Is Homesteading Really That Simple?
Living simply doesn’t always mean it’s easy going. On the contrary, living simply often means more work, especially on your homestead. My idea of living simply is to use every day modern conveniences that allow me to have more control over my responsibilities and be less dependent on things from the outside.
You’re stuck in the 21st-century. You have the choice to use modern technology like your cell phone or the Internet whereas just a few years ago this was not even a possibility. You have the choice to use electricity or not; have running water or not; have wood heat or not.
Have you ever considered how one decision leads to a long chain of decisions you have to make at some point? If you live in a cabin up in the mountains, that sounds great, but how do you get back-and-forth — in a Hummer or do you ride up the gravel road on your electric bicycle?
If you have wood heat, do you realize how much time it will take to find wood, cut wood, split wood, stack wood, and keep your fire going? If you have a large garden, do you realize how much time and money this may take until you get to harvest? If you have livestock you realize how much time it takes to feed them, protect them, fix the fences, slaughter and butcher them?
On the other hand, if you have electric power from the grid you are at the mercy of the power companies. If you live in the city, you are at the mercy of a crazy neighbor, noise pollution, and fluoride in the city water.
One thing leads to another.
I found an article that discusses what living simply means. This is an excerpt that comes from a longer article from our friends at Mother Earth News.
Is Homesteading Really That Simple?
That something is easy doesn’t always mean it’s simple – many of the modern conveniences so much of the western world relies on, the thermostat in most conventional houses, for example, is but the end of a long and complex chain reaction with consequences far beyond our reach. Homesteading simplicity can be described as a way to limit those chain reactions, to be more in control over the effect of our actions and, to alter those effects to have a positive impact.
A few weeks ago I was house sitting for some neighbors just up the road from us. It was a big house, with all the modern conveniences: kitchen appliances, running water, several bathrooms and oil furnace heating. These were also selling points when they asked if I could spend a week there – I could do my laundry, each room had a separate thermostat, they had wi-fi, TV and a freezer full of food I could eat.
And on a day to day level, it was easy living over there, in the sense that most of my needs were taken care of by merely pushing or turning a switch or tap. Unlike at home it was no going out to get water or wood and no wood stove to tend. I could shower in two minutes and pile up the dishes in the dishwasher; chores were carried out swiftly with the least physical resistance and with little need for any thoughts beyond the pushing or turning.
It was easy, but not simple since all of these so called conveniences depended entirely on sources I had no control over and the easy actions most always set off a chain effect: every time I turned the thermostat in that house, an easy way to stay warm set off a complex reaction far past my bedroom – through the lines and posts in power grid that needs regular maintenance, through the clearing in the woods where the lines to come in, to the dam or plant where the power is generated.
The effects of my action also rippled through the oil furnace in the basement to the local delivery truck and its driver and on to the previous delivery truck and its share of increased traffic on our rural roads.
On and on through landscapes and communities to an oil field or a tar sand location somewhere, touching on hundreds if not thousands of human lives who are in some ways affected by the oil infrastructure. Billowing over all this is the exhaust, not only from the furnace in this particular house, but from the trucks, the factories who built the furnace, the pipes, the plants, the heavy machinery involved in pumping or fracking the oil. And someone has to pay the bill, which will yet again set off a complex chain of actions – the house owner made its money somewhere, probably by providing a service or a product.
That service or product, whatever it was, most likely set off another chain through materials, transport, buildings, fossil fuel, investments, tax money, corporations, interests, stocks. It did seem easy right there and then, didn’t it, to turn the heat up just a little bit?
Read more: Mother Earth News