Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pioneer Living

Have you ever thought about how our grandparents or our great grandparents lived without all the modern conveniences we take for granted?

You don't have to live like the Amish to be a pioneer or to live a rural, self sustaining lifestyle. It takes work, lots of it. It's not a lifestyle to be taken on by the weak of heart. There's plenty of small things you can do to become more like the pioneers that founded our country. Simple things like reducing what you buy and consume by producing those things for yourself.

Examples of this lifestyle are as such-
-cooking for yourself not only with a gas or electric stove, but outside, with wood.
-doing tasks such as grinding your coffee and processing your foods without electric gadgets. 
-growing at least some of the food you consume
-recycling/reusing items for other things instead of throwing them away

These are just a few small things you can do and aren't at all difficult.

Choosing a more simple lifestyle is a good start toward a smaller eco-foot print kind of life.  We've been conditioned over the years to be consumers instead of producers.  We rely on outside supplies for everything in our lives.  Then, out of the blue, some sort of disaster hits us.  Anything from a natural disaster to who knows what kind of man made trouble and we find ourselves without all those things we take for granted every day.  Electricity, running water, a grocery store full of food.  Gas stations and convenience stores just waiting for us to spend, spend, spend.  What if it all disappeared?  Could you feed yourself?  Could you stay warm and dry during a horrible, frozen winter?  Our ancestors did all those things for themselves.  Fed themselves from nothing.  Kept themselves warm and dry when the snow was 5' deep and town was 20 miles away in a horse drawn wagon.  No electric, no internet and no texting!

Suddenly, learning some pioneer style skills doesn't seem like such a bad idea, eh?  Maybe it's time to find a few minutes to learn some of those old world, basic skills that helped us get to where we are now.......
Pioneer living. What does that mean? For a few years now, it seems to be something people are really interested in. For me, that's not very surprising. I'm in the trenches tho, struggling every day to keep ahead of my bills. LOL, I hardly have any and I can't keep em paid! Utilities and a small mortgage, no loans or credit cards and I'm struggling. Life is much harder now that 10 years ago. Is it really or does it just seem like it is? I think it is. With commodity prices as high as they are, I wonder how others around me make it.

I kicked off the “normal” several years back. I chose to stop being a full time consumer for several reasons. Mostly, my decision was due to what I consider to be the horrible state of food in our country. Eh, my opinion of the grocery store with it's shelves of boxes and plastic bags, piles of meat for sale that comes from some factory farm only God knows where... eh, you get the picture. A rant for another day. Anyway, I had health problems and I was determined to fix those problems by eating healthier, natural foods. How do I get those foods? I could have chosen to find a better grocery store and pay crazy, high prices for what I wanted to eat or... I could grow them for myself. At the time, I was planning on feeding a family of 4. No sense in me eating healthier and the hubby and kids eating what I considered to be junk food. Huge undertaking that was with a steep learning curve! And, of course, I took plenty of ribbing from friends and neighbors. Even a few strangers with the off handed comments about me trying to be uber-amish etc. I just laughed, yah, ha ha, and kept working on developing my own thing. I was never one to want to be like others. I always will be myself with my own ideas. LOL Guess I just suck at being a follower! Thus began my whole adventure toward living a more “pioneer life”.

There's plenty of information out there to get ideas from. Our countrys history is full of little anecdotes from our own pioneering period. “Taming the West”, LOL, ruining it is more like it! There are places in the “civilized” world right now where people live just fine without electricity, running water and all those things we take for granted every day. How do they do it? Actually, it's quite simple. To start with, their priorities are different. They spend all their time producing things instead of consuming. Their lives are rural and beautifully simple. What they don't have time or space to produce, they trade for with others around them that do produce what is needed. Their entire existence is different than the present day, civilized “American” way. What's the “American” way you ask? Hmmm, just go out shopping on Black Friday and you'll see exactly what I mean.....

The first aspect of providing for yourself is food. We've got to have it, every day. Now myself, just feeding me, I can cover myself up with plenty of food in a well composted 10x20 garden bed. If I really wanted to just eat vegan and be happy with it, that garden spot would be plenty good. Alas, I am an omnivore and I like me a nice hunk of meat. So, I raise critters and I hunt. I'm also frugal (another word for cheap) and I can squeeze that nickel until the buffalo's nose bleeds! Most of the time I really have to be that way or I can't pay those pesky utility bills. Hence the need to learn to butcher for myself. Yes, it's nasty and messy. Yes, the first couple of times I did a lousy job but no matter how you look at it, it's food. Pretty or not, it's still food and I did it myself. The best part of this whole thing is I'm eating. With a part time, minimum wage job, I'm eating without public assistance (link, snap, whatever they call it now). Would it be easier if I just buckled in and went down to sign up for public aid? Sure it would be. But then, I would be defeating the whole purpose of taking care of myself and doing it for myself. Just the idea of government aid chaps my whole being. I'm just stubborn like that I guess.

So, since you've read this far, you know I'm not “off grid” yet. Solar and wind power where I live isn't the most efficient but it can be done. Alas, those things take money and money is something I just don't have. So, I am trapped in the endless loop of scraping by to pay the utility company for something I could provide for myself if I had the start up money. “Sigh” a sore spot for me, no doubt. Getting off the “utility tit” is another way to live a more pioneering life. Save you a ton of money in the long run too!

Something else I do to provide a replacement ofcommercial products for myself. I make soap. I use what I make every day and even use it for laundry. I stopped buying commercial laundry soap several years ago. It is my personal opinion that clothes last longer washed in the detergent I'm making for myself. Plus, there's no smelly perfumes in it. I tend farm animals and I hunt. Those stinky perfumes in commercial laundry soaps cling to your clothing for days. The animals can smell that and it carries on the wind. By eliminating the stinky commercial soap smells, I have also eliminated the need for those expensive scent blockers deer hunters waste money on every hunting season. I actually just go out and sit in my tree stand in the same clothes I do my farm chores in and I never fail to get a deer. It always cracks me up, every year, all those fancy hunters outfits walking around come deer season. Do you think Joe Homesteader 150 years ago had him a special, fancy set of clothes to go hunting in? Not likely! If Joe didn't bag a deer, his family starved. He did the job, you can bet on that! Jane Homesteader washed clothes with the same lye soap I make. Huh, go figure, LOL It is time consuming and involves caustic materials (that can be made) but it's worth it.

The most important thing you can do in your journey to like a more “pioneering” lifestyle is to change the way you think. Society has been conditioned over the past 200 years to be more “civilized”. That word IMO, is evil because it undermines every aspect of natural life. Don't butcher for yourself, it's cruel. Go to the grocery store and buy it, it's a much more acceptable behavior. Grow grass in your front yard, the pretty green carpet is more pleasing and it makes your home look just like your neighbors. It's a much more acceptable behavior. Let's make a law that says you can't keep chickens in town because that one old lady hates the sound of roosters crowing. Now, go pay $3 a dozen for eggs at the grocery store because it makes our neighborhood more quiet. Stop going with the flow and accepting it just because “society” thinks you should be just like your neighbor. Think for yourself and do for yourself. Adapt and overcome. That's the pioneering way!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing.

    I grow on a small scale on an allotment plot. I am so glad to have stumbled upon your blog and absolutely amazed to learn that you even grow your own coffee and tabacco.

  2. Welcome mangocheeks! I'll be doing a whole series on both this spring.

  3. We are trying to get back to the basics; both I and my husband were raised in a rural environment, me being raised on a blueberry farm in Oregon, and him in Woodland Park, Co where we live now. This is truly our heart. Thank you for all the great information.


Comments always welcome