The Spirit of a Modern Homesteader: A Look at the Lifestyle

The modern homesteader is someone who seeks a lifestyle of self-sufficiency! They make the most of what they have.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Young girls feeding a flock of chickens.

The modern homesteader is greatly misunderstood. Popular culture paints the picture of a backward, back-woods, anti-social, stuck-in-the-1880s person. Some may believe that nobody even lives like that anymore. But just because we’re off the grid doesn’t mean we’re not with the times. Au contraire! my urban-minded friends. Homesteading is thriving and well-connected in the 21st century – and is busy as ever preserving the simple life.

Living off the land isn’t the same as surviving in the wilderness. It takes knowledge, innovation, and dedication to keep a homestead running smoothly, and modern homesteaders have grown adept at adapting to new trends, technologies, and trends in the food and farming industries.

Modern homesteaders have bridged the gap between their traditional, rural roots and the modern world of technology and convenience.

A Little History

“Homesteading” officially entered common usage in American English circa 1862 with the passage of the Homesteading Act. These laws encouraged folks to head west and claim up to 160 acres of land for their families. Homesteaders raised livestock (like chickens, ducks, geese, cattle, and bees), plowed the fields, built barns, coops, cabins, and outhouses, and led a fairly self-sufficient lifestyle in small communities.

It’s not where you live…

The end of the Homesteading Act in 1975 coincided with a popular movement called “Back to the Land.” This movement was officially an exodus of hippies from urban centers to rural life, but it also refers to anyone who wishes to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. To escape the craziness of commercialism.

Modern-day homesteaders live in small apartments, crowded neighborhoods, suburban landscapes of every variety, as well as backwoods cabins, and old farmsteads. They trade modern conveniences for a source of much satisfaction.

The Simple Life: A New Generation of Modern Homesteaders

The very essence of “homesteading” is simplicity. And isn’t that what so many of us crave? Imagine the social ills that have simple and beautiful solutions when we live and work toward a simpler way of life.

Want to lose weight? Why not trade in your gym membership for a garden? Want organic food? Homesteaders remember the days when everything was organic without GMOs! Veggies came from your neighbor down the street. Meat and dairy from the farmer across town. The local beekeeper is the best source of honey and pure beeswax, as well as many pearls of wisdom. Have you ever had raw goat’s milk kefir? Do you know someone with a flour mill? What will you do for medicine? There may be a “green witch” right next door, with just the right blend of wildcrafted herbs, medicinal syrups, and tinctures for every cure (…and she’d gladly take a dozen eggs as barter!).

Holding a baby chick.

You, too, can be a Modern Homesteader!

“But I don’t have time for all that…” doesn’t fly here. Sure you do! Take charge of your life. Pick one simple new skill that you can do to be a little more self-reliant. Sprout an avocado, pick a dandelion for your lunch, and walk instead of driving. Before you know it, you’ll be hooked. You’ll be asking “what if…” and learning new things all the time. You’ll discover your special homesteading talent and share it with your family and friends. Before you know it, you’ll be the experienced modern homesteader you spent all those years envying. Best of all, you’ll re-connect with the most ancient human rituals of planting and harvesting, of honoring the changes in weather and the seasons, and of living a self-sufficient lifestyle in a cooperative community. 

Meet some modern homesteaders I adore…

Off-Grid in Alaska: Mark’s Modern Homestead

On their small compound (cabin, shed, outhouses, smokehouse, chicken coop, guest/boat house) Mark and his family grow, forage, hunt, and fish most of our food. We have 10.5+ forested acres with 700 feet of beachfront on Lynn Canal, North America’s longest, deepest fjord.

The Lazy Homesteaders: Angi’s Modern Homestead

Angi is the author of the blog, SchneiderPeeps. She also wrote the book The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables. Angi and her family live on 1 1/2 acres in Texas. She doesn’t consider herself a homesteader, although that seems to be what they are often called. She shares her and her family’s self-proclaimed “lazy” homesteading lifestyle.

The Sustainable Couple: Kelli’s Modern Homestead

Kelli, her husband, John, and their two dogs live on a 1/3 acre urban homestead in a large Eastern Iowa city. They share details about our homesteading adventure, including their gardens, chickens, home, and more, at The Sustainable Couple on Facebook.

Starting from Scratch: Teri’s Modern Homestead

Teri lives on 10 acres in Missouri with her family of four. She is the writer of the blog, Homestead Honey, and the author of Creating Your Off-Grid Homestead. If you are interested in going off-grid, I highly recommend this book.

And check out this video to see what a day looked like on my 1/4-acre homestead. I’ve since moved onto a 5 1/2 acre farm, but nothing has really changed. It just takes a bit longer to get from point A to point B.

Happy homesteading!

A pinterest-friendly graphic for the spirit of the modern homesteader.

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  1. This article may be the most perfect thing I have ever read! The shock when I tell others I am starting to homestead. So many people are so stuck on the old version of homesteading, they don’t even realize what is happening in the world around them.

  2. I too get a shocking look and or the comment…”I wasn’t aware people still lived like this.” I don’t even know what to even say yo them when they say that to me… I just reply yup… there are many of us out there…

  3. Nicole @Little Blog on the Homestead says:

    I find it amazing that since I have been more open about our homesteading ways how many friends I have that are living in a similar style. It’s been fantastic to realize A. I have such great taste in friends 😉 and B. that this movement is spreading

  4. Homesteading is a mindset. You have to sometimes think outside the box. You learn to reduce, reuse, and substitute. I’ve learned to bake chicken in a toaster oven, that 2 liter coke bottles can be turned into a self-watering planter, and that other people’s cast-offs can be turned into something unique with a little sewing skills. But it is something you can do anywhere in any situation.

  5. Jennifer S. says:

    Right now we cannot live in an “ideal” place for homesteading, but we do so many things to have a simple life – line dry our clothes, small garden, cloth diapers, cook from scratch, bake our own bread, sew clothes for my little ones, etc. Maybe someday we’ll live where we can also have animals. Until then we’re just homesteading to the best of our ability where we are.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      That’s just the thing. You do the best with what you have. If you wait for “ideal”, the “ideal” may never happen.

  6. Mike @ Gentleman Homestead says:

    One of the things that I find most exciting is devising ways to (responsibly) use modern technology and methods to heal land and make it produce via old world truths.

  7. Angi @ SchneiderPeeps says:

    It’s funny,when people find out we grow most of our own produce and have chickens and bees they are shocked. I’ve never really considered us homesteaders it’s just what we do. Thanks for such an encouraging article. Awren, I love your blog.

    1. I have a garden & I can & freeze everything I grow. I make do with what I have & when I go to the store I buy in bulk. I would not have it any other way. I’ve been doing this since I was 17 & now I’m 61.