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The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect


An Iris and Peony Farm and Memory Lane


I cleaned my basement a few weeks ago and found an old video camera with a VCR tape still in it.  You know those giant video cameras we used back in the day?  You could  hook it up directly to the TV and watch the tapes?  And they weigh twenty pounds?  Remember how folks looked so ridiculous with it hoisted up on their shoulder while squinting through the lens and half the time they forgot to press the record button?  Remember those?  So, we set up the VCR and watched ourselves from a decade ago when my oldest child was five and my first son was three.  I know it was NO TV MONTH, but we couldn’t help our curiosity.  I can’t believe how much has happened to us in ten years.


We bought the ugliest house in the world when we moved to St. Louis.  There was teal carpet in the kitchen and everything had been repaired with Liquid Nails.  The first four years in that house were dark and dreary.  I spent a lot of time dreaming about what our lives would be like in ten years, mostly while crying because the roof was leaking or the faucet broke off in my hand or the garage door collapsed or I spilled a huge bowl of vinaigrette on the teal carpet and watched in disbelief as it was soaked up never to be seen again..


We lived in that house for almost six years.  When I walked out the front door for the last time I said, “Good ridance!”  and never shed a tear because that house had wrung enough tears, sweat and blood from me and I was happy to leave it behind.  We did all the renovations to that house with our own hands.  I was eight months pregnant rolling out builder’s felt on the roof as fast as my bloated body would allow while Clay tacked it down because a huge storm was on it’s way and the roof needed to be covered or we would be dealing with more than just a couple leaks.

100_8596We tore out that hideously foul smelling teal carpet and had planned to put down some hard wood floors, but that led to taking out the cabinets and redoing the lights and installing a dishwasher and, and, and…..a few months later we had a brand new kitchen courtesy of my whining and nagging and crying and begging and complete confidence that we could figure out how to do all of it ourselves.  And we did.  Now Clay knows how to install plumbing and electrical and hardwood floors and hang cabinets and here’s the best part…..we’re still married and we really do like each other.


I swore I would never-ever-ever live through another kitchen remodel.  We had our fridge on the back porch for so long that it took several weeks before we stopped sliding open the door to step outside for some milk after the remodel was complete.  I have no idea how I cooked meals, but we were not eating out so we could save any extra money to pay for the kitchen.  So I must have been pretty creative, but I’ve decided not to remember any of it.


It’s still very difficult for me to hire anybody to do any type of work that I think we can figure out ourselves.  And by that I mean I usually do a lot of research and then while we sit on the couch I start scratching Clay’s back I speak in a soft, loving  voice about how I was reading about the simple ways you can build a chicken tractor or rewire your entire house or install a water heater, heat pump, toilette, roof, garage door, tile floor, drywall, garbage disposal, dishwasher, cabinets, canned lights, butcher chickens, raise pigs, build a coop, build raised garden beds…you get the idea.


And with all those things he thinks for a bit, he reads, he ponders and then, eventually he does it.  A few times he’s had to call in help.  But, he’s pretty darn handy and I’m a great cheerleader.

Except in the garden.  That is where he draws the line.  One time I asked him to go pick a pepper for me and he came back with a tomato.  He’s constantly asking me, “What flower is this?” my answer more often than not is, “That’s a weed.”

When we went to the Peony and Iris farm earlier this summer he was overwhelmed by the beauty of these flowers.  He grabbed the camera away from me and snapped photos of the plants as I diligently scanned the price sheet.  Clay eventually decided the white peony was his favorite because it smelled so good.  I totally agreed, but could not decide between the pinks and the pale peaches and oh the coral they were all so beautiful.

You order the plants to be dug in the fall and this helped me decide that maybe I didn’t need a Peony row right now.  So we left with none.

This is how we operate these days.  No impulse purchases.  Nothing can be whined about enough to cause us to open our wallets.

I can live without these pretty plants for a bit longer.  But, that chicken tractor?  I’ll be scratching Clay’s back tonight.

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