Saturday, July 03, 2010

Homesteading The Modern Way

When I mention to people that I am a homesteader, they look at me strangely. The people in the mainstream, or as some of us homesteaders refer to them as, "yuppies" have absolutely no idea what that means. They think it means that we got free land and have to farm it. What they have mixed up is the well known Homestead Act. It was a federal law that gave people a title to up to 160 acres of land in undeveloped areas of federal land that was not part of the original thirteen colonies. That was because the government  could develop the rest of the country by having the citizens do it for them. The original Homestead Act was signed by President Lincoln on May 20, 1862.

There were other Homestead Acts that followed. Since all the good land along the rivers had already been homesteaded, an updated act called the Enlarged Homestead Act was passed in 1909. This included land for dry land farming, and increased the amount of land from 160 acres to 320 acres. I guess they figured you deserved more land if it was harder to work without the water from the rivers. Then in 1916, there was the Stock-Raising Homestead Act which was based on settlers who were interested in ranching, and they received 640 acres of public land.

Approximately 40 percent of the homesteaders were able to complete the homestead act and obtain the title to the land they worked. 1.6 million homesteads were granted and 270,000,000 acres of federal land were worked and became private land between 1862 and 1934. That was about 10% total of all the land in the US. The Homestead Act was discontinued in 1976, with the exception of Alaska, until 1986 when it ceased there too.

Nope, that is NOT what I am talking about! Modern Homesteaders are a special group of people around the world. We try to live as self-sufficient as possible in this modern day world. You can see how it helps to be that way in case of major disasters such as hurricanes, oil spills, earthquakes, flooding, layoffs, illnesses, accidents, etc. It includes many ways of incorporating self-reliance and independence in your lifestyle. I know many people do not think about it until they have to do it. Or wish they had done it.

Gardening is a big part because you have to have food to eat. Also you can garden anywhere. From the middle of the farmland in the mid west to the high rise apartment buildings in New York City. Yes, you can! As I have said  many times, there are no rules in homesteading. Anyone can do it. How you want to do it is up to you. But, as Nike says, "Just do it."

Self-reliant people have lived for centuries relying on themselves for their food and basic needs. Once you have your home and land around it you should be able to set it up fairly easy. If you are in a city or an apartment there are still ways you can do it. I am not saying you have to own a large amount of land. I do not have a large property. Less than five acres, in fact. Even in the old days, the homesteaders had to purchase some items. I guess only the Native Americans were truly independent learning to make what they needed. But when the settlers arrived they quickly adapted to their bought items. It wasn't long before their own ways were left behind for the newer, easier ways of doing things. Change...........comes to us all, as new things and ways are invented to make our load easier. Sometimes though it is at the cost of our time, freedom and environment.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
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