Elements of a modern homestead: worm composter (under fig tree) solar panels (on garage roof) outdoor shower (left) , clothes line (above), sun oven (front left), xtracycle (middle), biodiesel processor (right) reclaimed urbanite, and self watering pots

21st century homesteading is a interesting combination – a mix of old and new in a eclectic, hybridized life.

Doesn’t this scene from The Good Life just about say it all? {note, watch it and ad lib if you like!)  CLASSIC!


Like Tom so perfectly portrayed, it comes down to choices.  They were “pioneers” too in a sense and they also did not know if it would work out.  Both he and his wife had to make a leap of faith  and then stand against the  criticisms of society.  Today, we know it can be done successfully  but it is still requires hard work and dedication and sacrifice like with most of life’s decisions. We, through  choice, have chosen a TV (for movies) but no microwave, a washing machine but no dryer. However,  in the back of our minds, we wonder if we have the courage to go cold turkey.  What if we pull the safety net, could we make it?  Since our family’s coat of arms bears a goat, I am sure we’d give it our all.

But I often think about what would happen if I had to hand wash all the clothes.  That would take me ALL day.  Of course, then I appreciate what technology we do have and the helping hands of family. But I am curious : how did true homesteaders live without the choices we have today?  It was hard work, day after day after day. In the lifestyle promoted today by society,  it is  a way of life that goes hand in hand with high hopes and great expectations.

But self-sufficiency in the city, although challenging and demanding,  brings security,  along with a whole new world of surprises.  It is,  as we have proven over the years, a viable alternative lifestyle choice.

What choices have you made?

Pssst!  Like to stock up with some modern homesteading helpers that are seen in the photo?   Check out our online store


  1. International Mom says:

    I love this show and we have the whole collection of Goodlife DVD’s. In fact it catered to the inner homesteader in me. So after years of collecting Mother Earth News magazines and Countryside, having smaller gardens etc, I’ve finally got my husband on board and our journey is really beginning into the more self sufficient lifestyle. YAY!!! Love your site it serves as inspiration.
    We’ve finally invested in grain grinders both manual and an electric one. Have a large supply of grains in our pantry, plus am experimenting now with Amaranth in our much larger than before garden. Have added chickens and are increasing our rain water collection and storage abilities. We have our own well on our just under two acres of land in a rural residential part of our city. Have started a small aquaponics system in our greenhouse we are equipping to run on solar power and hope to eventually expand to a larger grow area with Tilapia once we’re sure we won’t kill the fish : )
    It’s a start I’m very happy with – keep up the inspirational work!

  2. Barb on the Central Coast says:

    We are only just beginning the journey, but even in the planning stages I have gained a stunning realization of what our ancestors went through to simply survive. As they moved across the country settling new territory, they did it with virtually no safety net. There was no place to purchase the food or goods they could not provide for themselves. Just the idea of not having toilet paper sends my mind spinning! What amazing people they truly were!

    • Inna says:

      I grew up in Soviet Russia, that meant no toilet paper, no drier, no microwave and no TV dinners to heat. It was a lot of cooking from scratch and canning, but first the trip to the local market or to the forest for foraging mushrooms and wild berries and nuts. And a lot of washing dishes by hand too

  3. Ginger says:

    Haven’t seen this one but will watch it soon on your recommendation. Thanks for all your inspiration. I’ve made a boatload of changes because of you.

  4. Laura says:

    Living near Seattle with 13 of our kids (no overpopulation here, all but one are adopted) we are far from self-sufficiency. We have .6 acres in a suburban area and raise a large organic vegetable garden, apple trees, berries and have a small flock of chickens. We cook from scratch daily and have access to loads of local produce and fresh salmon. Our biggest events of the year center around fall apple cider parties. We invite friends and family over to help us press the dozens of boxes of apples we have grown ourselves, scrounged or bought from the orchards east of mountains. After enjoying fresh cider and sharing with our guests we can many gallons to enjoy the rest of the year. The kids are anxious to get started early this year but will have to wait a while longer.

  5. Nebraska Dave says:

    Anais, very funny clip. The British always have had a humor that I liked. I’m not sure I could give up all the modern conveniences. Clothes washers and dryers are a time saver which allows me to spend more time in the garden and doing outside projects. When only one person does it all, priorities have to be made because time is a precious commodity. This year was a grow and give away year. Next year will be a grow, give away, and store year. The techniques are still being perfected for pickles. I just can’t seem to be able to get a crisp pickle. They come out mushy but taste good. I’m trying for the first time to grow a fall garden. I have put a bid in for a piece of city foreclosed property that’s about 3 miles away from my backyard urban ranch garden. It will be for my larger garden beds for more give away and much more canning and preserving. It’s a 168 X 165 foot piece of property. It’s not all tillable but will be more than enough to keep me busy and out pioneering for quite some time.

    Have a great day on the Urban Homestead.

    • Mel Mosely says:

      For crisp pickles, try putting a grape leaf in the jar when you can them.

  6. Eloise Martindale says:

    What I have discovered is that I had no idea how dependent on “The System” I was, until I started trying to be more independent. After 3 years we have accomplished a lot, but we have a long way to go. We have solar panels, rain barrels, clothes lines, compost bins, chickens & a large garden with fruit trees. Last year we produced more than 500 lbs of fruit & veg. as well as more than 700 eggs. Our lot is only a little smaller than yours. What a big learning curve!!

  7. Aimee says:

    If you want to learn more about a family living off-grid I recommend Michael Bunker’s book Living Off Off-Grid, Decolonizing the Industrial Mind. Very interesting reading. Makes you think. Which is what his purpose was since he calls book a philosophy book, not a how-to-book.

  8. Lori from PA says:

    Hi y’all,
    I’ve been interviewing my parents in-law, who were born in the 1920’s, on what life was like growing up in both urban and exurban New Orleans during the Depression. Your comment about all the hand-washed laundry reminded me that they used to save it all to be done just one day of the week – Monday, and instead of making a big supper that day, they would toss any leftovers from Sunday dinner, etc. into a big pot, which is what true gumbo is. Each day had its own special chore focus (like the old embroidered tea towels used to depict), so that all the chores got done at least one time per week.

    My guess from reading the Peswiki website that catalogs free-energy invention progress, is that we are right on the cusp of a leap forward in technology that is actually simpler than we might suppose, allowing us to eventually become completely free of the late-19th Century corporate power grid model without causing harm to the environment with some of our modern conveniences. That having been said, we still use solar and wind power here too, and do without a dishwasher or microwave.


  9. Friday Favorites « BrightHaven Days says:

    […] Ever wondered what a modern homestead would look like?  I’m so inspired by this little glimpse of the Dervaes’ back patio–> Modern Homesteading […]

  10. Mary says:

    I think that urban homesteading is an awesome trend. You make these sustainable options seem hip, cool and totally doable. I made a big production a couple years ago when I got rid of my drier and converted to air drying on only USA made clothes drying rack and an outside umbrella clothesline.

    I think that when we do these things we need to be proud and broadcast it to all. Thank you for blogging about what you do!

  11. Wrenn says:

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to approach the city regarding chickens? We live in a house built in1895 and when we moved in the city brought us in as the corner of the property was at the line. Great for trash pickup but not so much else as we have almost an acre and cannot have farm animals. I would love to approach the city regarding encouraging the urban homestead and how it could be an attractive option to increase our city liveability.
    Love your posts!

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