Living this lifestyle here has made me see why it has been so seductive for people to get caught up in the mechanisation of the modern world.
Most working people today are so time poor that providing at least some of their own food has become unrealistic. As well, in the past 50 years or so, improvements in agricultural production and distribution have become so effective that even foods relatively easy to grow in the garden are being bought from supermarkets or other shops. The world has become so urbanised that most Australians now live in cities where people are increasingly busy in paid and unpaid work.
Such an intense commitment of time to this single activity has led to a world dominated by a “fast” life, and fast food in particular. It takes a lot of time to garden and run poultry to supply the household with fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, chicken and other meats. After nearly two years of the retired life I am a long way from achieving this aim, but I haven't given up.
Here, everything we eat has to come from our own stored food. Every cooked meal is a meal that I, or a press-ganged guest, have cooked. To be able to produce nutritious and sustaining food every day with no recourse to a corner shop or fast food outlet requires organisation. I have developed a system of going on a shopping foray to town once every two weeks, and this is more often than I’d like. To achieve this means planning a menu two weeks in advance and making sure all the items I need are on the shopping list.
The system requires large storage space for dry goods, refrigeration for cold goods and large freezer space for the frozen food, including a two-week supply of bread and milk as well as meat for our five dogs.
There’s a lot of thinking time required to achieve this lifestyle. And there’s the time required for daily cooking and cleaning up. It is very helpful, of course, to be able to pick things fresh every day from the garden, and to be able to use the eggs our chooks have laid.
I would say that I spend about three hours every day on these activities. Keeping a productive garden, looking after laying hens and our other animals requires a further two-three hours each day. All in all, life here is labour and time-intensive. Not the kind of life I could have lived while working full-time.
It is the kind of life that was more common 50 or 60 years ago. I suspect it will necessarily become more common in the future because of the crises of global warming and peak oil which will combine to threaten our food security. This in turn, will motivate more and more people to provide at least some of their own food. It is truly a joyful thing to watch your own potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables developing day by day.
By the way, the Giant has left the premises. The view of the Little People has prevailed and the Giant has conceded that his Big Powerful Things were unwanted and unnecessary. Sanity rules and bubbly is being drunk.