Skip to main content

The Simple Life - How did you get here?

You may be wondering what influenced my husband and I to live the way we do. I'm never sure what to call it, its kind of simple, but complicated, and its definitely frugal, but not stingy.  We certainly have everything we want, and not much that we don't need.
Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying.  The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.  ~Elise Boulding
I can't remember exactly what got me started on thinking that I'd like to change my city-dwelling lifestyle.  About six years ago I was living in a rental property and very proud of myself because I had no car and used public transport to get around (easy to do in a large city).  I think it all started when I went to a conference in which there was a long discussion about 'sustainable development' and 'resource depletion'. That got me thinking about the way we live.  I started to read a few books on various topics:
  •  Capatalism as if the World Matters (Jonathan Porritt) - This introduced the idea of 'natural capital', the parts of the natural world used by humans either directly as resources, or indirectly as sinks for waste or services, such as climate regulation.  Jonathan proposes that we are using up natural capital, in the same way as you would use up financial capital or savings in the bank, when we should be trying to live off the interest, ie allow natural cycles to continue and only using what we can without disturbing them.
  • Affluenza and Growth Fetish (Clive Hamilton) - In which Clive proposes that we would be happier if we 'downshifted' our lives and stopped the over-consumption that has become to common in modern societies.
  • Waste Equals Food (William McDonough & Michael Braungart) - This book suggests that all products are designed with a 'cradle-to-cradle' prespective in which every product can become the raw materials for another product, ie all natural products are can composted and all technological products can be taken apart and used to make something else.  This meant that natural products such as cotton shouldn't be 'contaminated' with unnatural products such as synthetic dyes which can't be composted.
Gum trees on our property - simply beautiful!
I also started seeing a naturopath around this time in an attempt to clear up my terrible acne.  She educated me about my diet and made me consider what I was eating.  After cutting out dairy, wheat, sugar, alcohol and caffeine for six months my skin was perfect.  I probably wouldn't have believed it was possible if I hadn't tried it (and if you think six months is a long time, it reflects how desperate I was to have clear skin after suffering from acne for so long).  I now eat most of those things again, but no additives, avoid sugar and caffeine, and try to eat unprocessed food where-ever possible.  If I start to get a pimple, I know its a warning that I'm reacting to some toxin or allergen that I've eaten.

My first step at changing my lifestyle was to try container gardening.  This was a struggle with no car, in a rental property (but I'm sure it can be done more successfully than I managed at the time).  Then I met my future husband, who already owned 5 acres and had chickens.  This was good timing as we had both suddenly become interested in self-sufficiency (my husband had been using his property for a dirt-bike track until the neighbours complained, so it wasn't chosen with farming in mind!).  I moved in and we started a garden, then we got a steer and more chickens.  We quickly learnt that we were making heaps of work for ourselves by rushing into these activities, but we were so keen to try everything!  We spent many hours searching the internet for answers to our many problems, and found limited advice (which is why I have now started this blog, in the hope of helping others with solutions we've learnt the hard way, through trial and many an error!).

My influences now are less academic and more practical, now that we understand what has to be done (the frugal lifestyle) we need lots of advice on how to achieve it.  I'm currently reading again a book by Jackie French that I got from a farmers market, Organic Gardening for Australia, from 1987.  I don't know if you can still by it, so if you see one at a market, buy it!  Its full of great basic tips for the beginner.  We now have a massive collection of books on all subjects from gardening, to cheese making, to home butchering and sausage making and aquaponics (another dream coming soon).  


More recently I've read both Sweet Poison and The Sweet Poison Quit Plan (David Gillespie), which have reinforced to me the importance of avoiding sugar and additives (with a very simple and interesting explanation of the human digestive system!).


