DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are about 7000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

21 January 2013

Valuing shared work

I have been watching a few Amish documentaries on You Tube while I've been ironing lately and it made me wonder why I enjoy watching them so much. I guess I'm inspired. Not by their lifestyle so much as by the way they work together. I love seeing that. It reminds me of days I've read about, a long time before the advent of supermarkets and department stores, when we use to work together as families, and in groups to get more difficult work done. When I see people working along side each other like that, it makes me want to join in. I love seeing the CWA ladies working away on their various fundraising ventures - buttering scones and making pots of tea; I love watching quilters working on one piece together; I admire the strength of the men who raise Amish barns and the grace of the women who provide food and drinks to keep them going.

Yesterday's blueberry muffins.


I get a lot of mail from readers who regret they can't find anyone who shares their values. Many of us feel the same because we live in towns and cities inhabited by people who are firmly and seemingly happily cemented into their mainstream lives. They have no interest in learning life skills or in reducing their spending and consumption. I doubt they'd understand the concept of shared work. I think that's one of the reasons so many people read here. They find validation here in what they do, they know I don't think they're strange because they're knitting dishcloths, growing pumpkins and baking bread, because I do it too. It's like we're working alongside each other. And that may be hundreds or thousands of kilometres apart but you know I am here, I know you are there and together we're quietly working. People gravitate here and to the forum to read about like-minded people going about their everyday business of homemaking, growing crops, storing and preparing food, raising pigs and milking cows and goats.  And they are satisfied and fulfilled by it.



We all go through various stages in our lives and we have to be open to those changes and flexible enough to adapt as we age. In the past I have worked with many women and men. The workload we all shared was made easier because we worked together. Now I'm working alongside my husband and I reckon we make a great team. We both do what we think we have a talent for and the jobs we like doing and luckily for us, that divides the tasks neatly down the middle. Most of our tasks are easily done by one person but when one of us is ill, the other takes it all on; when something is too big for one, we both do it.


When you look back on it, all those stages of work make up a productive life. Whether you're working in a large group or a small one, working as a couple, or you're alone raising children, or as a carer of adult children or parents. We're all working alongside each other and if you feel isolated and alone, all you have to do is to reach out here or at the forum and I or someone who hears you will reach back. No one is working alone when they work towards their own simple life. We're all connected by the work.



49 comments:

  1. Beautiful thoughts, Rhonda. Thank you.

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  2. The window above the head of the bed looks nice...

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  3. So very well put, dear Rhonda! We feel connected through our combined work, evenso I might be millions of miles away. I read your book and your blog because of those exact reasons! It confirms our connectedness in evey task we undertake in our homes. Long may we all continue to care and share it all with each other!

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  4. Dear Rhonda - I have been blessed by having 2 likeminded friends and we pretty much live our lives the same-- gardening/preserving/baking bread/ handcrafts etc. We do not live in the same town and with one we have been friends since about 1998 but have never met in person as we live in different parts of the country. We are friends by email and phone. I began my journey of "home being the place I want to be" after watching Amish DVD's and reading books and realizing they had the "peace" I was seeking. I work along side my husband on the farm we manage and we are very bonded in that. I often had people ask me why we do not get a job where I do not have to milk and I would like that eventually BUT they do not understand that I just want to be with my husband and even if I was not in paid employment I would still go to the shed just to be with him. Your blog as always inspires me and now I am off to make the bread out of your book :-)
    Karen NZ

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  5. Hi Rhonda,

    I have recently moved to a new town out onto 700 acres. My husband has to work away, so most of the time I am out here on my own with my children. I have to say it has been a real blessing to come here and read, to be with like minded people. And on those bad days, after a visit here, I always feel much better.

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  6. We have a very large community of Mennonite here in Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada.

    While some "make fun" of the Mennonite and their plain lifestyle I admire them with their simplicity and cohesiveness.

