Monday, March 4, 2013

Doing Less By Doing More



If you are at all engaged in the modern homesteading movement, you likely have a whole list of things you would like to try: animals you want to get, crops you want to plant, and skills you want to learn.  While it is easy to get on the roller coaster of doing more, in reality, choosing to homestead generally means the just the opposite.  Modern homesteading is far more about doing less than doing more. 



When you choose to engage in the practice of modern homesteading, you are consciously selecting what is most important to you, your family, your community and the earth.  You are moving away from the wants that control our lives and focusing more on the things you need.  In our daily lives, it so easy to choose what we consider the easy route: throwing laundry in the dryer instead of air drying, buying an extra pair of shoes just because (even though you have 5 similar pairs), or grabbing a few processed foods from the store instead of making your own from scratch.  But if you pause to consider the hidden costs behind your choices, suddenly those choices aren’t really easy.

So what do we really need in life?  Of course we need food and shelter, and as humans we want to feel needed, valued and productive.  We need to feel that our actions, however small, truly matter.  Does choosing the easy route really meet those needs?  Now I will admit that from time to time, when the pile of laundry overwhelms me, I toss the wet clothes into the dryer instead of hanging them to dry.  But, what if I rethought my life? What if I decided that the million other things that occur in my life were less important than the simple act of hang drying my clothing?  

When you start to slow down your life and cut out the many things that are wants and not needs, your day suddenly opens up.  Just today, my husband and I were debating over whether to drive an extra 20 minutes to pick up bags for our vacuum.  It boiled down to 2 choices: drive and get the bags and use up time with the family and gas, or wait until we’re headed that way later this week and deal with a dirty house.  When we stepped back and looked at the big picture, at what really mattered, suddenly a little dirt on the floor seemed a small price to pay.  

Modern homesteading is not about doing more, it is about doing less.  It is about gaining perspective and consciously choosing a way of life.

How do you choose to do less by doing more in your backyard farm?

I shared at Eat, Make Grow

14 comments:

  1. I love this post!!! It sums up the things we have been discussing in our home over the last month as we figure out how to live more of the life we want. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. This is so great. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at our to-do and wish lists, so I need to step back a bit and just do less. There is always something to do and something new to try so it's hard to stop sometimes. Thanks for the reminder :)

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    1. This post was a good reminder to myself - I am really good at planning and more more more!

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  3. I try hard to rethink things in this way also. the one thing that we do here is Sunday dinner. living on one full time income and my little 15 hours a week pay check is tough. We do it so can stay home with our 4 year old. We really can't afford to take people out for dinner. So Sunday dinner is our way of sharing our home garden, our fresh meat and home made food.We include family and friends and save a ton at the same time stay connected and eat healthy.

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    1. That's what we do. There's 8 of us (although my oldest is away in college) and it can easily be $100 do go out to dinner or lunch.

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  4. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and make choices that make life easier...I love that idea!

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  5. Sometimes we forget to step back for a second or two and see the bigger picture. Great post!

    Have a great day
    Jen

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  6. A very timely reminder! Thanks for the great post!

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  7. Great post! I'm good with building things and loving kids and animals and figuring out how to solve a problem. I'm horrid at growing things. I so wish i had one of my green-thumb-Internet-friends next door to hold my hand and make it better. I think the big picture is easier with many painters.

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  8. Great post. We have to regularly sit down and evaluate what everyone is wanting to do and figure out a balance. This homestead life is mine and my husband's dream but really not my children's. So there's some things that we know we just won't be doing for a while. We're okay with that.

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  9. You've managed to sum up what "simplicity" MEANS (which is a word that is often used to sum up this lifestyle, but leaves people a bit skeptical when you consider all the actual work involved --from the various animal husbandry tasks, to all the aspects involved in providing for food (planting, harvesting, canning...), to hanging laundry.
    But I think if you consider a basic list of things (skill sets, alternative procurement of sustenance, etc) that one needs take on in order to pursue this lifestyle can be overwhelming when you are first exposed to it. Breaking that list into all the sub-management aspects certainly doesn't seem to simplify anything! I think the 'simpler life' comes down to 'a more natural way to live', and perhaps it frees your mind from the entrapments of idle time, consumerism, and dependencies, even if there is more actual work, there is a deep satisfaction to that work.

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    1. It is very true that homesteading is hard work and actually uses more of your time, but just like you said, that work has more meaning than some other work. I agree that the simplicity side of it is more a mindset and a realization that certain things are more important than other things. Really it is a readjustment of priorities - it seems like homesteading is more an awareness of the basic needs than the wants. Although keeping animals is considered 'homesteading, I currently 'want' ducks, but don't really need them, so where's the balance? Homesteading might be simple, but there is nothing 'easy' in modern homesteading. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  10. Hi there! New (ish) reader, first time commenter! :) I currently work part-time and have begun to slowly transition from hurried consumerist lifestyle to a more natural and slower lifestyle. I really just want to quit working, de-clutter, erect a chicken coop and get to planting my ever expanding garden and homestead. I know it's not possible for me to do that so I try to take joy in every step I take to get there. I take my time hanging my clothes on my drying rack and remind myself that each time I learn a new skill or cook from scratch I am one more step closer. Great post - thank you!

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    1. Thanks for your comment - it's like that for us - one step at a time.

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