Friday, November 2, 2012

simple aint easy

Living simply sounds like a good deal, and sometimes it is.  You limit your use of chemicals,  machine driven this and that,  you learn to work with what invades your space (skunks, moles, voles, etc) and work around what you can't deal with any other way. 

However.  Over the years I have done a lot of things not necessarily because I wanted to, but because it was a compromise that had more value at the time than any other solution:  when we first moved into the house it was drafty, cold, and the cellar was unheated and not sealed off.  In the summer  we had the benefit of the water pump.  In the winter we drained it and hauled water from the old dug well.  The reality of the well and those two pails was far more appealing at that point than the reality of worrying about the water pump during periods when the outside temps went down to -20 and stayed there;  and the cellar itself would sometimes be 20 deg..  Not something I'd want to deal with on a regular basis.

So simplicity was two pails and a knotted rope.  The more back to basics you get, the harder the physical labor becomes.  The only moving part in that equation was me, and I moved a LOT.

We decided that living where we do,  being dependent on an oil burner meant there would be times when an oil burner would not be nearly enough to keep the house warm, there would be times when an oil truck would not be able to deliver up here, and other times when the power went out most inopportunely.  The only solution was to bypass the oil burner situation and just burn wood.   A lot of work, yes, but we've never regretted it.  It also meant we didn't have to destroy baseboards and old pine floors,  and rearrange the house to suit it.  Again, a compromise. 

Simplicity is an axe, a splitting wedge, and a really good chopping block. 

Rather than spray for bugs, or use weed killers, or weed at all unless it's necessary,  I mulch the hell out of everything and use my own compost.  Birds eat bugs. So do skunks, preying manitissseses,  and turkeys.

Simplicty is a strong back,  a spadingfork, and some really ratty looking compost bins.  My only compromise here is a shed where the garden is, and water piped in from the house, underground.

In a few years we will probably have to start scaling back a bit,  maybe a smaller garden, maybe serious consideration of an oil burner for the warmer cold months, a nip here, a tuck there.  Who knows.  But for now, this works. 


  1. I doesnt sound all that hard in Mother Earth News. The cabin was supposed to be a simple life, but it's not completely. Close but not 100 PERCENT.

  2. Simple usually is taken to mean easy, laid back, uncluttered. Its uncluttered by a lot of machinery, but the more you simplify, the harder and more personal the labor becomes.
    Think about how hard you worked to build that cabin.
    Once it's done and the tools are tucked away, then it gets easy to be there, to coast bit with oil lamps and a stream. But let's face it, building it was hard work.

  3. Once I even had the bright idea of buying horses, harness and horse drawn farm equipment. I think it was more of a thought of survival rather than having a simple life.It was a thought I had when gas was in real short supply. We have an easier life than anyone in history, and I'm not ready right now to give that up for a simpler life.

  4. Dont blame you, Harvvey, you've worked hard for a very long time, and it's time to kick back and float a bit.
    I guess for me it's not the giving up of something 'easier', since we have never had an easier life up here (not complainin', just sayin') but more about being involved with process rather than watching it happen. I could have a cleaning lady, or a gardener, but then the house or the garden would be theirs and I would be the overseer. I could hire someone to stack the wood, but then he'd get the exercise and I'd get the pounds. And I like doing this.

    Mine, mine, I growl. Don't touch that rake.