I picked this month’s “Ask Granny” question because it’s an important issue for lots of young and not so young couples.
Hello Granny Miller,
I have a question for you…I was raised on a farm and lived the life style of self-reliance and after a lot of years working for someone else I am trying to retire. I want to get back to that self-reliant life. I know how to garden; I have just gotten some chickens and ducks. My next is Rabbits, Quail and I want a Bee hive or two. I do live in town so I can’t have bigger livestock there; I am looking in leasing some land. So as you see I think I am heading in the right direction. My problem is how to get my wife of 20 years to go along with it. She wants nothing to do with taking care of animals or canning so I am doing it all. I don’t have a problem doing any of the work I just want her to relax and see how good this life can be and the enjoyment she could have living the self-reliant lifestyle. Now I know all of this is a lot of work and we both are hard workers so that’s not it. She thinks I am a prepper just because I want to have enough food on the shelf or in the freezer. The one thing I have her hooked on is the ducks! She loves to see them in the pond and the silly things they do (so I may have a head start). We also have wild Mallards that come and have babies at our house every year. This is how I got her on the ducks in the first place. So words of wisdom, direction or help getting her to understand the direction I am headed would help. I know she will love the journey.
You’re probably not going to like my answer.
Lots of people desirous of a more self-reliant life have a partner who is not at all interested in gardening, small livestock, homesteading, garden farming or any type of alternative or self-determined living situation.
Changing and evolving lifestyle choices are frequently a serious issue between couples – especially older couples thinking about retirement. In fact almost 80% of all couples planning for retirement will run into some type of life choice or living situation conflict or issue.
You Can Lead A Horse To Water But You Can’t Make It Drink
What I’m hearing from your question, is that your wife isn’t interested in a different type of lifestyle and maybe doesn’t appreciate why you would want to change.
Change in a partner can be scary and confusing. Maybe she feels like you are trying to drag her where she doesn’t care to go. Or now that you are thinking about retiring you are trying “to change the rules” and upset the way things have always been done.
I don’t blame her for feeling less than enthusiastic. After all there are only so many hours in a day, and it’s not fair to expect her to ditch her life and follow your dreams. How about her dreams?
Maybe she feels like you are asking her to work harder, or possibly leave her home or move away from her children & friends? Maybe she is just plain old-fashioned not interested in what you are interested in and has other ideas and plans.
If people don’t really want a life of canning, gardening and tending animals – for them nothing is more tedious. Unless you love it – it is a life of pure drudgery and is one of the reasons people sold the family farm and moved to town. Town life is much easier.
What I think you are saying is that after years of working for someone else you want to work for yourself and enjoy life.
I perfectly understand.
I agree that it is often a better and more satisfying life choice to grow your own food and provide for most of your own life needs, instead of working for somebody else. Why work so hard just so you can be paid in a deprecating currency and then pay another person or organization to meet those life needs? Seems to make more sense to cut out the middlemen and just do it yourself if possible.
It’s The Hard Life – But It’s A Good Life
The only wisdom or advice I can offer to you and your beloved, or anyone for that matter is this:
Go slow and grow into the changes that you want.
Nature teaches us that when it comes to living things – gentle, slow and steady will bring progress.
An evolution is better than a revolution (unless we’re talking about the clowns in Washington).
If you already have a situation where you can “homestead in town” I’d stay put. As long as you have a small piece of ground and the sun shines you can grow and preserve lots of your own food. Chickens, rabbits and even a dairy goat can provide plenty of milk, meat, cheese and manure to help your garden grow.
Don’t bother leasing land.
Put your cash instead into a water filter for town water and some good garden tools.
Explore alternative heat, cooking, lighting and toilet systems.
A freezer and more pantry and household storage will probably be money well spent. Try to connect with other like minded people. It makes good sense to trade what you grow and raise to someone else for something they may grow but you don’t or can’t.
Now is the time before you actually retire to find ways to cut back on your expenses and build the infrastructure that you’ll need in the future. It takes time to acquire the necessary skills and tools to live a more independent life.
I would be very cautious about biting off more than the two of you can chew. Keep in mind that you are not going to get younger- you are growing older everyday – and there will be physical limitations and perhaps illness in the future.
Also consider that statistically, unless your wife is 10 -12 years older than you, she will probably outlive you so plan ahead.
Don’t put her in a situation where she may have to care for animals, a big garden, food storage and a sick or dying husband in the future if it isn’t something she really wants for herself.
By staying put and continuing to provide for many of your own basic needs you may find that your wife discovers for herself the economic benefits and pleasures of the life that you long for.
Who knows? Maybe by this time next year she’ll insist on moving out of town so you can get a couple of pigs and horses.
Anything can happen when love is involved.
Good luck to you and your wife in the future.