    It must be comforting to know that if any misfortune, i.e., barn burning or farming accident occurs, that your entire community will be there to support you.

    Michele

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  7. Ohh..I am so with you. I have recently had a real urge to learn about Amish and Mennonites and Quakers. I, like you, would not really like to live like Amish and Mennonites do, but in search of both similarly minded individuals and suitably accepting group for my own spiritual needs I have started to attend Quaker meetings. In Britain they are very "modern" in all sorts of ways and since they don't have a creed I don't feel that I need to lie. I like their practical slant of their belief; what you do counts more than what you believe. I also like their testimonies; living with peace, equality, simplicity, truth and environment.(And suddenly I have met lots of people who don't think my choices weird at all!).
    I come here too! It is true that your blog and the forum are really nice places to get some verification for one's own way of life. Lots of love to you and a special thought for Hanno, your "work mate"!

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    1. I really love the Quaker philosophy - "what you do counts more than what you believe". Yes. I send my love back to you Mama Elf. xx

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  8. well put Rhonda. Marriage is like a well oiled machine. Having just celebrated 16 years of marriage just recently I know a large part of why we are still together is because we work well together. It all makes the puzzle pieces fall into place.

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  9. Nice thoughts rhonda. I never realised how important working together as a team was until we had our first child. Also the fact that I married someone with the same values who shares the work is just as important. Blogs like this also help!

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  10. A great post Rhonda. It is wonderful knowing that like minded people are only a few key strokes away = here and at the forum. It is lovely to know this as you go about your work each day.

    Those muffins look delicious!!:)

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  11. I have been watching a show on PBS called...oh, I forget, something about Canterbury and Lark...Anyways, I love how life was before all this Internet, computers, etc. They were together so much just enjoying each other, ie. dancing, singing, talking, being with other human beings. I think this must be why there are so many unhappy people today. We were not created to be alone.

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    1. Lori, thank you so much for your comment about the TV program. I did some research and it's called Lark Rise to Candleford. It looks really wonderful so I've marked it for my next stint of ironing.

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  12. Hi Rhonda, I think that the feeling of community gathered here is the power of the internet for good (and not some of the other rubbish you find on the web). Recently my hubs and I celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary, and I changed my cover pic on Facebook to show our wedding photo. One person commented something along the lines of 'hanging in there for the real gems' presumably because as we get to certain milestone anniversaries, it's 'worth' a diamond or two. We did not even give each other a card, no present, just the happiness of spending the day together and we did go out for lunch (mainly because we were in town, far away from our own kitchen, but if I'm honest we would have gone out for lunch anyway!). So this person obviously has different views to mine and that's fine, but it's not what I see as being necessary for a happy marriage.
    Love the pic of Hanno with the vacuum cleaner, that is hubby's job, but again like yourselves, we share the responsibilities for running our household.
    Thanks again for providing a place that we like minded people can connect!
    Judy xx

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    1. Judy, congratulations on your 38 years together. xx

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  13. I have loved your blog for a long time for this exact reason...as I really don't know any like minded people that I can talk to...All I can say to you is a "Big Thank you" for making me feel like i've not been alone.

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  14. Funny you wrote about sharing the work. Tonight I'm running a thermomix cooking class for the first time on my own and I'm feeling a little nervous. I'll have 3 women from my team to help get things plated in the kitchen, I'll have a more experienced woman standing beside me in front of the audience to quietly steer me right if I do something wrong... but the most important thing I'll have is one or two of my boys in the kitchen washing dishes for us.
    I want to impress on them that this is a family business because our goal of paying off the mortgage asap is one that will benefit all of us. So they'll be there pitching in. (Plus we probably could do with the extra pairs of hands. We have to set up a lot of chairs and tables!) Knowing they're in the back helping me will be such a boost!

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    1. Froggie, you've been commenting here for a long time and I've always been impressed by your clarity of direction. I have no doubt your cooking class will go well. It's normal to feel nervous when you do something for the first time, but you can turn that nervousness into excitement and that will lift you.

