so you want the simple life? Part I

As I write this, another layer of snow falls dreamily to the ground. It’s so high-piled now that I can scarcely see through my picture window. I’m afraid this means another day of not leaving the homestead, but instead basking in the excuse of not exercising outdoors.

Or perhaps not. In reality, I have just returned from a walk in 60 degree weather. It was spectacular, and I am a thankful woman.

South Dakota photography

Just a common giant, enjoying a leisurely walk around the farm... la-d-da

ย ~~~

In connection with the New Year, many resolutions and anti-resolutions have been surfacing around the web this week. One agreed upon consensus seems to be in motion, and that is a resolve to live a simpler life.

Unsurprisingly, I am in full support of this, and identify with the seduction of a simple lifestyle.

But as I’ve said a time or two, and those who read and live it knowingly nodded along, the simple life… well, it’s not always so simple. Especially if your pursuits find you in the middle-of-nowhere.

South Dakota photography

This post is not to discourage anyone, but to remind you, and me, that nothing is picture perfect…

For instance, when my neighbor and I meet up at the small country church for a walk, we rarely meet another soul on our trek. The occasional Hutterite, here and there, but for the most part, it’s just us. Can you handle one-on-one, uninterrupted conversations?

I can go days on the farm without human interaction, other than Country Man when he arrives home. It’s me and the cattle and the dogs and cats and tractors. Oh, I could drive the 20 miles to town, but unless you’ve made up a list of stops to make, you’re displaying a lack of frugality that is essential for country living.

South Dakota photography

All that solitude means if you’re not intentional, there’s a high chance you’ll try to find other ways to fill your soul. If you’re rooted in something good, such as faith or photography, you’ll avoid a lot of country life foibles.

South Dakota photography

The simple, quiet kind of life can strip you raw. A painful process, but the benefits of surviving through it arise at unexpected times. You discover needs in yourself you didn’t know you possessed. You will learn to be a friend by becoming the type of friend you hope for. You will embrace yourself as friend. You will experience loneliness, and with grit, will come through with a deeper level of compassion for people. It’s all purposeful.

Well, thank you for reading this first part of what I’ve learned on our South Dakota farm.

I hope you are having a great week so far. It’s January, and I am saying this: it’s just too darn nice to be inside!

South Dakota photography

Kitty agrees...


78 thoughts on “so you want the simple life? Part I

  1. One-on-one conversations are what I enjoy best – I’m not thrilled with large groups. I once read a book written by a woman who purposefully spent 40 days (I think) of solitude, and she talks about the difficulties she encountered like loneliness, etc., but she also talks about the same kinds of inner discoveries you mention and some others too. She said it was hard, but the most worthwhile journey of her life.

  2. I believe that the hardest person to be truly alone with is yourself. If you can be at peace being alone you can be at peace anywhere and with anyone. I personally enjoy pursuing my artistic adventures much more in solitude whether it be blogging, reading, cooking, painting or photography and I’m sure you do to. Creativity always is easier without distraction. The simple life you describe sounds very nice to me:) Happy New Year!! Enjoy:)

  3. Oh, I just love kitty!
    I grew up in a rural area – about 10-12 miles from the nearest small town. So I “get” what you’re saying. But it looks like you have lots of company there – of the 4-legged variety. At least you have a neighbor that likes to walk with you!

  4. I follow your blog/posts but have never commented before, I decided to start saving my “favorite” ones to a special file on my computer but soon realized that they were all My favorites. And YOU are my favorite read, thank you!

  5. Isn’t it amazing how seldom people who ache to be ‘alone with their thoughts’ have truly considered what that might mean! It seems to me that you are a much more self-reliant yet open person than many, and surely that’s been called upon a *great* deal as you’ve lived this life of yours in the country. Blessings to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. You hit it right on the nose in that last paragraph! After living in the mountains for two months, well, I do have a new perspective on things. Can’t wait to get back in town, but it’s been a healing experience. I really enjoy your posts, and quite honestly, their simplicity. Thank you!!!

  7. Always love to hear you musing on your life and its challenges — because no matter where you live, there are going to be challenges, and it helps to get that perspective. Happy New Year!! (can’t wait for part 2!)

  8. The challenges are universal for a thoughtful person. And in the country there are less distractions tempting people to run away into. I always adore reading your posts and musings and I am really looking forward to PART 2.

  9. Now tell me girlfriend, what would be the music playing in the background if there were music? I just love the shadow photo but I know there should be music playing somewhere…..ha ha ha

  10. can I just say amen, amen and amen? as a fellow country wife, I hear you. the only difference is that I have the babe to talk to during the day. he doesn’t really talk back much at this point though. i am in the midst of being stripped raw, and you’re right. it’s hard. and there might be tears involved. but it is a worthy pursuit.

    • Oh yes, expect tears. There are some difficult days, but I have no doubt you’re a grounded girl already. You’ll be amazed as things become quieter, the still small voice becomes louder. (Until the little man finds his way to talk back, of course! ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Thank you for stopping in, Rachel!

  11. Interesting to read your thoughts on living in the country. Today I was reading some thoughts of my “townie” friends, and one was complaining about some lady that just started chatting her up, while waiting in a line. “She didn’t even know me!” she said.
    She acted like the poor woman was a nut job or something.

    I laughed at first, but then realized that the lady that had been “chatting her up” might just as easily have been me. I spend a great deal of time here on the Farmlet alone. I have my fur friends to talk to, but it isn’t the same as the verbal response you can get from those you meet in town. Well, I just hope the folks I’ve ‘chatted up’ didn’t think the worse of me for doing so! LOL!

