This is a continuation of our last post, describing what you should do to get ready for life on your new land, particularly for those like us who are moving from city to country. We hope this list can be a helpful set of things to consider if you are on your own journey of simplification and self-sufficiency.
4. Communicating With Family and Friends
If you are going to be doing a huge lifestyle switcheroo (like suddenly transforming from a city teacher to an off-grid homesteader!), prepare yourself for some strong reactions from your community and family. Anticipate that while some people will think that what you're doing is pretty exciting, just as many people will think that you are weird, setting yourself up for failure, or just plain wrong. Lots of people will offer their opinions, solicited and otherwise, someone will share that story of so-and-so who did that and then gave up after a year with their tail between their legs, and every once in a while, someone will see that you're serious about this, and be a huge encouragement.
Try to take it all in stride. You and your house are the only ones who really know your motivations, the months upon months of reflection, the planning, the praying, and the work that has gone into doing this. You can't expect everyone to understand, and that's okay. No need to get angry or defensive. You can, however, give them the opportunity to have a good conversation with you and voice their concerns, thoughts, and questions. Even if your decisions are still baffling to them, its worth it to allow your family and real friends the dignity of being heard. Andrew and I have been really thankful for the ample chances we've had to talk with those in our family and friends who care enough to listen.
Even after the move, be sure to set up lots of means to keep in contact with the people you love, making sure they know you're not just dropping off the map. Blogs, YouTube channels, Skype dates, and of course, an open invitation to anyone willing to make the trip are all a great, positive ways to share what you're doing and hopefully prove that you're not crazy.
5. Infrastructure Detox/Contentment with Simple Things
If you know that you will be going from infrastructure-dense city life to rural living, it is worth it to start training yourself to function without the instant-access conveniences of urban life. Through practicing simple skills and a change of perspective while still in your old location, you might find the transition a little less bumpy and the blessings you already have a little more rich.
Entertainment: When I started pursuing the idea of having land and animals, one of the first pieces of advice I was given from a goat farmer was this, "Get used to being home." Once you have lots of animals in your care, their constant care and maintenance means that "going out" or going on trips is not always an option. Essential to the farming lifestyle is being content at home, and finding ways to enjoy your evenings or rare downtime with your own self-created entertainment. It may sound boring on paper, but we love being able to cook dinner for each other, play with our Boy, and wind down the evening by the fire reading, whittling, drawing, and knitting. Andrew and I joke that we won't need to ever go on vacation again, since the life we're going to create is exactly what we would have wanted to do on a trip if we still lived in the city!
Waste: In the city, its easy to not think about your waste. Just dump the trashbag in the bin, and every Tuesday a truck comes and makes it "disappear." In many rural areas, without a weekly trash pickup, the reality of the waste you generate is much more apparent. If you want to be more responsible for your trash--even if you are still living in a place with garbage trucks--start finding ways to reduce your landfill contributions!
We know that four options are available to us on our land for waste materials--to compost, to burn it, re-purpose it, or--our favorite option--not generate it in the first place. Once you decide start trying to reduce garbage, your buying habits may change like ours have. It can be something a simple as bringing your own bags to the grocery store, opting to buy loose produce without the plastic bag, or choosing to not buy things that come in layers upon layers of packaging.
Utilities: If the power went out, could you keep warm and fed? Wash and dry your clothes? Continue on as normal? What about if you had a limited amount of water to use? A desire for simplicity and self-sufficiency must be connected with an awareness of the resources you are using. For thousands of years people have been able to function without dishwashers, dryers, microwaves, endless supplies of water, and refrigerators...and some of those skills are certainly worth rediscovering.
Even something as simple as hanging up a clothesline can make a huge impact on your "normal life" paradigms. And nothing beats the price of sun-dried clothes! Or maybe try flushing the toilet with collected shower water (or the wash water from the baby's bathtub!). Try wearing your clothes multiple times (why wash them if they're not visibly dirty or stinky?) or experiment with non-electric lighting. A dinner by oil lamp can really be quite lovely.
6. Food Practice
This one is similar to #5, but I thought it was worth mentioning on its own. Learning how to grow, harvest, and cook your own food used to be an essential life skill, and if you are wanting to simplify your life (and be healthier and have a lower impact on the planet and experience the joy of good food!) then you need to know how to feed yourself.
If you share our goal of hoping to be 100% self-sustaining from your own land, then its necessary to take this a few steps further and learn what food you can produce and how you can process and preserve it. Consider trying to shift your current diet to seasonal things that you know you can raise in our growing region (or with the help of a future greenhouse). Some of our examples: in addition to the garden plants we have practiced growing, we've found different ways to utilize milk and whey (with a hopeful cow, we want to make sure we use that precious resource as well as possible!), started using sunflower oil instead of olive oil, honey instead of cane sugar, and even started drinking roasted dandelion tea as a replacement for coffee. We've also done lots of learning with foraged food--it is AMAZING how much delicious food is available and mislabeled as a weed.
Don't get us wrong... we love our chocolate, green tea, and tropical fruits, but we are now seeing them as more of a luxury treat than a staple. And that makes us even more thankful for them!
7. BONUS: Listening to Country Music
You might think we're kidding, but you have no idea how much this can help. If you currently live in a congested urban environment with rush hour traffic, the deep, resounding blast of passing cars blasting music and few people who understand why you would want to make life "hard" for yourself, the desire for farmland and self-sufficiency may sometimes seem more like a weird dream than an attainable reality.
But hearing songs about simple life, being thankful, and watching the sunset together are sometimes nice reminders. For all the physical preparation you can do, getting some emotional preparation is just as important. Knowing that there are others who celebrate a country life--even if you don't currently interact with many who do--is an amazing encouragement.
My conclusion to all this reflection over the past year is one of immense thankfulness. We had no idea, a year ago, why we needed to still be here in the Cityhouse. We just wanted to be able to be on our land, getting things started! But now, with the benefit of hindsight, we know that the Father was giving us a gift of this extra time, and we are so much more ready to hit the ground running. We hope we can now make better decisions for how to start this new life. Andrew and I know we've still got LOTS to learn and that there's plenty of newbie mistakes and realizations looming on the horizon, but we now feel ready to take it on.
If you find yourself in the midst of Waiting Months, they can seem like they are forever-long. But take heart! There's a lot of ways to use them that are productive and beneficial. For those of you who are or have been in a similar spot, are there any ways to prepare that I've missed? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
We love writing for these fine folks as well!
|Simple Life Homestead||
Simple Life Homestead