Defining The Dream

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Defining The Dream - The Questionable Homesteader

My dream is to be a homesteader, but what is a homesteader.

Wikipedia defines it as a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. Characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not involve the small-scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. But some define it as returning to your ancestral roots, or going back to basics. And for others, it is defined as using less energy, eating wholesome foods, involving your family in the life of the community, and making wiser choices that will improve the quality of life for your family, community, and environment. For me it encompasses all of these things.

  • Subsistence agriculture
  • Home preservation of foodstuffs
  • Small scale production of textiles, clothing and craftwork
  • Returning to our ancestral roots, going back to basics
  • Using less energy
  • Eating wholesome foods
  • Improving quality of life

As a renter, I am capable of doing many of these things with some limitations. I also want to eliminate all of my debt and take steps to reduce my monthly spending, while working from home; with my end goal being able to earn enough money to provide for all my needs, while saving for the future.

But what are my limitations, and what can I do.

Subsistence Agriculture

The art of growing enough food to feed and clothe myself (and family) during the year.

In my current accommodations, I have the ability to have a small vegetable garden. This will not be sufficient to provide for all of my food needs for the year, but it is enough to supplement my food needs, while helping to reduce my overall food costs. There is however, zero chance of obtaining any livestock to aid in the clothing of myself.

So the goal in this area for me is to learn to make the most of my small vegetable patch.

Home Preservation of Foodstuffs

Defined as the drying, freezing, pickling, canning, jellying, fermentation, and subterranean burial/root cellaring of foodstuffs.

I am currently employing the drying and freezing portion of food preservation, but can expand into the pickling, canning, jellying, and possibly fermentation of foods. I am not however able to pursue subterranean burial, nor am I able to build a root cellar at this time.

I also have limited space, so storing everything could become an issue.

Returning to my Ancestral Roots, getting back to basics.

Defined as returning to the main principles of something.

This one really encompasses a lot. For me, when I think of returning to my ancestral roots, I think of my grandparents living through the great depression, or their grandparents moving to North America to set up their homestead. It’s the practices and techniques they used to survive. The day-to-day activities that they did, and the things that they had before convenience items came to be. These people did not have the convenience of just going to the store and buying many of the things we have today.

In this, I will be looking at everything in the way of “how can I take it back to its base ingredients” and make it myself. I am not however willing to give many of the technological advances we have today. Some of these things really do make life better.

To help me with this, I went through the house and wrote everything down that was disposable, or things that I purchase regularly. My goal was to find things that I could potentially make myself as they run out or replace with more cost-effective alternatives.

Using Less Energy

As a renter I’m not able to add much in the way of additional insulation, but I can employ many other techniques to help reduce my energy use. Some of which I currently already use, and some I will be looking into putting into effect.

Eating Whole Foods

Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed.

Being a renter does not in any way affect my ability to eat whole foods. Which is great as in many ways whole foods are better for you than processed foods. This is definitely something that I will be working on.

Improving Quality of Life

Defined as the standard of health, comfort, and happiness experienced by an individual.

This seemed a little too vague for me. So I looked into it a little more and found an internationally validated framework developed by Dr. Robert Schalock. It is represented by 8 domains that provide an indication of an individual’s quality of life in 3 broad areas. Aside from material well-being, I really felt that it encompassed all that I was looking for when I thought of quality of life.

Quality of Life Framework



Exemplary Indicators

Independence Personal Development
  • Education (achievements, education status)
  • Personal competence (cognitive, social, practical)
  • Performance (success, achievement, productivity)
  • Autonomy/personal control
  • Goals and personal values (desires, expectations)
  • Choices (opportunities, options, preferences)
Social Participation Interpersonal Relationships
  • Interactions (social networks, social contacts)
  • Relationships (family, friends, peers)
  • Supports (emotional, physical, financial)
  • Recreation
Social Inclusion
  • Community integration and participation
  • Community roles (contributor, volunteer)
  • Social supports (support networks, services)
  • Human (respect, dignity, equality)
  • Legal (citizenship, access, due process)
Well-Being Emotional Well-Being
  • Contentment (satisfaction, moods, enjoyment)
  • Self-concept (identity, self-worth, self-esteem)
  • Lack of stress (predictability and control)
Physical Well-Being
  • Heath (functioning, symptoms, fitness, nutrition)
  • Activities of daily living (self-care, mobility)
  • Physical activities including recreation
Material Well-Being
  • Financial status (income, benefits)
  • Employment (work status, work environment)
  • Housing (type of residence, ownership)


Small Scale Production


  • A type of cloth or woven fabric
  • A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibers often referred to as thread or yarn.


  • A fiber and textile material worn on the body.


  • The making of things, especially decorative objects, by hand as a profession or leisure activity
    • Decorative or practical objects made by hand

The Goal for 2015

Subsistence Agriculture – learn to make the most of my small vegetable patch.

Home Preservation of Foodstuffs – add pickling, canning and jellying to my food preservation techniques, and expand on the quantities that I do annually.

Return to my Ancestral Roots – work on replacing things I purchase regularly with more cost-effective alternatives that I can make myself, or have less of an impact on the environment.

Use Less Energy – look into more ways that I can reduce my energy consumption. Get creative with this one.

Eating Whole Foods – stop purchasing processed foods. Learn to make everything myself, or if not everything, as close to as I can get.

Improve Quality of Life – work on my independence, social participation, and overall well-being, as defined by Dr. Robert Schalock.

Small Scale Production – Learn to knit so that I can make sweaters, socks, slippers, hats, etc. I’d like to work on my ability to redesign old garments to make them new again. As I truly enjoy making things, decorative or practical, I will work on spending more time doing this.

I’ll be parting at these lovely link ups.  

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