A deliberate life is one lived with a sense of purpose. It’s a life committed to the fulfillment of a vision and a plan. When people live deliberately they become focused on a preferred future motivating them to spend time, energy and resources efficiently. You may recall that our first steps towards living sustainable/simplified lives were three fold. The first being to answer the question, “What is it you want?” The second was to clearly define your life vision and the third, to downsize for the sake up up-sizing. These three steps were exercises to prepare and enable us to begin living in a whole new way. So many people in today’s world live day to day existences with no real sense of purpose or deliberate direction. They may accomplish things but most often lack true fulfillment and authentic joy. Living like that has a way of causing days to turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years until folks wake up one day wondering where their life had gone and what real meaning it had. Living life deliberately will bring a far richer outcome.
Nancy and my vision for life evolved, like so many others, over the course of time. Starting our married life on the old original Robinson Ranch we had the opportunity to discover our love for country living, for the gift of simplicity and the value of sustainability. I remember one winter we became snowed in for over two weeks. Many people experiencing the same storm struggled because of their unpreparedness. Not only were the roads impassable, but the power grid had gone out during a time of extreme cold. For us however, the storm had little effect. We lived off the grid in those days not because we wanted to, but because of our remote location. Nancy canned food grown in our summer garden and orchard and I hunted for 90% of our meat. We had a few chickens for eggs and a root cellar stocked with basic
supplies. The cabin was heated with wood, and the kitchen had a wood burning cook stove. Our life didn’t change much because of the storm, but almost by accident, we learned a lesson which launched us into seeing the benefit of living a more sustainable life. We learned when difficult things happen which are beyond our control it is helpful to be prepared. This was the beginning of our quest for sustainability and simplicity. We also discovered how less stressful and rewarding it is to be self sufficient. Later in life, after leaving the old ranch we applied these lessons to our future plan and deliberately began working toward what we have today. Our life became razor focused on a plan to develop a self sufficient, sustainable farmstead. Much of our extra time energy and financial resources were applied to our future life.
We know the way we have lived is not for everyone. For us it meant using most of our days off and vacation time to fix up and resell homes and rental houses so that one day we could have the resources to own the land we lived on and build the infrastructure we would need to fulfill our vision. The professional life I chose gave me a lot of deep satisfaction, but didn’t provide great wealth. For twelve years I was a school teacher followed by over thirty years of full time ministry. Nancy worked most of her adult life as a homemaker. She was fully engaged with me in the ministry and also made our homes a reflection of our life vision. It was Nancy, who through her constant investigation of properties discovered the 80 acres we now call Timber Butte Homestead. It took years of planning and hard work, but together, being united in a vision and deliberate in action, our dream eventually became reality.
After purchasing the property we became very deliberate. It was five years before we were in a position to actually begin developing the property. During that time we walked the land throughout the four seasons. We wanted to discover where the sun would rise during every season and where it would set. We wanted to understand how the land would drain after rains, which way the prevailing wind would blow and where the richest soil was. We set up lawn chairs on the top of a granite knob where the house now sits. We spent many hours during those years talking, praying and dreaming of what the land could become. We applied all the knowledge we had acquired through the years based on the things we had experienced from both our successes and failures. We considered issues such as agriculture production, water development, and seasonal living. We applied what buildings, fences and other infrastructure would be needed to fulfill the needs of the vision we had in our minds. We sketched those ideas on paper into a master plan which helped us figure where frost free water hydrants, water lines for fire, drinking and irrigation as well as underground electric lines and septic systems would go. From past experience I knew it was best to establish these things in the right places from the beginning rather than redo things later.
Water lines needed to be four feet deep to avoid freezing in winter. We chose to place our house on the granite knob because it was the least fertile place on the property and the highest. This saved fertile ground for grazing and made our new home less susceptible to flooding during the run off season. We deliberately placed the barn in a location where it would be an easy walk from the house knowing how many trips we would later be making back and forth in all kinds of weather. We planned the best locations for the kitchen garden, the orchard and vineyard so as to not plant shade trees in places which would later block them from full sun light. We incorporated such things as gray water systems, solar electric systems, a backup generator system and on and on. This is an example of what I mean by being deliberate. The time we invested thinking things through up front really did pay off by saving us not only money, but a lot of wasted time and physical energy down the road. We made mistakes, there is no question. We changed our minds about many things along the way, but having a working plan made the process far more efficient.
Putting your plan on paper is a good way to strategize and dream of what could be. If sustainable living is your dream, then your next step will be to consider what a sustainable life would require. In our next segment of Living a Sustainable/Simplified Life we will discuss such things as organic food sources, dependable water systems, methods of energy production and efficient infrastructure.