neglected old farmstead in southeastern Wyoming, where they took on random jobs in order to afford the resources and learn the skills necessary to remodel and live off their new farmstead.
Ten years later, they have transformed their property into a prosperous homestead that they share with their three children: Mesa, Bridger and Sage. Jill divides her time between maintaining the house, growing, preserving and cooking food, homeschooling her children, and keeping up with her followers. She runs The Prairie Homestead - a blog dedicated to helping those individuals who want to follow their homesteading dreams and discover a self-sufficient way of life. We talked with Jill to get her insight on modern homesteading and its importance in today’s world.
Homesteading was Jill's way to slow down and escape the "rat race." The modern homesteading movement is all about creating a healthier and more-wholesome lifestyle. Jill explains her reasoning behind this vintage revival: "You see, in an effort to have everything at the push of a button, society has successfully eliminated everything that once helped us to feel grounded, connected, and whole." Jill has discovered that homesteading has helped her tremendously in finding her real purpose in life. But the beauty in this concept is that anyone can apply the values of the old-fashioned lifestyle to their own reality. As Jill says, "Homesteading is a state of mind, not a location."
Homesteading has continually shown me how to pursue the unknown (and sometimes scary) and how to push the boundaries of what we are 'supposed' to do.
Not surprisingly, homesteading and agriculture are closely related. It gives those that aren't all that familiar with agriculture a chance to learn what it means to grow food and raise livestock. Homesteaders are then able to pass on these lessons to their children, and their children's children. This modern return to living off the land brings the importance of farming and ranching back into the conversation. Jill had this to say on the importance of supporting local agriculture:
Many are drawn to the homesteading lifestyle because they want to be a part of the rural way of life, but didn’t grow up on a farm or ranch. Becoming immersed in the modern homesteading lifestyle not only helps more folks to appreciate the contributions of agriculture producers, but gives way to meaningful connections and networking that creates bridges between local farmers & ranchers and the homestead community.