What is Homesteading?

This blog has been a long time coming. Over the past few weeks, as the web site came together, I have been thinking of how to start here, with you. I have so much I want to share, so much to talk about, but I just couldn’t find which topic would be the best to start with. Then I woke up this morning and realized, the only way to start is to start.

So, here I am. Let’s start at the beginning.

I am going to assume that you read the “About Jen & Froggy” section so you have the bird’s eye view of why I was drawn to urban homesteading. But maybe you are asking, what is homesteading? How is it possible to homestead in city limits? You may have a picture in your head of settlers and their covered wagons heading out to the promised land of 160 acres in the American West. When I told my 16-year-old son that I am on a homesteading journey, that is the image that popped into his mind and he thought that I went crazy. That is understandable. Honestly, I had a vision of off-grid living mashed with small-town farming and wasn’t really aware of what it was – or how we could apply it to our lives.

As you may have read in “About Jen & Froggy”, I started a small garden several years ago with the intention to teach women who were victims of violence to garden as a holistic therapy and then to preserve the fruit of the garden with the intention of learning how to be self-sufficient. That term continued to come up when we would set goals for what we wanted the outcomes for the women we worked with to be. The ultimate goal, “self-sufficiency”. Idealistically, we had a vision on what that meant, but I had no idea the journey it would take me on.

Merriam Webster defines homesteading as “acquiring or settling on land under a homestead law.” However, Merriam Webster isn’t really up to date on the topic, so a better definition comes from Mother Earth News, “21st century homesteading, which is all about self-sufficiency — wherever you live. It’s about using less energy, eating wholesome local food, involving your family in the life of the community and making wiser choices that will improve the quality of life for your family, your community and the environment around you.” By this definition, anyone can homestead and for this reason, homesteaders are a very diverse bunch.

For me, urban homesteading is a way back to simplicity. Materialism, consumerism, distraction, over-packed calendars, and drama have overtaken our culture leaving us stressed out, tired and yearning for something that we can’t quite put our finger on. Our human bodies were not meant or designed to work 8 hour days, run our kids to 12 practices, eat a diet of chemicals and squeeze in 3 hours of binge-watching before we get 5 hours of sleep to get up and do it all again tomorrow. In fact, our bodies are rebelling in astonishing ways and we are not paying attention. And that doesn’t even begin to touch the surface of what we are doing to the planet in the process.

I see an issue here. A deep issue. Misguided dependency. We have stepped away from the one thing we need to be dependent on and traded it for dependency on government, big business, and big pharma companies. Homesteading allows me to realign, depend on Jesus to provide and become more self-sufficient so that I am able to provide more for myself and my family. It is hard work, but it is fun! Every time I tackle a new skill on this path I am overcome with gratitude to God (He has provided so much for us on this wonderful planet) and a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment I haven’t had before. And it isn’t about doing more or having more, quite the opposite in fact. It is about simplicity.

But you know what is really cool about homesteading? You can do it too. You don’t need to have 160 acres, you don’t even need to have chickens. You can begin your own homesteading journey with whatever you have, wherever you are. Simplifying your life, natural living, and do-it-yourself can be learned at your own pace to create your own unique homestead journey. 

My hope and wish are that as you follow this Froggy Journey, you will put to use some of the things I will share with you. I hope you will make your own elderberry syrup and reach for that instead of the over the counter products that inhibit your body’s ability to fight a cold. I hope that you will consider having chickens in your yard for eggs or meat. I hope that you will make an herbal tea that can soothe a sore throat or calm your nerves. I even hope that if your dryer goes out, you will consider trying to fix it yourself before buying a new one. I hope that if you are unable to do any of these things, that you would support a local farmer who can provide eggs, honey, meat, produce, etc. rather than purchasing them from a big box store. Most of all, I hope that this Froggy Journey will help you to be more self-sufficient than ever before, all while keeping your eyes on Jesus, the One we are truly dependent on for all of our needs.