by Tammy Taylor
Why do I do it?? Why do I go through the trouble (and expense) of raising my own chickens? Why do I plant a veggie garden and then spend countless hot summertime hours over a steaming pressure canner to preserve the bounty it produces? Why do I haul my laundry outside when there’s a perfectly-good electric clothes dryer RIGHT THERE? Doesn’t it all take a tremendous amount of time? Wouldn’t it be easier to pop open that snack-pak chocolate pudding cup instead of making it from scratch? HECK YEAH it would!
Voluntary Simplicity In Life
But the fact is that I love the voluntary simplicity of our days here. Yes it takes much more time and oftentimes much more effort, but the resulting reduction in cost allows us to spend our days working and living right here in a place that speaks to our hearts. Sure we could work in the corporate world and have much more money rolling in so we wouldn’t have to keep the ac temps higher in the summer and rely more heavily on fans instead, we wouldn’t have to spend countless hours researching the rock-bottom least expensive option for cell phone plans. Heck we could reach up into the cabinet and grab a bag of pre-made chips or cookies whenever we got snack hungry.
As it is, if we want cookies I bring out the butter, sugar and flour and bake them up from scratch. Yeah it takes more time, but time is something I’m afforded since I’m not sitting in gridlock traffic to get to a job where I sit at a desk all day away from the home that I love before dragging back home way too tired to even think about a homemade supper.
Days Filled With Empowering Tasks
Now there is a caveat to this whole doing everything ourselves lifestyle. Yeah it’s extra work, but it’s empowering work. If you’ve ever baked a loaf of homemade bread I don’t have to tell you how wonderful it feels to pull that fragrant loaf from the oven and have your family smacking their lips before it even gets cooled enough to cut. And for you gardeners – how does it seem to touch your very soul to pull that first ripe red tomato from the vine? Yeah, THAT feeling. And I get to experience that wonderful feeling with almost every homestead task I complete. Of course there’s give & take living this way – we’re able to live this lifestyle because we don’t spend extraneous amounts of money on fancy foods or high-end electronics. But here’s the catch: we don’t feel any sense of deprivation or regret whatsoever. This life is not for everyone, but DANG it’s a beautiful life for us!
Hard Times Affect This Life Too
Now lest you think I’m whistling a happy tune every day with nary a care, there are plenty of trials in living this way too. This year my garden was repeatedly drowned out by torrential floods in the spring, attacked by hordes of grasshoppers afterward, and then finally finished off with record heat and drought- all in the same year! Oh how I struggled mightily and failed miserably to get my garden going – even the portions I replanted in containers. Hours and hours of toil for naught.
And we’ve had to make some hard decisions to put an animal out of its misery when we and our vet had worked tirelessly and done everything in our power but still couldn’t save it.
And my heart has felt the pain at the sight of the pile of feathers left behind after a predator took yet another of our hens. We’ve assisted in the birth of a calf expecting the joy and excitement of a new baby only to find it stillborn. We’ve plunked down money we could barely afford for seed and fertilizer to plant winter pastures to keep our cattle fed only to have the uncooperative weather kill any chances of growth. Heartache abounds in this lifestyle the same as any other. But there have been so many times when we see that shining proof that we’re doing the right thing for us.
This Is The Right Life For Us
RancherMan & I have sat together many evenings watching that beautiful sunset while a baby calf bounces around in the pasture trying out his new legs. We’ve stood back & wiped the sweat from our brows as we surveyed the work we’d done on our barn’s chicken coop and felt pride in a job well done. We’ve teamed together as we removed the tree that had fallen across the fence and restretched that broken barbed wire back again. Yes, we’ve experienced blood, sweat and tears but we’ve built this life with our own two hands.
Your idea of a perfect life may be similar to ours, or it may be completely different. Figure out what speaks to your heart & start taking steps now to make it happen. Maybe you want to take control of your own kitchen and start providing for your own family – if you have a small patch of earth you can plant herbs or veggies. Even if you don’t, container gardening is a small-scale way to get your hands in the earth and provide for yourself and your family, and it feels wonderful. Or how about learning to make your favorite cookies from scratch. Heck mix up a triple batch and scoop the leftover dough into raw dough buttons for the freezer for quick-baking homemade cookie deliciousness sometime down the road. Or maybe you dream of another profession where you can enjoy your days doing what you love. Whatever it is you can start today taking baby steps toward a life that speaks to your heart.
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