"I would think you would be really depressed if you went from this way of life back to the way we used to live," The Papa said the other day while we had lunch with friends.

Looking back at our life just over three months ago the contrasts are huge. Where once there was electricity there is now minimal solar power. Where once there was running water there is now a hose connected to a solar-powered pump (a luxury by many standards).

Our solar-powered refrigerator is the size of a very small freezer, a freezer is something we are currently living without, we go to the bathroom in a homemade composting toilet that consists of a bucket and a toilet seat, and I have not taken what y’all might consider to be a "real shower" in over three months.

But these, frankly, are things that shouldn’t matter when pondering the "how then shall we live" question. Every now and then I daydream of showers and washing machines and flushing toilets, but then I remember one of the many reasons that we are here.

Freedom.

I see it in my husband’s face when he spends his day working with his hands, building things, digging holes, preparing soil for a garden. He no longer has to pretend that what he does every day is okay even though it disconnects him from his family, his faith, and his reliance on God.

I see it in my precious children’s perspectives when they tell me they didn’t like it when Papa used to have to leave for work every day. Giving them our time, and struggling daily not to be hypocrites, is all I know of to give to them.

The Price Thereof

About 95% of the time I don’t miss the old, easier way of doing things. We were fortunate enough to start with nothing more on our land than a camper and a catch water system. The process of building up the very basic infrastructures of life is incredibly important, I think, in the process of realizing what you truly need and what, frankly, you can live without.

But that doesn’t mean that things aren’t hard sometimes, even if you can see the bigger picture.

The only food we are producing is one egg per day and a baby winter garden that won’t be ready for harvesting for quite some time. Neither of us has a job working away from the homestead. Until we are truly producing, we feed our family with the not-very-consistent proceeds from this blog, the free-lance writing and editing jobs I have done, and a very exciting new project The Papa has been working on.

There is savings, used for bigger projects or midwife payments, but we are hoping to save that for infrastructure.

When the Rubber Meets the Road

We are trying to trust the Lord to provide in every instance. But you realize really fast that saying "I trust the Lord for our provisions" is much easier when you are selling your soul to a corporation for a paycheck than it is when you actually step out of that cocoon and start making an attempt at an obedient life.

But isn’t that the point? Nothing worth anything is easy and nothing worth anything comes from staying where you are simply because it is comfortable.

And what is the point of comfort and money if it comes at the cost of true freedom in being able to live one’s life according to one’s conscience?

 

19 Responses to Agrarian Freedom, and the Price Thereof

  1. Granola Girl says:

    I miss my bathtub something awful sometimes, but when I look at the river in front of our house it tends to fade away. I marvel at the use of washing machines and dishwashers and wonder just how it was that I thought using them was normal. It is amazing what can become “normal” even though it is extravagant; yet, at the same time, what becomes normal when it feels right.

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  2. Rosalyn says:

    As someone who is just taking the very first baby steps toward a similar lifestyle (and I may never get as far as your family has, as my husband doesn’t really share the same desire) I think that what you are doing is amazing and so full of strength, hope and trust. I know He’ll see you through all of it and what better way to really become close as a family and close to God?

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  3. living simply says:

    I admire your lifestyle. I live as simply as I can on a small sustainable farm in a little cabin. I however am a bit offended that you have insulted the majority of people who read your blog in this most recent post of yours. Out of character from all other posts I have read of yours. I do not think that working a job to provide for your family is considered selling your soul to a corporation. Not everyone has property to plop a homestead on. Some people live as simply as they can with what they have. And for that I applaud them. I would not act like I was holier than thou. Your post portrays itself like this is some sort of who is simplest contest. Not cool. Why can’t we all embrace eachother for getting back to basics?

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    Shannon Reply:

    Living Simply – As I said to Dellaina, I didn’t mean to imply anything about anyone else’s circumstances. I am merely trying to share the benefits that we have found in following our own consciences. To us that is what freedom means – being able to live by one’s conscience without being in debt or in slavery to a corporation/system/society/culture, etc. that either doesn’t allow us to do so or distracts us from what is truly important.

    I think we all make statements about what we believe is right and wrong based simply on how we choose to live, and if that offends someone we can’t control it. This post was meant to be a window into the reality of this agrarian life we are living and the truths that we are learning from it. So I didn’t intend to offend or criticize or compete with anyone else’s concept of simple living, I simply wanted to convey what we are experiencing both carnally and spiritually as a result of moving to an agrarian way of life.

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  4. Cinnamon says:

    Having lived that unique lifestyle and missing a “normal” shower, which was awful with little girls with long thick hair. Or a very pregnant Mama having to squeeze in the little camper shower :-/ I can completely relate. Looking past all the inconveniences toward something better, something tangible makes it all the easier.

