Often people refer to me as living ‘the Good Life’. Yes I do have a pretty good life, but I don’t lead it in the sense of Tom and Barbara Good on the TV. I am not self sufficient, I class myself as self-reliant, I am my own destiny – if I can’t pay the bills, it’s my fault for not working enough to do so etc.
But for the sake of this article, I will refer to the saying as a bit of both, a lifestyle change where we try to live more frugaly by cutting down on various sides of our lifes, making do and supplying our own means.
I keep Chickens which give me eggs, I grow my own vegetables which keeps me around 80% self sufficient during the year, I collect my own wood to burn in the Rayburn and if I want a new Shelf Unit, I’ll look around a few skips before spending any money.
This is great and there is no doubt that by living like this cuts down on many Bills and general expenditure – bu then comes Winter !
In Spring and the Summer, everything’s pretty rosey; the thought of having a few Hens, sowing some seeds and collecting wood for an Open Fire seems a very good one. With the Chickens, the Kids will join in and as the days are long, they spend less time in their House and cut out a lot of ‘poo cleaning’ for want of a better saying.
The Vegetable Garden, although requiring weeding, pretty well sorts itself out; you put the seeds in and vegetables grow
Collecting Wood in Autumn has some real benefit, there’s still some warmth in the air, the Woods have cleared of overgrowth and you can enjoy going around picking up the dead wood which has suitably dried off during the Summer month’s.
Suddenly you get a November and December like the one we’re having at the moment !
The day starts by getting up to a cold house because the open fire and in my case, the Rayburn have gone out during the night. You struggle up the Garden through the wind and rain, slipping and sliding as you go to feed the Chickens (if the Kid’s did this through Summer, you can bet your bottom dollar they won’t be doing it now!). After this, it’s clearing out the Fire Hearth. Out you go again to empty the contents which will normally blow not only back through your back door, but all over you as well. Back inside you build the fires up for when you want to light them.
The net result after about one hour is that you’re dirty, wet, cold and generally wondering what on Earth made you choose this lifestyle!
Wouldn’t it be nice sometimes, just to get out of Bed, turn on a switch and not worry about anything else for the rest of the day; no need to change in and out of clothes and just open up a pack of frozen Vegetables from the Supermarket!
Although I don’t always go along with it, there’s the saying, ‘no pain, no gain’ and to a degree, that is true with the downsizing lifestyle and frugal living. It’s the balancing of the good life and the hard, or harder, life which is important. It’s the rough and the smooth, it’s the ‘sometimes you win, sometimes you lose’ scenario.
Personally I would never go back to the safer salaried lifestyle, all be it I couldn’t anyway ! It’s about riding out the difficult times with the good times as your goal. At some stage, the body is going to get tired of all the chores, but I strongly believe you’ll have to wait longer for that to happen if you’re active and have your wits about you to pay the Bills.
I would end by saying that the lifestyle is not a clever one. My generation saw the end of Ration Books and the 1950’s, my Parents generation saw a 2nd World War and my Grandparents, the first. To them, this way of life was natural and needed no push or drive to keep it up. They did it without TV, Mobile Phones, Games Stations etc. They did it to feed their kin and in turn give us the start we have had.
It is a Good Life, but a very short one !