27 January 2014

Creating your ideal world at home

We have been delighting in that wonderful, relaxed time before the real business of the year starts in ernest. We had enough food to keep us going, there were no deadlines looming - well, I had one, but it was under control, and our days have been our own to do what we please. I've been making lists of ideas and projects for the year, I think Hanno did the same, although his big project is still the chook house which he's making bigger. More on that when it's finished.

Time has been elastic - expanding and contracting to suit our purpose, some days it was completely irrelevant. But this week, school returns and the summer holidays are over. Real life is back. I have made a promise to myself to enjoy as much as I can this year and to make the most of every day. Overall, I'm optimistic and excited about the year ahead. I hope you are too because at this early stage it could be anything - I'm choosing for my year to be a good one. Of course that requires a lot of hard work but I'm used to that and if it gives me the life I want, I'm happy to do whatever it takes.

I would've loved to live on a small farm producing just enough for our own needs and those of our family. I've never had the opportunity to own a farm and I don't like yearning for what I can't have. I deal with what I've got - bloom where you are planted. I am happy here and I make the most of it. Maybe I can't have a farm but I can create the world I want here within the confines of these fences. We own our house and have no debt. It's very easy to write that but it took years of hard work to do it. Over those hard years we raised our sons, did our civic duty, helped build our communities and our nation, worked, voted and paid taxes. Now I'm happy to be at home, to work for what we need and to enjoy our days here. We know that both the house and the land will be here long after we're gone and we care-take so that whoever lives here after us can improve on what we've done and not start from scratch like we did.

When we came here there were no fences, no verandahs, no gardens, no water tanks, no solar panels, no shed, no chook house. It was a small slab house on a big block of land with a creek running behind it. We chose to live here because we could see the potential of this land. We chose to live in this area because we wanted to continue to grow food and keep chooks. This climate allows year-long gardening and apart from a few hot days in the middle of summer, the weather is good for chickens. The first things we installed here were a water tank and solar hot water system. The first things we worked on were the garden and the chook house. We must have know back then in 1997 what kind of life we wanted, even if it wasn't part of our conscious thoughts. When I left paid work behind and came to my senses, we changed a lot inside our home too. All our changes were made when we had the money to do them; it was slow and steady progress. We made our home the kind of place that welcomed family and friends, where we felt safe and relaxed and where we could live the unusual life we'd chosen.  Our home may not suit everyone's tastes and needs but it's ideal for us.

What we have here now is here because we chose to add it and were prepared to do the work to make the modifications we wanted. We thought about how we wanted to live and made a set of choices. You can do the same; you don't have to live like everyone else. You can step back from the excesses you see around you. You don't have to make the same choices we made but you can create the kind of world you want to live in inside your home and in your yard. Of course you'll be limited by the space, time and ability but if you identify your goals and work towards them using small steps, you' will create the life you want.

There will be many changes taking place here over the coming 12 months but most of them will be planned changes that we've had a conscious role in choosing. If you don't plan, you leave your life open to chance, and then you just take what you get.  I'd rather do some planning and move my life in the direction I want it to go. What about you? Do you choose what you'll live with in your home? Are you a planner or do you just accept what comes along?


  1. Interesting question, Rhonda. I've never wanted to live on a farm or to raise chickens, but I did choose to use my income to pay off my mortgages (my income is from two houses - one bought, one inherited) and to remain debt free. I love being at home and not having to go out in the world; that for me is a real luxury. There are many other things I would no doubt enjoy but nothing quite so much as being able to be at home. Living where we do there aren't many changes we can make to our house but we have got planning permission to add a downstairs toilet, something we think will be practical for us as we get older and will also add value to the house. We have a very small back garden but it is all put to use growing food. We have much to learn about increasing its productivity. We also like to travel and that sometimes conflicts with growing food. My life has never exactly been planned; I've rather fallen into a lot of jobs, but then they came my way because I established a good reputation for myself where ever I worked, so that could be semi-planned. Most of my planning has been what to do with my money. I'm not very good at planning uses of space, I have to made small scale models of things and move furniture around a lot. We've thought of many ideas about additions to the house we would enjoy, some practical others less so. I find it difficult to spend large amounts of money for something I don't really need and in that way I think I take what is given to me and make the best of it. I shall look forward to hearing about the plans you've made for 2014!

