Monday, January 15, 2007

It Isn't Really Hard

Sometimes we are on water rations. Sometimes the road is rough and we park in the front and walk the quarter mile or so on up to the house. We cut wood and do most everything else with hand tools instead of engines. We raise a lot of our own food. We put up a lot of our own food. Vegetables and meat and eggs. We cook from scratch. We milk a cow, make butter and cheese for ourselves. Although we don’t grow our own wheat, we buy wheat in bulk and grind it fresh. If something happens in the house or on the farm, we aren’t jumping in the driver’s seat and on our way to town to buy a solution.

And most people think all that stuff is very inconvenient. Or that we are some sort of noble savages to choose to live like this. Or something. Anyway, whatever it is that other people might or might not think, I figured out at least part of what it really is. Any of that stuff is “hard” or “inconvenient” ONLY to the extent that we have truck with the conventional world.

Take my stint at jury duty for instance. It wasn’t hard or even all that early, but it did so happen that every day I had to go in was cold and one day it snowed. On the inconvenient side, I had to milk the cow before I could go, and since the road is its typical winter mucked up self, I had to walk the quarter mile to the car then get the frost and ice off and only then get on the road to go. But if jury duty hadn’t called me out, I wouldn’t have had to milk so early or any of the rest of that. If I don’t have to go anywhere, who cares that the car is a quarter mile away?

During my year spent working for wages, it affected farm life in that same way. What is easy when we are here and in control of our own schedule becomes more difficult when we have to meet someone else’s schedule. No matter how nice they are about it.

And I’ll tell you, even if it were more inconvenient or harder, I still would rather live on the farm. I would rather struggle and slog and have to try so hard that I don’t feel like I’m going to live through it and stay on the farm. I have no words other than it is a place that makes my heart sing.

But the thing is, I get to eat the most wonderful food, be in really good physical shape without really trying, be with people I really enjoy, do things that are productive, useful and enjoyable in themselves and that are often meditations in themselves, engage in art for life’s sake, help out neighbors, and more stuff along those lines. All the stuff that life really is about.


zane said...

Hi CG--

Your writing is lovely and you have captured this idea of how we weigh convenience in the sum of a life. I know I have friends who see what we are doing (along the lines of what you are doing) as a heroic feat of some kind. I notice the inconvenience sometimes, but so much more I feel the real resonance of life--the singing of place, as you refer to it.

I wish I could read and correspond more, but happy knowing you are out there. Will continue to follow along,


Dramaw said...

Denise, where can I buy rennet?

the Contrary Goddess said...

Thanks for the kind words Zane. I enjoy your blog too (it is lichenology in my sidebar for any unfamiliar).

dramaw, try the health food stores, or a bulk food store. Even if they don't carry it, they should be able to order it -- brand Malaka Rennet. If not, cheese supply places have it -- try Hoegger's (my favorite -- I HATEHATEHATE New England Cheese Supply! Never from there! The reason is that they try to make making cheese sound like something you need their products for. And you don't. I resent people trying to make people dependent on themselves. Plus there are any number of yankee companies I just don't like their attitude -- Fedco being another prime example).

El said...

Some of our city friends had a big party for us before we moved to the country and one woman (a very smart woman) asked us who was going to take care of our land for us, you know, mow, garden and the like. I laughed and said, "you mean, who're our people? You're looking at them!" I swear moving here is adding years to my life, not to mention time well spent NOT behind the wheel of a car or on a bus.

And there you go about Fedco again ; ) but thanks for the rennet tip! I'd ordered some from New England Cheese Supply but really would not repeat my experience.

the Contrary Goddess said...

I love the "who are your people" thing. Very funny. And I know what you mean by the adding years to your life. Enjoyable ones too.

Teri said...

I feel like that too. We moved from town back up to the woods where we have history, friends and community. Once again, I'm driving about 30 miles each way to work. And I pray for the day when it will be my turn to get to spend time at home. I make less money now and live in a small travel trailer, but I would rather do this than live in a mansion.