Often I wonder what it is in contemporary people that beckons them
to want to produce their own food, know exactly where it comes
from, gain a level of self sufficiency, enjoy land in something
akin to its natural state and take pleasure in the care of the animals
who aid them in these endeavors.
I am one of these people, but I cannot tell you exactly why the drive
is there to live off of the land, exist in some type of beautiful accord
with the animals around me and feel that what I am doing something that
The choices above are not easy. If you have tried it, you already are well aware of this fact. There is little money to be made, few vacations to be taken and the nights are longer than any you will find that comes with basic child rearing.
Some unknown farmer once said, "You can make a small fortune in farming - provided you start with a large one." He certainly has been where I have been, then.
I ask myself why I insist on going down this path more often than the typical
homesteading type partly because I am a 14 year vegetarian. No chicken, no fish, no by products, No JELL-O. Still, I am not out to convert the world to vegetarianism.
It is a personal conviction, and one which I have never convinced any other
friend or family member to espouse to.
While living as a vegetarian with a house full of meat eater is not conductive to a straight forward homestead, it is also not conductive to buying commercially raised and slaughtered meat, either.
I still somehow find that true compassion for living things is wrapped up in recognizing that most people will never go the vegetarian route, and I can work toward a humane, compassionate care for the animals we have, and if and when any become the source of meat for my husband, children or others, they have been given a happy, well cared for existence for as long as we have owned them.
I can give people an option to commercially raised meat and products, eventually.
I would rather swallow my personal convictions that prevent me from eating meat and make a small impact locally to teach people that there are humane options to the store bought, feed lot beef, pork and caged chicken they eat. My husband calls it, "Cowboying Up," for me.
So, this leads me to feel that a large part of what draws people to homesteading and self sufficiency is an ability to think higher than the masses. The ability to see a clear right and wrong way of living and decide, hardships and trials be darned, to follow that higher path.
As much as it hurts, in someways, to accept a future of raising animals I will love with some ending up as meat for someone, it seems to me to be the right thing to do, although I will remain forever a vegetarian. There is something to be said about wanting to take only your share, produce as much of it as you can yourself, be willing to worker harder and pay more for ethically produced food and believe you are doing your children a favor by raising them with homesteading ideals at the heart of their upbringing. Sure, they encounter "yucky" farm chores and learn that you can't just leave at the drop of a hat for a spontaneous vacation, but as far as I know, "yucky" chores haven't killed many children (or adults, for that matter) and spur of the moment vacations do not build character.
I have dreamed of going off and roughing it on a real homestead since I can recall having day dreams, so for some 24 odd years, at least (I'm now 28). I've moved around from WV to NC and back. I've moved from WV to Florida and back, twice. I've spent years without having more than a cat or dog and with a 50x100 backyard. Still, few months have passed that I did not wish to do something more to really living than the everyday suburban "thing."
Now we have 23 acres, fairly close to the local city, but we have a 6 stall barn, enough room for 6 horses, 15 goats, 20 + laying hens, 2 mini donkeys, a livestock guard Pyrenees, 1 Jersey heifer with plans to add more chickens and another dual purpose or dairy breed heifer, likely a Dutch Belted. We have room to raise enough food to help sustain us, though we have only been here a year, and we are still working toward a real plan for a garden and making products.
Everything is still a plan. So far, we've done little more than pick the acres of blackberries and red raspberries that grow wild on our mountain and make about 100 jars of jelly and jam in the way of producing our own food.
We plan to homestead, really do it.
I get discouraged when an animal is sick, when buying hay is a taxing expense or just when the work seems like it will never end, but I am reminded that there is a higher purpose in this. Seeing new baby animals be born, caring for them as they grow, finding a meaning in the seasons because it impacts your life, it just amazing.
There is a purity in wanting little more than to know where your food comes from, learning true life skills and hoping to live as kindly as possible.
George Washington was speaking from the heart when he said,
"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."
- George Washington
A bit about me:
I have 3 boys, one who is 9, and two ate 2 and under. My husband is a native Floridian, a city boy, but he has more than embraced the homesteading lifestyle. I think he is more dedicated than I am, sometimes.
I am a part-time photographer and aspiring fiction writer. I am volunteer photographer for the NILMDTS.
Pix by Tina
We do equine rescue, which you can follow, along with our adventures at
The Vegetarian Homesteader
We raise quality Straight Egyptian Arabian horses, too.
You can find our webite by following this link.
Thank you Tinia for a wonderful blog post!
Pictures are courtesy of Tinia