Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)

What is homesteading? I know it use to mean (I think) you got land really cheap from the gov.

Claremore, OK(Zone 6a)

Hmm. Well, I'm not real sure of the actual definition. But I think of it as getting a little piece of land (or big) and getting all you can from whatever resources you can make work for you from that land. In a concentrated effort to be less reliant on a system of society or gov. that could fail, and more able to supply at least the bare necessities needed for one's own family. Example.......... Solar power, vegetable garden, fresh eggs, meat from chickens or other livestock, milk from goats or cow, fruits and berries from own trees, biodiesel fuel, etc. If a person had at least these things, and a place to be comfortable, it would provide more security than living in a city with no place to get food except a grocery store, and no place to get fuel except a gas pump.
I don't sit around and worry about it, but you never know what the future holds. Who knew that the 9-11 terrorist attacks or the anthrax scare would happen ? It's just a good feeling to know I've got a plan if I ever need one.

Besides......... if I save all this money on these things........... I got more to spend on other things I like. :-D

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.........the benefit of not eating all the chemical junk that is added to our foods now days.

So, I guess homesteading can be whatever you want it to be. Doing your own thing, on a little piece of your own land. FUN.

Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)

Thanks Peggie,

I think that would be heaven. Solar heat, lights and a windmill to move the water. Oh, I wish I could do that. Chickens for eggs, veggie garden. What a joyful thing that would be. I so want a home of my very own no matter how humble.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Homestead has several meanings. The basic dictionary definition says a dwelling and any other buildings on land occupied by the owner and exempt by law from seizure or sale for debt.

Many of us think of homesteading as the activity that helped settled the frontier. In 1862 Congress passed the Homestead Act, which allowed people to claim parcels of public land - usually 160 acres - without cost. They were required to build a home and support themselves there for a period of time - often two years - before title was transferred. The famous land runs into the Unassigned Lands of Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) were a part of that program. Applicants gathered at the starting line in wagons and on horseback. After the starting gun fired they raced to grab the staked-out parels. Sometimes they found that some choice parcels (with water) had already been seized via illegal early entry by sneaky persons under cover of darkess. These cheaters scornfully were known as "Sooners". (That title has since mellowed into the name for the University of Oklahoma's football team.)

Existence on such homesteads was primitive in the extreme. No roads, water wells had to be dug by hand, no stores for supplies. Food at first was obtained by hunting and foraging for wild plants.
Beyond self-sufficiency, actual survival was at risk.

Today we think of homesteading in the sense of "back to the land" - doing more for ourselves in a natural way. Some elements of self-sufficiency can be practiced even in a apartment.

Homestead laws exist today in many states (Texas is one.) Some deal with protection from seizure for debt, such as in bankruptcy (but not for foreclosure on mortgage/lien default) and/or exemption on some portion of the property's value for payment of property taxes.

All this may be more than you really wanted to know (!) but is an interesting topic for me. My ancestors settled in Texas and Oklahoma. Although not part of the land runs, they were true pioneers. Yuska

Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)


Thank you for the info. I was thinking of more along the lines of yester year.

Claremore, OK(Zone 6a)

makshi, that's us..pretty humble. We decided to do this..but with some degree of sacrifice. We sold all we owned, bought us a little piece of land, and proceeded to build us a little house with what money was left.
We have paid cash for every step of it and have no more mortgage. It is a very small house, but there's just the two of us (kids grown). And it is brand new, just tiny and modest. It's almost like living in an apartment................
but it's ours, along with the land it's on. We absolutely love it. Our life is so much more relaxed now. We have no house payment, fill up our propane tank in summer, grow, can and freeze garden vegs., gather eggs, butcher a chicken now and then, catch fish and store it in the freezer........................
life is good. We still have to work, as insurance, utilities,(only water and elec.) , cars, and a lot of extras we could never afford before still call to us........ but there's not near the stress there used to be. Besides, we want to add on to our little house in future for more room. But getting out of debt, and being somewhat self-sufficient feels very good. Retirement will slip up on us all before we know it. We're trying our best to be ready.

Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)

I hope it all works just the way you see it. It sounds like a wonderful life.

Claremore, OK(Zone 6a)

thanks, we're giving it our best shot. Now if we just continue to be blessed with good health.

Visalia, CA(Zone 7a)

My Dad homesteaded in Alaska- can you imagine?! They completely lived off the land.They had to, as there was no"town" to go to anywhere nearby. I've always admired his cleverness and resourcefullness.I'd love to give my kids that same opportunity one day.(sigh)-one day. Hopefully, within five years we'll have a stead of our very own.

Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)


I know someone that lives in a cabin in Alaska. I sure don't want to live like they do. No water, no inside plumbing, wood heat etc. I wouldn't be able to for health reason and I just wouldn't want to. It is too cold there also.

