So what would you call this lifestyle? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hey Folks,

You may have read my recent post about the house I'm building, an updated version of an Indian earthlodge, with some influences from an Eskimo sod iglu and other sources. I settled on that design because it is the simplest structure I could think of that will meet my needs using primarily materials that are from the land: it is sufficient and simple. It exemplifies my ideals of the lifestyle I'm trying to create. I want to live directly, not through the cash economy. I want to determine what my needs for survival are, the simplest way of obtaining them directly and after that decide what luxuries are truly worth the effort needed to obtain them.

So what would you call this lifestyle? A couple of events over the last few weeks have me pondering just what I should call the lifestyle I'm trying to set up here at Ledgewood Farm.

Before I moved here, I would have been happy with the label of "Homesteading" but that doesn't seem to fit. At least not the way Homesteading' is used by many people. Many people seem to think that any house in the country with a garden and maybe some chickens or rabbits is a "Homestead". The small stock is obviously optional. To many people the garden and country are optional too. Their brand of Homesteading" is a better life than living in the city with a normal city job, but I want something more.'

"Self Sufficiency" is a big part of it, but a homeless person living off of dumpster diving is pretty "Self Sufficient" in my opinion, and in some ways I admire the lifestyle. But that's not what I'm doing either. There are a lot of people who talk about "Self Sufficiency" and only mention the "self" part. I built this my _self_,' I grew this my _self_,' I wrote the check to buy this place my _self_.' Going into the woods with an ax and building a copy of the Czar's Summer Palace to live in might need a lot of "Self," but it exceeds any reasonable definition of "Sufficiency." I want what I need to survive with a bit of comfort and only a few, well appreciated, luxuries. Most people nowadays seem to forget that running water is really a luxury. The last people who lived on this land left this earth in the 1950's or 60's. They never had electricity or running water. Now, less than a lifetime later, people think I'm crazy for not realizing that such things are necessary for human life. Have we, as a species, devolved to such an extent in such a short time?

"Survivalist" implies to many people a somewhat paranoid person with a bunch of guns and a fallout shelter in the back yard. I do have some things in common with many Survivalist' types. I find much of the information written for "Survivalists" useful, but most "Survivalists" are preparing for some future calamity, I'm looking for a way to live now, every single day.

"Hermit" doesn't quite fit either. It's true that much of American Society has little of interest to offer me, but I haven't given up hope on people on an individual basis. I actively seek contacts, but primarily with like-minded people.

"Simple Living" is a term gaining in usage. Again, it's part of what I'm aiming for, but not a very precise label. One can live "Simply" in a small apartment in the inner city. I respect those who do so, but we would have little in common to talk about.

So what does a label matter? I know there are other people out there who share my goals. I'm posting this here because I know at least some of those people are here, and it's likely others are who "lurk" here but seldom post. While talking to a few other like-minded people about this the subject of creating a new on-line group came up. Among the troubles with creating such a group are what to call it and how to attract people who understand and share the same ideas and ideals.

I know many of you will say, "You don't need another group, continue posting here." and "Of course it's homesteading' we don't need to all use the exact same definition." The trouble with that is my time and electrical power are limited. I'm active on four or five different groups, hoping to find the information, support and comradery I want. On some of the groups less than 1 post in 25 is of interest to me, or fits my lifestyle in any way. I don't want to have to wade through cookie recipes and post about how cute the new puppy is to find the one or two that fit my lifestyle. I have better things to do with my time. I also don't want to have to post the same questions to 4 or 5 groups hoping for a meaningful reply. The almost complete lack of response I've gotten one some lists recently is a clear indication that I am out of alignment with some groups of homesteaders.' Please keep in mind that I'm saving time by posting this to multiple groups and the last comment may not apply to this group. I've talked with a couple of people via email that seem to feel the same way. I'm guessing that there are lurkers' out there that would be more likely to become active on a group that fit their needs better too.

Please understand that I'm not putting anybody down or complaining in any way. I'm only saying that the groups I'm posting this to contain some people with similar interests, but they seem to be in the minority. A group with a tighter focus will meet my needs better, and I assume the needs of at least a few others. When I have a comment or question that fits this wider audience, I will return here.

I'll leave it up to you, as individuals, to either reply here or send email to me at: . I would assume that talking about this lifestyle fits the charter and goals of this group, but "let me know when you start the group" type posts would probably be better by direct email to me. I've probably plugged my web site enough, but here it is again: I'll be redoing the whole web site soon, so if that address doesn't work, go to Ledgewood Consulting's home page and click on the farm link.



