Friday, July 22, 2011

Simply busy

A week or so ago, a reader sent me an email expressing her concerns that we (my husband and I) are too busy to live a simple life. Slow down, she advised. Ironically I haven't addressed her concerns until now because I've been too busy.

It's true, we're running at high speed at the moment. Our summer/ fall busy season is always like that. We often don't conclude our evening's work until 9:30 or 10 pm.  That's because we must (sometimes literally) make hay while the sun shines

But this reader's concern got me thinking. Is a simple life a quiet or a boring life? Not necessarily.

I suppose it depends on your definition of quiet. We don't have family drama in our home, so in that respect we lead a quiet life. Our kids are well-behaved and respectful, and my husband and I never argue. That's just the way we are.

But livestock must be attended. Chores must be done. The garden must be weeded. Tankards must be made. Deadlines must be met. Obligations must be fulfilled. That's just life, and it most assuredly isn't boring.

Now understand, these are all choices we've made. We chose to have livestock, keep a farm, plant a garden, make tankards for a living, deal with deadlines, and enroll our kids in music and gymnastics. Those are choices. Once we've made those choices, we feel obliged to live with them.

That's okay with us, because these are all choices we enjoy or at least would rather not do without. Livestock can be a hassle sometimes, but they can also be a joy. Unquestionably their benefits outweigh their detriments. Same with traveling into the city once a week for music/gymnastics lessons. Same with weeding. Same with staying up late making a production run of tankards.

Too many people assume simplicity denotes leisure. This isn't necessarily the case. We all need leisure (and I'll admit a little more would be nice right now), but how much leisure can you handle before you start getting bored?

The key to simplicity is to have work you enjoy. The enjoyment factor balances the busyness factor. We can handle a high workload at this time of year because it produces good things: income, vegetables, whatever.

If you go back and look at posts of what we do over the winter, you'll note we're much more relaxed. We keep a "farmer's schedule," meaning we're wildly busy during some seasons and much slower during others. It all balances out and it gives an element of enjoyment to all seasons.

So no, I do not believe a simple life denotes leisure or lack of industry. We find time to decompress. We read, walk to the mailboxes, or even engage in chores that need doing but we find enjoyable. (I truly like weeding, for example... I find it relaxing.)

The upside to being so busy right now is this is the time of year we make most of our money. Come mid-October, things will come to a crashing halt and we'll be slow once again. Then we'll find the time to tighten up the farm before winter and do any number of neglected projects we put off during our busy season.

Bottom line to my worried reader: thank you for your concern, but we're fine. Really.


  1. It's funny, since we retired, and moved out to the country to build our house, and enjoy wildlife, we're busier than ever. We cut trees, garden, do landscaping, have inside projects, and now have time to be truly active on our church (which we are).

    We are more busy than when we both worked. The difference is - everything we do is fun, or the end result will be fun. Even the hard work is fun, we're enjoying the fruits of our own labor and are pleased to be able to be self sufficient. Lots of satisfaction...something most of the jobs I worked never really offered.

    You sound like us - busy, but satisfied and content with how you are living your life. Its a good feeling.

  2. I never understood the phrase "Make hay while the sun shines" until we moved to a farm with hay fields. Nuff said.

    Ain't no deadline like a Mother Nature deadline.

    Just Me

  3. To live more simply causes more work in its own way. People sometimes get disgusted with us because it is hard to get away. We knew that when we made the choice to live this way. We love how we live and in many ways it takes much more work to get things done the old fashioned way. :)