Right from the very beginning, I knew that I would never want to live anywhere else but the countryside. After our family shifted to the city from the country when I was 16, it took me awhile to return but in my heart the country is and always will be my home. In a frame on the wall in our cosy cottage there is a page from a favourite Beatrix Potter story called The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse.
“One place suits one person, another place suits another person. For my part, I prefer to live in the country, like Timmy Willie.”
A country farmhouse, a cosy cottage, either way it didn’t matter, either just feel like home to me. I just knew, way before I met Michael and was lucky enough to have Miss Lil. The goal was always a smaller home (less cleaning, maintaining, heating & cooling) with a bigger plot of land to garden and spend time in. Of course I would like more land to care for than Fairy Wren Cottage’s nearly 3/4 of an acre, at the time buying this property was the right fit for us and so it is. Being grateful and focusing on what we do have.
At different times, I have lived in a very small inner city one bedroom apartment, I shifted into a friend’s spare bedroom when a previous relationship ended and I’ve done my fair share of living in share houses, travelling and renting. At the very beginning of our relationship Michael and I travelled together first, you soon realise if you are compatible enough when you are with each other together 24/7, living out of the back of a car and sleeping in a tent! We then upgraded and rented, followed by renovating a Miner’s Cottage on the mainland that really should have been demolished! Now we are lucky enough to be back living in Tasmania (an island off southern mainland Australia) and renovating our cosy cottage, this one is in better condition than the last, the shag pile carpet in the kitchen and toilet makes for a good renovator’s story though, but I’ll save that for another time.
Some of the things that have helped me move toward living in our cosy cottage and caring for our garden:
Learn. What you put your energy into expands.
With the budget being tight I read every book and magazine in the library I could find about permaculture, organic gardening, Australian growing seasons, companion planting, growing herbs, perennials, fruit and vegetable gardening. The books I loved, kept thinking about, and re lending I saved up for and bought or asked for them as birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day presents. When I read each book I kept a note book to write down points of interest before returning it to the library.
Questions. I asked myself, What do I really dream of?
Then broke that down into the following questions.
What is realistic and doable?
What is financially possible?
Given there is only 24hrs in the day, can we fit everything in?
What is a need and what is a want?
I still ask myself these questions from time to time, it keeps things real and my perspective clear.
Make wise financial purchases.
The first house Michael and I shared was the rental in Tasmania overlooking the Derwent River. We had two knives, forks, spoons, bowls, cups, plates and glasses. It was a mad dash to the shops when we had visitors and realised that we had to buy extras. We had one plastic jug that was used as a mixing bowl for baking and also for making a salad. Any pantry staples were kept in recycled jars or empty yogurt and ice cream containers. It was all doable, everything was squeaky clean.
When we could, we saved and bought good quality household items that we still use today instead of buying cheap items that break easily.
Whenever we can we make not buy.
Make lists. Remember to change the list around if priorities change and to also take things off the list if the idea is no longer of service.
I had lists of fruit trees, roses, fruits and vegetables to grow that were ideal for our climate. I had lists of jobs to do and projects for the house and in the garden. There was a list of books to read that had been recommended and a list for craft projects. Recipe folders created for preserves when I had an abundant harvest, I didn’t even have the land to grow the fruit and vegetables on yet!
I never found these lists a burden or overwhelming but looked at them to motivate and inspire me.
Sustainibility. There seems to be this myth that you aren’t actually succeeding/doing enough if you aren’t fully self sustainable. What does that mean anyway? The goal posts are always shifting depending on who is the judge and who is the jury. As human beings living in a community we can never actually be fully self sustainable.
But we can be as sustainable as possible in many different and varied ways that works within the confides of our budget, commitments, physical capabilities and time. Here is an example, we don’t have solar power yet, it has been on the list since day one but the money has been saved and redirected several times due to other building priorities, eg, replacing every window with double glazing, the leaking roof on the garden cottage being replaced along with adding energy efficient insulation. Now it’s important not to judge and compare, we all have different strengths!
Knowledge is power. When we know better we can do better. We can always be working towards new goals no matter how small they may be.
Have you read this community made free ebook yet? People generously sharing what works for them. There are so many great ideas that could help you live more sustainably. I’ve included the link HERE
Wishing you all good things,
Planning for our cosy cottage.
November 8, 2021