-- paul (, August 26, 2000


hi Paul, great question. No, we don't all want or need to raise goats, or tan our own hides to be considered self-sufficient or homesteaders. I like the term "voluntary simplicity". It can take in all of us who are making a conscious effort to draw away from the rat-race, consumer-driven culture, all of us who are looking for something more in our lives than just a paycheck. When I was in my '20's I found TMEN and longed to adopt the lifestyle. At the time, I was living on an acre, raising my own meat and vegetables, baking bread, and raising kids (human and caprine). I thought I wouldn't be "homesteading" until I was on a hundred or so acres and completely off the grid. Now, MANY years later, I realize I was already homesteading and didn't know it. I think the Countryside Philosophy states it well --a belief that the primary reward of work should be well-being rather than money. I have found a lifestyle that gives me that sense of well-being. As is also stated, it's not a single idea, but many ideas and attitudes. Don't give up on those of us who call ourselves homesteaders but don't look or sound just like you. It's in the heart, not the trappings. Melina

-- Melina Bush (, August 26, 2000.

Hi Paul, how about practical, no frills living? Uh, no, that's redundant. Practical sufficiency? Practical living?

-- Annie (, August 26, 2000.

Paul: How about YOUR lifestyle. The words are pretty meaningless anyway. I like to look at us as a community. It has a broader feel than a group. Good luck to you!!....Kirk

-- Kirk Davis (, August 26, 2000.

Logistical Living.

Pauline in NC.

-- Pauline (, August 27, 2000.

What do you need a label for anyway? A label will just define parameters, limit your box. Just be, just do, just live. Enjoy!

-- snoozy (, August 27, 2000.

How bout "happily eccentric" or "if it feels good, do it" .

-- Jay Blair (, August 27, 2000.

Per your comments: I don't want to have to wade through cookie recipes and post about how cute the new puppy is to find the one or two that fit my lifestyle. I have better things to do with my time. I also don't want to have to post the same questions to 4 or 5 groups hoping for a meaningful reply. The almost complete lack of response I've gotten one some lists recently is a clear indication that I am out of alignment with some groups of homesteaders.'

..Please understand that I'm not putting anybody down or complaining in any way

How does "arrogant" sound? Or is that just your post, not your lifestyle???

With all due respect,

-- sheepish (, August 27, 2000.

Paul , I think it's impossible to find a group that will share all your interests . I also think it would be very boring if everyone thought the same as me . We learn so much from different people with different views and lifestyles .

I also think you need to think before you write . The pen 'or keyboard ' is mightier than the sword .Lots of things said can be taken to heart .I think many of as a group sometimes may become defensive with quotes such as 'how cute the puppy is and cookie jars recipes and YOU donnn't have the time .

We all come here because we love this site , and find a kinship with most others here .All that is written is not of interest to me but might be to someone else .Therefore I don't read it .I hope you find what you are looking for .~Patty

-- Patty (, August 27, 2000.

Hey Paul, that last post of mine sounded a little snotty! Sheesh. Having a bad day over here I guess. Ok, let me try that again! I guess I got a little defensive b/c there are so many of us who care for each other on this forum....irrespective of puppies, recipes, religious and political positions, etc. We all have signed on for the "good" as well as the "bad". (Read "interesting" as well as "boring").

Some of us here are stuck with aging parents, bad marriages, stupid investments, incorrigible kids, etc. On some days it seems the only good things happening are happening on this forum. Please understand that all of us homestead as best as we can...whatever our definition.

Guess I was just getting my hackles up in response to what I perceived was kind of a commentary on how unworthy our non- homesteading lives must seem to those who are free to do other things. Looking back, I can see that I was off base. It was me who was being arrogant!

With that in mind, please accept my apology! And best of luck to you!

-- sheepish (, August 27, 2000.

Actually, Sheepish, I picked up on the arrogance, too, and I don't think you are off the mark at all. And, Paul, as I re-read your post, I think hermitage is the correct description, meaning a voluntary withdrawal from society. Curmudgeonitude would work, too, if you have a sense of humor anywhere...

-- snoozy (, August 28, 2000.

First let me say that I wrote a long reply to Sheepish's first post. When I went to send it I rechecked my email first and found his or her (Sorry Sheepish, I have probably read enough of your posts to know what gender to use, but don't recall right now.) apology. I then decided to send a note to him/her via email instead of to this forum. I had accepted his/her apology, but I may have been in error to have done so--that implies I also accept the need for the apology and that I don't. I was not offended by Sheepish's post because I felt it was based on a misreading of what I said--that's easy enough to do. No offence taken, no need to apologize. Since it seems others have also misread my post, I will respond here.

Let me try it this way: One of the email lists I'm on has nearly 400 members. In any given week maybe 5% or 10% of the members post something. I don't know how many members are on other lists, but there are over half a dozen homesteading' email list now. Then there are a number of forums like this. There is no way even for the owners of the server to get a real count of how many individuals read the forums regularly, but extracting from the number of posts and assuming the 5% or 10% of readers post, it's a large number. Even when you figure on people who, like myself, are active on several groups, the number of people with an active interest in homesteading who are active on the Internet is well into the 1000's. (At least two people who responded by email said they don't like to post to such a large audience.)

