I’m More Than a Label: Homesteader, Prepper, Survivalist

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I’m More Than a Label

I’m not sure why, but we as a society have this need to put labels on ourselves and others. Sometimes these labels are innocent. They describe to others where we stand. They describe how we feel about others and what our mission is. Sometimes these labels hurt. They are used to group people together in a negative way. The problem with labels is that not everyone views these labels in the same light.

I'm not sure why, but we as a society have this need to label ourselves and others. Sometimes these labels are innocent. They describe to others where we stand.

I turned to Facebook to find out how people viewed homesteaders, preppers and survivalists.

The Homesteader Label

While most people had visions of Little House on the Prairie running through their heads, some individuals who deem themselves as homesteaders got a bit more specific.Tessa from Homestead Lady chimed in with “produces some portion of her own food, medicine, shelter, clothing and power (or is making plans to do so)“.

A common theme is that homesteaders make do with what they have and produce instead of purchase. To get legal for a moment, a homestead is a person’s or family’s residence, which comprises the land, house, and outbuildings, and in most states is exempt from forced sale for collection of debt. The owners of the residences are technically homesteaders, regardless of their life’s philosophy.

Now comes the nitty-gritty of homesteading… Are men classified as homesteaders? When people are imagining Little House on the Prairie, are they seeing Pa Ingalls as well? I wrote a bit about that in A “Manly” Post and introduced you to a couple of my manly homesteading friends.

I'm not sure why, but we as a society have this need to label ourselves and others. Sometimes these labels are innocent. They describe to others where we stand.

When I think of homesteaders, I think of Little House in the Prairie.

The Prepper Label

Jokes abound regarding the prepper. Alien assaults on our planet, government conspiracy and general doom and gloom. A common theme is that preppers will never run out of toilet paper and spam. But what is wrong with being prepared?

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I was talking to a neighbor recently. His home town was under water due to two storms colliding. No one saw it coming. In addition to losing all of his possessions in the flood, he lost access to food supplies and his money (which was in a bank that was also under water). He has now learned that disaster can strike anyone. He keeps a food supply that will last his family months. He keeps cash available at all times. The car always has a full tank of gas. He is prepared in case anything should happen.

A friend of mine wrote a great satire article called Where to Start… AKA… Before the Zombies Come! that truly helps you get prepared.

I'm not sure why, but we as a society have this need to label ourselves and others. Sometimes these labels are innocent. They describe to others where we stand.

When I think of preppers, I think of conspiracy theorists with tin foil hats.

The Survivalist Label

Okay, when we hear the term survivalist many of us are picturing camo, knives and eating nasty stuff. I would deem my friend Tammy over at Trayer Wilderness as a survivalist. They don’t need anyone’s help to survive.

Off-grid primitive living may not be for everyone, but remember, disaster can strike anyone. Could you survive? Does it hurt to have the skill set to live wild? I believe that there are certain thing we should as a society know how to do and we don’t. We should be able to grow basic foods. We should be able to start a fire without a lighter and cook on said fire. We should know how to assure our drinking water is safe. Do we need to eat bugs? No, but we should be able to identify at least a few wild foods that are safe to consume.

I'm not sure why, but we as a society have this need to label ourselves and others. Sometimes these labels are innocent. They describe to others where we stand.

When I think of survivalists, I think of Bear Grylls eating nasty stuff.

When Labeling Hurts

Now here is where labeling gets my old-school percolator boiling. In July of 2013 NBC News did a piece on non-traditional chicken keeping. You can read it here. This article upsets me for a couple of reasons.

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First, a few people do not not accurately sum up the whole. I worked in a rescue shelter and I saw some terrible things. I know there are still good people who take excellent care of their pets. I haven’t gone door to door, but I’d like to think the majority of pet owners are responsible, caring individuals.

Second, they article seems to label all chicken owners who do not live on traditional farms as hipsters. I can assure you that I in no way resemble that picture.

I'm not sure why, but we as a society have this need to label ourselves and others. Sometimes these labels are innocent. They describe to others where we stand.

Yup, this is totally me rocking my retro bicycle with my geek chic glasses in hipster blue. My urban chicken was not available for the photo op.

