I’ve been bringing this up a lot. The concept that being a homesteader means living a simpler life.
And the term simple can have so many connotations to it. Back in the day, simple used to refer, quite negatively, to a person who was feeble minded, perhaps even with a mental illness or not well developed.
Of course, such words are less likely to be used in our vernacular these days, but that’s one way the word was used.
But simple also in general just means “easily understood or done, presenting no difficulty”. It can also mean “used to emphasise the fundamental and straightforward nature of something”.
By no means does leaving a simple life through homesteading mean living a life that is boring or without work. Cos believe me, even when you are homesteading part time, which I probably consider myself doing so at this point in time as I still maintain an IRL job, there is a lot of work to do to keep things going.
Managing the needs and requirements of living on property is vast and sometimes, often times, feels never ending. When you have animals, there’s feeding and watering, cleaning their bedding, checking them for fleas, ticks etc, and if a horse, riding or training throughout the week and also poo picking or making temporary fencing if you need to move them around paddocks.
There’s also always an endless supply of maintenance projects. Fixing fencing, cleaning and maintaining water tanks and gutters, mowing (if you don’t have animals to eat the grass), cleaning animal areas, tree lopping, making firewood, spraying for bugs and termites, managing the pretty gardens like mulching and weeding, managing the vegetable garden, seedlings and greenhouse areas, water, dam maintenance, driveway maintenance…and that’s just outside.
When managing just a household and/or a suburban block, there is much less work. But I want to raise the notion that I am not begrudging this work nor am I complaining about it. I’m just trying to point out that in reality, ‘simple’ doesn’t mean how we often use it.
When I see and hear some of my friends and colleagues talk about busyness and simplicity, I just want to laugh, loudly, into a pillow. One friend kept talking to me about how they never have time to journal and do goal setting workshops and when I asked them to tell me what their day and week was like, there were many, many opportunities for them to factor that 20-30 minutes in each day to do the journaling work. The truth it, it was just another pipe dream they romanticised but were not really committed to.
So, when you compare it like that, who really has a more simple life?
Don’t get me wrong, again, I would never want to live a life like that. I have before I moved to property, living on a suburban block, following the regular and normalised societal rules of what it meant to be part of a much broader, progressive community. People who believe the same rhetoric about working the same job even if you hate it, how not taking risks is the safe and slow way to progress in life.
That is not me.
I want to refresh the concept of simple living to not mean feeble, or standardised or even ‘the norm’. Simple living, to me anyway, means doing things and living in a way that is a reminder of a time when the world wasn’t going so fast. When technology was less dominant and didn’t control everything – gardening, cooking food from scratch, canning and preserving extra vegetables, making a years’ worth of pasta sauce…you get the drift.
Homesteading, and being a homesteader is a lot of work. A lot of physical work. And a lot to balance. If I spend a whole week outside helping my husband with big projects and chores, my house will be neglected. And then I have to catch up when I have time and energy to do basic house chores. And vice versa.
If I were to compare my life to anybody else’s that isn’t in the same position, then yeh, on the surface perhaps they do live a simpler life, by dictionary definitions. But I live a lifestyle that to me, is absolutely worth the time, energy and hard work. Homesteading is fulfilling work. It’s rewarding to see your projects come to fruition. It’s soothing and energising to be outside in the fresh air and its empowering to know that you can fend for, and look after yourself.
But is it simple? Well, I guess that depends on how you view simplicity.
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