We also buy a few magazines when they have useful articles:
  • Grass Roots (no website, available in news agents and can subscribe on Amazon)
  • Earth Garden (gets a bit commercial, I prefer Grass Roots!)
  • Organic Gardening (Peter Cundall is my hero!)
I've just discovered a great blog that seems to put things so much better than I can:
.....it is worth pointing out that contentment is completely contrary to the doctrines of Industrialism, which is the dominant worldly system that we all live within. Industrialism survives and thrives by creating materialistic discontent; by encouraging the natural, inherent covetousness within each of us. People must buy stuff of all kinds, lots of it, for all their days, in order to support the industrial system. I dare say, envy, materialism and discontentment are the lifeblood of industrialism.
Everyone has their own way of living simply, depending on their needs and abilities, its lovely to see all the different ideas and think about what might work at our place.  It seems that once we realise that industrialism/ capitalism is the problem and release ourselves from its expectations we can finally become content with what we have.  Please share your inspiration, I'd love to know how you got here! 

Comments

  1. Great Post, Liz! We too, are little farmers on 11 acres in Central Victoria. We are also Sweet Poison followers, and I am also working on eliminating wheat products (cold turkey for a month) and alcohol from my intake. We may not be able to save the world, but we can be more responsible about what we grow and farm and how we go about it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We have been living the simple life for so long it is just natural to us now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fantastic post Liz. Like you, hubby and I tend to rush in on new ventures but we are gradually learning that the slow path is the one to take and that success is there - just sometimes not in the form we expect it. Thank you also for mentioning my post - such a buzz that you liked it. Ohh and I love Grass Roots magazine too. It's the only one I subscribe to and I confess nothing gets done until I have read it from cover to cover....vbg.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It was very interesting for me to read the philosophy behind your lifestyle. Mine has always been different, but nevertheless, I'm deeply interested in the way people produce their own food. I think one must put one's soul in it, and it's not at all easy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. just so you know, Peter Cundall is my hero as well :)
    I think he is brilliant and would love to meet him

    ReplyDelete
  6. I started on my own journey ...in suburbia...after reading a Jackie French book. They are all available at the library. Life has since become a joy. All the best in your endeavors.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't know how I missed this post way back when you wrote it. Very cool to read about how you came to where you are now.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi, I am very much enjoying your blog. My journey started when my baby was red raw from eczema and a toddler with failure to thrive, since has been put down to food intolerances so far.
    When I started researching everything I was feeding and putting onto my babies skin I couldnt believe it.
    We live on 30 acres and I am doing my best to turn our lives around, I will keep following your very interesting blog,
    thankyou for sharing
    michelle

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Growing and eating chokos (chayotes)

** Sign up for my weekly email updates here, you will find out more about my garden, soap and our farmlife, straight to your inbox, never miss a post!  New soap website and shop opening soon....

Cooking chokos (not be confused with another post about cooking chooks) has been the subject of a few questions on my blog lately, so here's some more information for you.
Chokos - also known as Chayote, christophene or christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton, chuchu, Cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, Pipinola, pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, güisquil, Labu Siam, Ishkus or Chowchow, Pataste, Tayota, Sayote - is a vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with pumpkins, squash and melons, with the botanical name Sechium edule.


The choko contains a large seed, like a mango, but if you pick them small enough it is soft enough to eat.  If you leave the choko for long enough it will sprout from one end and start to grow a vine.  To grow the choko, just plant the sprouted choko a…

How to make coconut yoghurt

Lately I have been cutting back on eating dairy.  I know, I know, we own two house cows!  But I am trying to heal inflammation (bad skin) and dairy is one of the possible triggers, so as a last resort and after much resistance, I decided I had better try to cut back.  Its been hard because I eat a LOT of cheese, and cook with butter, and love to eat yoghurt (and have written extensively about making yoghurt).  I had to just give up cheese completely, switch to macadamia oil and the only yoghurt alternative was coconut yoghurt.  I tried it and I like it, but only a spoonful on some fruit here and there because it is expensive!





The brand I can get here is $3 for 200 mL containers.  I was making yoghurt from powdered milk for about 50c/L.  So I was thinking there must be a way to make coconut yoghurt, but I didn't feel like mucking around and wasting heaps of coconut milk trying to get it right....  and then Biome Eco Store sent me a Mad Millie Coconut Yoghurt Kit to try.  The kit is…