Claremore, OK(Zone 6a)

It would definately not be for everyone. It's a whole different lifestyle.
I'm quite content, as long as the nearest grocery store and Wal-Mart is only 10 miles away. LOL
I don't think I would like it if we had to go 100% like those in remote places, with no water, elec. or plumbing. But I do get a lot of satisfaction knowing that we no longer pay out huge portions of our income on mortgage interest each year. Although our little cabin/home is small and modest, it is brand new and modern. I guess I'm kinda like a wanna-be homesteader. LOL.

Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)


That is my type of homestead. I would love to have a modern cabin out on a piece of land close to others but not too close.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Finding the right small rural parcel can be a challenge. Often an owner may be thinking of selling but relies on word-of-mouth to let the possible availability be known. Many other factors need to be considered, too, such as quality and quantity of available water, septic tank restrictions, all-weather roads and proximity to emergency services. One book I found interesting: "Finding and Buying Your Place in The Country" by Les Scher, who wrote from his experiences as a real estate attorney specializing in rural properties. The original edition can be found inexpensively in the used section of Barnes and Noble. A more recent edition is still quite expensive but a copy may be available in your library. Yuska

Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)


Thank you for the book info.

Spencer, TN

well, the homesteading act was one thing, but when it's done now we usually have to buy the land, but it's commenly a simular process, some different with the modern systems around to play off of as well.
my mamma tried it when i was about 3, starting in the late 60's, she'd grew up on a farm, lived in town for a few years and got fed up, so persuaded dad to buy some land out of town a few miles. went to gardening and homeschooling full time and raised all we could eat, lived in a cabin with outhouse till a house could be built. Over the years with health problems etc. we did it halfway or less, finally when dad was getting close to retirement and we decided town was getting too close we sold out and bought 80 ac in the plateau mountain region for probably an antique price and started over. Kind of slow going but after 20 yrs here we're getting a new house built (100+ yr old one is leaning slowly into the earth) and getting a produce business started, (been running a sawmill but tired of that)
been clearing some land a mile up in the woods for growing things, up near the neighbors house, so they can help conviently, (they live without power) and setting up solar water pumping system to pump spring water to his house and the growing area.
we'll continue clearing on down the mt side and run gravity water to that from another spring. Our plan is to get totally free of outside input as we see society going down the drain and expect upset at any time, outside support, like oil, electricity etc. is likely to get unreliable in the future. I plan on building a woodgas unit on a truck for firewood hauling, maybe a generator on it to run electric chain saw. that'd be nice, using firewood power to cut firewood.

Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)


Sounds great. I would love to live with solar heat, lights and to get water. I hope it all goes good for you.


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Thanks Reuben. I'm looking into a solar pumping system for the spring on our new property. It has city water now. Also want solar hot water, and maybe a panel for my laptop.

Santa Maria, CA

Yuska, I was just reading your post on homesteading. We are going to buy some land in MO. Where can I find the laws for that state on homesteading? My husband was told that you can make your property exempt from debt seizure. Any advice? T

Paxton, IL

It's good to hear how people started. We are doing what we can living in town right now. We reuse what we can, fix what we are able, and have a small garden. We are working towards making our life here as efficient as possible while we pay down some debt and build some equity in our home. Our plan is to buy some land within the next five years and create a place that is at least mostly self-sufficient. ReubenT, we are in IL now but looking at that area of TN along with some others (all within that mid-south region). My big question is what the development trends are going to look like there. We don't want to buy a nice piece of land that is fairly remote now, to find it hedged in within a few years. What is your sense of that living there?

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

It's always good to hear from those that are doing what you want to do. The descriptions above of what "homesteading" means today, is the same as my thoughts. Being able to provide for and take care of yourself and your family, and provide a better quality of life.

I originally starting getting my ideas from Mother Earth News magazine 15 or 20 years ago. I'm still getting ideas from them. Some ideas were a little too radical for me, but some were very doable.

I find the Sustainable Alternatives forum at DG is a good partner for homesteading. Our first priority was to pay down our debts, and grow as much of our own food as possible. We just started working on cutting down our utility expences this past summer, by setting up graywater and rain barrels. We've got some simple passive solar projects to work on next to cut down on some of our heating costs. These are more sustainable ideas, but are also cutting down on our expences and making us more self-sufficent. Which, I believe, is what homesteading is all about. I'm not into "living off the land", but it's important to me to get our cost of living down to as little as possible.


Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7b)

I almost fell out of my chair when I read this thread. I didn't realize there were still homesteading options open in the lower 48. WOW!

Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

Wow, I never even knew this forum was here!!! How did I miss it :( (clicks to add to the incredibly huge list of fave Dave forums)

Quitman, GA


Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL ~ I think "homesteading" consumes a lot of time and effort. It is a lot of work. I hope you will be up to it when you do turn 65! Best wishes...