  12. I have dreams about “the simple life” but since they involve me drifting magically through life only doing things I want to do like writing and cross-stitch and traveling and spending time with my family without worrying about such practicalities as housework and finances, somehow I don’t think I’m ready for it yet. I do know loneliness, though. You can be surrounded by people and still be lonely but I bet it’s even harder on the farm!

    Thank you for your post.


  13. “You will learn to be a friend by becoming the type of friend you hope for.” I love this. I’m not a religious gal, per se, but the Golden Rule is definitely my spiritual guide.

    You’re an inspiration!

  14. This post takes me back to the time when I lived alone in my twenties. I would spend hours outside in the yard, just sitting in the warm sun and gazing at the trees rustling in the breeze with my cats sitting in my lap. I think it’s only in those moments when you can truly find your genuine self and reconnect with God again. You have nothing and nobody to answer to, you’re forced to confront the timelessness that is life. And it is beautiful.

  15. I love your shadow photo. It’s like you’re poised ready to dance into the plain. The turn of your head shows you ready to capture that thing/moment/creature you are ready to observe/remember/engage. Stillness with energy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. I have a friend who owns a small farm in upstate New York with chickens, sheep and a few donkeys. He’s a writer too. People often tell him that he lives a simple, perfect life. He finds that funny because he thinks people should want to live their own perfect lives, not his life.

    What I took away from your post is that the simple, perfect life starts within you! I love that and I’m going to share it with him

  17. My dad used to say, “The monster is always bigger around every corner”. That didn’t make much sense until I was a little older and realized that with every promotion, every accomplishment of a dream, every change for the better, would inevitably come challenges that made it in many ways much more difficult than life before the “greener pastures”.
    Your situation does look ideal from my perspective, and I believe that I would like to retire some day into something similar. But it’s good to be reminded that even with that corner, there will assuredly be monsters to battle.

  18. You are absolutely right about the simple life. It’s never perfect and it’s not easy. Initially, I do think that the simple life takes much more hard labor, but we are rewarded with great satisfaction that comes from that labor.
    Myself, living 30 miles from town, it may seem difficult to only go once a week, but it is liberating staying away from the hustle and bustle, knowing that I don’t have to take part in that rat race very often. Good for you for being okay with just you and the animals. Not many can pull it off these days without going crazy.

  19. And sometimes the quiet is nice. No it is not always nice nor easy but you learn so much about who you are and where you need to go in life. Plus when you have that winter snow piling up outside, you are comfortable knowing you can stay in place for a few days or even a week. Some people would go crazy if they had to stay home for a couple of days.
    Keep enjoying your simple life with all its complications.

  20. I keep coming back to your blog. It reminds me of my early days, starting a life with my new husband in remote areas of California. Some of my earlier blog posts were about those days and I called them “The Mrs. Mike Years.” Looking back, there were some remarkable memories and I can see you are making them too. Your post is delightful and I can surely relate.

  21. Tiffy loves reading your blog and has nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award:) We really enjoy hearing about all the great country adventures and seeing pictures of your adorable dogs:)

  22. I live in a semi-remote part of Maryland, surrounded by country, forest, and farms. The earth here lays herself bare once a year with winter. She becomes lonely, for the kids who used to swim in her creek, run through her woods, have all huddled indoors; the farmers who till her have turned to maintaining their tractors and homes; the lovers no longer walk on her dirt roads and beaten paths, instead they cozy-up fireside. But my dog and I still take our hikes, we bear the cold, and I’ve learned from her that the solitude isn’t all that bad. Sounds like a great life you lead, you and your art (and all the animals, all those friends)!

  23. Thanks for your depth and perception. It is refreshing to hear that even when the grass seems greener, life is sometimes life, with all the good and bad, wherever you are! God has a way of breaking down our defenses, wherever we are.

    Thanks for the insight…enjoying reading your blog a bunch!


  24. My husband and I also live 25 minutes from the nearest town (or Wal-Mart–gasp!), and we have to try to plan our trips accordingly. I visited friends in a large city this weekend, and we were discussing the pros and cons of our very disparate lives. I would sometimes like to walk to a wonderful ice-cream shop or World Market, but when it comes to taking my evening walks and not seeing a soul for three miles, the peace cannot be beat. Here’s to the simple life!

  25. Funny how different we all can be. I live on 10 acres on the outskirts of town and I purposefully avoid going to town and I grumble and gripe when I must go for supplies and groceries. I tend to recharge and draw energy being alone and enjoy living as a hermit. Of course, FD is here too, but he travels a good bit. I am always thankful he is but a phone call away in case I need tech support for a mechanical failure or some type of emergency. I am always happy to have him home, living a life of happiness and deep love. My alone time is therapy and enlightenment. I never did well with crowds and noise. What a thoughtful post on simple living.

  26. Theres something about your life (and yourself) that’s so comforting and real. Perhaps I should move to the country side; the city tends to bring out the bitter in me! I hope you keep blogging and posting pictures. I really enjoy reading your blogs. Hopefuly some of your optimism and wonderful outlook on life will rub of on me ๐Ÿ™‚


  27. Thank you! This was so inspirational! Right now, I am a city girl, but once I finish school, my boyfriend and I plan on moving to the country. Thanks for reminding me everything isn’t so crazy everywhere!

  28. Love your photos… Love your blog ๐Ÿ™‚ You are living my dream right now! We’re living over in Eastern MT… same crazy warm weather. You are a wonderful writer with a great spirit! Loved browsing through your blog ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. When I was in high school, we read a novel about life on the prairie and how hard it is. I wish I could remember the name of it because it was terrific. I think we of the cities and suburbs don’t appreciate how difficult it must be for you to be so isolated.

  30. Pingback: so you want the simple life? Part II « The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife

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