The other day I was talking to someone about a generator. In the course of the conversation the guy asked me if I was a prepper. I told him no, that I was a homesteader. Then came the question. What is the difference? I told him that in my opinion a prepper is getting ready for a specific event and a homesteader is just striving for a more self sustainable lifestyle. I have had this question several times recently. When I have the same question repeatedly in a short period of time it is something that needs to be covered.
When I decided that I was was going to write this blog I reached out to the members of my facebook community and the members of the forum on self sufficient homestead www.sshomestead.com . I asked them for input and a consensus was quickly realized.
A homesteader is concerned with being self sustainable or self sufficient. A prepper is more concerned with being self reliant. Now it is time for a some Rural Economist definitions.
Self sustainable - being able to produce enough of a variety of products to be able to trade for anything that is not produced. If I produce all of my own fruits and vegetables and I produce an excess of fruits or vegetables I can use these items to trade for meat or fabric or whatever I think I need.
Self sufficient - being able to produce almost everything you need no matter what it is. In my opinion it is possible for a community or extended family group to be self sufficient but it is extremely difficult for a person or immediate family to be so.
Self reliant - a persons ability to utilize surrounding or stored resources to make it through an acute short term or prolonged crisis.
A homesteader is always trying to cut costs and improve results. In this way an effectively ran homestead's methods can seem similar to any business. There is one crucial difference between a homestead and a business. Most businesses try to specialize so as to decrease cost of production. A homestead wishes to diversify as much as possible to produce the maximum number of different things that their family needs. A homesteader constantly tries to find ways to use the things they already have on hand and reduce the number of things they throw away. If you will just search the Internet there are hundreds of ways to use an old soda bottle as a planter. A true homesteader is trying to do everything they can for themselves and their families with little or no impact on their neighbors (corporate agriculture will spray pesticides and herbicides with little regard to how it truly impacts the environment).
Both homesteaders and preppers are concerned with food storage. It has been my experience that someone who is purely a prepper relies on inventory i.e. stored food, water, and other items to provide some semblance of normalcy. Some preppers will have up to a couple of years of food stored. A homesteader is interested in storing enough food to make it from harvest to harvest and for a bad season.
A prepper can be a homesteader or a homesteader can be a prepper. There are a lot of overlapping thought processes and each group can learn a lot from the other. We share some of the same goals.
There is one major difference that I have noticed. Some of the hardcore preppers that I know will be seriously disappointed if some type of collapse does not occur. A homesteader does not care if everything stays so good that everyone is riding unicorns and eating rainbows or if everything goes to hell in a hand basket, or as a Phillipino friend of mine used to say a in tin bucket "it gets hot on the bottom faster".
I hope this clears up at least my thoughts on the difference between preppers and homesteader. I do not intend on offending either group.We are all working to be able to take care of ourselves. With the way the world is now anyone who wants to do that should be applauded and has my support. I invite you to share you comments.
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