Our family is reading Farmer Boy right now as our bedtime story. It makes me feel a lot better about the minimal chores I expect my children to accomplish. They understand their charmed life and gain vision on all they really can do!
We all listen with rapt attention to the descriptions of life before electricity, refrigeration, and machinery. Clothes are precious because the yarn comes from sheep shorn on your own farm, wool spun by diligent hands, made into fabric and sewn by expert fingers. A rip in clothing is no excuse to throw it away, mending is a crucial skill.
The food is fascinating too. My kids salivate when Laura Ingalls tells of donuts, oatmeal, and apple pie for breakfast…all in one day! Life on the farm seems like an adventure especially when you get your own oxen. Little do they know, they observe daily a life similar to the one described in Farmer Boy.
We are city folk who live in the midst of an agrarian society. We see strange things that are only strange because we are 2 generations removed from the farm.
Yellow millet sometimes covers the medians of roads right up to the solid white line. One time we drove over some crops laid on the road. The cars driving over beat out the grain.
Vegetables like the one pictured lay out to dry in odd places along fence posts, on house roofs, anywhere there is sun really. Pickled vegetables make up an important part of the diet. I ate a wonderful dish of dried green beans the other day.
Many homes still don’t own refrigerators in the countryside or if they do they are unplugged when someone deems it frivolous to be on. Lamps turned on inside a house in the daytime is an anomaly and deemed quite wasteful. A neighbor was seriously perplexed one day to see our whole family playing outside and our lights on in our apartment.
Cars rarely carry only one person and most people ride bikes or use electric bikes. They, too, often hold multiple people. Frankly, bikes are generally easier to use to get around the neighborhood than cars.
The average household trash can is the size of one normally found in an American bathroom. It is emptied once a day and mostly contains vegetable peels. Ironically, while hosting many of the world’s worst polluted cities, the average citizen produces very little waste.
A few days before Thanksgiving, my friends began inquiring if anyone was going to use the turkey carcass after our meal. She, of course, was the lucky winner. As our friends divided up the leftovers from Thanksgiving including the turkey carcass (for porridge), the broth from the turkey (for noodles), and the side dishes (to eat the next day), I admired their skill in frugality.
I often choose convenience over limiting waste. I don’t fall far from my American heritage even after more than a decade overseas.
There is much to admire in the resourcefulness needed to live a life of such little waste and such thankfulness for what is provided from God.