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Monday, June 28, 2010

Leaving the Rat Race - The Mid Life Devil's Advocate View

It’s very tempting to think that we can give up our stressful (high paying) job and opt for a simpler way of life. As we travel through mid life, this option looks ever more appealing.

If we take a less stressful job (with less money) we won’t need to spend so much. No more commuting or expensive business suits. Let’s stop trying to keep up with the neighbours and friends and opt for a simpler way of life. We’ve seen most of the world so let’s explore our own country – we’ve always said that we would do that and it’ll be much cheaper than going to the Maldives again.

We can grow our own vegetables, keep chickens and pigs and make our own clothes. We can use green energy. We can cycle to most places, so we only need one car – maybe we don’t need a car at all.

This is all very ‘doable’ and lots of families have travelled this road before. There are many benefits and also a host of issues that you need to consider. The job of the Mid Life Devil’s Advocate is to help you to understand some of these issues. The Advocate isn’t trying to dissuade you from taking up The Good Life, just making sure that you’re aware of some of the ‘warts’.

So what is the Devil’s Advocate’s view of The Good Life? Here are some points to ponder:

  • The first thing that you will consider is growing your own vegetables. See The Mid Life Devil’s Advocate’s earlier advice on growing your own.
  •  If that doesn’t put you off, you’re made of stern stuff – excellent!
  • You may consider keeping chickens to lay eggs and provide a Sunday roast. Your chickens will not lay eggs every day. Some days you will have no eggs, other days you may have several.
  • If you want to breed your own chickens you will need a cockerel. Cockerels crow at first light. They will wake you up. They will also wake your neighbours up, who may not share your passion for chickens.
  • When your eggs hatch, statistically, half of the chicks will be male, which don’t lay eggs. You can rear these to eat when they mature. This requires you killing them when the time comes. Your kids will probably have given names to all of the chickens and might be horrified when you tell them that ‘We’re having Brad Pitt for dinner on Sunday.’ They may never speak to you again when you kill their pets.
  • After you’ve killed the chicken you have to pluck the feathers (ideally when the body is still warm). You then hang it up somewhere, out of reach of the cat and the local fox. Later, you have to cut off its head and feet and pull out its insides (which you can also eat). There is a lot of blood involved and it’s quite a smelly business, all in all. At least it teaches your kids where meat comes from – their pets.
  • You may decide to keep a pig in the garden which will eat the family’s leftovers and which you can kill when it matures and enjoy gammons and hams.
  • Pigs grow quite quickly and will, indeed, eat your scraps. They will also eat everything else in the garden and leave it looking like a ploughed field. They are very lovable (and very intelligent) and you may find that you can’t bring yourself to slaughter it. Your pig then becomes an expensive pet.
  • You could also keep sheep for wool and lamb chops. They won’t turn your garden into a municipal replica of the Somme in 1915 (see Pigs above) but they will eat all of your flowers as well as the grass. They may also become pets if you can’t bring yourself to have them slaughtered.
  • You will then have a source of wool which you can use to spin into yarn and make your own clothes. Very green and very worthy. Also very itchy.
  • If you can bring yourself to have your sheep slaughtered, don’t ask for the head to be returned from the slaughterhouse with the rest of the meat (unless sheep’s eyes and brains are a particular favourite of yours). The kids will not be impressed.
  • Soon you will want a shed. More expense. Rats live under sheds. Wasps often build nests in sheds. Wasps sting.
  • Camping holidays can be great fun. Unless it rains every day and the kids are bored and need to be entertained. At that point, the Maldives look a very attractive option for next year (and probably no more expensive).
  • When you take up cycling you get a very smug feeling inside. You’re getting fit and helping the planet at the same time by not driving your car. You soon realise that roads have hills that you’d never noticed in your car. It’s hard work. Your bottom begins to hurt as it rubs against the saddle. Then you get a puncture and it starts to rain. You push your bike home and open the scotch bottle.
  • Having a wood burning fire is so good for the planet and you don’t need the central heating any more. In the winter, it’s great fun getting up in the cold, with frost on the windows, walking downstairs and lighting the wood burner. Within a couple of hours it’s almost warm enough to take off your thermal vest. Don’t forget to order more wood before your stock runs out.
  • Your green windmill was a great investment and produces enough electricity to meet most of your needs. On windy days.
  • Your compost heap will probably become home for a family of rats.
  • Charity shops stock a wide range of clothes, mostly from dead people. Very reasonably priced.
  • You can hang your washing out to dry in the garden rather than using the tumble dryer. Remember to take them in when it starts to rain and be prepared to wash off the bird poo.
  • Bartering is worth exploring if you have skills to barter – if you have no skills to barter, keep your credit card handy.

If you are keen to adopt The Good Life, don’t let the Mid Life Devil’s Advocate put you off. The points above are all exaggerated (some more than others) to give you a real flavour of what’s in store for you. It is a commendable vision and if you are serious, go for it!

Good luck,

The Mid Life Devil’s Advocate
=======================================
The Mid Life Opportunity (www.MidLifeOp.com) is a community for Mid Lifers. Advice and Guidance will soon be available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join so what are you waiting for? Complete the form on the right hand side of this post…Tx

Please take 1 minute to complete the 2010 Mid Life Survey: Click 
here

34 comments:

  1. It's a serious leap of faith, and one that probably people should actually take baby steps towards, instead of a leap, but speaking as a leaper, it's a wild ride. I've had many ups and downs since I left traditional work.
    still counting my eggs though....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very good points there. Since moving from the USA a whiles back I've taken a leap so to say in my thinking and in my life style. The dorms don't exactly have places to plant, but I do love it when I do have the change to garden a bit these days. Talk about uber relaxing and then I get to reap the best veggies ever!

    --PK

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  3. Leaving the rat race seems to be everybody's dream. However, maybe the old adage "be careful what you ask for" should be in order. Keeping your life simple could be something as simple as dropping out of of some of your busy social schedule. Thanks for a great post!

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  4. I love your post. It reminds me of when my mother was a little girl. She told me she received a chick for Easter. It did not die but grew up to become a chick. She called it Chicken little. When it was large enough her grand mother killed it and had it for dinner.

    Needless to say she eat it. Her grand mother said that "Chicken Little was smooth like butter when she had it. Not everyone could eat Chicken Little but when you are hungry there is not much choice.

    Thank you for bringing this memory back to my mind.

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  5. There's certainly isn't anything wrong with being "Self Sufficient." And if you consider it the "good life" go for it.

    As for me... I like getting my bacon out of the fridge, my chicken all cleaned and ready to cook. That's my idea of the "good life."

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