Homesteading and a Simple Life: Important Aspects of Each

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The terms ‘homesteading’ and ‘a simple Life’ in many ways are synonymous. There are a few differences, but primarily, one who homesteads also lives a simple life. Someone who lives a Simple Life may not homestead, but they still have the same basic outlook on life. How you view it is ‘all in your mind’. Let’s look deeper at Homesteading and a Simple Life.

Homesteading and a Simple Life

With homesteading, the mind leads you to land, outbuildings, gardens, and livestock. One would also add canning and preserving the harvest, as well as baking bread and home-cooked meals. The over-all thought would be one of self-sufficiency.

When living a Simple Life, often times the only difference would be the land and outbuildings. Many who live a simple life grow at least some portion of their foods, are proficient in canning and preserving, as well as bake and cook healthy meals for their families.

In some cases, the lines between homesteading and a simple life begin to blur. In my case, I live a simple life every day. But I can also be considered a homesteader, as I live on a 60-acre farm. I do everything a homesteader does, with only a limitation on the types of livestock I raise. 

Farm view

The List of Similarities between Homesteading and a Simple Life

Homesteading

  • Grows a Garden
  • Usually lives on 1/4 acre or more
  • Lives Frugally
  • Raises Livestock – Cattle/Goat/Sheep/Chickens/Rabbits, etc.
  • Home Food Preservation – Canning/Freezing/Dehydrating, etc.
  • Baking/Cooking
  • Crafting / For Home use & gifts
  • Creates Natural Products – Cleaning/Bath/Laundry, etc.
  • Prefers the ‘Old Skills’ when possible
  • Homemaking – Cleaning/Decorating/Hospitality

Simple Life

  • Grows a Garden
  • Lives Anywhere
  • Lives Frugally
  • May raise small forms of livestock – Chickens/Rabbits, etc.
  • Home Food Preservation – Canning/Freezing/Dehydrating, etc.
  • Baking/Cooking
  • Crafting / For Home use & gift
  • Creates Natural Products – Cleaning/Bath/Laundry, etc.
  • Prefers the ‘Old Skills’ when possible
  • Homemaking – Cleaning/Decorating/Hospitality
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As you can see, with the exception of where you live, you can have both – homesteading and a simple life.

Homesteading and a Simple Life – The Mindset

Regardless of how you classify yourself, there are some things you need to take into consideration for both. Most homesteaders and folks who practice living a simple life take the basics to the next level. 

Finances

One of the basic premises of both homesteading and a Simple Life is to live within your means. This means knowing where your money is coming from, and where it is going. Most homesteaders and folks who live a simple life keep tight control of their finances. 

When the term ‘live frugally’ is mentioned, it isn’t that either group hoards their money. Instead, they look at each purchase from a priority standpoint. They know they have to have a roof over their heads, supplies, and feed for their animals or food for their family. 

Income and Expense Spreadsheet

But most homesteaders and folks who live a simple life don’t live on credit. They may have a credit card, but they don’t just use it because funds aren’t in their pockets. Instead, they do their best to pay the credit card off each month, thereby not accruing interest. 

The main goal of both groups is to live as debt-free as possible and live a life without financial stress.

Food 

Homesteading and a Simple Life is not just about having any garden. Most people in these groups plan their plots very carefully. Instead of planting what is popular, they take a look at the type of food their family likes to eat. 

They then look at the food itself. They determine if it is viable to grow where they live, and take spacing, climate, needs, and growing times into consideration. Where it may be very easy to grow okra here in the south, gardeners in the North have climates that are too cold for that heat-loving plant. 

Garden view

Once they have determined it can be grown, they take a look at the space they need. People who live a simple life in an apartment won’t have enough space to grow corn. Corn is wind-pollinated and requires several rows planted closely together in order to produce well. Instead, apartment dwellers may opt for companion or theme gardens that are suitable for containers. 

Folks who have more space may opt for a garden plot or even a flower bed. With more space, a larger selection of vegetables can be grown. But both groups consider companion planting to extend the amount they can grow, as well as for pest control. 

Food Preservation

Homesteaders with larger areas to grow can produce a wider variety of foods. If their garden has grown prolifically, it is a natural progression to preserve as much of the excess as possible. They focus on foods that will feed their families throughout the year, and determine the best way to preserve them – whether it be canning, freezing, or dehydrating.

People who live a Simple Life may not have a garden that produces an abundance, but they still look for ways to access the freshest food possible. Often they visit farmers’ markets. Some may have a friend who gardens. They also may scout out a local farmer and offer gleaning services once the crop is almost finished. 

Canning and food

(Gleaning is a term used for harvesting what is left in the fields after the farmer has picked all he/she needs or wants.)