      You're teaching your boys important life lessons. All children should be involved in the family business if it's possible. Not only will they benefit from the income you receive they'll also see their mother up there, leading the class with confidence, and that will be good for them too.

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  15. Great post Rhonda, I have been feeling this way a lot lately. Like I have become so different from my family and friends.many people don't get why you would work so hard to make or do something yourself when you can just buy it. So reassuring to come here and know that we are not alone.

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  16. what a lovely post Rhonda, i too find it so rewarding working side by side with my hubby of 34yrs, we recently moved to the paradise that is Mt Tambourine, & while we still work outside the home (mortgage dictates) we work together @ home, hubby is growing great veges, (which are so tasty) & the excess is blanched & frozen for later, what a wonderful lifestyle to be a little more self-sufficient - our aim is to produce as much as possible ourselves, & leave the paid workforce. I too have been drawn to the Amish way of life, their simple ways, relying only on their community for survival, & living contentedly without all the nonsense of the modern world is to be respected & admired. I love their quilting patterns, plain colours used in such a way to be so striking & the fact they always have a little mistake in them, because only 'God is perfect' reflects their entire way of living - such peaceful people. Deb M

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  17. I was thinking just yesterday how nice it is to work together towards our desired future. Working together makes a difficult or otherwise boring job not only bare able, but fun! This weekend I cooked pancakes for 4 hours with a great group of other parents all working to raise money so our kids school can be great. And yesterday, I worked side by side with my wonderful husband processing our meat chickens and it was scarily fun because we did it together. When I read your posts, it makes me happy that you and Hanno get to work together as you are so obviously a great team and your love for each other shines in all the work you do. I hope that we still have that through all the coming stages of our life. xo

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    1. Tracey, I too love doing community work in groups. Having a good lifelong relationship with your partner requires commitment, respect and tolerance along with the love. From the sound of your comment, you're on the right track. :- )

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  18. Hi Rhonda
    I too like the way the Amish communities work individually but when the need is there they come together to work and support each other when needed which seems to be lacking in today's society as people are more me focused. Lovely post. Thanks

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  19. You really hit the nail on the head with this post. So many of my friends thought I was a whack-job when I made my own laundry soap, same with using baking soda and vinegar to clean things. I love that when i come here, there are always men and women who are thinking about doing or doing what I am. :)
    have a lovely day Rhonda,
    -Kristin

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  20. Hello Rhonda, I love to read your posts and feel more confident with the way we manage our home life. We work well together as a team in the kitchen, garden and each have our individual strengths and weaknesses. I really believe that happiness in the home affects positively to other areas in life. I love the fact that taking pride and enjoying the process of everyday chores truly create a home. Since I have been reading your blog and comments that your reader's make, I have felt so much more inspiration and "loved" my home life more. Thanks for taking the time to write such heartfelt, down to earth posts :-) Have a great day, and those muffins look delicious! Ann

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  21. It is nice to know there are other people out there that think the same way, even though they are not close to me here...I have met a few people through the blogging world that share my passion and I love to hear from those people and know what they are doing.........
    I just read a comment above about Larkrise, I have the whole series Rhonda, its a beautiful series, I highly recommend it...mum borrowed 'Land Girls' for me too just recently and that was quite a good short series too............have a lovely day, working together............x

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  22. Great post. But more so the statement that you and your husband make a good tem, I love when I hear people say that about their partner. That they have found a like-minded soul to travel the journey together.

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  23. I also have enjoyed several Amish Series and their way of life. We have downloaded several Farm series which you would also enjoy. Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, Tales of a Green Valley. 2 male Architects Peter and Alex and Ruth a Historian of costumes and housekeeping spend a year as it was in the era. I find other eras with their simpler way of living and healthy lifestyle fascinating. Lovely post today that reminds us we are not alone.

