[Homestead] Homesteading and beyond ... was Corn Fed

Clansgian at wmconnect.com Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Mon Jan 5 14:32:11 EST 2009

> >The defining moment is whether or not the intent to sell 
> for cash is simply a means of acquiring money, not cash for taxes, or cash 
> for field fencing, or cash for something you can't raise or barter for.

Our definitons would still vary.  And historically those on homestead or 
pasoral economy often, if not most often, did other things not directly related to 
farming or husbandry.  My grandfather was by any definition a homesteader, I 
doubt he ever ate a bite that he didn't grow and cooked with wood etc.  But he 
was also a barber.  His father likewise ran a pastoral economy as the basis 
of the family's sustinence, but he was also a cobbler (among other things).  

Yet during their times people of ordinary means spent anywhere from 40% to 
75% of their income on food.  During some historical times it was a much higher 
percentage.  And I'm not referring to hard times.  Just as we are accustomed 
to spending (in the usual modern economic model) less than 10% of our income on 
food, at the time of our grandparents it was much, much more than that.

My grandparents paid property taxes by selling cows and tobacco.  They didn't 
buy gasoline, electricity, phone service, insurance, internet access, etc.   
The amount they spent on oil for lighting, cloth for clothes, replacement 
tools etc. was a rare trifle.  They used rails for fences.

What I would point out is that in our past, the homestead produced something 
that was a valuable commodity in the affairs of people, that is, food.  People 
were used to spending half or more of their income on it.  AND those 
homesteads had very, very modest cash needs.  Their agriculture was before the Green 
Revolution and so did not require the cash inputs of diesel, fertilizer, 
manchinery payments, and interest on all the above.

Fast forward to now of days.  Food makes up less than 10% of people's budgets 
and the cash expenses of modern life are many orders more huge than that of 
our ancestors.  What we can produce by completely sustainable methods does not 
net much.  So we have to modernize into cash outlays in order to have modern 
cash inputs.

I understand you definition, Lynda.  It makes sense and holds water.  But the 
modern paradigm that passes for 'homestead' has no historical precedent.

So I tend to draw the line at the natrual carrying capacity of the homestead. 
 If the operation is completely sustainable without outside input of fuel, 
feed, or fertilizer (as was aslo true of our ancestors' homesteads), then the 
opearation is still a homestead both by my modern definition and an old 
traditional one.  But if it can only operate by means of cash derived inputs, it is, 
in my parlance a Country Farmer Esquire type operation simply making one's cash 
do rural busy-work.  Or else if we enter into that cash outlay for cash 
income model, we are following an agribusiness model.


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