Monday, July 19, 2010

Modern homemaking?

Moving to a farm?

It seems like everyone is these days...at least, according to recent reports on "radical homemaking."

This week, I read an article about this movement, as well as heard a radio program. It seems people are getting tired of the city life and the corporate world and are turning to more agrarian ways. I've seen it in Christian circles as a way to live more simply, in environmentalist circles as a way to reduce waste, and among people who are just ready for a change.

Among the newly coined terms: the femivore...today's independent woman, who may "stay at home," but pulls her weight in supporting the family farm...I guess. I didn't really understand the concept, myself. (NY Times)
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I have so many questions about whether or not this lifestyle is even something to consider. The first irony that hits me is the plethora of blogs out there, chronicling life on a farm. Having a digital camera and wireless Internet don't interfere with living a "simple" lifestyle? Doesn't someone still have to visit the office in order to develop this technology?

What if you don't live in a climate where it is possible to grow your own food? Or if local authorities don't allow it?

How would you get medical care? Who would provide it? Again, we can't all live on farms...we are too dependent on certain professionals.

What would be your form of transportation?

Our local newspaper (the Daily Hampshire Gazette) offered a few tips for "how to start" (how to start what?):

-hang your laundry out to dry
-dedicate part of your lawn to a vegetable garden
-get to know your neighbors so you can cooperate to reduce spending
-shop at a farmers market each week before heading to the grocery store
-donate things you don't need to help others save money and resources
-carry reusable bags on all your shopping trips
-learn how to preserve one local food item for the winter
-get your family to agree to spend more evenings at home, preferably with the TV off
-cook for your family
-focus on enjoying what you have and whom you get to share it with, rather than on what you want or think you need ("Radical homemaking," p.C2, July 16, 2010)

Some of these pieces of advice are sort of "duh;" some are helpful; most are practiced by the rest of the world. So if we tried them, maybe we would live a little bit more like people in less privileged nations?

For example...

1) Hanging your laundry to dry. This works well almost anywhere. I always dry my clothes on a line in Russia. I just have to plan for them not to be ready for 24 hours or so. The only thing I miss is not being able to fluff them up in a dryer...more ironing takes place.

2) Donating things you don't need. This sounds a little bit self-centered, since those "in need" would like new things and not just your rejects, which aren't always in great shape. But obviously it's better to give things away to someone who would actually use them, as opposed to them sitting in storage. If you lived in a one-room apartment, you would quickly see how this simplifies life.

3) Carrying reusable bags. Again, in other countries, the stores do not necessarily give you a bag with every purchase, so this is already in practice. I don't always use canvas bags, but generally try to get as many uses as possible out of plastic/paper bags.

4) Preserving food. I don't know how to can or jar foods. Many people in Russia do, and I love sampling the results. :) Another solution is to freeze produce or even prepared meals. I like having frozen berries on hand for baking, even though it isn't quite the same as tasting the real thing. I don't know if it is any healthier than buying them, but more economical, at least, when you buy in season.

4 comments:

  1. I heard part of a segment on this on public radio last week....but you will find it interesting (I think) that I also heard the whole of a story about this occuring in RUSSIA! The story was on the BBC World Service Russia program, I believe. One of the villages was radically Orthodox, if I recall; the other more "simple living" enthusiasts without a religious focus. Sounded good to me!

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  2. Oh, that's interesting! We have talked about opening ministry centers located more in a village setting. Maybe a group home for orphans. I think it would be a very pleasant and healthy setting for them. I'm not sure if it is much more VIRTUOUS to live this way, but it definitely has a lot of benefits!

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  3. V..................July 20, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    An escape from what we'd call the real life has, probably, been there for as long as this planet has existed. I, honestly, do not understand the people who have chosen a lifestyle that opposes the norms of the society they live in. Let's take the Amish and the people who, later, came out of them, the Mennonites. If you want to have an alternative lifestyle in this free-market world - they are it! They have anything and everything the modern, anti-free-market American would want to know about living a life independent of the cares of this world. Too bad they do not have enough curiosity to check the Amish out. No politics, no free enterprise, no electricity, no running water or inside toilets there. Ahhhhh, a perpetual bliss!

    Unfortunately, it is not. Same issues, same problems. There's an incrementally growing physical and sexual abuse among the Amish and Mennonites. There's just as much dysfunction in the Mennonite families as it is in the secular ones. There's just as much divorce. The Amish and Mennonite youth are leaving their families in droves, so that they could experience a more freer lifestyle. Most of them have complained that they felt absolutely unhappy in their communities. They didn't see it as a way to a more simple, better life. They saw it more as a slavery to a lifestyle they didn't choose to be a part of.

    Simplicity to me is good if it's combined with common sense. If there's no common sense in it, I wouldn't even try it.

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  4. "Cook for your family" reminded me of what AWESOME food your mom makes! Mmm... my mouth is watering!

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