Thursday, August 27, 2009


I decided to re-post this from Dec 30th of last year. With the economy going the way it is, with me being layed off for so long, and all of us not knowing what the future holds, it just seems more relevant now than it did in December.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

After reading Farmergeeks response on his blog about the Boy Scout books, it somehow reminded me of my youth. Nope, I was never a scout, but I had always wanted to be one. I wanted to wear that uniform, I wanted to go on outings, have friends, and learn from them, but it never happened for several reasons. One, my parents never liked to drive anywhere other than work or to the store. Two, they could never have afforded anything I would have needed to be in the scouts. And three, dad always said they were wimps, lol, I imagine he couldnt get in either...grumpy old fart. Plus I was a very nervous kid..really withdrawn,shy, and afraid of everything. Hard to belive ain't it??? lol

While growing up, I never learned any of the wilderness survival skills in the scout books like making a shelter or tying knots, but I learned a lot from just living, even though at the time I didn't realize it. I learned to garden, I learned to shoot and hunt, I learned to fish, I learned how to preserve food, and I learned how to live on next to nothing. Times were hard at home, nearly my entire youth was spent from check to check by my parents barely making ends meet.At that time in the late 60's and early 70's, concrete guys just plain didnt work in the winter, so dad was always layed off.

To understand where I'm coming from, I'll go into a little detail:I grew up with my mom, dad, and sister on 3 acres in a small township in the same county I live in now. Our house was a 3 room basement home. NOT 3 bedrooms, 3, living room, backroom, thats it. We slept in the same room as our parents on bunkbeds till I was about 12, when dad seperated the 2 rooms. Heat in the house was via an oil burning stove in the center of the living room,no ductwork, just radiant heat.(so even though we had our own room, we had to keep the door open when it was cold) We had well water attached to a kitchen sink and a washing machine, and that was all. We bathed in an old galvanized washtub with hot water from the sink. Our toilet was an indoor outhouse of sorts, inside a closet in the backroom. Basically just a frame with a seat and bucket underneath, with a matching real outhouse behind the old shed that was about 80 yards from the house.In the evenings after dark, dad carried that bucket to the outhouse, 365 days a year. We finally got a real bathroom with a tub, shower, and toilet when I was 15, so we (sis and I)thought we were rich. We had a black and white tv attached to a 25 foot antenna tower dad scrounged from a jobsite, with a grand total of 5 stations. (anyone else remember antenna rotors?) I believe I was around 18 or 19 when we got basic cable.I remember an old rotary phone in the house till around '85 as well. The flat tar roof leaked, the floor was almost always damp, the bare block walls cold, and the place always smelled of heating oil and Hoppes gun cleaner. (though I still love the smell of Hoppes, lol)

Food was always a big issue. During the warmer months, we ate what we deemed as "normal" food, though most was the cheapest cut available, and usually other things from the dented can bins at the local Sparkle Market. We busted our asses with a decent sized garden all summer, and I grew to hate it as a kid. I remember many days of pushing myself and my sister through green briar to pick blackberries, as well as wild grapes, so mom could make jellies and jams to can or freeze. (I still hate freezer jam though!) We never had any animals other than beagles, so our only meat source other than the store (when dad was working) was hunting. I can't begin to imagine how many meals we had that were duck, squirrel, or rabbit. At the time there were still pheasants in this part of Ohio, and we were always excited to bag one since it meant a good sized dinner. I think the worst time we had was one winter when dad and I set off hunting on Thanksgiving morning hoping to get a pheasant so we didn't have to have rabbit for dinner. Luckily we got one that day .

Funny how life works, isn't it? Most of my life I hated the way I grew up and resented my parents for making us live that way. We were "forced" to help around the house and garden. We had to use an outhouse when everyone else had a real bathroom. We had to watch an old b&w tv when the neighbors had color, remote control AND cable! All through my teens 20's,and early 30's, I pulled myself as far away from that life as I could, buying and doing everything I could, just because I could.

But here I sit, typing and thinking about all of this and realize something. I'm going back to that way of life on purpose. It makes me chuckle to think about it, but it also makes me kinda sad. I wasted all that time trying to ignore who/what I really am. It took me all this time to find myself, but I made it. Without my childhood, and without Lisa's encouragement I would never be where I am now.....make that-WE would never be where WE are now.Without going into any detail, she grew up ver similar in a house not much bigger with FOUR siblings...and I thought I had it tough! Sometimes I write in this blog like it's all me, but it's far from it. Lisa had taken every step right beside me the whole way,taking this incredible journey of lifestyle change that we are on.Though they'll never see this, thank you mom and dad for making me who I am today, and thank you Lisa for your love and encouragement. You are my guiding light down this path to self sufficiency.


Angie said...

Very nice post, Chris. It's amazing how much we change as we get older. I think your parents would be very proud of you!

dgr said...

Chris, Are you SURE you're not from Mississippi?

small farm girl said...

It sounds like you were writing about my life, and how I'm going back to the ways that I hated as a kid. It's funny how your life makes a circle and you find out who you really are was who you already was.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm on the same path to deliberate living. There are so many benefits to living simply in harmony and dependent on the land that God provided. One benefit, man ought to enjoy the fruits of his labor instead of giving it all away to the gubmint. I like the way Small Farm Girl said it: "It's funny how your life makes a circle and you find out who you really are was who you already was."

Anonymous said...

Hey. I'm looking for Patrice's blog (singlemomurbanhomestead...)
Can someone help me find her? I really enjoyed her blog updates. Thx, Denise

Chris W said...

LOL Nope DGR, good old Copley, Ohio

Anon, Patrice hasn't written anything in hers in about a month. She moved and changed the name to "...adventures in Natural Living" rhather than "urban homesteading".

Angie, actually my folks think we're crazy and should just shop at chinamart and nuke our food like they do now.

Leasmom said...

Hey Chris, it's Patrice. I was having computer problems. Our computer was broken but is now fixed but I dumped my old blog and now I have a new one called Sweet Tea, Biscuits and Gravy. Its frugal recipes and ideals to help save money. I think thats a better goal right now.

Leasmom said...

Oh its at:

littlegreengardengal said...

I couldn't find Patrice's blog anymore either, but I remembered seeing a link to it on your blog. I'm glad I found these comments here so I can keep reading hers too!

Re the actual topic of this post, I find myself living more and more the way I was raised when I was little. The kindof funny thing is that over the years my parents have moved away from living more simply and naturally and doing mostly for themselves, but I am going back to that as an adult and really it does feel like I am just back where I started and belong.

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