I complain about the heat….a lot. Mostly, that’s because I don’t have a lot of other stuff to complain about. My wife and I live on a 6.25 acre homestead in NW Georgia, with 6 dogs, 4 cats, 8 goats, 2 cows, 2 miniature donkeys, 8 ducks, 7 turkeys, 30 something rabbits, and upwards of 50 chickens. In the spirit of full disclosure, the livestock population goes up and down with the seasons and space in our freezer.
We need more shade trees for the pastures. I guess I could complain about that.
We have a garden that provides food for us and some for the animals. We don’t have an automatic watering system, so I have to drag garden hoses around and they love to get tangled on things. Sometimes I complain about that.
Our house could use some new siding and there’s often fence to repair (weird thing about farm fences. One day there’s no hole, the next day there they are. I blame aliens). I could complain about that.
My car has a big dent in the side where someone backed into it and just drove away. It’s not attractive. My wife’s truck needs a new fuel filter and two of our vehicles have broken air conditioners. That’s annoying.
Yep, if we search hard enough, we can all find something to complain about. But the fact is, my wife and I have to really search to do so. We have no mortgage at the bank. We owe nothing on our cars. My morning commute is about 50 feet (from the back porch to the barn). My wife has a home based business, so she has to walk 48 feet to get from the bed to her soap studio.
We didn’t have to go to the grocery store at all this week.
Our life is not always easy. The work can be very physically demanding and sometimes the bank account is running on fumes, but we love our simple, sustainable, lifestyle. We both love what we do. My wife makes handcrafted milk soaps, scented candles and other natural body products. The business grows daily and is about to go viral. Check her out at www.yellowbarnsoap.com, or on Facebook at Yellow Barn Soap Studio.
I farm, write books, and coach other people in how to farm, garden and simplify their lives and lifestyles spiritually, financially and career wise.
As recently as three years ago, we were ‘living the American Dream’ with a big house in the suburbs, huge mortgage, and a two hour a day commute with all the trimmings. I had a well-paying, highly stressful job in Corporate America. We had also started farming in our suburban back yard and on land we rented from a friend at Church. I had twitches and tics from the stress. I couldn’t sleep. I went through a series of heart tests, including wearing a heart monitor 24/7 for a month. The doctor told me my choices were either de-stress, go on antianxiety medications, or die.
Dying didn’t sound all that appealing, and I hate medication. I am way too much of a control freak to use chemicals to regulate me, so I opted for door number 3 and decided to de stress.
It took a while to decide on our priorities and create a plan, but we did it. We found a worn out Emu farm out in the country that was in foreclosure and purchased it. My wife did some renovations to the old, but livable trailer, we fixed the barn and cross fenced the property and moved in. We still have a lot of rehabbing to do on the farm, but it’s worth the effort.
We put our house on the market. It took longer that we wanted to sell it and we had to take money to the closing table, but we got out from under it. We were working our plan. We had hoped to totally unhook from the corporate drip by the end of 2015, but my company decided on some restructuring and eliminated a number of Director and VP positions. I was eliminated.
That was one of the most frightening, liberating days of my life. Did I mention I’m 57 years old, in a bad job market? We weren’t ready for the ‘arm bands’ to be removed, but here we were in the deep end and it was swim or drown. We’re swimming.
We’re still growing, still learning, but the tics are gone, our health is better, and the biggest thing I have to complain about is August in Georgia…or a Braves losing streak. Life is good; and getting better.
What about you? What steps have you taken to simplify your life or make it more sustainable? We’d love to hear about it. While you’re at it, please follow this blog and join the adventure. Let’s change the world together.
Books by Sam Burton