The 'why' in the plan

Why? Why do I want to live off the grid, in the back country, growing my own food, and working outside all day? Why, oh, why? Yeah, you probably already know the answer to this because you have that same feeling in the pit of your stomach, the same feeling that I will describe for you in five bulletin points. You got it, The Five Reasons I Want to Live In the Country, and no, having a horse or being a horse 'person' is not on that list. Sorry horse people.

1. Hearing the song Mushaboom*

Years ago, in high-school, I had a friend who lived in the country, an hour outside of Ottawa, where I grew up. Her parents had the cutest place on a small lake with a big garden, and we would go there and party mostly, but we would also drink tea and look out the big windows and listen to old records, and it was great. And before that, in primary school, my best friend and I would watch Martha Stewart marathons and we both wanted to be her so badly. Well, her, but cooler. Wanting to be Martha and live how my friend did in the country did not formalize into a homesteading dream until I heard Mushaboom. I'm pretty sure I was living in Northern BC at the time, and that song spoke to me, I thought Leslie Feist wrote it for me. Like she stepped into my mind and pulled out all of my dreams I hadn't dreamt yet and wrote a song about it. The dirt rode, knee deep snow, watching the fire as we grow? That was it, I was sold. And then the staff at the pub where I worked, put the song on the evening playlist and I listened to it on repeat for five years, forever cementing that dream in my mind. And it wasn't until years later, when I met my partner, that I realized that dream was possible.

2. Being an environmentalist

 Another book I enjoyed reading, while off from work.

Another book I enjoyed reading, while off from work.

I know that I am not alone in my struggle to reconcile in my mind the impact that my existence has on earth and the life of comfort and gratification that we live. You see, for every day I drive to work, for every time I put something in the garbage, for every hour I have the lights on, I feel guilty. I do. Those that know me, know this is true. And I am sure that most of you feel the same way deep down when you read about the impact that humans have on this planet and the irreversible changes we have made to it. (I won't list all of these terrible things, you know what they are, don't pretend you don't know.)

Over a year ago I threw my back out. Awesome, right? Turn thirty and you have to go on disability for throwing your back out. Anywho, while I was at home, I had a lot of time to think. And think I did. I did the thinking you do not usually do from day-to-day because life is busy so there always seems to be something more important to think about. I thought about why I am not living a life that is in line with my values. Yeah, that hard thinking.  I thought I could sleep at night knowing I had recycled that day, but that was no longer enough. During my time off, I read books that had information about all the harmful chemicals in our world and what we can do to change that. I read about everything you could possible imagine on the comforts of our modern world and its impact on the environment, and I did not feel overwhelmed by it, I felt energized, I felt excited to start living my life according to my values. I was no longer going to talk the talk, I was going to walk the walk. 

So my partner listened to my excited rants on the various topics I was reading about, and he was upset too about how we can live so blind to the consequences of lifestyle choices. Sure, he had lived in the country, and he wanted that life again, but now he was excited to live a low impact life that was in line with his values too.

3. Worried my 9 to 5 job will lead to an early grave

 This is a guest bed I helped build.

This is a guest bed I helped build.

I may like the work that I do, but I definitely know it isn't going to lead to a long life. Let's be serious here. My grandfather lived until he was 96, but he worked for. Every day of his adult life he rolled out of bed and did a hundred push-ups. When he was six, he walked in the snow to the school house and started the fire for the day, then walked home, had breakfast, and walked back for class. He worked a job where he was not at a desk for eight hours a day, but instead he was building things that required physical effort, all day. He lived to be 96 because he was strong and healthy. And I my friends, am not. I know, the back injury gave it away. 

But that back injury was from sitting down for at least 50% of my waking hours. That back injury was due to the living a sedentary life. And it scares me. I am pretty sure that we are not made to sit in front of computers all day. Sure I love an Excel formula as much as the next guy, but I also want to live to be eighty or even nine-six. So that is another reason why I want to live in the country and grow our own food. I want to feel alive. I want to use my body every day to do valuable work.** Our lives of comfort and convenience are not helping us in the long run, but you already know that.

4. The only way to know what is in your food is to grow it

 Our garden in Northern Alberta with our guard cat.

Our garden in Northern Alberta with our guard cat.

I am a label reader. I not only want to know what is in my food, but what is in the packaging my food comes in, and what is in the pots and pans I use to cook my food. Most of us can't even fathom that there is anything else in our food other than what the label says, but there is. And gosh, I will really start to sound ranty if I get in to it, but just go to your library to read up on it if you want to know more. 

So the one way that I can know with certainty what is in or or around my food is to grow it and prepare it myself. ALL of it. From scratch. And how else can I do that than on a farm with goats, chickens, and a big garden. I look forward to everything being 100% organic, local, and fresh. I can geek out all day every day on the abundance from my own garden.

5. Not living the consumerist lifestyle

This is a recent 'why'  on my list of why I want to live in the country. After starting to read Mr.Money Mustache a couple of years ago, it really struck a cord with me. I really do have this feeling deep down, that all these fancy luxury items in our lives are not providing any added sense of fulfillment.  And that is what he writes about. I agreed with his philosophy that the harder you have to work in your life, the more satisfying life will be. He says it much better than that on his blog, but that is a lose translation of the gist of it. He is basically my idol. But that is for another post.

Since that fateful blog reading day, part of the reason why I want to live in the country, and away from the city, is to be away from the consumerist lifestyle. To be happy with less, and to actually live with less. I want to do more and be rewarded by my actions with food that I have grown myself or a house I have heated myself or clothes I have sown myself.  I feel like our lives are so saturated with consumerism, that we can't see it any more and it is considered the norm like the air we breath, and I don't want that to be what I am surrounded by for the rest of my life. And the good news is that our neighbours in Vavenby share the same values and they don't just talk the talk, but they walk the walk.


And there you have it. The 'why' in all of this. I hope it didn't come off as too preachy. These are our choices, and they aren't for everyone. But certainly a lot of people are feeling the same way. They say there is another back to the land movement for our generation (Y, I think) where people are looking to live fulfilling happy lives in the country. I am not sure I am for a commune from that time, but I would like the commun-ity.

*I found another blog where the blogger was also inspired by Fiest's Mushaboom. I don't want anyone to think I stole this idea. My jaw dropped when I first read this on her blog. I was floored. My friend's from when I worked at the pub over five years ago can attest to this truth of my love of Mushaboom and picturing myself starting a fire in my house in the country with little tater totts growing up. I promise, this was an independent and not plagiarized thought.The other blog is by Mrs.Frugalwoods. I actually emailed her and told her we were twins and I probably freaked her out. She was really sweet and replied though. Her blog is fantastic. She and her husband have similar dreams to my partner and I. They remind me of Helen and Scott Nearing: two vegans from the 1930s who left New York to live in Vermont and grow all their own food and live off of their maple syrup sales. Her writing is so great that it is a joy to read.

**Man, I really hope that I like hard work. Last summer my partner and I were building planter boxes for our home up North and I complained that that was the hardest I have ever worked. He laughed. He thinks I am in for a rude awakening when I get down to Vavenby, and he is probably right. I look forward to challenging myself and growing some muscles! Bah, I say, Bah!