On Self-Sufficiency: Hubbard vs. Hayes
Sunday, December 05, 2010
One of my hobbies is reading autobiographies, journals, and handbooks on thrift and “self-sufficiency.” I was reading Payne Hollow Journal by Harlan Hubbard last night and something about the guy bothered me. He wrote about all the various tasks of “simple living” in tune with the seasons and the land: gathering and chopping wood, gardening and gleaning, animal husbandry, and painting and observing nature, with some musical evenings and infrequent trips to town for minor shopping and cultural events. Sounds nice doesn’t it?
He also related how he was really out of sorts before and after a visit of any length to another’s home or anyone’s visit to his home. He mused on how he was able to act cordial until the second either he or they were out the door and then he was back to his previous grumpy mood.
I couldn’t pinpoint what was bothering me—depressing me really—about Hubbard’s worldview. That was until I started reading Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. To paraphrase her description of a Radical Homemaker, all “radical homemakers” were able to do a lot of things that enabled them to live on one income and save money by not needing it, but none of them could, or tried, to do everything.
Although Mr. Hubbard’s prose was wonderful, his outlook was too self-sufficient. He observed the natural world as interconnected, but he was emotionally disconnected from the greater world around him, which included people (with the exception of his wife) and just about anything that happened in town! The key things that the Radical Homemakers had in common, besides all being great cooks, were their ability to connect with each other. They were interdependent. They all valued and nurtured community and relationships. They helped each other and learned from each other, and it made their lives richer and more satisfying.
Last year, a friend of mine found a good deal on beef, and we bought a side of beef together. This week, my neighbor gave me two shopping bags of vegetables she didn’t want from her winter vegetable share from a local CSA. Last night, I made a big pot of beef vegetable soup for my family. That pot of soup that fed my family was really a group effort with two other families!
Are you doing everything you know how to be thrifty and self-sufficient and still not succeeding? Perhaps you are failing because you are trying to do too much alone! Begonia
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Thursday, December 09, 2010 | By MzScarlett
making mixes ahead of time; and cooking and making enough to feed for a month; I used to do with a friend and neighbor as we both worked. We would shop, and then once or twice a month would get together and spend the day making the mixes; and then cooking, cooling, wrapping and freezing so that it was all ready to simply take out of the freezer! We had great fun together getting it done; and it was enjoyable and rewarding not to mention saving a great deal of stress and money in our lives to have it ready and done for us!
Many people are unaware of how to do it; how rewarding it would be if they trained this in the schools!
You are so kind MzScarlett
Thursday, December 09, 2010 | By begonia
What a wonderful example of working together and having fun! I used to can applesauce with a dear friend and we always had a good time.
My New Year's resolution is to put more meals in the freezer and plan my meals so that I am shopping only twice a month--apart from bananas and dairy products. I want to cut down on trips to the grocery store and save money by not eating out or making special trips to the store here in town for anything but super sale items! We'll see how it goes!
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