Unbeknownst to me this is a topic of debate. I’m not much of a debater. Sure I love a good conversation with friends and my boys and I regularly have deep thoughtful talks, but debating is not my thing. I’m more of a live and let live, do what’s right for your family type of girl.
So when I replied to a comment recently by suggesting, “Some people say a homesteader is just a grown-up prepper”, I was met with rigorous debate! It startled me for a bit because I couldn’t figure out what was causing the anger, frustration and overall deep concern as to why this really matters.
So let’s unpack some of the terms and issues so I can explain why it’s a thing.
Prepared for what?
This is the million dollar question, right? What are you preparing for. Most people will say, “whatever comes my way”. That’s great! And you should do that. But the fact of the matter is that economic collapse is going to look different than a pandemic and then both look different than political unrest. And these are 3 things that have a lot of overlap in terms of what will probably happen with food supply interruptions, not knowing who to trust, and civil unrest. Whereas say the aftermath of a major earthquake or volcano eruption would look very different.
So if you have a feeling or inkling of what you think might happen then your preparation will look different than other preppers. Most of the time this inkling is not even verbalized. If you think there could be another pandemic soon you’ll favor stocking up on medical supplies or items that would be useful in a pandemic.
If you’re concerned about a pandemic then would being a homesteader really be a more advanced form of a prepper?
But maybe not….
Let’s define some things so we’re on the same page.
Defining homesteading is a little tricky these days as the word has gone through a slew of different meanings. In the 1800s it referred to The Homesteading Act of 1862 which provided settlers a way to acquire land. Then in the 1960s and 70s there was a back-to-the land movement where people lived off the land often in communes. These days homesteading has a self-reliance connotation to it, no doubt as a backlash to our modern “done for you--instant gratification” society.
There are those feel they would be happy living on an island or mountain and never talking to anyone ever, but it’s not practical. We as humans live in groups, it’s just the way we are wired and for good reason. It’s tough to make it on your own. So even though most of us could stand to have a garden and maybe keep some backyard chickens, because our health would improve, the idea of being totally self-reliant is really not practical for most people or even desirable.
Having a small plot of land that can sustain a garden, has a water resource, and is part of a tight- nit community is a different story and is something that many people can manage and even aspire to, but it’s still not for everyone.
Prepper is a relatively new term and comes from the days of the Cold War when the people were encouraged to seek out fall-out shelters and keep stockpiles of food in case of a nuclear attack. In general it is a derogatory term and many people do not like be labeled a prepper. I, however, am fine with it.
It is very practical to be a prepper. Keeping a 72 hour kit and knowing emergency procedures are a really good idea. Going even a little further and having a bug-out bag and even scouting out a bug-out location is also a really good idea.
Some would argue that because our society has gotten to the point of instant gratification and has everything done for you expectations, people had to invent a word for those us that are practical and cautious--so they have labeled us preppers.
Oh course there are shows like Doomsday Preppers that have given the movement a reputation of being a bunch of loons waiting for the apocalypse. Obviously, there are people who think they need a large arsenal and 30 years worth of food to survive, but again that’s not typical, practical or even desirable.
In reality these two terms mean something very different, yet there are overtones of similarity.
- The desire to take care of yourself and your community and not rely on others (like the government).
- The feeling that some things about our society are not quite right.
- The sense that the path to a good future is not along the current path most of society is on.
Should a prepper become a homesteader?
Well, let’s go back to our pandemic scenario. If a pandemic were to hit would a homesteader be more protected?
Of course it depends…
It always depends on the people and the situation.
But let’s say all things being equal that a pandemic hit. Would someone who lives in a rural area be as likely to be infected or affected?
Maybe not in the beginning, but as time went on people would seek out homesteads for food, medicine and other supplies they could not get in the city.
So in this particular scenario it would probably not matter if you were a prepper or a homesteader, you’d still have some hard days to live through.
If you are one of those preppers….
Who thinks there will be a major shift in society in the coming days, like I do, then your best bet is to not necessarily go out and buy land, but to learn how to revive some of those traditional skills we’ve lost in recent generations.
Does this mean you're not a homesteader? Actually, no, because the definition of your homestead is the place where you live: your house, the property your house sets on and other structures on it. You can homestead where you are, even if it’s in an apartment.
So the question is better stated like this-- Is a person owning and working land a person who is a grown up prepper?
What you’re prepping for--Having a homestead is probably not going to help in a pandemic or civil unrest scenario. It might help you if you want to prepare you children for a changing world, but even that depends on the things I mention below.
What Stage Of Life Are You In--If you’re newly married and fresh out of college, you’ll probably want to get some experience in your chosen field even if that field is farming. Living in a remote area may not be practical. Then there is the other side of the coin. Some people are elderly and not able to work land.
What do you want for yourself--Is working some land the best use of your mind and body? Not everyone is cut out to work land. There are other jobs that help support a sustainable community.
What do you want for and from your community--Is your goal for your community to simply survive a disaster together or is it to build a sustainable a community or maybe both? Communities are harder to contribute to when you live in a remote area, unless you are well connected to a rural community.
What do you want for your children--What kind of future do you want for your children. Do you want them to attend college or go to a trade school. That might be hard if you live remotely, but you might want to raise them in a rural area to teach them certain skills.
So owning land is not necessarily the answer to being an advanced prepper…..
It turns out that saying “A homesteader is a grown-up prepper” is really a false statement. The two are terms mean different things and most of the time people do them for different reasons.
And after some reflection I think it could even be misleading and detrimental to keep repeating it.
The statement should be...
Those that have traditional skills and are able to make a plan are advanced preppers and those preppers who just stockpile need to understand that stuff is not going to save them.
Furthermore, if you are learning skills and taking care of where you live you are a prepper and a homesteader.
If you live on land and grow all your own food you’re a prepper, a homesteader and a farmer.
All that is a little longer statement than “A homesteader is a grown-up prepper” but really more accurate. It could catch on if we all repeat it!