to many people, the word "homestead" conjures images of rolling farmland and a barn full of chickens--a pantry full of canned goods and a root cellar full of the bounty from the garden.
we don't have any of that. we live in the city, on a city lot, with nothing bigger than a tool shed in the backyard. our canned goods pantry consists of a few shelves in the kitchen and the root cellar--well, we have the cellar part.
but what i do have is a dream. i can stand on my deck and look at our very urban yard and i see my past, and my present, and my future:
i see my little greenhouse where i have trays and bins of seeds started in readiness for spring gardens and my first crisp bite of garden-fresh greens. i see my row of herbs pots, already planted and waiting for the little seedlings to pop up their first tiny leaves. i see my once and future garden, where i first planted hopes and where i learned to accept blessings.
i see my little pocket bird garden, made of a thing from here and a thing from there and this thing that i can't bear to throw away. i imagine how pretty the fence will be when it is lined with birdhouses my sweet baby has painted, and pretty cans of flowers spilling over the sides.
i see the place where the previous owners buried garbage--now grown over and covered with vines--and i envision a little chapel, protecting my family from the dangers beneath and offering a place of quiet contemplation above.
i see the little playground that rudi built with his own two hands, and beside it the place where one day i will hope to have a little studio so i can be again who i always was before.
of course we have other, more recognizable homestead features. we have our gardens—we can and freeze and dehydrate food, bake bread, sometimes make butter or ice cream--we collect rain water and we recycle and we compost. rudi makes things here, i sew and knit things here, and ella grows here and learns things here. it isn't everything we could be doing, but it is within our means and circumstances.
so what makes this a homestead? it is this: we are settled here. we have our footing on a little piece of earth that is ours to tend and steward--a place where rudi and i believe we will spend the rest of our lives.
your homestead might--probably does--look and feel different from ours. you might be doing more with less, or a lot with just a little. you might be focused on self-sufficiency--or energy conservation--or maybe you put your efforts toward sustainability.
what we all have in common is this: we are each making a way thru life that is our own, doing the best we can with whatever we have. it isn't exactly "rugged individualism", but it belongs to each of us that chooses it and no trademark can change that.
*if you haven't heard about the recent insult to the urban homestead community, you can catch up at this blog post as the OCweekly. if you are so lead, you can sign the petition to cancel the trademarks at change.org. and you can keep up with developments at the take back urban home-steading(s) on facebook.