"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Backwards or forwards?

As you all know I am an advocate of simple things - manual kitchen implements, home grown / homemade anything, and I love craft work that encourages my soul to soar.

Mezzaluna - the wonderful smell of chopping herbs
by hand and the promise of the meal to come
I have been told that I have a flair for interior design - not the high end modern stuff, but the honest to goodness comfy and welcoming appearance of a loved home.  I also know that, given the use of what is between my two ears, I can read almost anything and that enables me to produce that which I wasn't aware I could manage.

I love all things simple - though I confess that I am struggling to put my blogging into a comfortable slot - yes, it makes me feel very good to share that which I know / have discovered / feel is important and will hopefully benefit someone else.  My raison d'ĂȘtre has always been that of offering assistance - to be honest, even when it's not always been asked for.  So, some may call me pushy / or controlling, but, hopefully, never overbearing LOL

I have also struggled to explain exactly what it is that is motivating RMan and I with our latest venture - namely moving out of our urban comfort zone and heading off into the unknown in order to live a simple life.  A simpler life.

We have seen that both our children are both also adopting and adapting some of the things they do as a result of changes we have already made in our day-to-day lives.  Yeeha!

Living simply does not mean that we won't have some mod cons on our farm - I have already got the chest freezer,  and I will have to have some type of laptop, in order to keep in contact with loved ones far away / my blog / food for my grey matter.  We will also have a small television - RMan and rugby / cricket / grand prix are inseparable.

And apart from that the old caravan LP gas stove, the dover stove and my solar oven, the Kexin gas water heater and the generator for use with power tools, will also be for our comfort.  The rest of our requirements will be simple.

As long as we have water.  Water is the most important aspect for anyone, and at the moment everything is unbelievably dry.  As I mentioned yesterday, major water storage is on the cards - precious surplus rain water cannot be allowed to flow away unhindered on already sodden ground.

So it was with excitement that I watched a programme on BBC Knowledge the other night.  (I have subsequently discovered that there are only three episodes, which is very disappointing).  The programme is called "How to live a simple life" with the main character being a part-time (how can anyone be a "part-time") vicar, called Peter Owen Jones.  A scruffy, beer drinking, occasionally mild swearing, part-time vicar.  He summed up the simple life in a way that I completely identify with: "It is not so much a going back in time, but a way of moving forward into the future - a better future, a kinder future".  Now I couldn't have put it better than that.

We had an enforced power outage last week - for 8 hours, whilst the switch gear in the substation on our road was being changed.  RMan commented on how quiet it was, which emphasized again how white noise is constantly surrounding us.  On the farm all we have is the noise of the wind (which is more or less constant LOL), Baaarba in the fields near by, or the cows calling their calves which have been purposely separated from them.  We can even, on a rare occasion when the wind isn't blowing too ferociously, hear the birds wings flapping as they fly overhead.  Any vehicle driving down our road can be heard from 3 or 4 kms away - whereas here, in Cape Town, we invariably awaken to the sound of a house or car alarm or a police siren, as the police car rushes to the next emergency / crime scene.

We also watched a programme called "Pickers" wherein two guys travel round the US of A scratching through people's barns to find hidden, forgotten treasures.  That could not happen here - any building, never mind a barn, left uninhabited for too long would result in being broken into, just because it may contain something someone else may want (and therefore feels entitled to take), or because that would make a good building to squat in.

So sad, the disrespect that is paid to other people's possessions.  Or is that a sign of the times? 

Today's younger generation seems to be a throw-away generation.  And angry, judging by the breaking news on most news broadcasts.  Angry at the increasing greed of those in positions of power, at the expense of their electorate?  How many more countries are going to plumb to the brink of collapse, because their leaders are too busy padding their own futures (and those of their family members) with scant regard for the people they were put into power to serve?

Is the distress in the world today, a result of the restlessness which seems to engulf most people - in different ways and for different reasons?

We recently sold an old CCTV screen with two camera's that RMan had in his factory, 20-odd years ago.  It was still in perfect working order, but we were unable to use it.  So it sat in a cupboard until it was agreed that the time had come to pass it on to someone else.  It is certainly the most eco-friendly way of disposing of something for which one has no further use.  The guy who purchased it from us said that he worked for a film company and they were on the look out for things for props - from the 80's and 90's.  The 50's and 60's - there is no problem finding stuff, but after that - nada. Why?  Well, it seems to be because, recently (since the mid-70's), if an item goes 'out of fashion' then it is simply thrown away, and something new is purchased to replace it and bring the owner "up to date".

Have we become a society of "more"?  Is "more" better?  Is "more" making us happier?  Or is more actually causing dissatisfaction and making us unappreciative of what we have, because it can always be replaced - even to the extent of replacing supposed "I do" life-long partners seemingly on a whim.  I find that so incredibly sad.  And again, those in positions of power (leaders of countries, movie and pop stars) are making this option "acceptable" through their very public choices / whims. 

