Monday, July 3, 2017

Minimalism Vs. Self-Sufficiency

I think the Tiny House trend is interesting.  Actually, minimalism in general holds some appeal for me. I mean, who wouldn't like less stuff to have to pay for, clean, care for, keep track of, etc?

In some ways, minimalism/small homes is a goal of mine.  Ever since moving into the house at this little place here--which we designed and built keeping in mind that we had four growing children to raise, who would require beds and food, and places to store their belongings, not to mention future graduation open houses, bridal showers, baby showers, etc--DH and I have talked about how our "next house" (the one we will build for our retirement dwelling) will be much different.

Our plan is to have a small house in the next phase of life; I'm thinking under 1,000 sq ft.  Possiblyin the range of 600-800 sq ft.  One bedroom, in fact.  Perhaps even one room. Not counting the bathroom, of course, I do wish to use the toilet in private.

There will be a separate building, we refer to it as The Bunkhouse, where we will entertain and house guests (aka kids and grandkids).  That building will have a large kitchen and eating area, a big living room/casual seating area, and a large dormitory style bedroom as well as one or two private bedrooms with double or queen sized beds and possibly two bathrooms rather than one.  But our main home, the one that will be used daily, will be small. Easy to clean, and cheap to heat.

That plan, for the next house, is about as far as I can realistically go into minimalism.  Because I know my need for self-sufficiency, as well as creativity, clashes with true minimalism.  That second house, The Bunkhouse, right there is not minimalistic.  It will have tons of dishes (for serving upward to two dozen people; our projected family holiday dinner with offspring and grandkids ten years down the road), many beds and bedding for those beds, etc. It will also most likely be where I do all my canning.

Canning; that also doesn't quite jive with being minimalist.  There's the whole raising/producing our own food thing.  A tiny house doesn't have room for storage of a year's worth of canned goods or a freezer large enough for a year's worth of meat.  Not to mention the other things needed--like gardening equipment, canning equipment, butchering equipment, animal raising equipment, hunting gear--for growing or otherwise procuring that food and getting it into freezer or canning jar.

That's just food we're talking about.  How about tools for home and machinery (including automobiles) repair?  Not very self-sufficient (or cheap) if you need to call a handyman every time you have a small repair that needs to be done and can't do yourself because you own nothing to perform the repair with.  How about sewing supplies, and space to use them (let alone store them) for making (or repairing) clothing or quilts?  I cannot imagine having to buy every single sewn or knitted item I would need or would want to give as a gift.  I don't find nearly as much joy in shopping as I do in making.

I do believe that we--being Americans in general--have way too much stuff and should prioritize, pare down, and make do with less belongings.  I just can't quite subscribe to the 'own nothing, share everything, rely on the store daily for food' kind of mindset that seems to be what a lot of people who talk about getting along with less material goods are advocating.  Sharing is nice, if you live around other people who have a need for or own the same tools and things that you need.  But if you don't, or you all need that one item at the same time (ever try to share haying equipment during the one not-rainy week of a wet haying season?  or a pressure canner during the height of green bean harvesting?) that concept doesn't work out so well in reality.  Same with running to the grocery store for food multiple times a week because you don't have a garden of your own; I would rather not rely on the food supply chain for the majority of my nourishment.

So, I guess I'll never be a minimalist.  I'll be someone with a little house, and bunch of gear for all the activities of my 'simple' 'life.

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