Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The messiness of green

As you know my family and I strive to tread lightly.  And what a way to live!  We have chooks, a garden, geese, milking goats, make soap, our own washing powder, cook from scratch where possible...  We live in a lovely patch of native bushland where kangaroos, wallabies and echidnas roam freely.  We home school the children who are still living with us.  Sounds idyllic really, doesn't it?
And I suppose it is idyllic but it certainly isn't smooth.  The down side to a green way of living is the messiness.  Both the actual physical mess and the muddly chaos that often reigns.  It's impossible to run to a smooth, repeated routine when you are relying on yourself for so much.  For example, I haven't made soap for ages.  I should make it regularly.  I should decide that every three or four weeks should be soap making time.  But when three weeks rolls around and I still have soap in the bathroom it just doesn't seem so important anymore.  By then something else urgent has come up.  I need to make a batch of compost or the chook shed needs to be cleaned etc.
As for the physical mess, that's easy to explain.  While conventional mothers are washing their floors, I'm kneading a batch of sour dough bread.  I'm puffing flour onto the kitchen floor with each stretch of the dough.  Then I'm making pastry.  After blind baking, I try to pour the lentils I've used as weights, back into the jar.  A few escape and also make their way to the floor.  Splashing and sploshing, I whip up a yummy filling, creating mountains of dishes along the way.  Right.  Now.  Now I'll do that floor.


That's when I hear that chook bakawking.  If I leave her egg there the others may try and eat it so I race out to the orchard to collect her egg.  Ooh look!  That tree looks like it's droopy.  I'd better give it a quick water. 
You get the idea.  I haven't even included the kids in this little scenario.  Admittedly, even without the kids and an effort at a sustainable life, my house would still not be perfect.  I can think of a thousand things that are more interesting than housework!  But it wouldn't be so frantically chaotic.
It's all too easy to be an 'oversharer' when you write from the anonymity of your own lounge so I generally avoid getting too open.  But then I realised I started writing this blog to share our experience of our lifestyle.  Well, this chaos is an unavoidable part of that lifestyle for many busy families and the chaos can cause a good deal of stress.  I've decided it's a good thing to mention here because there may be lots of us feeling that we're not keeping it together when in fact, we're just trying to do to much.
There are times I feel I do nothing well and that I can't get organised.  It can really get me down.  I need to work on my expectations of myself and our lifestyle.  I'm not really whinging here because I wouldn't have it any other way.  I am living the life I choose to live.  I love the life I choose to live.  It is full of wonder and achievement and satisfaction.  It is a life with true meaning that I feel is worthwhile. However it is a life full of challenges which can sometimes bring me undone.  I want to be honest about the hard times with you because maybe you are struggling along with me some days.  Somehow it's easier if we know we're not alone.
I caught up with family on the weekend and it was wonderful!  I said something to one of the generation Y young men about me being a hippy.  He insisted I wasn't a hippy so I asked what he thought I was.  He told me with no hesitation that I'm a greenie.  I'm okay with that.
If I had to remove labels from myself and just give a description, I would say that I'm just a mum trying to raise a happy family and save the world for her children.  Not a small task!

16 comments:

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I can relate to this! Some days I feel over-whelmed and then I tell myself it is better than being "under-whelmed" as so many of my contemporaries are (I'm pushing 68 and have been a smallholder since 1981)
What I have learned over the years is to be "good enough"

Lynn said...

Can relate totally!

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

Linda there is just the two of us and house work is a long way down the list of priorities. Our house is not dirty but it is often messy and we are trying to overcome this by getting rid of clutter. There is just far too much to do that is more enjoyable, more important and more satisfying than house work. In my mind if you have enough time to clean your house to look like a show home on a permanent basis then you are missing out on living.

Patty@inStitches said...

I have always found to do lists exasperating because like you there are so many 'interuptions' to a carefully planned day!
So I do a 'got done list' in the evening when I'm looking about at all that's left to do. It feels so much nicer to say I got the baking done, two loads of wash done, the fruit trees watered, a charity box sorted - then to say I didn't get to all the wash, didn't sweep the floor, didn't make the bed.... A positive spin is less stressful by half!!

theroadtoserendipity said...

