Homesteader? What is this about homesteading and off-grid-capable?
Living an off-grid-capable life, in many ways, could be fairly said to be a form of homesteading. For some, that word might conjure up images of venturing out west on a covered-wagon train, eating meals of cornbread and beans, and hand-clearing a hundred acres of raw wilderness with an ax and saw. While that is indeed a form of homesteading, that isn’t what most are looking to do.
Dictionary.com defines homestead (in its verb form) as:
to acquire or settle on (land) as a homestead:
On the other hand, Mother Earth News (a magazine that is essentially the “Sports Illustrated” of self-sufficient living) defines homesteading as:
Today the word homesteading is more apt to refer to a lifestyle that promotes greater self sufficiency.
There are as many definitions of homesteading as there are homesteaders. From our experience, seeking to live an OGC life puts one mostly in the same boat as homesteaders – or makes you similar enough that it is easier to refer to those that do as such. Besides, “Off-grid-capable..ers” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
There are a few attributes found among homesteaders and those seeking to live the OGC lifestyle worth noting as essential:
1. Free thinking
For us, this journey began first by taking ownership of our thoughts, challenging our ideas, the ideas of others, and rejecting group-think. Rather than merely accepting the status quo, we set out to learn and decide for ourselves what we believe (or don’t believe) to be true. We’re generally ‘told’ that food comes from the grocery store, power from the electric company, and approval comes from our peers. One cannot begin to disconnect their dependency on systems without first challenging such dependencies in their thinking.
Free-thinking can and should lead to new forms of self-reliance. At its core, self-reliance is self-responsibility. It is allowing the ownership of your mind to begin to move you toward taking ownership of specific areas of your life. As with thinking freely, this is an intentional decision to take ownership of aspects of your life rather than willfully or ignorantly delegating them to another party.
Self-reliance begins first with the conclusion that you are responsible for you. Certainly, there are times to make exceptions to this idea. For example, it wouldn’t be recommended to perform self-reliant open-heart surgery. They key is being self-reliant where possible, rational, and reasonable to do so. It is not someone else’s responsibility to feed, clothe, provide and protect you – unless you are a minor, or mentally incapacitated in which case that responsibility resides with your parents or guardian.
As the one responsible for you and your family, you’ll be required to learn, understand, and execute many things that will be essential to you and your family. This entails much learning, much hard work, and a considerable investment of your resources.
Community-reliance is not often talked about in homesteading circles but should be. Some may choose to try to do everything one’s self, but we feel this is a recipe for failure, if not fatigue and sadness.
Part of self-reliance is knowing when you’re not adequately able to handle some aspects of life on your own, and when it is in your own best interest to work together with others to that end.
Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. – Ecc. 4:9-12
Becoming responsible for yourself can be a daunting task. You may learn first-hand many hard lessons. You will be fatigued, discouraged, and disheartened. You will want to quit or go back to an easier life.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” – Calvin Coolidge
Heading in a different direction that most are not is daunting. Taking ownership and responsibility for areas of your life that have always belonged to someone else is equally daunting! Courage is a necessary attribute for those wishing to sever their dependence on the grid.
Courage is a necessary attribute for those wishing to sever their dependence on “the grid” because now, that weight is on your own shoulders! “Is this the right thing to do?”, “Have I made a wise decision?”, “Will this work when I need it to?”, “Have I prepared this food in a way that won’t poison my children?”, “Are these solar panels wired properly so I won’t burn my home to the ground?”… the OGC life is filled with opportunities to doubt that will require courage to overcome.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
I once heard that an optimist knows there’s always a light at the end of a tunnel, and just prays it isn’t a train!
Seriously… optimism is the willful choice (free thinking!) to keep hoping and believing in a good outcome. An optimist isn’t ignorant of the risks and challenges before them but decides to steer their mind toward belief in a positive outcome despite these.
7. Desire to learn
An OGC lifestyle requires a lot of learning. Fortunately, learning is a lot of fun! When one decides to break their dependence on “the grid”, even if not going “off-grid”, they are agreeing to take responsibility of what would otherwise be handled by a much larger institution. One must become a subject matter expert, or at least proficient, in many areas: electricity, plumbing, heating, cooling, refrigeration and/or food preservation, gardening, farming, animal husbandry, weather, communications, security, et al. There is never an end to the learning involved in leaving the grid!
8. Hard work
When one is responsible for more of their life, more work results. Families who rely on the grocery store will spend little time obtaining their food. Being off-grid-capable and growing a portion of your own food requires a lot of hard work! Turning on a light switch is easy… monthly battery maintenance, cleaning solar panels, changing the oil in a generator, and tweaking your electric usage to stay within the capabilities of your energy – that is work!