Many times, a person may have a fruit tree in their yard (such as pears, plums, apples, peaches, etc.) that produces more than they can use. Often, they will put the word out that the remaining fruit is free for the picking. I have gotten many 5-gallon buckets of pears and plums this way. 

Entertainment

When it comes to entertainment, those who are involved in a homesteading and simple life lifestyle usually find ways to have fun at home. In keeping with their frugal nature, eating out and going to a movie can be cost-prohibitive. So instead, they cultivate their own fun. Here are some ways you can have fun at home:

  • Dinner and a Movie at Home – grill burgers or make a pot of Gumbo, and enjoy it while watching a DVD or a televised movie
  • Play Lawn Games 
  • Have a Scavenger or Treasure Hunt
  • Host a Neighborhood Picnic
  • Have a Game Night (our favorite is Mexican Train Dominoes)
  • Plays & Puppet Shows – this is a great way to get kids involved. Have them choose a book they want to act out, and allow them to ‘write’ the screenplay, create set designs, and be the stars!
Bean Bag Toss Game

Self-Care

No matter what lifestyle you choose, self-care is required to keep us functioning at our best. When living a life focused on homesteading and a simple life, the only difference is we don’t always utilize outside ‘help’. Instead, we do the same things, only we do them at home. For instance:

  • Instead of joining a gym, exercise at home or take a walk
  • Instead of a salon for a mani-pedi, we do our own nails
  • Instead of visiting a spa, we make our own bath and spa products, then close and lock the door for an hour
  • Instead of coffee out with a friend, we have a Kaffee-Klatch
  • Instead of going to a Relaxation center, we craft, read, or have ‘Me Time
  • Instead of shopping for a gift that is manufactured by the thousands, we make handmade items that are one-of-a-kind (crafting is great stress relief!)
  • We find creative ways to spend time with friends

Homesteading and a Simple Life doesn’t mean Doing Without

I have to confess. I have my passions. There are things I love to do, and for the most part, I can do them right here on the farm. I am an avid weaver, crafter, and baker. I can’t wait to get my hands in my garden dirt and find solace when walking among the cows or visiting my chickens. 

But there is one tiny portion of ‘city girl’ that I just cannot eradicate. And that is my love for plays, the Symphony and the Opera. Well, I have actually never been to an Opera, but it is on my bucket list!

simple life table

As for plays and the Symphony, I save my money and as soon as I see one that I want to attend, I buy a ticket. In most cases, I have a friend who will go. My mom has also purchased tickets for both of us and we have a Mother/Daughter date. On a rare occasion, the Country Boy will take me, but only if it is something he feels he can sit through. 

Just because frugality is second nature, does not mean we live like hermits. Instead, we pick and choose the things that are most important to us, and are willing to save up to do them. In most cases, the very idea of saving up means anticipation.  Anticipation will soon turn into excitement, and excitement usually means the activity is enjoyed and appreciated even more. 

Is Homesteading and a Simple Life For You?

More than likely, if you are a regular visitor to Annie’s site, you are already either contemplating a homesteading lifestyle or are already fully engaged. But if you are sitting on the fence and not sure if you want to take the plunge, consider these few things:

  • Homesteading and a Simple Life may not be easy, but it is fulfilling
  • It’s okay to refuse to give into peer pressure, or keeping up with the Jones’
  • Giving yourself permission to live a Simple Life can be freeing
  • Fresh food prepared at home always tastes better
  • You can let your creative spirit live, love and blossom
 Homesteading and a simple life are generally one and the same. Learn about each one in this guest post from The Farm Wife.

Go Ahead – Take the Plunge

Once you do, you will find the ‘water’ is warm and soothing. You may have to physically work a little harder, but your creative nature will flow smoother, challenges will start to be met with a smile, and you may just find yourself more content and happy than you have been in a long time.  Remember, homesteading and a simple life is ‘all in your mind’.  And from my perspective, that just means you are in your ‘right’ mind!

If you do take the plunge, let Annie and I know. We will both love hearing what you are up to, how you are doing, and why you decided to go swimming in the homesteading and simple life pool.

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If you still are not sure and have questions about homesteading and a simple life, just drop either or both of us an email. We are always on standby for our readers, and love to be available to help or answer any questions you may have!

About the author

Julie Murphree Bio Image
Julie Murphree
Blogger/Homesteader/Crafter at The Farm Wife | Website

Julie Murphree is actively living and loving living a Simple Life on the Farm. She is a speaker, teacher, blogger, newspaper columnist and is the author of two books - The Farm Wife: Living a Simple Life on the Farm, and The Search for a Simple Life.  With passions for creating, gardening, homemaking, and the critters, she is well on her journey to living that simple life she has always dreamed about!

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