What is a Homestead

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What is a Homestead


What is a Homestead

The Modern Homestead, How it Works

The official, legal definition for a Homestead is: “a person’s or family’s residence, which comprises the land, house, and outbuildings, and in most states is exempt from forced sale for collection of debt.” It most typically applies to homes built on farms, and there are numerous legal aspects surrounding homestead ownership. People who own homesteads typically have a philosophy of sustainability and self-reliance, and might avoid purchasing food in a marketplace, opting instead to raise livestock and grow vegetables for themselves.

Many folks in today’s society wonder if they can maintain a Homestead in a city or rural atmosphere. It can be done on different levels. Some folks have the opportunity to live a pretty much self-sustained life style in their setting where others may only be able to have only partial accommodations.

You may not have the ability to build on your property and house farm animals but yet have enough room for chickens and or a small garden. This is a means of self-sustaining method. Anytime we can feed or clothe ourselves it is always a better means than depending on others to do this for us. A small homestead if worked properly can sustain a good-sized family. 1 or 2 acres, when properly cultivated and used will take care of an entire family on a Homestead.

Gardens can be grown in containers of many kinds. Buildings and animals kept to a bare minimal and size to accommodate for space. Lots of animals and food can be grown in small spaces if you do your homework. There are many books out there with lots of information on how to homestead. They will share everything from a small plot to a large working self-sustaining homestead.

This article on, What is a Homestead is intended to help you understand that it is possible to homestead without owning a lot of property. There is always work involved in homesteading, whether you have a small plot with only a garden and hen house or if you have lots of property, there is always work to be done.

What is the labor involved on a Homestead?

This varies depending on the homestead, but usually you can expect typical farm chores. For example, if you’re raising cows and goats on a prairie homestead, then you’ll likely be milking them on a daily basis. Gardening and growing crops is also quite popular. Homesteaders are usually knowledgeable in basic and advanced survival skills, such as; fishing, building campfires, bee keeping, making jellies and jams, cooking outside with a dutch oven, preserving foods with pressure canning, breeding livestock, home repairs, hunting and making homemade ammunition, basic automotive repair, and a wide variety of other skills that are pertinent to a survivalist lifestyle. Indeed, most homesteaders choose to rely on their skills as much as possible, avoiding buying anything and everything they can make themselves.

So, as you can see, the labor is quite typical to the chores found on farms, but homesteaders may choose to focus on being much more self-efficient than farm-owners.

A homesteader is more likely to utilize the natural resources they have at hand around their property. It can certainly be a bit more challenge, but homesteaders may take a certain pride in their level of self-reliability. They use all their resources including the rocks they move to the wood and sticks they pick up in cleaning the land. Everything has a use from making barriers around garden plots to building fires and patching fences! Everything is used!

I guess when folks ask, what is a homestead, maybe they just need to know they can do some things to help themselves without owning a huge piece of land. In todays society there are still some very large homesteads but many are small of 2 acres or less and they raise everything from, goats, hogs, milk cows, chickens, etc.

They grow their own gardens and raise their own food. At harvest time they can vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, cabbage, etc, fruits such as, peaches, apples, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc, meats including pork, veal, beef, etc, etc. All kinds of foods are dried, canned and frozen on a homestead. All this takes preserving equipment such as, Pressure Cookers, Boiling Water Canners, and all the accessories that accompany them.


Why do people become homesteaders?

There really is no singular reason for people to opt for a simple, rural life. Some may wish to rely less on food industry corporations, or live “off the grid” and escape a modern life full of technology. Some may be “doomsday” survivalists, believing in the imminent destruction of the world, or outbreak of world war. Others may do it for cultural or religious purpose, such as the Amish, who selectively shun technology such as electricity or automobiles. There is no single reason why people choose this lifestyle, and while there may be communities that share a philosophy, one does not speak for all.


Are there advantages to owning a Homestead?

There are several, in fact. Many states in the United States allow you to register under homestead exemption acts, which typically have features such as;

  • Preventing the forced sale of your home to satisfy the demands of creditors.
  • Providing shelter to a surviving spouse.
  • Providing exemption to property taxes which may apply to your home.
  • Allowing tax-exempt homeowners to vote on property taxes.

Numerous states including Florida, Iowa, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas have broad homestead protection laws, when it comes to the value of property that can be declared.

California will protect up to $75k for singles, and $100k for married couples, and $175k for the elderly (over 65) and the disabled.


What are the drawbacks or restrictions of a Homestead?

It depends on your state, but there are numerous restrictions to homestead protection. For example, it is limited by the Federal Bankruptcy amount of $20k, and may be complicated further by the Federal Bankruptcy Act of 2005.

  • Homesteading will not avoid probate and estate taxes, nor will homesteading protect you from bank foreclosure if you fail to pay your mortgage.
  • Some states choose to opt out of Federal Bankruptcy protection altogether.
  • A few states do not offer homestead protection, such as Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey.
  • Some states only offer $5,000 in protection, such as Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, and Virginia.

You should also be wary of attempting a “fraudulent transfer”. For example, if there is a lawsuit being brought against you, and you attempt to homestead your home to prevent it from being seized, the court will likely reason that you are trying to avoid paying your debts. Homesteading is not a “get out of jail free” card.

Also, only one property can be protected as a homestead. If you have multiple properties, you cannot declare all of them as homesteads. If your reasoning for declaring homestead exemption is to avoid legal consequences, you may find that the courts will not agree with your claims.

When raising farm animals, always check with your local city or county for ordinances to make sure it is legal to own or raise a particular farm animal in your area or zone. It is always better to know ahead than to have to give p something you have become attached to!

We hope you have enjoyed and learned some information that will assist you in our article on, what is a homestead.

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You can view our article on canning and equipment “Ball Canning Recipes”.

This article was written by ”Tony Celentano”

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