Stonehead is a good friend of Bean-Sprouts, and a regular commenter. He has an active blog of his own where he talks about life on a croft in North-East Scotland, environmental and political issues. I'm fascinated because he has gone much further along the road we are travelling, buying a smallholding and living off the land. I interviewed him exclusively for Bean-Sprouts.
Bean-sprouts: Describe a typical day for you.
Stonehead: Hmm, no such thing as a typical day! I get up between 5.30 and 6am. I have a shower every second day to conserve water, then it's straight into getting all the breakfast things ready before making packed lunches. I then head out to do the morning chores, feeding and mucking out the chickens and pigs.
With the chores done, I head inside for breakfast with the rest of the family. The other half heads off for work, the Big Lad gets the school bus, and I take the Wee 'Un to playgroup. If it's playgroup duty day, then I'm out until noon or so helping keep an eye on the children with lots of making stuff and story telling. If it's not playgroup duty, then I have from 9.30 until 11.30 to get jobs done. This can be building chicken houses, working in the vegetable patch, working with the soft fruit and fruit trees, mowing grass, planting, topping, baking, cider making, brewing, preserving.
After collecting the Wee 'Un I either finish off the morning's work or play outside games with the Wee 'Un. If working, we turn it into a play session as well so he can help with parts of the job. The Wee 'Un helps me make lunch, we then do some quick baking before having a quiet play and do some reading while we wait for the Big Lad to get home and for the bakes to cook. With the Big Lad home, we feed the chickens then the boys play together outside while I do more jobs.
From around 4.30pm until 5.30/6pm it's a repeat of the morning chores, the other half usually gets home just as we finish. We eat between 7.15 and 8pm, so that the boys can chill out for a while, then off to bed. Then it's tidy up and relax time. I try to fit in a bit of blogging around then, but usually it's more like 10pm until 11pm as it's nice to spend a bit of time with the other half! Weekends are even busier.
Bean-sprouts: What made you decide to pursue this lifestyle?
Stonehead: We don't regard it as a lifestyle. It's our way of life. I've always wanted either a small farm of my own or a yacht. I like working with animals, I like working the land, I like tinkering, and I like working hard for myself and my family.
I'm a pragmatic green - I don't buy the spiritual, hippy, pagan thing at all. I think we have one world, we have to tread lightly, we have to use resources sparingly and we have to be responsible for our actions. I do get a lot out of being outside in all weathers and enjoy being part of the natural world, but I'm not the communing with nature sort.
One thing I definitely am is an anti-consumer. I have a pathological hatred of being sold stuff that I don't want or need. I accept that I and my family have certain needs that can only be met by shopping, but I try to do so as little as possible. I'm a huge fan of bartering, trading and giving, I love making things and I like being minimalist. This can cause friction with the other half and the boys, but as we're generally in accord most of the time I can fudge on certain things (like TV!).
While I was very good at my career, I was always conscious that I was mainly generating money for people for whom I had little time but I persisted until we had sufficient money to be able to just afford the croft. However, I regarded the whole wage-slave thing as total BS, so once we were in a position to escape to the hills, I grasped it with both hands and got out of there. So why do I pursue this life? Because it's "my" life, just as it's also the other half's. We both choose to share it with each other. (The poor lads haven't much choice at this point!)