According to Wikipedia, homesteading is “a lifestyle of self-sufficiency“. A self-sufficient family might make their own food, or create products that can be used at home or sold, such as clothing or crafts. Many homesteaders have a garden, some animals, and perhaps even a farm. There are different levels of how seriously a person may choose to homestead, and homesteading doesn’t necessarily mean being “off-grid”.
Reasons for homesteading can be diverse. For example, as a homesteader you can take life slower, have access to homegrown, fresh organic produce, be surrounded by nature, learn and teach meaningful skills, have a more healthy and active lifestyle, have more freedom, and etc. Homesteading can also be catered to a more urban environment, such as by growing a potted plant garden.
As a young teenager, I was adamant that I did not want to marry a farmer.. perhaps I imagined that it would mean sacrificing my creative pursuits, or giving up my dream of traveling. I also do not like cowboy boots, country music, or insects. At the time, settling down for what I imagined to be a humdrum, unfulfilling existence seemed unattractive. (and due to the above, my family teased me relentlessly that I would, in fact, marry a farmer..)
On the other hand, I love homemaking. I love DIY projects, decorating, trying new recipes, teaching, planning, organizing, hospitality, mealtime conversations, and almost everything about the art of making a house into a real home. The combination is a perfect oxymoron (or, so I thought).
Although I did not end up marrying a farmer, my husband grew up in the rural countryside, and after nearly two years of city life, we decided to move to his hometown. We also knew that making homesteading part of our lifestyle was something that we wanted to try. In addition, I came to realize that country life actually affords me more time and freedom than if we lived a typical lifestyle. Our rural existence also guards us from burn out, and helps us focus on what is important.
So, how do we do this homesteading thing?
The truth is, I’m not really sure, and we’re still learning. As of right now, it looks like clearing land, and planting seeds (and my first rose plant!). It looks like evading biting centipedes, and fleeing from spiders the size of my palm. It looks like watching a fox stare at me, its gaze daring me to challenge its right to walk across our front yard. And it looks like my husband and I making plans, slowly but surely.
I’ve also learned that the wild countryside is exactly suited to how God designed me, in ways that I never realized. For example, there is far more room for my creativity to flourish here than there was boxed into an office cubicle, where I was expected to conform to the expectations of others.
In the past, I’ve also often described myself as having wanderlust.. and exploring unknowns brought Masashi and I places we never expected. But, at the conclusion of our most recent venture abroad (our “belated honeymoon“), my husband and I both found something had shifted in our souls. Coming home really felt like coming home. Not just a temporary apartment squished between tall buildings, or a bedroom in a share house in Tokyo where you can touch the walls with your hands on either side.. but a home that is really a home. A home to live in long enough to hang pictures on the wall. A home filled with love, that doesn’t feel almost or in-between (or at least, as much as is possible this side of heaven..).
And this land is as wild as my soul has often been. God teaches me things from nature about His character, and His design. As we build a home in the rural mountainside, He continues to build His home in my untamed soul. Perhaps that is the greatest form of homesteading- not of self-sufficiency or country living, but dependence on God, sufficiency and contentment found in Him, and leaning into the gifts He has given us to explore and use for His purposes. Making a home that is first and foremost, a dwelling place of God.
Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
– Proverbs 24:3-4
Is homesteading something you would be willing to try?
Feel free to share your thoughts and comments..
Photos: by Hannah Haruna