1. You need less money to live. In our culture one of the most stressful parts of our day to day life is trying to find ways to make ends meet, to find ways to make more money. This is a vicious circle, because the more you make the more you spend.
Our journey may have began way back when we took the Dave Ramsey courses at our church at the time. We cut up fourteen credit cards and have not looked back, nor do we hold a single one now. Our “emergency credit card” is cash stashed away for an emergency. One that we saved for and add to every month. If we don’t have the money now to buy it, we won’t have the money when the bill comes either! The course also showed us the follies behind borrowing and loaning. We never borrow money (from banks or relatives), and we don’t loan out money. Gift or nothing.
All these principles helped us find our way to this homestead. We decided that the cushy job Doug held was not worth the money, since we spent it so quickly anyway. You will spend what you make. So, instead of making more money, we starting cutting bills. Expensive cable, gone. We’d rather be out in the garden watering, or chatting over a vicious game of Scrabble. Home phone became my cell phone. We do not have the fastest internet to Doug’s dismay. We own really high mileage cars. We have relatively low bills so we need to make less money. This creates a sense of peace and a lot less fear and stress. This lifestyle inspires less. One only needs a plot for a garden, a very good library book, and a cat.
2. You get to aide in creation. This is a pretty spectacular concept. You get to help God create a Garden of Eden right where you are. Your hands help create the beds of brilliant ruby tomatoes, the crisp lettuces, the sunflowers that help feed the birds. You get to grow plants that feed bees and butterflies. You get to create beauty all around you that will bring happiness to all that see it. It is a joyous privilege to be a creator.
3. You create positive living environments for animals. In a world of mass meat production, animals being shot up with hormones and drugs, ailing animals thrown into “dead” piles, and inhumane holding and slaughtering facilities, isn’t it nice that you can do your small part to help the animal kingdom? Whether you choose to eat your animals or not is irrelevant. For all their days they get to run in the sun, eat what they were intended to, be in contact with other animals, and receive much needed attention. Even if you only have four chickens, those chickens will lead a very good life and were lucky not to have fallen in the confines of a factory farm. It is a trickle down effect, every bit of good adds up to much larger change.
4. Farmsteads diminish fear. In our packed cities, and even in the country, most folks rely on the water company to do their job, that the water will always flow from the tap, the electric companies will always keep the electricity on so that the furnace will run, and the grocery stores will always be open. In a disaster (not talking zombie apocalypse here, more like tornados or floods) it is nice to know one could light the wood stove to heat the house, open water that has been stored, and go down to the farmstead grocery store, the root cellar and bring up potatoes, jars of corn, and maybe some homemade wine. If a disaster strikes, Honey, you’re gonna need it.
5. Human nature requires farmsteads. Cement sidewalks, air conditioned buildings, paved roads, our whole world is built to give the impression that we are controlling our environment. Our sensory is diminished, our creativity slows. A farmstead provides food for the senses. Smell the flowers, breathe in the fresh air, see the wide expanse of sky, touch the soil, hear the buzzing of a honeybee. Being in nature also amplifies creativity and any number of brilliant ideas can come to you while walking through a garden, or a field, or watching a sunset. Creating your own farmstead (anywhere) allows your senses to be fed daily.
6. Farmsteads save the planet. Such a cliché anymore, Save the Planet! But whether you believe in climate change or not, whether you are sick of the fight between sustainable energy and homegrown oil, one thing cannot be denied; we are doing damage.
Just look down the block on trash day. If you look around the shelves of department stores and big box stores, and grocery stores and see the boxes and packaging and cheaply made items from overseas that will be in the trash on trash day in a matter of months. It can be quite an eye opener if you see that all of that will end up in hidden land fills that we’d rather not think about. Think about the toxic chemicals (cleaning products) that we flush through our water. The pesticides that we add to the farms and gardens and lawns everywhere, slowly decreasing the bee population to a horrifying level.
We can do our part though. Grow organically on your own patch of earth, use your own homemade cleaning products, create your own ideal of reuse, recycle, and for heaven’s sake, stop buying stuff! A farmstead inspires all of this. Houses are typically smaller for I’d rather be out hoeing than in the house cleaning. You can heat a smaller house easier and you certainly need less stuff. Homesteaders’ packaging comes in reusable glass jars and there are many ideas to reuse items on a homestead. (I am collecting the large cat litter containers to use as pots for the summer.) The beauty we create around us also reflects into the world and inspires us all to take care of our resources.
7. Farmsteads ensure health. In our battles to find health, somewhere between doctors and fast food, in the gym, and with the psychiatrist, there is a place of perfect well being. On a farmstead.
Mental health is ensured for it is impossible to be depressed or anxious sitting in a patch of corn. I assure you that roses do indeed medically perk up the brain and increase endorphins. To create something, to grow something, to fix something gives the mind such a sense of accomplishment, one we are missing in the common workplace. To feel important, needed, and accomplished keeps the mind happy and healthy. We cannot sit around all day and expect to be healthy.
Physical health is another part of the farmstead. Lift a couple of bales of hay, fix a fence, and hoe a new garden bed and you will cancel your gym membership right quick. Use the saved money to buy a new goat. Then you have fresh milk. The eggs from the chickens provide higher amounts of Lutein and Omega3. Less cholesterol and cortisol is found in farm fresh, humanely raised meat. And the organic vegetables from your plot have all their vitamins in tact because they did not recently arrive from Peru. Fueling the body with amazing food and exercise outdoors is ideal for the human body. Growing your own medicine is empowering and takes away one’s need to go to the doctor or pharmacist. (It also saves a whole lot of money that could be used for more hay.)
Spiritual health is every bit as important. A sense of overwhelming peace and hope can be found among butterflies landing on nearby lilies and hearing birds sing. It is difficult to be Atheist on a farmstead. To know that all our needs are supplied and to see the proof around you is incredibly powerful.
8. Farmsteads create community. The term “self sufficient” is really misleading. For we need people. I need Jill to barter with me so that I can have goats and then I need her to tell me when they are in labor. I need Sandy to grow some of the herbs I use in medicines for me. I need Lisa to show me how to knit. I need Rich to bring me trout. I need someone to grow organic grains for me. I need John to show us (or just do it) how to build a shelter for the alpacas. I needed Deb to tell me to water more. I need Skip to tell me what Kiowa has been like for the past seventy years. I need folks. Most of the time I like to be alone with my little world I’ve created over here but in a farmstead life, you need people. The benefits are tremendous. People stop and visit while we are out watering the gardens, amazed at how much we have grown in the front yard in town. We meet new friends. I am known as the herbalist with the pumpkin patch, a moniker I can be proud of. (I have been called worse.) A pumpkin patch makes folks smile. Bartering becomes the norm. Circles of familiar friends are discovered and life gets just that much sweeter.
So whether you are in are in town or in the country, have access to a balcony or a full acre, get going on that farmstead. You won’t regret it.