… the hardest step (is) letting go of what its expected from life or what you feels required in you and embracing what is needed for you and your family. –Rebecca Stewart

By Tony Orman

Finding another way to live

Rebecca and David Stewart made a deliberate move to a secluded corner of the King Country aimed at settling into a self-sufficiency style of living. This book is about the move and the adaptions towards a lifestyle strongly based on self-sufficiency.

Rebecca writes that “the hardest step (is) letting go of what its expected from life or what you feels required in you and embracing what is needed for you and your family.”

In the case of Rebecca and David, a major consideration was the well-being of their disabled daughter. They also wished to show their other daughter that there was another way to live, a simpler life “away from the consumerism of the world.”

“Modern living puts everything at our fingertips, anything we want is there if we just earn enough to buy it. But often we spend more time working to pay for this life than actually living it.”

“We needed to change the way we at – to make health a priority and truly learn what food was our medicine – only to find out, if we ate the right foods, we didn’t need medicine. These changes all took time and are still happening because we never stop learning.” The lessons learned are sound, sensible advice to the reader enhanced by the author’s easy, engaging writing style.

The couple chose to “homestead” — an American concept, but applicable to New Zealand in looking back towards pioneering days. Back then, while some staples such as flour, salt, tea and coffee were bought in bulk, much of vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy were produced from the surrounding land.  The homestead was the heart of the property, says Rebecca Stewart, where these foods were turned into cheese and butter, preserved in jars and bottles as jams, syrups, chutneys and bottled fruit. The meat was hung and often bacon, ham, sausages and salamis were made or meat was stored in lard, tallow oil salt to extend its shelf life.

“There is profound satisfaction in knowing that the meal before you is all home-grown, a sense of achievement that keeps many people bound to this life.”

Moving into self-sufficiency
But you don’t need several hectares for so in the backcountry to move towards greater self-sufficiency. Learning to shop seasonally, cooking with simple ingredients and a small vegetable garden can be done anywhere. The Stewarts aimed for a natural, “low cost to no cost” garden—returning nutrients back to the soil.”

This book will be of strong interest and providing valuable information for anyone, and especially so, given the rising cost of living. That is currently a big issue in New Zealand and is being debated as the parties shape up for the October election.

Considerations on moving towards self-sufficiency
If the choice is made to head for the country, there are economic and family considerations. The more remote the block of land, the lower the land price, but also the more expensive it is to get to and that includes moving and bringing in resources. 

Having school age children can limit options unless you take on home schooling where you have the freedom to choose how and what your children are taught. In the light of current trends by government to bizarre, fact-less changes to school curricula, this might be a big plus to home school.

All in all Life on Fodder Farm is an excellent book, nicely produced and full of great advice on a more natural healthy lifestyle. Strongly recommended.

Life on Fodder Farm: A journey to self-sufficiency by Rebecca Stewart, is published by Upstart Press, RR Price $39.99