In the Defense of Abnormal

We’ve found it tends to go in cycles: brow bashing us about our life style.  We can cruise along in our little bubble for ages contentedly tending our gardens, milking the goat, shopping locally, hanging out together and generally enjoying life, then suddenly WHAM! BIFF! BAM! we’ll be sent reeling by a verbal salvo.  We’ve not been able to pinpoint the trigger for these attacks, but the rhetoric is generally the same: The Bean Counter and Milk Maid have an unhealthy inability to “cut the apron strings” while The Goat Herd, Renovator and Farmer are lazy, unambitious and “know when they’re onto a good thing”.  Farm Girl usually comes through it all pretty blameless.

The surprise aspect of these attacks usually renders whichever one of us is on the receiving end relatively inarticulate as, at heart, we are polite folk brought up not to rock the boat.  But this week has been particularly stormy. We’re feeling a bit bruised so here follows the case for the defendant:

Why We All Live Together.

  1. It’s energy efficient: At the Homestead one insulated structure containing one fridge, one cooker, one heating source, one television and two (one for bulk transport and big loads, one for small but necessary journeys) vehicles serves the needs of six people. Granted, there is the need for a bit of forward planning, consultation and consensus but we reckon the planet’s worth it.

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  1. It’s economical: we can pool our finances to purchase resources of a higher quality more likely to last the distance; Buying groceries in bulk is cheaper in the long run; We only pay one set of rates and utility bills.  For all those who believe money makes the world go round, living like this makes good fiscal sense.


  1. It’s robust:  By identifying and utilising each other’s various strengths we are more capable, self sufficient and strong.  More people= more diversity and more bases covered when the going gets tough.


  1. It’s healthy: we grow most of our vegetables and meals are prepared with care and attention by someone who enjoys their “chore”.   Pooled finances means that any arising medical concerns can be properly addressed. Shared meal times and one lounge leaves little room for hiding your hurts: sometimes you don’t want five other people hassling you about why you’re upset, but at least it gets it out in the open.

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  1. And this is the biggie:  WE LIKE EACH OTHER


Hey, we know this lifestyle isn’t for everyone.  We also know that it might not be forever.  Right now, however, it’s working for us.

Undoubtedly the best thing about this way of living is making the most of the range of abilities within the group. Some of us are very emotional beings, some of us can be clinically logical if the need arises; some have a head for numbers, others just need to know whether there’s enough in the account for them to get a coffee at lunchtime; The Renovator, for example, loves sanding and painting.  No, honestly, he does!  In a house of this vintage, that in itself is an unending job.  The Farmer gets huge joy from masterminding the animal grazing, fencing and resowing sections to ensure there’s always a new patch of green waiting in the wings for the hungry mouths and beaks.

The Renovator touches up the undercoat around the new wardrobe door.
The Renovator touches up the undercoat around the new wardrobe door.

Currently the Homestead is being subjected to one of The Goat Herd’s incentives.  As mentioned in previous blogs, The Goat Herd is a graduate Mechanical Engineer and has implemented many procedures and structures on the Homestead.  The goat’s hayfeeder is one worth mentioning, as is the hot garden bed utilising the hardfill, produced by various renovation projects, to raise the temperature of the bed’s soil.  

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Currently, she has her eye on our electrical consumption.  Each evening we are subjected to facts and figures, proposals and assumptions regarding our usage. We may groan when she opens  just one more excel spreadsheet, or roll our eyes at yet another piegraph, but she is hell bent on getting our yearly electricity usage down from 8700 to 6700 kilowatt hours thus making installing pv solar panels a more plausible, economical undertaking.  Every electrical appliance on the Homestead has been scrutinised; What is their daily energy draw? How can this be reduced?  Are they actually necessary?  So far, all clock radios have been removed and replaced by clever phone apps that serve the same purpose for a fraction of the energy cost.  The freezer now only runs during the cheaper night hours and woe betide anyone she finds leaving an unnecessary light on.  She has passion for this, it spins her wheels (oh, the windmill is another of her projects – a prototype, work in progress) and the Homestead is stronger because of it.


We have no doubt that we will get down to the magical 6700 kilowatts and dream of one day, maybe, possibly, wonderfully unplugging from the grid altogether.  With The Goat Herd on our team, how could we miss?

 Go Team Homestead!

© Copyright Union Homestead, 2014. All Rights Reserved. 


3 thoughts on “In the Defense of Abnormal

  1. Do you just wonder sometimes if the makers of those comments might just be a wee bit jealous of your relationship with your children?? I think it is fantastic that those children (now grown ups) enjoy your home and company. Yes it was different when we were their age but the world is different now too.
    I love my “abnormal” friends and look forward to seeing the homestead in the flesh. xxx

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