    By the way, our children consider our time on our land, living in the camper, the BEST time of their life. Enjoy~

    ~Cinnamon

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  5. Cynthia says:

    Oh Shannon, It’s absolutely wonderful. I am so very happy for all of you, living the way our Lord intended. Miss you Sweetie. Big Hug.

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  6. Athena says:

    I absolutely love reading about your journey, it’s truly inspiring. Our family is taking small steps to become less dependant on corporate america to live. Very soon, our first goal will be a reality and I will get to stay home with my children. Our next goal, move back to my home in Southern Oregon and a simpler life.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

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  7. What an inspiring journey! God bless your efforts to live more simply and more sustainably. :) I can’t wait to read more about how you continue to grow your homestead.

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  8. Hello – I truly admire what you are all doing. We are on a similar path, but not living off- grid as yet. Reading this post, I was so reminded of Genesis 22. I am sure God will bless you as you follow on His path.
    xx

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  9. Dellaina says:

    “We are trying to trust the Lord to provide in every instance. But you realize really fast that saying “I trust the Lord for our provisions” is much easier when you are selling your soul to a corporation for a paycheck than it is when you actually step out of that cocoon and start making an attempt at an obedient life.”

    I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply that those whose husbands have outside-the-home jobs are selling their souls to a corporation for their pay check. I’m sure what you meant was that God has called YOUR family to do something different than what He’s called other families to do, and that doing without that security blanket has made God’s clear provision for you all that much more dear and tangible. Though it is no less dear and tangible to me. Just because my husband works outside our home and we live in the middle of our mission field (my neighborhood) rather than out on a homestead, does not mean that we aren’t mindful moment-by-moment of just exactly Who provided the income.

    And I hope you read this with a gentle voice, as I’m speaking it with a gentle spirit.

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    Shannon Reply:

    Dellaina – You are right, I didn’t mean to imply anything about anyone else’s circumstances. I am merely trying to share the benefits that we have found in following our own consciences. To us that is what freedom means – being able to live by one’s conscience without being in debt or in slavery to a corporation/system/society/culture, etc. that either doesn’t allow us to do so or distracts us from what is truly important.

    And I definitely thought your comment was thoughtful and gentle and appreciate your perspective.

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  10. Jennifer says:

    Having lived the life you are now living, and loosing it and having to go back to the “real world” it is really hard. I was quite depressed for sometime. It has been a year since we have moved back into modern living with all the so called comforts, but I miss my little bath tub, taking baths with my daughter to conserve water. My composting toilet, where my daughter potty trained. And most of all the little house. Ahhh the good life:)

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  11. Renata says:

    It is very interesting to hear how you are going! Glad it is working out ~ I can imagine how much your children would love having Daddy around so much!
    Have a wonderful day ~ I look forward in reading about your further adventures!
    Blessings
    Renata:)

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  12. Brenda says:

    Dellaina, what a beautiful, soft and eloquent re-statement. I wish there was a “like” button.

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  13. Jessica says:

    Love following your story. I especially appreciate the courage your family has had to follow God and your conscience, even if it is a path few follow.

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  14. Candice says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog. I love it! I don’t know if I’m ready to give up my shower or Vitamix, but I definitely believe in a simpler life, and I think it’s so great that your husband gets to spend more time at home! Thanks so much for blogging. :)

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  15. Andrea says:

    The minute I read this I knew I had to point you to someone I recently “stumbled across” on the web. Her name is Linda Runyon, and here’s her website: http://ofthefield.com/

    She has spent the better part of her life living off the land, learning everything there is to know about plants and trees and what we would call “weeds.” She points out that there is a ton of food out there, right out the door or in our back yards and she lived off it completely.

    Anyway – she’s very inspirational and I’ve already started eyeballing my pine trees to make tea!

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  16. Sarah says:

    I enjoy your perspective! We recently moved from the city to the country as missionaries to an Indian reservation, so while we are not homesteading by any means, we are now living on financial support from churches and individuals and we have learned trust in God for His provision now that we are literally depending on His grace to move hearts to support us and make our mission work possible! It’s a really different feeling when it is so directly tied to Him than when we were getting paychecks for weekly work. In essence we wait for Him to provide and THEN we work – rather than the other way around. Grace versus merit, really. Thanks for your thought-provoking post!

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  17. Mrs. V says:

    I’ve been reading & catching up on your journey & really appreciate how you’ve all jumped whole heartedly into your situation. We sold everything & moved into an RV 3 years ago but found our piece of land pretty quickly. Unhappily it had a house & most conveniences so we’re weaning off of them one by one. It’s more like pulling off the bandaid one hair at a time instead of a good clean rip. I don’t know if it’s coincidental or not, but 2 months after we got rid of the washing machine the baby was potty trained, saving 3 loads of diapers a week. The elimination communication method worked very well for us. All the best, Vanessa

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