Can you tell me some­thing about home­steading?


Spe­cial to the Whig

Dear Li­brar­ian: Can you tell me some­thing about home­steading?

Dear Reader: Sud­denly, liv­ing off the grid has be­come main­stream.

Driv­ing through Ce­cil County I see so­lar pan­els ev­ery­where, and ev­ery time I turn around some­one else is rais­ing chick­ens or keep­ing bees in their back­yard. Home­steading, mini-farm­ing or back­yard farm­ing, as it is also called, has be­come a move­ment in this coun­try.

His­tor­i­cally, home­steading was used by gov­ern­ments to ex­pand into un­pop­u­lated ar­eas. The var­i­ous Home­stead Acts of the late 19th cen­tury of­fered in­cen­tives to those will­ing to help pop­u­late wilder­ness ar­eas in the western United States.

By the 1970s, home­steading had changed to de­scribe a life- style. Orig­i­nally a back-to-the­land move­ment, it has evolved to de­fine a life­style of self-suf­fi­ciency. This can in­clude the use of al­ter­na­tive en­ergy re­sources, sub­sis­tence agri­cul­ture, home food preser­va­tion, ba­sic home health care and the pro­duc­tion of tex­tiles and other hand­i­crafts.

While some as­pire to com­plete self-suf­fi­ciency, for most of us it is about find­ing a bal­ance be­tween mod­ern life and a de­sire to slow down and con­nect with the land.

Peo­ple choose to home­stead for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. One of the pri­mary rea­sons is the free­dom it af­fords you to take con­trol over your life. This could be free­dom from the power grid or from mass-pro­duced food and prod­ucts. It fos­ters a con­nec­tion with the land and the food you con­sume, and teaches re­spon­si­bil­ity and the im­por­tance of hard work.

Home­steading is not de­fined by where you live but by the life­style choices that you make. For some that might mean rais­ing chick­ens for eggs or can­ning the fruits and veg­eta­bles you grow in your gar­den. Oth­ers may choose to in­stall so­lar pan­els on their homes.

No mat­ter the level of your com­mit­ment, home­steading doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily lower the cost of liv­ing, but can lead to a deeper sat­is­fac­tion from life and a health­ier life­style.

If you’re ready to learn more, the Ce­cil County Pub­lic Li­brary has a siz­able col­lec­tion of books and mag­a­zines on home­steading and re­lated sub­jects. You can also down­load cur­rent pe­ri­od­i­cals through Zinio, where you’ll find mag­a­zines like Mother Earth News Food and Gar­den, Amer­i­can Patch­work and Quilt­ing, Field and Stream, and Or­ganic Life.

Through our dig­i­tal li­brary, you can ac­cess a com­pre­hen­sive pe­ri­od­i­cals col­lec­tion sup­port­ing re­search in agri­cul­ture in the agri­cul­ture col­lec­tion. Also in the dig­i­tal li­brary, you’ll find our gar­den­ing, land­scape and hor­ti­cul­tural data­bases.

One of the ben­e­fits of hold­ing a li­brary card is ac­cess to free on­line learn­ing through Gale On­line Cour­ses. Ex­plore the course cat­a­log and you’ll see that it isn’t just about de­vel­op­ing work­place skills. You’ll dis­cover cour­ses un­der per­sonal de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing health and well­ness, where you can find cour­ses like: In­tro­duc­tion to Nat­u­ral Health and Heal­ing, Start Your Own Ed­i­ble Gar­den and Han­dling Med­i­cal Emer­gen­cies.

Last Week’s Trivia Ques­tion: What were the most checked­out chil­dren’s books last sum­mer? An­swer: “Baby­mouse: Bad Babysit­ter,” “LEGO DC Uni­verse Su­per He­roes Hand­book” and “I Sur­vived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871.”

This Week’s Trivia Ques­tion: How much honey does a hon­ey­bee pro­duce in its life­time?

Up­com­ing Event: This sum­mer, the li­brary will be of­fer­ing pro­grams on bee­keep­ing, rais­ing chick­ens, can­ning and es­sen­tial oils.

On Tues­day at 6:30 p.m. at the Ch­e­sa­peake City Branch Li­brary, Beth Tu­mas of Aris­tos’ Har­vest Goat Farm and Api­ary will be pre­sent­ing Bee­keep­ing 101, an in­tro­duc­tion to ba­sic back­yard bee­keep­ing. Beth will also present Back­yard Chick­ens 101, an in­tro­duc­tion to back­yard chicken keep­ing, at the Ce­cil­ton Branch Li­brary on June 14 at 6:30 pm.

Learn more about th­ese and other pro­grams through the Li­brary Link news­let­ter, avail­able on­line or at your lo­cal li­brary branch.

What Peo­ple Are Ask­ing runs weekly in Jump­start and is writ­ten by li­brar­i­ans at the Ce­cil County Pub­lic Li­brary. Ques­tions? Visit your lo­cal branch, email ask@ cc­, call 410-996-5600 or visit www.ce­cil.ebranch.

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