Monday, November 23, 2009

The Good Life

One of the reasons I started this blog was to report on what I was doing in the SCA and, although I've done nothing while I've been in the US, I will be going back to it when I get back to England. But I've realised that it's more than just sewing costumes.

I have always been fascinated with the way people lived their lives before industrialisation, before mass produced consumer goods and labor saving devices. I started reading the Little House books when I was six and re-reading them recently I realised that even more than the story what I really loved were the descriptions of the way they lived their lives, how different how they did things were from today. I love descriptions of the Home Front during WWII, with their Victory gardens and their mend and make do mentality.

I called my blog "The View from the Manor" because I love the idea of medieval manors, the way they produced almost everything they needed from their own land - wood from woodland; stone from quarries; meat from cows, sheep, chicken, ducks, geese, pigeons, rabbits, wild game living in the woodland; eggs from the poultry; fish from ponds, rivers, creeks; wool from the sheep; milk, cream and cheese from the cows. They often had their own smithies, dairies, carpenters. They wove cloth from the wool produced by their sheep and made their own clothes, tanned leather from their cows and furs from rabbits and wild game. They grew fruit in orchards, produce in kitchen gardens, as well as both culinary and medicinal herbs; wheat, barley, oats and other grains in the fields. Their own hives produced bees to pollinate their plants, as well as make honey and wax to be made into candles and ointments.

This is what I want - my own manor. I would love to be self-sufficient, to wear clothes which I wove from wool produced from my own sheep. To eat honey and make candles from my own bees. To learn to make cheese from my own cow's milk. To grow heirloom fruit and vegetables which not only taste better but preserve old varieties which are in danger of extinction. To know where my food came from, and limit my environmental impact. I've recently been reading about how much fossil fuel it takes to grow, harvest, package, ship and store most food and I feel I need to make an effort to limit this for myself and my family.

OK, I know I don't have my own manor, just a suburban back yard, but it's a place to start, and I can always dream about owning a few acres in the country.

I know it would be a lot of work but I want the satisfaction of knowing that I have provided for myself and my family - not just by working in an office and bringing in a paycheck, but by spending time, and sweat, and care directly on what we will be using. I think that, when I look at myself in the mirror at night, I'll like the person I see a lot better.


  1. I remember when we were kids and we were sooo interested in the medieval life!! The stories you would tell! I have also been thinking more about living off the land. We only had a few tomato plants this year, but hopefully we'll have more of a garden this coming year. I'll have to brush up on my canning skills!!

  2. We had a marathon peach canning session in late summer (the first time I had done any canning since I was a kid) and it was so much fun. Lauren and his family and Fin's parents came down as well and dad set up a stove outside under the carport so we weren't sweltering. He and I went peach picking first thing in the morning and then we spent the day canning and then I went on to make peach jam and plucot (a cross between a plum and an apricot) jam. I was totally exhausted by the end of the day but so happy and pleased with myself!


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