There are real homesteaders out there, and there are real homesteading communities. REAL—not virtual—and you can go visit them and even work for them for a season and learn the socio-economic strategies necessary to occupy the American rural landscape successfully. And look, if this is all just simply beyond your reach and you enjoy talking with strangers online about tomatoes and chickens, have at it. But for those of you who are really thinking about making a huge change in your life and are actually, truly interested in this manner of living, listening to people on social media will do you harm, while listening to and visiting with real people who are really making this work will help.
Because there are things that matter and there are lots of things that don't.
All of the impossibly detailed minutiae in the vast majority of homesteading books don't matter. This is 2018, and you must accept the social and economic realities of the world we live in, not the world as you might wish it to be. In this world, you must acquire the private property rights to land and the means of production. It is really not that hard to do and is infinitely easier than navigating college, grad school, and then corporate/government employment while living in suburbia. We all know where that leads.
Homesteading is not farming, though you might think of it as a family farm, in that your agricultural activities will not provide a sufficient income. The homestead is a productive resource that provides food, water, and energy for the family so that they don't have to buy those things and, more importantly, the family will not have to suffer through the draining expense of a second and third car for 30 or 40 years. The homestead's milk cow, laying hens, and homemaker will make "running out" for bread, milk, and eggs a thing of the past. "Running out" for milk is very expensive. The milk might only be two bucks, but the vehicle costs of that little trip to the store are closer to $40. Most Americans are poor primarily because of their addiction to their cars (and half of Americans cannot come up with $400 for an emergency). A homestead needs a pickup truck and nothing more. I spend an entire chapter in my book, "Prosperous Homesteading," detailing the social and economic costs of car dependence. The entirety of the American suburban environment has left The People in desperate physical and financial condition.
This is not to say that you cannot be a professional farmer... but professional farming is big business, and you better know what the heck you are doing. There is endless research on professional farming at the various Ag departments of the state universities. They are a tremendous resource.
Homesteading is a small business enterprise. It can be scaled up over time to professional farming, or you can enjoy the lifestyle for what it is without working yourself to death, at great financial risk, for very little compensation by following the model I spell out in Prosperous Homesteading. Stay out of debt, don't own anything you can't afford to lose, work a small business or trade for income and work your homestead so that you don't have endless bills in your mailbox each month. The little things, like your beautiful goat pen, chicken coup, or biochar kiln will not make or break you. But your socio-economic strategy, land selection, and stocking methodology will make or break you. Listening to the rantings of strangers on social media pretending to be homesteaders will harm you. Visiting real homesteading communities and examining and understanding the strategies successful homesteaders employ will be of help to you.
Every homesteader should read my latest novel. "Seven Years of Famine," will rock your world and is available here on Amazon.