  2. Once again I am inspired by your life style dear Rhonda. May you and Hanno have a wonderful 2014.


  3. I like the life you live. Being mortgage and debt free is so important for those our age. We are almost there with having the mortgage paid for. We don't have chickens and gardens but I wish we did. My husband is still working but not for too many more years. I enjoy reading your blog.

  4. I am definitely a planner, but sometimes things happen that are beyond my control so I am learning to go with the flow.

    This month my husband and I have been thinking about financial planning and where we want our extra money to go, the mortgage, holidays with the kids, extra savings. It is nice to be able to plan together and know we are on the same page. It might take time but we can have the life we want and the happy memories to go with them. The hard part is having patience. I want to be doing everything now! :)

  5. I love this post, a lot of people yearn for what they don't have rather than making the most of what they DO have. I must admit I do catch myself yearning at the moment as mark and myself are looking at buying our first property (we decided not to build on our block and just sell to buy a house to renovate as we go). The issue is that I have grown up on one family farm, with land... Bush... Quiet. It's what I desire for my children... But mark wants to be close to town. We are trying to compromise but it's so hard. We live on my parents other property with 100 acres at the moment and I think he might be coming around to the idea of living in quiet tranquil areas...
    Where ever we end up though I will keep this post in mind, because we can't always have what we want and sometimes need to make do :)

  6. I love your blog! Very inspirational to me. I have recently came home and found you at the perfect time :) I would love a photo tour of your home...it seems so cozy.

  7. HI Rhonda

    I'm definitely a planner! I am intending to reduce my working hours at the end of this year so I'm currently making financial plans to make that happen. Later this year (after a much planned and prepared for holiday) I am seeing a financial planner. I will turn 60 in just over a year so I want to make sure I am making the right plans for using up some of my superannuation to live on until hubs and I are pension age.

    As I said I turn 60 in just over a year, already planning a celebration for that!

    Last year my theme for the year was 'celebrate', however some other words such as 'cancer' and 'chemotherapy' kind of got in the way, so this year my theme is 'living joyfully' so I try to find pleasure in each day. I have a jar called 'good times' that I pop little notes in when I have a particularly joyful moment/day/event so I plan to open those on NYE this year and remind myself of all of those 'good times'!

    At the moment I am having my own challenge of decluttering 365 items in 365 days, so far I have over 130 and we are only at the end of the first month! I am particularly pleased with how that is going, and I didn't have a particularly cluttered house to start with :)


  8. We are a cross between - we plan seriously and long for major moves, but are fairly easy going about the smaller things. We are nearly debt free - 2-3 years should do it for us. He is old enough for social security but continues to work - I am still running my fabric shop but hope to retire in 3 years. Then the sell out of the shop should give us a nice nest egg for the long term. Now that mother has past away and I am no longer taking care of her I hope to get back to gardening -chickens aren't allowed here but I would so love to have some - I buy my eggs from a nearby farm so at least they are fresh and local!

  9. We are for sure planners. We are always making lists of things to do. Our house is a work in progress and will take a long time to complete but one step at a time. We have no debt and we want to keep it that way. When we get enough money to do a project than we do it. Sometimes things just pop up and you have to deal with them then get back to normal again.

  10. Rhonda, I think if I had a dollar for every time someone tells me I will end up buying a farm I would be able to afford one. But I see how much work they are, and when I look at the work our small town block requires, I don't think we have the time for Di much more work, both working at the moment.
    We are getting close to 250kg of produce each year off our small town block and that increases every year as the fruit trees we have planted mature, we have meat rabbits, eggs for chickens, some fruit and veg twelve months of the year, just have to be content with seasonal produce. We also sell some produce through a local co-op and that helps cover the cost of the garden. We are working on paying off the mortgage ahead of time and coming along well at the moment.

