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The Modern Homesteading Bug – 5 Ways to Know If You’ve Got It

by Victoria Gazeley

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There’s this affliction that’s been going around for a few years now – it plants this really vivid dream in your head of escaping the rat race and moving to the country.  Of growing your own food, collecting your own eggs and your children being raised under the influence of nature instead of video games.

It’s a niggly bug that buries itself in your psyche and won’t let go.  With every city siren, rude neighbour and complaining customer at work, it gets louder and more in your face.  And it’s infecting millions.

I know.  I used to be a victim.  But I found the cure: I just did it.

Well, OK.  Truth be told it wasn’t quite that easy, but ultimately, that really was the answer.

So what is this mysterious affliction?  I call it the ‘modern homesteading’ bug, but it also goes by ‘the back to the land’ movement, rural living, and a number of other monikers.

I caught it more than a decade ago, when I spent a week at a cool little hostel in the backwoods of Powell River, British Columbia.

Fiddlehead Farm was an original West Coast homestead, carved out of the thick forest by pioneers more than a hundred years ago.  What would possess anyone to put themselves through that kind of torture to make a life for themselves, I’ll never know (if you’ve ever hacked through rainforest underbrush, you’ll know what I’m talking about – it’s virtually impenetrable, and they carved out entire productive farms from it).  But they did, and by the time I visited it was a quiet, cool little oasis of sustainability that welcomed visitors from around the world.  And it infected me with the bug.

Sadly, Fiddlehead Farm no longer exists, razed to the ground by new landowners because it was a safety liability.  But I do know that its spirit of self-sufficiency (and sheer funkiness – in a good way) lives on in many of us who were lucky enough to spend time there.

So this affliction, this modern homesteading bug – how do you know you have it?  Here are 5 ways to tell for sure:

Sign #1:  You find yourself reading every gardening and rural living magazine you can get your hands on.

Mother Earth News, Grit, Urban Farm, Hobby Farm Home….  They’re all great resources for anyone thinking of moving to the country – and even for those of us who already have.  Some hardcore and experienced homesteaders find these magazines too rudimentary for their tastes, but as someone who is a relative newbie at this rural living gig, I’ve found (and still find) them all invaluable.

Worth checking out if you’re just starting our your research into modern homesteading and rural living.

Sign #2: You find store-bought factory farm eggs totally inedible.

This starts to happen as you get introduced to ‘real food’.  And once you’ve had a farm fresh, free range egg, there’s absolutely no going back.  The difference is so distinct, so HUGE, there’s actually no comparison between them and their factory counterparts. I don’t even think they’re in the same food group (though many nutritionists would beg to disagree… and that’s OK – we know the truth).  The thought of eggs produced by happy hens who you’ve cared for yourself is something that just oozes self-sufficiency.

Of course there are issues with some commercial feed (think GMO corn and soy), but even at that, hens that have a chance to scratch grass and dirt, eat bugs and greens, and actually run around and spread their wings (as compared to living their lives in a couple square feet of cage and never once feeling the ground on their feet), are going to produce superior nutrition in their eggs.  To believe otherwise just seems bizarre to me.

Sign #3: Your teeth are wearing out from clenching your jaw.

This is actually kind of serious – I was actually wearing down my teeth from gritting them together while I slept – and probably during the day, too – to the point where my dentist ordered me a ‘nightguard’.  Since moving to our rural home, it’s no longer an issue and I threw the nightguard away.  Enough said?

Sign #4: You find yourself vacationing on working farms, at vineyards and in quaint, rural towns – and checking out real estate while you’re there. 

Oh, and you don’t want to go home.

Ever.

I always knew I’d end up back in a small town (I grew up in one – the one I live close to now, actually!), and always found myself visiting other small towns when I went on holiday. The bottom line is that once you’ve got the rural living bug, it’s pretty hard to get rid of – especially when you spend your holidays basking in the quiet of a small community.  The only cure is to actually move to one and see how you fare.

Sign #5: You’re reading this blog.

Now, I don’t want to make any assumptions, but if you’re still reading this, it’s quite likely you’ve thought about moving to the country at least once.  I’m honoured that you’re here, and taking time out of your busy day to read my post.  My goal is to provide both inspiration and a reality check to those seeking a rural lifestyle – it’s not always easy, but it IS always rewarding.  At least so far!

So, have you been bitten?

If you answered yes to 3 or more of the above questions, I’m happy to tell you that you’re probably totally done for!  If you’re still dreaming and haven’t started doing the research, what are you waiting for?  There has been no better time in our history to make the move:  countless superb online resources to make the transition easier, lots of products and materials to take out the guesswork, and a tonne of support via this blog and other rural living forums!  If you want it, you can absolutely do it – there is always a way.  I spent years planning our move, and finally, when the time was right, we took the plunge.  Risky?  Sure, maybe from the outside.  But the proof is in the pudding, as they say: it’s worked out better than I could have ever imagined – just as I knew it would.  And it can be the same for you…

So What Now?

If you’re thinking of making the move, we’ve got a some resources we think you’ll find super useful:

  • 5 Mistakes Newbie Homesteaders Make – Don’t Let This be You! is a 45 minute audio interview with modern homesteading guru Robin Wheeler – and it’s information I think everyone who moves from the city to the country needs to have in their research arsenal.  Trust me, you don’t want to show up as one of those ‘city people’ who drive the locals crazy – at least not one who thinks they know it all.  Because we don’t… at least not compared to those who’ve been doing it for years and years and years.  It’s well worth a listen – it’s downloadable, and it’s free.  Get the audio here:  5 Mistakes Newbie Homesteaders Make
  • Our Facebook page is a great place to connect with others who are living the modern homesteading lifestyle, or just pondering the possibility.  ’Like’ the page today and I promise I’ll do my best to make it worth your while!  You can find us on Facebook here:  facebook.com/modernhomesteading

Do you pine for a rural lifestyle, or have you recently made the move from city to country?  We’d love to hear about it!  Please share in the comments below – your stories might just help others make that decision to take the plunge and live out their dream…

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol Rosenberg Giambri July 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Still getting used to country life with interest in creating my own worm bin “family.”  In my city life surely couldn’t entertain that with no garden or such. Oh maybe could have for indoor plants needing richer soil that the worms would made in the form of compost. Excited to hear the audio download link you shared. Maybe I am living the best of two worlds: city and country life.  Thank you Victoria.

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Victoria Gazeley July 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

Worm bins are great! I actually used to teach vermiculture workshops in schools and for the public – though you’d never know it by looking at my compost pile now (shhhhhh… don’t tell anyone… ;o) And yes, city AND country can definitely be the best of both worlds. We’re only 45 minutes away by ferry, which is close enough, but far enough. Sort of ideal for us.

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Elvie Look July 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Oh I love your articles so much Victoria. You are a wonderful writer. I can relate to everything you say.

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Victoria Gazeley July 18, 2011 at 8:21 am

Thank you!!

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Jen Hunter July 20, 2011 at 11:52 pm

OMG I so have the bug…I just need my hubby to get it too!!! Great blog…new follower here!

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Victoria Gazeley July 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Welcome, Jen! So glad you found us… Hopefully you can get your husband exposed to the bug… ;o) Thanks so much for stopping by.

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Victoria Gazeley July 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm

You will do it! The last couple of years I spent in the city I have to admit, were not happy ones – I wanted to get out SO badly. Now I love to visit and enjoy what it has to offer – I’m just happy I don’t live there any more!

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