Now lets, for a moment, compare apples to apples. Here are some direct quotes from the article where I switch out chickens with kittens and puppies. Let’s see how that reads out…

“Despite visions of cute puppies, romps in the yard, and a little sidekick…”
“Despite visions of adorable kittens, naps together, and undying love…”

Dogs are being abandoned each year at the nation’s shelters from California to New York as some irresponsible pet owners discover that puppies are adorable for a couple of months, but can live for more than a decade longer, and that actually raising the dogs can be noisy, messy, labor-intensive and expensive.”
Cats are being abandoned each year at the nation’s shelters from California to New York as some irresponsible pet owners discover that kittens play with you and the tinkle ball for a few months, but sharpen their nails on your furniture for more than a decade, and that actually raising the cats can be noisy, messy, labor-intensive and expensive.”

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“You get some puppies and they’re very cute, but it’s not as though you can throw them out in the yard and not care for them.”
“You get some kittens and they’re very cute, but it’s not as though you can throw them out in the yard and not care for them.”

“They’re put on Craigslist all the time when they don’t lay any more,” said Coston, 48. “They’re dumped all the time.” – Yeah, because that never happens with kittens and puppies.

They go on to attack locavores and foodies. This is labling that drive me insane. Since when has wanting a better and healthier lifestyle been a bad thing? Bring on the rural nostalgia! I homestead my land to prepare for survival.

Does this irk you? Do you label yourself? Talk to me in the comments below.

I'm not sure why, but we as a society have this need to label ourselves and others. Sometimes these labels are innocent. They describe to others where we stand.

 

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I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

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Comments

I’m More Than a Label: Homesteader, Prepper, Survivalist — 15 Comments

  1. Totally agree!! I just talked about this very thing recently myself! Labeling has become the way to deal with anything someone is afraid of or doesn’t understand. Thanks for a great post!

  2. I love how Joel Salatin defines himself, as the “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer”. But that’s not me either. I refer to myself as a farmer/rancher. It’s easier for people to understand. Am I stereotyped? Sure. Is that important? Not really.

  3. I agree that labels are way overused. But I try to use that to my advantage. I have a very very broad definition of “homesteader.” Mostly so that I can inspire anyone of any type of dwelling on any amount of land (or lack thereof) to learn how to provide for themselves, DIY, prep, and survive. I really don’t care what it’s called though. I also identify with others who are the “black sheep” of their family and/or friends. I live in a rural state, but in a city that doesn’t realize that. lol! Oh well. Thanks for your page!

  4. My family and I have Chickens , a garden, we can and dry fruit and vegtables as well. We also make our own beef jerky and here’s one better, we homeschool our children. We have taught them the lost art of sewing and wood work. Talk about labeled. In the end we are prepared and are happier than a lot of people we know so we say label on.

  5. I think it’s easy to put labels on people, but for the most part, I don’t do labels anymore. There’s too many shades in a definition, everyone has their own ideal. Some people think just having chickens makes you a homesteader, and some people think if you’re not going whole hog and pumping your own water from a homemade well that you’re not homesteading.

  6. I get “the look” from my mom – of all people. You certainly hope your parents will support whatever you’re doing, but I get the equivalent of a head pat and cluck in “the look”, which to me means, “I just don’t understand you, you poor simple child.” She’s let “hippy” and “tree hugger” slip in conversations to others when describing “what my daughter does”. I let it roll off; it’s not something I can change. Sure, it does frustrate me, but then I remember this past winter when it was negative 20 and we had 2 feet of snow on the ground, I was surviving pretty comfortably while she continuously called worried about the power going out and fussing about being unprepared for the unseasonably bad winter.

    • I think the fact that you are dealing with adversity makes your journey that more special. It’s easy to continue on a path you were born to know. It’s hard to forge your own path.

  7. I simply don’t understand why those who do not prepare and/or work to be more self sufficient, look down on those that do as if they are aliens sometimes. It’s mind boggling. What is wrong with growing your own food, raising some chickens, learning to be a better DIY’er … just mind boggling.

  8. Love it, I get all kinds of crap from people who don’t understand our desire to live a more sustainable and self sufficient life. Most think we’re just jumping on the bandwagon and that we don’t really know/understand what we are doing. Mostly I just ignore it, and do what I can to defy their expectations. And I know that when the zombies come my family will survive and thrive!!

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