It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

Some of our harvest

When we got married, both the wife and I had some skills that are less common today they they used to be. My wife was an accomplished cook, baker, and seamstress. I knew how to weld, do general construction, and work on cars. But there was plenty that we had never done and didn’t know how to do. No matter how much you were lucky enough to learn from your dad, its likely that you to have things to learn if you are trying to live in a traditional and self-sustaining manner.

Months before we ever got chickens, I checked out Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens at the library and read it cover to cover, and some chapters twice. I read stuff about keeping chickens on the internet. I talked to people who had chickens about it. Finally, we got chickens. A few months later, I realized that I had way over-prepared. It really isn’t that difficult. Sure, it takes work–locking them up at night, letting them out in the morning, feeding them, watering them, collecting eggs, shooting the occasional possum–but its not difficult work. Its fairly straightforward, simple, and often fun work.

When I brought home a big tub of lard and a big bag of lye, and told the wife it was for her to make soap with, she went through a similar process. She had told me previously that she wanted to learn to make soap, but for a couple months after I brought the supplies home she didn’t touch them. She read about soap making, she watched YouTube videos about soap making, but she didn’t actually try soap making for quite a while. When she did, the result was good, and she happily told me that is was less complicated than she expected, and actually a lot of fun. A few days later she was experimenting with an olive oil and coconut oil soap, which also turned out well.

I hear the same mentality sometimes when people tell me they’d “love to have a garden” but “just don’t have a green thumb.” Usually, more questioning reveals that they have never tried to grow a garden, or often anything else. I see it in people who have sewing machines and know how to use them (at least to make potholders) but tell my wife that they could never make their own clothes as she does, even when she offers to give them the pattern. I see it in people who love our homemade bread, but say it would be far too much work to make their own.

These things are not that difficult. They aren’t terribly complex, and neither are they terribly physically demanding. In fact, they are often enjoyable. If this is the life you want to live, don’t scare yourself into thinking its more difficult than it is–people have been doing these things for thousands of years, and you can too.

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