Homestead (and Life) Lessons From the Great Depression

The Great Depression was one of the most harrowing periods of history in our country, and there are many lessons we can take from it. It dramatically changed our economy, our government, our agriculture and our people. We made it through the recent Great Recession with far less damage than the Great Depression, but the possibility of something far worse seems to be constantly looming on the horizon and it’s hard to imagine we’d be prepared the way our resourceful ancestors were.

The thing is, life has changed so much since the 20’s and 30’s, and we have become far more reliant on the resources of a globalized economy. This is why homesteading is so appealing to a growing number of people; in the face of a crippling economic meltdown, we want to be prepared, and self-reliant, and self-sufficient.

Here are some lessons we can take from the Great Depression for homesteading, self-reliance, and life in general:

1. Use what you have

We get so used to constantly spending, we’ve forgotten how to use what we have already. Homesteaders are probably already familiar with this, especially if you live far from town and get used to  being resourceful, but Amazon Prime has definitely made it easier to order the most obscure homesteading equipment to be delivered right to our front door (or the mailbox at the top of our country road). Before you spend, try to imagine you have no spare money, what you would do. You’d be surprised how quickly you can problem solve sometimes if buying an additional tool or supply were not an option!

2. Rely on others

Community is the backbone of any country, and we have, over time, become more autonomous, individual agents who are ironically much more reliant on the grid and less on one another. Get to know your neighbors, your suppliers, shopkeepers, etc. Form bonds with others, trade work and supplies, pitch in to help others out and ask for help on your own homestead. Find a church, homeschool group, grocery co-op, book club, farmer’s market whatever it is that you’re interested in and make connections. When things get crazy you’ll need support and resources, and a few heads are always better than one.

3. Get skilled

Skills are invaluable, and the more you learn, the better equipped you are for #1 and #2. If you can build or repair things you won’t need to spend as much hiring others or buying new supplies or replacement parts, and if you have marketable skills or an artisan craft you can trade your work for things you need or simply pitch in to help others out and help strengthen your community.

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