As someone living out in the sticks on 4 acres of steep rocky "Australia" I hear you! Most of the time my house is covered in a layer of fine silty dust, a legacy of the heavy clay soil and close proximity to the river that repeats itself exponentially right through summer and then we get the wet season where the dust is replaced with mud... as a vegan I use a LOT of lentils etc. and so there is usually some form of leguminous matter crunching underfoot as they are excellent escape artists. Some days the possums eating all of my pumpkins brings me undone. Some days when I am sitting staring wide-eyed and wondering why I BOTHER planting out ANYTHING as the wallabies and possums pounce on it overnight and consume it with gusto. The soil is full of rocks and heavy clay and turns to ceramic in summer and slush in winter (rock filled slush) where the topsoil washes down the steep slopes into the river and STILL I persist, because like you, I want to leave this land better than I found it. I want to gift a legacy to my children and to the world. I can't stop and sit in the ashes because the buck has to stop somewhere and I have chosen for it to stop here. Love your posts. I don't comment a lot but I love them :)

Kim said...

Yep , that is our life too! I think when you choose this life you choose mess too. A lovely , honest post!

Suzie Simplelife said...

Hi Linda, I hear what you are saying but you totally underestimate yourself....you are doing an amazing job and I just wish there were more people like you. Funnily enough my kids call me a hippy because of the way I have decided to live...we need more hippy's or greenies or whatever label they all give us.

Barb said...

You're speaking my language! Best wishes, Barb

Evi said...

Ohh yeah!!!! Im hearin' ya!!!!
Sounds just like my home and I too leave the housework to do other things that I'd either rather do or that need doing NOW! And funny thing, I'd just given myself that exact same talking to yesterday - that I'm expecting too much of myself and need to accept that I can't do everything. Today I will grab a rug and spend 1/2 an hour sitting under the fruit trees reading with a cuppa, something that hasn't happened for a very long time!!! And probably not again for a long time to come…sigh...

Kathy said...

I hear you Linda........and I too this morning took a photo of our messy lounge room and what we call the toy room (it's another lounge room that houses toys) and feeling so overwhelmed that this place always seems a mess too and yet my children go off to school and I don't do half the things you do so give yourself a pat on the back. I had to laugh about your soap quest because as I was having a shower this morning I thought I must make more soap (I've only made it once and loved it) and though I've still got 1-2 bars left so that can wait but I know shortly I probably wished I'd gotten on to it sooner. We all feel like this at times (probably more often than not). Enjoy the rest of your week. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia
www.oursimpleandmeaningfullife.blogspot.com

Meg said...

You could have been describing a day from my life! I can totally relate.

africanaussie said...

Your days sound perfect! I often spend all weekend in the garden and then come inside and think "oh gosh I never did get to mop the floors!" I think the important thing is to dwell on what you do instead of think of all the other things that you never quite got around to this time.

Sue said...

Sounds like many of us are living similar lives which I think is fantastic and very heartening.Its communities like this that get us through the not so perfect days when we can lament what hasnt happened but recharge ready for the next challenge.
Soap is on my to-do list ( along with many other things ) along with washing the kitchen floor after yesterdays bread making exercise which resulted in hubby putting as much flour on the floor as in the bowl. But in the scheme of things I will take flour on the flour than a clean and tidy house anyday. Wouldnt know what to do with it if I had one anyway!!!

Farmer Liz said...

We only the mop the floor if we have visitors that we expect will want to come inside.... I don't actually know when that last happened, but I do try to sweep every couple of weeks, the benefit of having a tiny house that doesn't take long! Thanks for sharing, judging from the comments it seems like we are not alone at all!

rabidlittlehippy said...

I love when my mum comes to visit if for no other reason than it results in a panic to get the house resembling some form of order. It usually involves a room I hope to gods she NEVER enters but mostly it means a much cleaner and more ordered house.
With 3 kids under 6, 2 goats, chooks, ducks and 2 sheep, not to mention gardens and recent cupboard construction, our house is currently best described as, well, let's not go there. ;) Chaos reigns but it is most of the time fun and, like you, I wouldn't have it any other way although if a cleaning and cooking lady wants to come in for free and help out she will be welcomed with open arms. ;)

Linda said...

Thanks to all of you for responding. Sounds like I'm not the only one battling to fit in the housework. Some of your coping methods amused me. A mess doesn't bother me so much but I hate it when I get yelly and grumpy because I feel overwhelmed! Feel much better now.