    On my blog I just posted about having to have patience, correctly we are looking at waiting 12 months to taste our new wine and three years before we get a decent coffee crop off our new bushes, but our four year old apricot doubled its yield to over five kilos this year and the lemon has its first full crop. I love planning for the future, and seeing the vision become a reality :)

  11. Thank you for another up building post! Every morning I make a coffee and read your blog - it starts my day off in a great positive way! We too would love to live on a farm but work keeps us near the city. I love your thought on 'bloom where your planted' and how your book says to be content with what you have now. We are only on a small block, but we really do make the most of it. And live the life we dream of as best as we can right here!

  12. Great post Rhonda. It's amazing what you can achieve in a small amount of time. I took your advice and started gardening and baking and making my own cleaning products and everything is snowballing from there. I love the changes to my home and my garden and my lifestyle. I feel more fulfilled as a person and really relate to when you talk like this. Rome wasn't built in a day but a little change every day or week will all add up in the future. I can only imagine what I will achieve by the time I retire in 15-20 years time. Wow...thanks so much for putting me on this path now. Meeting you was a turning point in my life Rhonda. Bless you xx :) Cheers, Tanya

  13. Oh, Rhonda! I love this sentence:

    "We know that both the house and the land will be here long after we're gone and we care-take so that whoever lives here after us can improve on what we've done and not start from scratch like we did."

    It is a terrific reminder that we, just as our ancestors, borrow our land and homes. They are never really ours, are they?

    We have decided to sell our farm and build in the family property 50 miles away. That farm has been in the family for 100 years. There is a 250 year old restored log house on it that my mother grew up in. While it is not where I will live, it is home to me. I remember walking the property with my Saura Grandmama as she taught me about the birds, trees, and plants. She taught me to love the land. I am building my house on her old home site. I know her spirit will visit and be pleased.

    And, I will plant apples, nectarines, and peaches for my future great-granddaughter who will one day remember me as lovingly... I hope...

  14. What a lovely, encouraging and inspiring post. We always wanted a small farm. Don and I both had grandparents who farmed and memories from our childhood are great. We have always planned for both short and long term goals. By the time that we could afford a farm, we realized that we didn't have the energy or the years or the good health to be farmers. However we have gardens here at our mortgage free home and love where we are. We are in our 70's and look forward to each new day to share life with our children and grandchildren. Blessings to you and Hanno.

  15. Big time planner here Rhonda! Love a plan, love a list. I don't know how I'd get things done otherwise :)

  16. I'm a planner, too, but having kids has taught me to embrace more flexibility. For major things, I plan as much as possible and then try to accept anything that doesn't go accordingly, as life is never perfect, is it?

    It's funny you mention subconsciously making certain decisions even before starting on your current path - I feel that way about my life, too. I always grew something, well before buying land or growing enough to share ever dawned on me. And I actually do think of you and Hanno as farmers ;)


  17. Jaime, my kids change me. As soon as they were little boys, I bought chooks as their first pets and grew a garden then to show them what was possible. I guess we are farmers - but I couldn't do what you do now, I don't have that kind of energy any more. But we do farm our backyard and I can't tell you how excited I am about this year's growing seasons. I'm blogging about it tomorrow. For some reason, I'm itching for that garden to get going.

    Thanks for your ongoing comments. I do love them.

  18. This is a really lovely post :)
    I'm a planner, but have learned over the years to be very flexible as plans often change and I have to be accepting of that. I think that life is very precious and exciting and I'm really looking forward to the year ahead :)

  19. Hi Rhonda

    Well - I am really on a roll.
    Rediscovering the clothes line!! At approx $2.50 per normal drying load (if you stuff it full, double that) x 3 loads daily x 5 days per week in our house is $37.50 weekly and $1950.00 a year.

    Nothing beats sun-dried - and because usually nobody is prepared to assist, then I get some quiet time!

    1. That's going to be quite a saving, Phil. I wonder if a few mornings with no clean clothes would mean a bit of assistance. Surely the girls can take it in turns to take the clothes off the line and fold it. It's worth a try.

