Living off the land

Friday, September 19, 2008 | 12:23 p.m. CDT; updated 10:01 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Eric Reuter feeds grass to Dianna, one of his goats at Chert Hollow Farm on Sept. 9. "I don't have to spend money outside, I got milk from goats and meat from goats," Reuter said.

Welcome to Chert Hollow, where the Reuters, Eric, 29, and Joanna, 30, self-described homesteaders, have joined an ad hoc but growing movement of people trying to live a sustainable life — a back-to-the-land movement for the 21st century.

Traditionally, homesteading referred to pioneers who settled undeveloped land across the great American plains and had no choice but to be self-reliant. A town might be more than a day’s trip by wagon.

Today, opting for self-reliance can mean hard work, low pay and a good deal of inconvenience. But people like the Reuters are making that choice out of concern about the quality of the food they eat and the protection of the planet they share. They are mixing old-school farming methods and philosophies with new-school values and technology to create the 2008 version of homesteading. 

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