Small is Beautiful

The initial instinct that propelled us to move to the country was, like many others who take up smallholding, and as clichéd as it sounds, a search for the ‘good life’. As time has gone on (nearly a decade) we have become much clearer and more politicised about what we are doing here.

We know that it is a huge privilege to own land and we have only ever felt like custodians, the land will be here long after us and we want to put more into our land than we take out. We want to challenge the excesses of global agribusiness and all that entails – environmentally, economically and emotionally and to find ways to live more simply.

We try to employ a subsistence farming model, just growing and rearing enough to feed ourselves and our B&B guests, selling any small excess to our family and friends and engaging in the occasional barter. We aspire to a human scale system, drawing on Schumacher ‘Small is Beautiful’ economic model that enables sustainability. We feel dismay at the inexorable rise of mega farming systems, how dehumanising they are in the way they remove us from the way our food is produced, how human-centric they are to the detriment of the livestock, the way they damage the planet and the way all of this ultimately damages our psyche. It is becoming understood that the (self) harm we are doing to our planet is mirrored in the exponential rise of mental health issues in our communities and the corresponding rise of ‘outdoor’ therapies as ‘antidotes’.

So we try to live simply – growing our food, milking our goats, rearing our pigs and sheep for meat, our hens for eggs. We give them all good, long lives, we contribute to the preservation of rare breeds (as we witness daily the loss of species after species on our planet) and we thank them for the contribution they make to our lives by not wasting a morsel.

Plenty of people visit us and comment that we could have another polytunnel and sell veg boxes, have more sheep, sell more bacon and sausage, sell our goat’s milk soap, but it’s just the two of us and we want to live simply and tread lightly on the earth. We enjoy sharing our experience and we hope to inspire others through our B&B and our smallholding courses, but we don’t want to become employers.

We are inspired by the fable that John Lane tells at the beginning of his lovely book ‘Timeless Simplicity’:

The industrialist was horrified to find the fisherman lying beside his boat, smoking a pipe.

– Why aren’t you fishing?, said the industrialist.

– Because I have caught enough fish for the day.

– Why don’t you catch some more?

– What would I do with them?

– Earn more money. Then you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. That would bring you money to buy nylon nets, so more fish, more money. Soon you would have enough to buy two boats even a fleet of boats. Then you could be rich like me.

– What would I do then?

– Then you could sit back and enjoy life.

– What do you think I’m doing now?

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