Simpler, to me, is attractive, because there is a consistency to it. There is an authenticity and a pride attached to simple - more than can be obtained from purchasing more and more goods, whether they are required or not.

Surplus goods - for preserviong or bartering
Bartering has a place in this world, more so than one would suspect.  And I think that bartering is the way forward, even though bartering is from way back in time.  For one is not going to barter something grown, or made, with one's own hands, unless that which is replacing it, is absolutely necessary.  I am horrified to read about the new laws in the US of A which effectively makes it a crime for someone to simply give of their time, and effort, to grow produce, organically, and which they then wish to sell their surplus of.

What is happening on this planet of ours?

I crave the simpler way.  Honest, authentic and genuine.  Plenty of honest-to-goodness hard work...

A simpler life awaits us - I can't wait...
... and to feel pride at the end of the day at what I have accomplished, without, hopefully, negatively impacting this planet we inhabit so briefly.

We're off to the farm for a l-o-n-g weekend - enjoy yours and catch you next week :-)


manisha said...

well written, thanks so much for all ur advices and no i am not the one who will say u r pushy or controlling, ur assistence are always always waited and welcomed.
hope u have a nice and serene weekend at the farm.
sigh! i wish i could go to some farm too for a weekend!

Jane said...

Enjoy your time at the farm.

lou said...

You are a wise one.

RobynK said...

A long post but I identify with many things you've said. We swap produce with family, friends and neighbours and we don't keep tabs on who gave us what. When they have an excess item they will share it around too :). Everyone helps with fencing, sending animals to market etc and many cups of beverages and plates of biscuits/cakes are shared over discussions about farm stuff. The local restricted garbage dump manager has a personal policy that anyone who has the energy and inclination to remove something and repurpose it can do so for a small donation. We've acquired some good mouseproof feed containers from repurposed chest freezers.

Mr. H. said...

I enjoyed reading this post, thank you for sharing your thoughts...wish we were neighbors as the way you think is so very similar to that of my wife and I. Have a great, well deserved, weekend at the farm. I'm off to look up what a vicar is.

Ginger said...

A thought-provoking post, Dani. Some folks believe that living simply means you give up *everything* - or almost everything - material. But I agree with you. You pick and choose your 'mod cons' that are and will be meaningful to your simple life.

Perhaps it's because I work in a university surrounded by young people, but I am lucky that I don't have that experience with the young ones. I see promise and a bright future in so many of the students by which I am surrounded. In fact, daily, I am amazed at what they think about and the way they see the world around them, my own three included. I'm fortunate, I suppose.

Your farm is lovely! I know you are ready to get there. Perhaps you, the natural designer, could help me envision a new space in this old restaurant we have purchased that we intend to turn into a home? (The next door cottage will be a writer's retreat/guest house, so it already has a plan.) I am great at executing the plan because I have mad remodeling skills for which I am very proud, but I am not great at birthing the changes. Know what I mean?

Take care and enjoy your weekend. We haven't been able to visit The Home Place since November which makes me homeplacesick.

ezrablu said...

I just love your blog :o)

Dani said...

Sorry it has taken me so long to post your comments - and reply. That's why I need a laptop for the farm LOL Also, I returned yesterday with a head and chest cold - a friend who went up to the farm with us was the source...

Manisha - thank you for your kind words :-)

Jane - we did, thank you :-)

Lou - no where near wise enough, but I'm working on it...

RobynK - how wonderful that you can already barter with your family, friends and neighbours. Finding another purpose for things like old chest freezers is brilliant, and, yes, they would make ideal vermin proof containers. I susbscribe to Freeecycle, and items like that are often offered.

Mr H - the feeling is mutual :-)

Ginger - I agree - there ARE some youngsters who portray and promise a brighter future, but there are also far too many who "expect" their due, as opposed to earning it. As well as the youngsters, also, who are objecting to the greed and wastage of their leaders / role models.

I'd love to offer you assistance on your old restaurant remodel. Would you care to give some detail to work from, and your preference of style?

Ezrablu - thank you :-)

LG said...

Yes, I detest throwing stuff away even if 'broken'just like my mom...I have found a company close by that actually collects electronic stuff and disposes of it correctly or I will get the item repaired and donate to someone or some institution that can use such..hope you had a good long weekend...


emilysincerely said...

Hi Dani. Nice post. Lots to think about. Did you think the BBC program "how to live a simple life" was disappointing, or you were disappointed that there were only 3 episodes? I can't check it out on Netflix and I can't seem to find the show to watch on the internet either. Glad you enjoyed some nice days on your farm. Hope you get over your cold very soon. Emily

Dani said...

LG - Welcome to my blog :-) Mum's leave lasting legacies LOL It is brilliant that you have found a company close by where you can recycle your electronic goods. Our weekend was excellent, thank you - until I started succumbing to the cold I picked up.

Emilysincerely - I was disappointed there were only three episodes - could've watched thirty-three series of it LOL Thanks for the wishes