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I would love to be a homesteader but I know it will never happen. My DH and I do not share all the same dreams. So we enjoy the ones we do share and I do as much on my own as I can.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I agree ~ but expanding on the homesteading thought. I think it means different things to many of us.

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7b)

Right, podster. Although the way things are going here lately, we may be doing more of it than anybody planned on. sheesh

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Yes, I agree... and I am proud to know I am capable but always wish to be better prepared.

Now, how to get DH on the same track.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

When you get a handle on that, please let me know. LOL

Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

pod & cajun, don't give up on 'em. Mine was very uncaring about it, or sometimes humored me, and now HE'S the driving force behind most of the new ideas (but I still can't get him to turn off a light when he leaves a room or not use the dryer for an iron...lol.) If all things go right, and it's meant to be, we'll be on 25 acres by end of summer. I'm just trying not to get too excited as a lot depends on other people right now, but inside I can hardly be still!

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

My good thoughts are with ou on getting your property. It would be so wonderful for you to be able to spread out and live your dream. Do you have any animals now?

Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

Other than an inside spoiled dog and a cushion-warming old cat, nope :) We are planning to start with chickens and a couple of goats. Once we get a handle on those, we plan for a cow-calf pair, and maybe some turkeys, ducks and geese. But one thing at a time... I can't even have a clothesline in this neighborhood! But it is a lovely place, just not the place of our dreams.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Well I believe homesteading is a "state of mind". It has a different definition or application to us all. That is why I have hesitated to get wrapped up in some of these discussions.

To me, homesteading is not just a piece of land. We have been on our land for almost 30 years.

It is not just making best use of land. Sometimes allowing the land to lay fallow or wooded is the "best use of land".

It is not only being environmentally conservative. Something I strive for.

It also could mean excercising our freedom and independence. Which sometimes takes outside income.

Unfortunately as we age, some of that becomes a bit harder to attain and creature comforts are more welcomed.

That is what caught my attention on poormanmows post


Wondering what he/she wants to do with their piece of homestead?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Many of us with an interest in Homesteading post on the Farm Life, Poultry and Livestock, and Sustainability forums. We have not gone away, nor been scalped, LOL.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I think all the things on those forums go hand in hand with the homesteading mindset.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Homesteading can also be "urban homesteading"......folks doing everything they can to be self sufficient in their urban/suburban location. This gets back to homesteading being a state of mind.

We had a piece of land, had to sell it to pay off parents medical bills, and are looking to get back to a piece of land. It can be hard to adjust to urban/suburban living if you are used to a more rural environment. Life happens. Things change. Keeping the homesteading state of mind forces you to find creative ways to accomplish the same in your current space....until you can move to your preferred space.
Keep the dream alive!

Elmira, NY(Zone 6a)

Some years ago I was on a homesteading forum where a woman lived in the city and grew all her own food on 1/4 acre. To me, that's homesteading. I hope to have my own place in a town or small city. Right now I am renting in a small city. I need more planting area and a bit more space between me and my neighbors.

The thing about age really concerns me, because I live alone, and I like it that way. This struck me the other day when I was reading something about growing all your own food. Growing is hard work, or maybe I should say it is constant. If you are alone, and a hefty amount of people my age are, you have to consider what's going to happen with your independence as you age. I guess that is always a concern for any person, but more so if you want to homestead. I think this opens up possibilities for community type homesteading, if that makes sense. I am working on my growing skills so that I will have something to trade when I am too tired for tilling and hoeing.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

You are very smart to be thinking of the future in terms of solving problems that may come up.

Quitman, GA

Thank all of you for responding to my thread and believe me I know that I cannot do what I could at 25 now that I am approaching 65? But ,I was raised on a farm and farmed for many years until the years a lot of farmers lost their homes and farms? I was raised milking cows, skimming milk ,making my own butter, cooking sugar cane, and making my own syrup. Also killing my own hogs and cows to be put in freezer had a large garden growing almost everything we ate except the basics( flour etc) we cooked with hog lard, I know it is not healthy, but my grandparents and parents all lived to be in their nineties(guess hog fat killed them) anyway what I am trying to say is I am trained in all aspects of home steading just a little older is the problem probably cannot still cut all that fire wood for heat and the wood cookstove I ust to cut or build my home like I did but, i still have the desire to try just on a much smaller scale!! Thanks again for answering my thread and it is great to hear what each of you have to say!!

Medford, NJ

I've been reading alot on homesteading lately, especially as the future of oil is becoming more unsure. Some people have even taken it to the extent that they are acquiring and learning to use weapons, to defend themselves against the people who are not preparing for the future, and may someday have to turn to crime just to get their basic needs met. Of course this is the extreme, but a future like that is not entirely out of the question.

There are some homesteaders who are becoming herbalists, because they think that even medicines may become something difficult to get in the future.

Aside from all the other great reasons to get away from the rat race and live this way, I feel that it is always better to be prepared for anything.

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