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    1. Hi Chris,

      I've watched all the Farm series, except the Tales of a Green Valley. I didn't know about it and I'm going to start watching it this evening after supper. I've so enjoyed the others. Thanks!

      Diane in North Carolina

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  24. I have Amish friends and they are friendly, talented and industrious people. One of them does reflexology and massage,and has a beautiful natural foods store. Another has a huge greenhouse and sells plants. One of her daughters has a herd of cows that she milks, another raises organic produce to sell, another rents a commercial kitchen and makes jelly and cans fruit and vegetables to sell, another grows organic produce and has a CSA. One of the sons has an organic farm and raises chickens, beef, etc., and is also a cheesemaker. I am always amazed at how hard they work and how they teach their children the life skills necessary to take care of themselves. They live a very traditional life, yet manage to live and thrive in the modern world. A lot of children today grow up in a modern environment but don't have a clue how to take care of themselves. We can learn a lot from the Amish. I think one of the reasons so many enjoy your blog is because of the feeling of community and of learning helpful, practical and funs things that enrich our lives. Thanks Rhonda!

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    1. What a lovely post and love the pics
      Louiseinsa

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  25. I loved this post Rhonda. I am not sure if you know this but I am a farmer and and my husband also works full time. We work together well and apart well we also have wonderful neighbours and friends that help with the special skills they possess. It is wonderful to share what knowledge and skills we have with others. This becomes more important and more apparent as we age. Hanno is looking healthy. B

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  26. I have loved your blog for quite a while now! It is inspiring to see someone living the life I'm trying to! People usuall ythink it's amazing that I have time for all this - but they love it and have begun asking me to make them jams and things too. I make jams and sauces for Christmas. I love knitting! I have become quite good at it I'm pleased to say!
    Thank you for this blog! I do gain inspiration here! We need to share skills with others.
    My husband has begun to appreciate - and enjoy- preserving with me now. It does make things so much easier when their are two of you .
    Dayamitra

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  27. Amongst my friends I am the strange one! They quietly giggle at my obsession with trying to grow the perfect bean and wonder why I want to bake my own bread when I can go buy a loaf. But, every now and again one of them quietly starts to ask questions, and soon they have a little vegetable garden in the corner of their backyard. The garden gets bigger and soon they are openly expressing their love of homegrown broad beans and sharing their favourite recipe with me. This is how I am going to change the world....one person at a time without them even knowing it!

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    1. Theresa, I think that personal change is the only way to change the world. Imagine if everyone made some personal changes, what a difference that would make.

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  28. Rhonda,

    As a result of this blog and other resources, I feel like I am becoming the person I want to be. I tell everyone I know about your wonderful blog and the community feeling and validation one gets from reading here. Thank you just doesn't seem like enough. You and your blog has been such a blessing in my life.

    Angie

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    1. Angie, empowerment and self reliance will take you a long way in life. I need no thanks I would just like to see these skills and ideas passed along. I wish you the best.

      Rhonda xx

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  29. I think a lot of it is being ready to tell people what you're doing, and to keep an eye out on what others are doing. When I lived in Sydney, our chemist advertised organic honey that a local guy sold. He was Greek, and elderly, and loved to dabble in making honey, growing olives, raising chooks, etc. I felt bad for him, because the neighbours complained to council about his chooks so he had to stop! Really wrong. He had the best honey ever.

    I live in the country now, and it's easier, because a lot of people have the same ideas. Everyone seems to be dabbling in something, usually what they are most interested in or good at.

    I have a friend who makes his own eucalyptus oil, and he just gave me a huge pile of boiled euco leaves for the compost! I'm buying my first bottle of oil on Wednesday. Apparently it's much stronger than the store bought stuff, so hopefully it lasts ages. I have a small kitchen, so I've been giving him a lot of unwanted/un-needed kitchen stuff.

    My parents have always grown veges, and anytime they had too much, they'd give bags and bags full of various veges to neighbours! At the moment, I'm still in the process of hunting down a horse-poo supplier, lol! I know there are a lot of horses around here, but it's a matter of talking to the right people first.

