Old-Fashioned Girl


Another glorious day, and once again I’m wishing this season lasted for at least half the year. It’s such a beautiful time to be outside, and I think the chickens and rabbits enjoy it about as much as I do. They just look happy.

Ben has been “vacuuming” the yard with the lawn mower and dumping the leaves in the run for the chickens. They love tearing through those leaves, searching for bugs, and it makes me look forward to someday having enough land to let them range freely the way they should. We were talking today, in fact, about how we’d like to have space for some fruit trees, meat chickens, a couple of cows, and a pig or two. I’m so grateful to be married to a man who shares my goals of self-sufficiency — I don’t know what I’d do if his dream was to live in a subdivision or an apartment!

Watching all that’s been going on this past week in the aftermath of Sandy has really reminded me of how easily our lives can be disrupted. We aren’t preppers — I barely have enough room to store my winter coats, let alone stockpile tons of food. But I do know a thing or two about being ready for emergencies. The little farm I grew up on was the last one on our power line, so more than once we were left without electricity for over a week after winter storms. And since my parents depend on an electric pump to get water from their spring into the house, that meant we were without running water for a week or more, too. (For some reason, they’ve never bought a generator to power that pump, although they’ve discussed it many times.) My mom has always kept some water on hand for times when the spring was undrinkable due to heavy rain or a clogged overflow, but after a few of those extended outages, she has dozens of gallons stored.

A month or two ago, the DIY network showed a mini-marathon of the reality show Frontier House. I’m not a big reality TV fan, but I do like this show. If you haven’t seen it, basically several families signed up to live as if they were Montana pioneers in the 1880s. They had to build cabins, care for livestock, grow food, and manage their households without any of the modern conveniences that most people now consider necessities. The experience is a little warped, of course, by the fact that they weren’t allowed to hunt, and they had support staff and medical personnel standing by in case of problems. Still, it’s eye-opening to realize how many skills we’ve lost in a relatively brief time. My paternal grandfather was born in 1893. His parents, although they weren’t pioneers, would have had all of the skills required to thrive on Frontier House. So few generations later, and I have to read books to learn those things.

Obviously, I wouldn’t wish to be struck with a major disaster, natural or manmade, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want us to master the necessary skills to survive and take care of our family in such a situation. The scenes and stories coming out of the Northeast break my heart, but they also remind me that this complicated, technology-dependent life we live is vulnerable in so many ways, and even a short-term disruption can throw it into chaos. It seems like the simpler we keep our lives, the less fragile we are.


One response »

  1. I’m in full agreement with you. My fiancé and I also dream of self-sufficiency. We will be starting from scratch – learning everything as we go, but one day I hope we have children who possess all the skills necessary to survive just because those skills were part of everyday life for them. I’m a big believer in living simply and naturally and casting off the modern dependence on technology.

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