Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Minimalism vs. the farm (vs. my brain)

The last few weeks I have been on a decluttering drive and it has made a huge difference to our home. I have vastly scaled back in the kitchen, the book collection, my yarn stash (all that acrylic has gone to a better place where it will be made into something beautiful) and now I am moving on to our wardrobes, again.

As I am clearing however, I feel a certain unease. Many of the things that I own serve a useful purpose - the kitchen equipment, the craft materials, gardening bits and bobs. When I peruse other blogs, where people are settled into their smallholdings and self reliant lifestyles, they do seem to be surrounded by an awful lot of stuff. Tools, books, craft materials, bake ware, canning equipment, extra linens and clothing...all seem necessary if you are going to have a degree of self reliance and sufficiency. Which is making me wonder - do I really want that lifestyle? I love the idea of producing our own food, tending animals, hand crafting many of the things we need in our day to day lives. But does that mean I will have to maintain lots of stuff? Is it that the more skills I learn, the more equipment I will need; and the bigger the space I will need to accommodate it all?

I love my new found lack of stuff - I have enough that I can live a simple lifestyle in a small terraced house in the city. But the part of me that has an eye on possible power cuts and economic disruption in the not too distant future is less sanguine about throwing out that second hand-cranked torch and extra layers of clothing, 'just in case'. Then there is the incredibly optimistic part of me, scouting the horizon for our 'farm' with a veg patch and pantry and workshop, that wants to keep the maslin pan and perhaps invest in some more cookware and knitting needles, for when the time comes.

Decluttering is temporarily halted. My brain is about to explode.


  1. I totally understand your thinking! I started off wanting the 'simple life' in the country, growing my own vegetables etc, but 5 years into this I know that's exactly what I don't want.

    I want a simple life in/near a city with a small home and few possessions; I love city life and I was kidding myself that I wanted something different - also a my back would not cope with gardening!! lol

    I don't think there's one way to live a simple life and to me being self sufficient seems anything but simple.

  2. I think I overthink things! Apart from the uneasy feeling, my life has only benefited from getting rid of stuff so far. I think the balance lies in focusing on the activities that you love (for example, gardening or crafts) and ensuring that you have adequate workspace and storage to pursue that comfortably. I think also that when you live in a family unit, you have to accomodate others interests and some of the paraphanalia that goes with it. So I have continued to declutter today, but I'm now not ruling out that we may want more stuff (and more space) in the future. I'll just make sure that it is important, life enriching stuff (with adequate storage) next time!