  20. A very thought-provoking post. I'm a planner too, but because we are a young family and we seem to have a major move every two years, we've learned to adapt to what life gives us. Bloom where you are planted -- that's what we hope to achieve. We're in our mid-30's but have had to help support our own families and siblings as young adults, so we haven't really gotten ahead financially. We're still supporting our parents but this year we hope to finally buy our own house. As a relatively new single-income family I still feel scared of the mortgage to come. But posts like yours are encouraging because it makes me look forward to the time my husband and I can look back on our life together. A the bst to you and Hanno, and your plans for this year!

  21. As Judy Y wrote she lives joyfully is how I write in my little blog www.Alexa-asimplelife.com
    To live simply and joyfully. To take the time to savour the now in this rushing world. To enjoy memories, to make memories and by doing so we are the richer....and as Heather in her blog which I can't leave this page for to find its title(am on iPad) said in a comment to me"time is wealth" so very true. It was in the weekend reading list. Thank you so much Rhonda for putting her on your list . I will comment again to include the title. All the best Judy J and all for the new year to come. x

  22. Ps..."Little village green" was the blog

  23. I really like your approach to aging, Rhonda. Planning for a decline in energy and capability is so wise. I've seen quite a few of my parent's friends deal with sudden and dramatic changes in lifestyle due to ill health or other constraints. They are stuck with lack of choice (or very difficult transitions that aren't by choice) as a result. It makes total sense to plan for that eventuality (aging) and prepare early for it (not in the sense of giving up or with dread, more like embracing a future change and prepping for it so that it might go as you WISH IT TO).

    Although a poor analogy, it strikes me as being a lot like planning for the work week. It CAN be tolerable (or even enjoyable) if one is organized and has the prep work done to make it go smoothly (stockpiled, healthy food at hand for home cooked meals, chores reasonably caught up, clothes washed and prepped for the week, bills paid, calendar sorted, well rested, etc). If one heads into a work week exhausted from a busy weekend with nothing in the house for meals or lunches, piles of dirty washing and nothing clean for work, bills not paid and no funds left in the account due to lack of time spent on financial management, extra meetings scheduled and toss in perhaps a sick child, EVERYTHING goes down into a spiral of "no choice" (take out because no time to shop for food let alone cook it, buy new shirt on the way home from work as nothing is washed or ironed for important meeting tomorrow and there's no time to do it, no backup care for sick child, the use of credit until you can "get the account sorted", etc.). All of that is a jumble of what feels like no choice, but in reality, some simple planning ahead and prep work could have prevented such chaos.

    I've seen first hand (through my Grandparents and close family friends) how aging often unfolds. From what I've experienced, aging is rarely a slow and gradual decline. It's more like a series of plateaus of varying lengths followed by sudden declines/drops (some small and some sharp). A plateau can last for quite some time, then a sudden decline hits (either physical or mental). A few adjustments can be made to accommodate this new reality which sustains as another plateau. At some point, another decline comes, and again, more adjustments are made. This cycle repeats many, many times until living independently is no longer an option. Factor in 2 people with declines hitting at different times ~ aging as a couple = lots of frequent change.

    From my experience, those declines usually come without advance warning (falls, accidents, illness, disease, etc), BUT if we have enough common sense to heed the GENERAL warning that they ARE going to come at some point, we can have a much more enjoyable life experience through the golden years by planning ahead for decline (both sudden and gradual). Planning and taking action early in a pro-active manner means that we have more control over our lifestyle and the general unfolding of our days as we slow down and become less active. I like the sound of that :)

  24. We plan. I wrote a post about it today. We live a good life, full of richness that has nothing to do with money. We are not debt free yet - we are still paying off our house, but we are working at it. I agree with you about deciding the kind of life we want and then choosing to live it. We can opt out of the things in a culture that we don't want to be a part of - such as the rat race!

    Good encouragement here today Rhonda!


  25. Planning is making dreams come true. I find I get a sense of peace when planning things, that way I know I have a way of making dreams become reality.

  26. Rhonda..."connectedness" or "collective unconscious" as others call it...continues to amaze me...i've started a first step in writing about the question you've asked...

  27. Making and keeping goals was actually my New Years resolution this year. We have never really set goals we just went with the flow. This year I set 3 goals for 3 months. A home goal, a personal goal and a family goal. I gave myself 3 months to complete them and then I will add 3 more. I think this way I can keep myself in check.


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