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 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 Men’s Products from Scratch and introduced you to a couple of my manly homesteading friends.
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?
I was talking to a neighbor recently. His hometown 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 and keeps a food supply that will last his family months as well as 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.
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 things we should as a society know how to do and we don’t. We should be able to grow basic foods, start a fire without a lighter and cook on said fire, and know how to assure that 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.
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.
First, a few people do not accurately sum up the whole. I worked in a rescue shelter and I saw some terrible things. There are still a lot of good people who take excellent care of their pets. Although I haven’t gone door to door, 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.
Now let’s, 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 dog 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, and that actually raising the cat can be noisy, messy, labor-intensive and expensive.”
“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… 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 labeling that drive me insane. Since when has the desire to live 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.
If you want to learn how to homestead where you live, be sure to subscribe to The Homestead Helper. Don’t worry, we won’t label you.