This group, and the other's I'm on, are great the way they are for many of these people. I've enjoyed them myself, or I wouldn't be here now. However none of the groups I know of quite fit my current needs. And from the responses I've gotten there are some others who feel the same. If I had asked this group to change, I would have been selfish. If I had expected or demanded it change because that is what I want, I would have indeed been arrogant. That's not what I asked for or what I want.

What I wanted to know was two things: "Homesteading" is a very broad term as used today. What would be a better term to more precisely call the lifestyle I'm aiming for? The second question is: Are there enough other people out there interested in the same lifestyle to for a new on-line community to serve that group.

I tried to make it clear that I was not criticizing this or any other group or people who's interests are in the broader definition of "Homesteading." If any body still feels that I have done so, please accept my apology.

Yesterday I downloaded a copy of Thoreau's "Walden." It's been a while since I read it, but my recent trying to define my lifestyle brought it back to mind. Somebody on another forum responded to my post using Thoreau's quote "I went into the woods to live deliberately." (that's from memory, so might not be exact.) and my use of the term "minimalist" to suggest "Deliberate Minimalist." That's the best answer I've had yet. I'm not suggesting that anybody else, let alone everybody, live like this. I'm not even claiming I'll make it any longer than Thoreau's two years. But the better I can define it and name it, the easier it is to explain to others and the more likely it will be for me to find others with similar interests.

I responded to Patty's post directly to her, but I'll repeat part of it here roughly: I consider it good luck that I have never met anybody that agrees with everything I think. I would indeed find that useless and boring--and probably irritating. What I'm looking for is people who share my goals and ideas a bit more closely than those who fit under the broad label of "homesteader." I just don't have the time to filter through such a diverse group's messages, but feel there may be enough people who share my goals and my desire for a more focused group.

Anyhow, Thank you, everybody still reading this, for your time and thoughts.


-- paul (, August 28, 2000.

I haven't had the opportunity to read everything yet - I'm downloading to read off-line when/if I find time. Maybe that says I'm also having some of the same problems you see - this forum alone has grown enormously since I started following it, and there are others of which I can say the same thing.

The term I've seen which comes closest to what I'm looking for is "self-reliance". Even that has to come with an explanation. I saw it expressed very well on the old "Time Bomb 2000" forum. Basically, many people use the term "self-sufficient", but no-one above the level of a neolithic hunter-gatherer is sufficient entirely unto themselves, and not many of those (every tribe had its flint-knapper; people who did it best would tend to specialise in spear-making or flint-knapping or whatever). But we can strive for a measure of self- reliance - that is, doing as much for ourselves as we reasonably can, and taking pride in the fact that we can rely on ourselves. It's more a matter of attitude and approach than of re-creating a 21st Century infrastructure (or as much of it as we find desirable) in our own backyard.

-- Don Armstrong (, August 29, 2000.

Remember a few years back in issues of Countryside, people were talking about the INTERNET, this new thing. So many answered and said "no way, don't need computers, Not me, Never". Well now look at how wonderful it is, information and knowledge is something we can have now, about anything. I was one of those who wanted to walk into the woods and live, just live, amoung the trees and animals, and build my cabin and leave the whole outside world alone. Its just something thats in us, in our hearts. Some want it and some don't. Homesteading is being as close as we possible can to taking care of ourselves with whatever resources we have. But I don't want to do without my computer now, times have changed. I need all the help so many have to offer me. And I have a satalite dish too, some would think I am spoiled, but there is information there and learning too. I may not NEED them to survive but I most certainly will be smarter in the years to come if I use them to learn what I need to know. And I like people, I would not now want to be all alone, I would go nuts at wanting some intellegent conversation. Good luck in all that you want to do, each one of us has our own level of homesteading, and thats ok. Go for whatever goals you have set and just be yourself.

-- Cindy in KY (, August 29, 2000.

Feng Shui

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Paul, Believe it or not, your way is trusted by a considerable number of people. They believe they are always lucky in life by virtue of Feng Shui. The ancient Oriental art of achieving harmony through careful placement of objects, in the home, garden, work place or auto. Exploring the influence of Feng Shui thinking on architecture and home design, of the wants and needs of the individual. Feng Shui, the ancient doctrine of China, is an ancient art, related to the law and order of the universe and the power of nature. It was first developed some 6,000 years ago. It's a system based on the elements of astronomy, astrology, geology, physics, mathematics, philosophy, psychology and intuition. The ancient principles of Feng Shui involve many complicated rules. However, you can incorporate some positive ways Feng Shui is supposed to be able to help you: getting a job, raise or promotion; improving health; getting married; getting pregnant or preventing miscarriages; protecting a couple from divorce; creating more harmonious family relationships; feeling free from job impression; improving business better; preventing accidents; feeling more safe in homesteading way of life.

-- James (, August 30, 2000.

Paul: How about "Nuevo Native" or "Techno Peasant"?

-- john leake (, August 30, 2000.

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