Homesteading On a Small Piece of Land
There are many good books on homesteading available on the market as well as websites that discuss this in great detail. Basically, homesteading is taking a small piece of land – as little as an acre or two – and putting in a garden and raising various animals to help you live off it. I would like to point out that while rewarding this is also an enormous amount of work. I read a good book awhile back called, My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into a Farm by Manny Howard. It’s a somewhat humorous account about how one man living in the city is challenged to live off what he can grow and raise in his 800 square foot back yard. However, if you’re going to buy just one book I’d highly recommend The Encyclopedia of Country Living. This book is huge and packed from front to back with wisdom by a woman who took her family and lived as close to the land as possible.
Potable water is another thing you’ll need in order to be independent from the system. A best case scenario is having a spring or a well on your property with easy access. If it’s uphill from you, you might even be able to have running water as you can always pipe it down hill.
If you don’t have access to water you might have to dig a well or find other sources of it, but it’s not something you can live with out.
Can We Live Independent of Civilization?
Having said all this here’s why I don’t believe it’s possible to completely shed our dependence on society/civilization.
First, our dependence on technology at some level will keep us seeking out civilization for something. At a high level the solar panels and components you use will eventually fail and you’ll need replacement parts. If you decide to live like our ancestors in the eighteenth century without electricity you’ll still need things like axes, sawblades, tools, lanterns, lamp oils, etc. Unless you have a smelting plant and the knowledge on how to work metals you’ll need to go into town (or wherever) to trade for the items you’ll need.
The great thing about a civilization is that we each bring a specialty to the table that others need and we can barter that skill for goods and services. We’re not forced into the position of knowing how to do everything ourselves in order to survive. And through a modern society we can branch out into other things like science, religion, medicine, art, commerce, and so forth.
Yes, I believe that civilizations are fragile as stated in the first paragraph; however, once we raised ourselves up to a certain level we’ve never really lost the idea of it no matter how bad it got. Sure, there have been major interruptions and empires have come and gone, but civilization has managed to go on in one form or another despite that.
One of the bad side effects of a civilization, in my opinion, is that eventually it removes us from Mother Earth. We become dependent on other people to feed us and we gradually lose the skills we need in order to take of ourselves.
I will admit that on occasion I’ve thought how cool it would be if there was a major event that caused us to head for the hills, then reality sinks in and I remember living in the field for weeks and months at a time, and how much it sucked after awhile and longing to get back to where we could take a shower or grab a burger at McDonalds.
Although unlikely, in a total breakdown of civilization it would be a better solution, if possible, to get to know your neighbors and your community and be able to pitch in and help each other out. This will help with security, food and water, not to mention trade and companionship.
Everybody’s situation will be different. I live in the country with a small farm and a co-op right across the street from me. I get my eggs from the farm and I’ll be talking to the owner of the co-op this weekend about buying in on some beef and pork. You can bet that they are both on my post-breakdown smiley face list and I’ll do everything I can to get on theirs.
If you live in a small town or other rural area a tight-knit community will be able to fend for itself better than a group of families or individuals trying to look out for number one.
Now if you’re a single person with the skills to live in the forest or the hills by yourself without the benefits of any kind of civilization then most of this will be useless to you, but I think that the amount of people that applies to could fit in the back of my pickup truck. I’m not saying that there aren’t a few of you fire breathers out there, I’m just saying it’s rare.
As much as we’d like to live off the grid, independent of society, there will always be a reason for us to seek it out. Whether it be to trade for tools, food, clothing etc, seeking someone with special skills such as doctor or dentist, or simply for someone else to talk to, we will always need or want some aspect of civilization. Even a total breakdown in our economic system will not alleviate this need/desire.
I don’t think we can ever be totally independent. If we know of a town we’ll eventually find a reason to seek it out.
The best we can do is become as independent as possible with the understanding that at some point we may need to seek out civilization for something we need or want. Empires come and go, but the people that make them up live on.
And so will we.