When you compare the lifestyle of a city-living apartment dweller to a farm family, it’s apples to oranges. There is no question that living in the country requires more stuff.
When I lived in my main floor suite off of Whyte Avenue, I did not need a ride-on lawnmower. I did not need a snowplow. Nor did I need a predator rifle for going on a walk in the backyard (though on a Saturday night in Edmonton, it’s not a bad idea).
When we moved to the country, we realized there were things we really did need if we were going to make our hobby-farm lifestyle work. That meant acquiring more stuff. The minimalist in me cringes to write that. But it’s true, this lifestyle makes minimalism difficult.
So what did we do? Go on a spending spree at Deerland? Or decide to play pioneer and attempt all of our farm work with only an axe and a plowhorse?
Do we have to buy it all?
Fortunately, moving to the country didn’t mean we needed much more indoor stuff. Apart from more mason jars, because I’m doing a lot more canning nowadays, the indoor stuff stayed to a minimum. It’s the outdoor things and the tools that can create acreage/farm clutter.
If you ended up buying everything you “needed” at some point while residing in the country, you would end up with a crap-ton of seldom-used tools and yard implements. So my husband and I have started asking ourselves these three questions before we make a purchase:
- Can we make due without it?
- Can we borrow it?
- Can we rent it?
If the answer to all three is no, well then I guess we have to buy it. However, this usually isn’t the case.
A little extra labour
While some tools definitely make the job easier and faster, they’re really not necessary. A farm the size of ours could benefit from a tractor (gosh, would that ever make hauling hay easier) but we can get away without one. The price we pay is a little more labour, but what we save in money spent and time used to maintain a tractor, is worth it for us.
Getting friendly with the neighbours
Why buy when you can borrow? We’ve become friends with some of our neighbours, and as a bonus, we swap tools with each other when needed. For example, one neighbour has a skid-steer. It’s really nice to be able to borrow it when we have gravel to spread, or when we need to do some regrading.
Rent, then give it back!
Some things we need, but only very seldomly. Not often do we need to use a stock trailer. We are not industrial, just modest hobby farmers, so we don’t often have copious amounts of animals to take to the butcher all at once. However, we had more pigs than we could manage last year with the trailer we own, and it became clear quick that we needed a larger stock trailer. None of the neighbours had one. And they are not exactly cheap to buy. Fortunately, you can rent them in town for a pretty reasonable price.
So are country living and minimalism compatible? Yes, I believe so. However, it requires strict intentionality and discipline. You could quickly become overwhelmed with all of the outdoor clutter. But if you’re mindful and a bit resourceful (borrow or rent!) it doesn’t have to be that way.
Country dwelling minimalism and city living minimalism are not going to look the same. Keep this is mind. But don’t let it be an excuse to keep everything either. You can live simply, and minimally in the country too, it just takes some discipline.
How do you keep your yard/shop/farm clutter to a minimum? Do you ever borrow or rent? Comment below and let me know!