The Simple Life?

I enjoy reading all sorts of blogs but my favorite ones are the ones where people are trying to grow their own food and become self sustaining or as self sustaining as they can.  Sometimes people call it "the simple life" but there really isn't anything simple about it.  Growing vegetables takes loads of energy and time to get right.  You can just pop seeds in the dirt and hope they grow but there are tricks and tips galore to growing food.  Only the very best gardeners manage to eek out enough food from a small plot of land.  Sure it's simple to grow food, drop a seed in some soil and water.  But there are other requirements like soil type, amount of sunshine, bugs, and the all important weather.  One cannot control the weather no matter how much we would like to.  Sometimes the seeds we buy aren't high quality and just don't grow or yield very much.  These are all things one learns over time and much effort, hardly simple.

Then there is livestock.  Nope nothing simple there either.  Each type of livestock has it's own set of needs and requirements.  Sure you can learn all these things but simple it is not.  And what's simple about going hungry when your livestock die of some illness or disease or worse are killed by wild animals?

If you are using the term "the simple life" to mean you don't use modern technology then I'm not sure the term simple applies there either.  What's simple about doing all the work by hand when there are so many time and energy saving devices?  You try clearing land by hand or with an oxen!  If you are lucky enough to have cleared land already then you need to calculate how much food to grow.  There can always be disasters too which means you have to have some money or you could potentially go hungry.  So then do you work and farm?  Not an easy prospect to do both but how do you pay the property taxes and electricity etc.?

I think the people should use the term "lots of hard work life" instead of "the simple life."  I'm not adverse to hard work and find that hard work has it's own rewards.  I just think the term "the simple life" does not describe attempting to lead a self sustaining lifestyle.

Some people prefer to use the term "simple pleasures."  When you don't have all the gadgets and money to entertain yourself when you aren't working (but lets be realistic, if you farm you are always working) then you do need to find alternative forms of leisure.  That doesn't mean they are simple though.  What's simple about a sunset?  A sunset is one of the most beautiful things on this earth but I wouldn't classify it as simple.  Nor is a hike in the woods simple or baking a pie (I still can't make pie crust).

I think simple applies to sitting in front of the tv or computer or being attached to your cell phone so much that you are never without it.  Simple is going out to a restaurant for a meal or seeing a play.  You don't have to do a thing to enjoy these things because someone else has done all the work for you.  You are the mostly passive recipient of these things.  Hiking or walking in a park or the woods is not passive.  Sewing your own clothes, cooking your own food, growing your own food is not passive or simple.  Although enjoying a sunset could be lumped in as passive I think being able to stop and appreciate a sunset is not always simple for most people because they are always on the go or can't even see the sunset because of where they live.

So being self sustaining is dang hard work but as I said before hard work has it's own rewards and one more people should explore.  Simple is not a good term to describe a farming lifestyle.  It's not a good term to use for anyone who is attempting to become more self sufficient and do more for themselves instead of relying on always buying it or having someone else do the work for them.  That type of lifestyle involves energy, ingenuity, knowledge, perseverance, and the ability to take the good with the bad because some things you just can't predict but simple it is not!  But don't think I'm not all for a self sustaining lifestyle.  I think living a more self sustaining lifestyle is not at all beyond the scope of the average person just don't say it's simple.


Erin said…
I agree... simple is not having to warn the kids not to bother me and wishing I could get away with doing shots at 8 am before attempting to pay monthly bills! Simple would be not having to send your husband repeatedly over to the war zone to make enough money to support a family.

I like your writing, it's very honest. Our home was a total dump when we bought it, we literally fell through the floors. Hubby used to be in construction so we did everything ourselves over a loooooong time (stud walls for 3 years!) and I am very proud of what we have done, but it never ceases to crush me when inconsiderate people make comments like "I don't know how you all fit in here",(whole house is 950 sq ft, no garage) etc. But at the same time i am thinking "why the hell do they NEED 3000 sq ft?" I totally get your frustration, things seem so monotonous here with my husband deployed all the time and no one to talk to except children, although I am thankful that hubby does work his tail off on my "lists" when he is here.

I saw your kitchen window pics - you totally understand my frustration!

I also read when you posted about your taxation up there - another blogger I follow from B.C. lives a very "frugal" life as well (they don't even have a well!) and blogged about that same thing, it is amazing how you can hold it together with such obstacles in the way. I better stop, I'm hijacking your comments column!
GardenofDaisies said…
You are right... the"simple life" is a lot of hard work. M past year my daughter has learned quite a bit about sustainability, growing the food she eats, conserving water and electricity, making sure that the choices she makes have little to no impact on others.. It is much more work, but in turn I think the folks who chose this lifestyle turn away from some of the modern things that complicate our lives and use up a lot of our time. I have been doing a lot of soul searching, thinking of small things I can do to incorporate some of what she has learned into my everyday life.
Sparkless said…
Welcome Erin and GardenofDaisies. It's wonderful to have you! I've been blogging for a few years now but never comment on the blogs I've read so recently I decided to start to comment to show my appreciation for their sharing and great writing.

I attempt to follow an environmentally friendly life. We live in an 800 sq.ft. house, have only one car, walk lots, grow some of our food, hang our laundry to dry, recycle, make our food from scratch most of the time, and a bunch of other things.
I'm facinated by people who can grow most of their own food and I hope to be able to do that at some point in my life.

Erin it must be difficult to be a single parent when your husband is deployed. I know a woman who's husband was deployed for a year and she had a baby and a 2 year old! I would have gone insane at that point in my kids life because they never slept which meant I didn't sleep either.

GardenofDaisies is that a Holly Hobbie embroidery on your profile picture? I did one of those when I was in middle school! I still have it.

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