Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Hello, all. My name is Cathie.
I am so very thrilled at being invited to write blog posts
for MotherEarthNews.com. I have been
blogging at BecomingDomestic.co.uk for a number of years now since my husband
and I impulsively left lucrative high-tech careers in London, UK,
to downshift with our toddler twins towards a simpler, more practical and rural
way of living.
We sold our house and started renting the first of what turned out to be many lovely houses in some of the UK’s most scenic places. At first, I had very few practical skills. In fact, I did not even know how to look after my own children as they had been cared for full-time by daycare staff. I used to drop them off before breakfast and collect them at bedtime.
Since that first house move, we have become so very conscious of the impact we humans have had and are having on our planet’s environment and hoped to find a place to settle that would allow us to gain an element of self-sufficiency in a relatively car-free community.
Over the past seven years, the Becoming Domestic family have sampled some incredible rural smallholdings, co-housing setups, an eco-village, have attended full Permaculture Design Courses, learned the basics of green woodworking, carpentry, crocheting, knitting, sewing and animal husbandry, kept rare sheep breeds (called Holly, Molly, Polly and Dolly), have home educated our kids for a while and obtained planning permission for a straw bale, timber-framed, south-facing home to be built in the middle of a market town.
Last year we took the bold step of buying a 26-acre area of deciduous woodland, wetland and scruffy pastureland with our combined pension pots. We then relocated one last time to a 1960’s house fairly near to it in a small old town in North Shropshire, UK. The surrounding area is one of very old farms and farming families, mainly dairy and vegetables. The town itself has a railway station and is near the canal network, so we feel well connected.
We are now at the start of a new journey to establish a semi-urban, permaculture micro-holding at our new house with solar hot water, wood-fueled heating and resilient supplies of essentials. We are passionate about equipping our children with the knowledge and skills they may need in the future but, as they attend a school where most of the families are typically modern and conventional, we need to ensure they are not seen as the wierdo kids. I like how, at present as a family, we are sitting in the middle between business-as-usual modern folks and hugely environmentally conscious people who are committing so much to living lightly on the planet. I see our journey as one that many families could replicate if they chose to.
It has long been a goal of mine to have a number of small home-based enterprises (a ‘portfolio lifestyle’) and now that our youngest daughter has started school, I am launching a number of different small businesses which I hope will enable me to stay at home being the primary caregiver for the children, animals, house and garden but allowing me to contribute to the household income and use my brain and skills. One enterprise is a children’s cooking club providing mobile cooking parties and cooking courses in the school holidays. The other enterprise is a de-cluttering and professional organizing service.
I love writing blog posts and have recently decided to approach book publishers about getting the Becoming Domestic story into a book format. So many people have said, “You should write a book!” when they ask me where I have moved from. I have made a promise to myself this year that I would stop being shy about discussing the harsh issues of climate change, pollution, rising sea levels, soil depletion, forest destruction, and species extinction and start shouting about it as best as I can. MOTHER EARTH NEWS and my original Becoming Domestic blog are places where that is possible.
Thanks for reading and I very much look forward to keeping you up-to-date with our progress on the projects we are starting at home, in the garden, at the woodland and income generating enterprises and the ongoing project of raising our children to be well-equipped citizens of the twenty-first century.
I would love to hear from you via the comments field on this blog. It is always so great to hear from readers and really encourages blog authors to write the next post. Who are you and what are you up to?
Photo by Cathie Ackroyd