Some Rules for Living in the Woods

May 11, 2013

We have some fundamental rules that we try to live by in order to keep life simple and easy up here in the woods. I think we should begin our blog firstly by talking about these “rules”. Please keep in mind they are in no particular order.

Zach’s first and foremost rule (the only one he mentions every time I ask him if he has any other rules) is Useful, Useful, Useful. It seems pretty self-explanatory, but so do most of our rules. What he means is that if it doesn’t have at least three functions* (1. Useful 2. Useful and 3. Useful) it is going to end up not getting used and taking up valuable space and time. It basically ends up owning you.

*Exclusions are must-haves, single purpose items that you need like rakes, shovels, pitchforks, etc. It also doesn’t have to have three uses, but can be used on or with at least three other items (like a Sear’s mechanic’s kit that can be used to fix lots of things around the homestead.

Personally, I am still new to Homesteading and find the triple threat of UUU hard to live by without feeling deprived sometimes. So I aim for Useful 40% of the time and Useful-Useful 60% of the time. I try to not own too many friviolous things, and most of them live in storage at my fabulous friend’s place until we finish the bigger 20’ yurt.

Some of our examples are cast-iron pans (frying, grilling, baking), craft hobbies like leather-work and knitting (entertainment and you beautify and/or make things you may really need). Sometimes not all the UUU ave to be physical, tangible things. Sometimes if “Making you feel good” or “meditative” is high on the list, that is a worthy thing. Life shouldn’t all be work, but it should be mostly pleasant and enjoyable. Even in our garden we employ this by planting things like a medicinal herb garden. While I may not have the time or skill to process every single herb at its peak moment of harvest, usually it works well for either attracting pollinators, drawing up minerals from deeper in the earth to make the topsoil more fertile, acting as a bait plant for some pest I don’t want going after my edibles (our food…), or all of the above. Plants can be used for more than one purpose, and taking advantage of your backyard microclimates is a whole subject that deserves its own post.

Our next rule I’d like to talk about today is to Practice Being a Minimalist, as in the practice of being a minimalist. We don’t own things we can’t use on a regular basis. Things require upkeep, so the less we own that has one purpose or use, the less things we have to upkeep. Being a minimalist means to me, being comfortable in as small a space as is reasonable. That’s good considering the fact we spend our time in a 12’ yurt.

Our woodstove is a cook top, our futon is both a couch and a bed, the baby’s bed is also daytime storage, our coffee table is a dining table and the last third of our bed at night when the futon is turned down.

It is hard to live small, and it is harder to live simple, but is well worth the reward if you find it agreeable to your own lifestyle.

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