Living the so called ‘simple life’ is not always what people expect. The hard work, dedication, isolation, the cost of running a small farm and many other factors don’t necessarily equal happiness. I grew up in the country and have lived very frugally most of my life, now after leaving the farm I have been asked many questions about what I have learnt.
You can live a ‘simple life’ on a suburban block, you can cut costs by making your own bread and eat like a king from your thriving garden. There are ways to adjust the simpleness to suit you and your families needs. Running a farm is large task and for those thinking about ditching the city life to pursue the dream – think long and hard about it, farming takes time. Veggies don’t grow overnight, things break and animals can get sick. You need to do your research and make a plan before delving into your dream life.
Here is a list of Questions you need to ask yourself before taking the plunge into this lifestyle.
- How much is it going to cost you to make the change? Can you afford it?
- What are you going to do for work/income?
- How is your farm/acreage/suburban plot going to contribute to saving money or better yet make money?
- Do you have a back-up fund? What if your new snazzy tractor breaks down and you can’t use it, how much money do you have for it to get fixed?
- Does your property have running water/dams/creeks/bore?
- Is there arable land for farming (running cows or starting a market garden)?
- Does it frost, what is the rainfall and temperature averages for your area? ( this is super important if you plan on growing food )
- Rates and council approvals – what are you going to do with your land? How many pigs can you keep on your block at one time? Do you need to build more sheds ect.
- How much space do you really need? Are you plans to run cattle, keep chickens or run a market garden? Be honest about how much land you really need. More land means more work and usually more money. You can run a market garden and 50 chooks on 4 acres – easy. Be practical about the goal.
- How is the soil health? again necessary for keeping animals and growing veggies.
- If your going rural and can’t live with out the internet do check before purchasing a property how much it will cost to have it connected to the place. This was a huge money sucker for us.
- Neighbours, you either love them or hate them. It’s great to know who they are and what they are doing on their property. Living in an area of people doing the same thing (living simply) really boosts your own morale but gives you a hand in settling in. Learning from the locals about when to plant certain things or to lend a hand when you need to fix a fence – super important.
- Are you close to shops, schools, work? It might be great to live in the middle of nowhere but how do your fuel costs go?
- Are you planning on selling your farms products? If so how far do you need to go, are there local farmers markets or do you need to be close to the big city?
- Have your grown your own food before?
- Do you have plenty of water? Can you get mulch cheaply? Are you composting?
- How much do you intend to grow, how much space do you need for a garden?
- Are you going to butcher your own animals? What are the laws in the area, are their home butchers where is the abattoir?
- Do you know much about preserving? Trust me you will need to know as any home gardener will tell you its feast of famine with veggie growing at times. Otherwise find some people near by to do veggie swaps with or even give away your surplus.
- Do you have TIME to garden, cook and do preserving? Be honest this is a huge one. Think about what your family eats and how much, don’t over plant but do succession plant to keep food rolling in.
- How much time do you have daily for your new so called simple life?
- How much time will you need to live that life?
- Do you have a plan in place to run a farm? turn your suburban backyard into a thriving food jungle or just start by making your own bread? Set yourself a goal and then know how you are going to implement it. At the moment I am planning my winter veggie patch, which means I need to have it planted out in the coming weeks so when winter does come, I have food to eat. One weekend will be entirely setting up the patch then each week I will spend an hour weeding and doing any maintenance work. I only have two small raised beds compared to an acre of veggies which took 2 -3 hours daily of my time.
- Organise your time daily/weekly and of course seasonally. Set yourself up with a spreadsheet to show the tasks that are repetitious each week so you can keep on top of your workload.
YOU & YOUR FAMILY
- How are the changes going to effect everyone?
- Is everyone willing to get involved? If you making the big move to a large farm with animals and a garden. Think about tasks the little ones can do?
- Are you planning a family? Having a baby on a farm in a rural area can be a little daunting, where is your closest hospital, what are the schools like? Are there baby sitters, family, friends to support you through this time?
- What roles are each member of the family going to take? Who is still working bringing in the income, who is taking care of the property and animals?
- Are you a social creature? Do you need good food around you, friends, family? What community groups can you be involved in?
- Can you leave the farm for a night or even a week? Who will look after the place if you have livestock, chooks, gardens? Be prepared that you may not be able to just pack your bags and go on holidays.
I am sure that there are many more questions you should ask yourself about making the change to the simple life. To me the most important thing is that everything takes time, start with one project and then ace it and then add another until you build up. Don’t just dive in, you will find yourself overwhelmed and your list of things to do will be never ending.
We are living a very small-scale suburban block ‘simple life’ for the moment which sees me cooking, looking after my daughter, keeping the veggies alive and running the house. Eventually we will move so that we can then add chooks back into the equation. Step by step we are rebuilding our frugal life.
Do you have any questions I should add to the list about living a simple life? Or are you thinking about making the move yourself??