Racheal has long been fascinated by homesteading, nutrition, supplementation and health.
Living simply looks different for different people. What does living simply look like for you?
For me, living simply is about living within our means, living from home (as opposed to going out frequently) and being good stewards of the time, relationships and resources, we are blessed with.
Do you have a specific interest that you like to focus on in the area of simple living?
I love trying so many DIY skills, but the one I frequently gravitate to, is food preservation. Partly because I love it, and partly because we are organic market gardeners, so I usually have some form of beautiful produce in abundance, to experiment with!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey toward living a simple life. Was there a catalyst that led you to follow this path?
I was blessed to grow up in a family where mum was a dedicated homemaker. All our main meals were made from scratch, a lot of our clothes were home sewn and she regularly baked fresh snacks for us. Once I got married and started my own family, I was often intrigued with how things were made. Cheese, bread, canned goods and the like. I would scour the local library for good books, and learn these skills from home.
Over time, more interests were added, and I was greatly encouraged and mentored by an older friend who seemed to do everything from weaving to candle making! She taught me how to make soap, some time management skills and she also was a wonderful example of the peace that comes from living simply from home.
We ended up even raising our own sheep and pigs for meat and trying things like sausage making from home. We presently keep bees and breed organic chickens and ducks.
What do you find challenging about trying to live simply?
Right now, living simply doesn’t feel like a challenge, but in the past the challenge has come when/if I feel like I need to do/make everything myself!
Time just doesn’t always (or ever) permit, does it?
Giving ourselves the grace to work with the seasons in our life, rather than against them, helps. For example, if you have a newborn baby, or sickness in the house or a family crisis...don’t feel bad about just buying what you need, instead of feeling guilt over not being able to make/do it all yourself.
What are some of the benefits of this way of life for you?
The health benefits of living simply are abundant. Our market gardening lifestyle means we eat a lot of fresh, chem-free produce, get adequate sunlight, plenty of fresh air and work from home, so we’re not always run off our feet driving places.
As someone who’s experienced an autoimmune disease which generated a lot of brain-fog, I also appreciate how living simply and learning new skills can keep the mind active.
And meeting new and inspiring people with similar interests is always a bonus.
What simple pleasures bring you joy and help you to slow down?
It’s a pleasure to have an afternoon or day where nothing is planned and my imagination bursts with creative ideas about what we can make/do.
It’s also a pleasure to look at the pantry shelf and see nourishing home-preserved goodies, waiting there for us to eat.
Are there any podcasts, books, documentaries or websites that you have found helpful?
Oh, my goodness, there’s so much inspiring material out there!
I think the sources of inspiration change over time. I used to love checking out blogs like www.theprairiehomestead.com or www.theelliotthomestead.com. Weed 'em and Reap - https://www.weedemandreap.com is also interesting if you like to see how a smaller space can be used to homestead.
www.wellnessmama.com is helpful for dietary, health, cleaning and remedial recipes.
Some excellent books we’ve found:
Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chicks by Gail Damerow
Simple and Natural Soapmaking by Jan Berry
The Market Gardener by Jean Martin Fortier
What is something new that you have done or learnt about in the last year?
Once covid restrictions hit, and poultry was in such high demand, I started learning more about refining our poultry breeding for higher hatch rates. The book I found most helpful is listed above.
What would you like to learn about or do in the future?
I’d love to know more about herbs and their uses.
If money or time were no option what would you like to do?
I’d love to do more classes or drop-in sessions from home where interested people could come and learn the skills that they’re interested in. I’m also interested in teaching children basic skills like cooking from scratch.
If people would like to learn more about you and what you do, how can people follow you online or get in contact with you?
We have a business website, www.birdsongmarketgarden.com.au where I occasionally blog, and that features a contact form where I can be emailed.