There has been a lot of ideas brewing in my brain during this last push during the busy winter holiday season. My train of thought tends to mush everything together instead of picking out threads of ideas when writing or sharing stories. Picking out those threads and then braiding them together in a more cohesive manner is hard for me, but it is what makes it easy for readers or listeners to understand.
Moving onto the topic of rural living. What did rural living mean for Bob and I, and how has it evolved over the past 14+ years? The original concept was to garden big, preserve much of our own food, get chickens, and livestock, figure out a job and money, and roll with that. I quickly referred to this lifestyle as homesteading. Over the years, combined with conversation from friends. I question using the word homesteading in today's current rural living in the United States.
Per the Oxford Dictionary.
2.historical•North American(as provided by the federal Homestead Act of 1862) an area of public land in the West (usually 160 acres) granted to any US citizen willing to settle on and farm the land for at least five years.
I don't think this definition applies to Bob and me. Especially when looking through the lens of it being used in a certain historical sense.
My friend Marissa at Spring Hill Heritage Farm helped me when I re-branded EB Ranch into EB Ranch Farmstead. The word farmstead simply refers to a farm and its buildings. I am a farmer and business owner. I may raise and grow a lot of my own food, make food from scratch, sew, and all around invoke the DIY spirit. In the end, I call myself a farmer.
Words do change meaning over time, but we can also start using words that better reflect current day situations. Words like farmstead, farming, small farm, small scale farm, family farm, or hobby farm. It is also important to think about how some of our words hold deeper meanings. To me, the Homestead Act points at a history of taking land from Indigenous people.
I have heard of the term "back to the landers" to generally describe people in the 70s that moved back to rural areas to live a more "simple" life. This is often associated with the hippie movement that took many different directions. There is an interesting history of the formation of food cooperatives being established in this area due to that back to the lander movement. You can watch a local PBS special on this piece of history called The Co-op Wars.
In my case, I moved back to my hometown, just a few miles from the vast majority of my family. Including the family farm that was established by Norwegian, Swedish, Irish, and German immigrants four or more generations ago.
My Grandmother's family farm is just a mile down the road, owned by our lovely neighbors that have a small farm where my Gram was born.
I'm privileged to be able to move back to where my roots and history are.
The topic of our human history is complex, diverse, and worth thoughtful discussion. To acknowledge the past, learn from the past, and work together with more insight to offer a more solid foundation for future humans is important. Perhaps the current day descriptive use of homestead or homesteading isn't a big deal. I do think that people have adapted a new definition for the word homestead(ing). But knowing the word's historical roots is still important.
At the end of the day, I still use the word homestead to describe what myself or others are doing, although I'm trying to catch myself and use other descriptive words. This is absolutely not intended to make other people feel bad, but more so to pop in seeds of thought that maybe haven't been there before.
Thank you for reading, and feel free to share your thoughts.
As always, thank you for your support!