    In the last country town we lived in, we'd get the occassional bag of lemons from our neighbour, it's just such a lovely expression of good will.

    I hope to keep talking to the locals, to find out who's doing what, and what I can do for them.

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  30. So this is how you manage to get through the ironing!! ;-) I think I may need to follow suit, as ironing is really the only chore I avoid because, to be honest, I just find it so boring.

    The reason I read blogs such as yours and write my own is definitely to connect with like-minded people and to have that sense of community. When I first quit paid work, I was feeling a little isolated, as a homemaking lifestyle isn't really the norm for my peer group. As you said, it is uplifting to hear about similar work being done every day by so many others around the world! -Jaime

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  31. Hi Rhonda - being a single parent and city dweller I often feel 'alone' in my quest for a simpler life. My friends think I'm a little bit crazy, but they love to reap the rewards of my home made baking etc..
    I'm not as self-sufficient as some, but I do make my own laundry liquid, and bake my own bread, and grow some herbs and veggies in pots in my courtyard. I find all of this so rewarding and I look to your blog and the forums everyday to learn more and feel a part of this community.
    My commitment to living a less materialistic life has also helped me plan for my future. 3years ago I had no idea what I wanted to do or how to achieve it. Now I have short-term goals and long-term plans and the wonderful people on the Down to Earth site inspire me to achieve them.
    I haven't found a partner yet to share this lifestyle with, but I hope to one day, and I hope we can be the kind of team you and Hanno are.
    Karen L

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  32. I wanted to thank you for your nectarine jam recipe - we had a lovely big crop from our tree this year, but unfortunately a lot were damaged from bugs and birds.

    So I cut off the good parts, but left the skins on. Macerated in sugar which OMG is the BEST idea for mushy fruit like nectarines! And I now have the most beautiful jam. Thank you so much!

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  33. Hi Rhonda, I work full time and live alone but the best time for me is my at home time. I bake bread for my parents, make clothes for my niece, repair and mend and preserve my abundance of fruit. I am truly content and knowing that I have a community that does not think I am weird makes me even more content. Thanks Rhonda and Hanno for everything.
    Antoinette

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  34. Hi Rhonda,
    I had a herculean task this weekend of redoing the veggie garden, a job I knew that had been 'waiting in the wings' for a while. This involved moving several huge barrels to new spaces and refilling them bucket by bucket with dirt in the sweltering humidity of the tropics. Since my husband's herniated lower back and neck discs prevented him from helping, and my girls are too young to really make an impression (although they did the best they could), it was a daunting job for me to tackle but I was determined to do it since I am sure it will increase my yield. Just knowing that all of you were out there with the same goal in mind gave me great strength and the courage to persevere.
    So a special thank you Rhonda & Hanno and thank you to this little online village for the gift of your spirit this weekend.
    Blessings
    Vicki
    Trinidad & Toabgo

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  35. Well said! I'm so glad to have come across your blog.

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  36. How very true, many years ago when I began my journey I felt so alone, but I read blogs, yours and others and became part of an online community. It helped me a lot. Thank you xxx

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  37. Yes do try and view all the Lark Rise To Candleford series. It is beautiful and even a learning experience too. Just the best. I absolutely loved it. I got it through Netflix mail. Yes most of us would love to know more like minded people for sure. We would have so much to share. We live though in the world we are in now so we have to do what we can where we are. A neighbor long ago introduced me to gardening and from there all else followed. I hope I can do the same for others. I keep trying to encourage neighbors to try to grow something or do something outside the modern box. I actually think I have gotten through to some of the youngsters. Maybe I am selfish but I know the feeling of peace it gives us to be out in nature working to grow our own and make our own. Slowing life some to take time to relax and appreciate the world God has given us. Sarah

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  38. Can you share the links to the videos? I would like to watch them.

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