The Good Life was a 1970’s television classic, starring Richard Briers and Penelope Keith who, much to the dismay of their somewhat snooty neighbours, set about making their home self sufficient. They rather disturbed the status quo of the neighbourhood, but managed to live a great lifestyle. Nowadays, sustainability is far more in fashion – and can be enjoyed by all age groups.
Superannuitants have the ideal opportunity to indulge in an oily rag lifestyle. They have time on their hands and by some miraculous intervention, money appears in their bank accounts every second Thursday! While the pension is not a fortune, it helps pay for some of the basics that may be a little impractical to provide oneself – like electricity!
We hear some retirees in Auckland are selling their pricey handkerchief-sized sections and buying more spacious homes with larger backyards in the provinces, while still having hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank! That way they are having the best of both worlds – enjoying the pleasures of the Good Life and having the security of having a nest-egg should the need arise.
It’s so easy to convert even a small section into a perpetual source of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the opportunities are endless if you have a paddock or two to play with.
Grandma from Christchurch writes, “On my 1/8th acre section I have a feijoa hedge, raspberries at the borders, and apple, nectarine and lemon trees. Herbs in a small above ground garden by the back door, beans and peas climb up fences on wire mesh. Asparagus in a plot and yams in an old barrel as they spread into anything. Plus a small plot for cabbage, broccoli, red onions, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, plus many more during the season. I plant veges that are more expensive to buy – and I live well!”
Maureen writes, “I am 76 years of age so was brought up in the days of waste not want not. It amazes me sometimes when I see waste especially lights being left on, food being thrown out when it could be used the next day, vegetable scraps going down the waste disposal unit instead of being composted, huge areas of land covered in lawn or weeds instead of it being a vegetable garden and orchard etc.”
JB from Whangarei is living the good life. “Living cheaply has been a 20 year preoccupation which we call self-sufficiency and it all began with planning. We moved to a piece of land where we can grow all our food – veges, fruit, meat, eggs – as well as make hay for the animals and have firewood trees for the woodstove. We thought about all our needs so we are not having to produce a high income to live well. We now have our own homemade wine from our grapevine, jars of sauce, and preserves, and enough surplus to take to the markets or trade with friends. It has taken planning but we can now live very cheaply without having to cope with full time work as we age.”
JB says they are able to barter most of the things they need. “We have friends who will mulch our gorse with their tractor, and let us use their workshop for carpentry. Whenever we get a favour, we make sure we return it though. One friend likes a bottle of our homemade rum, and another likes a roast of lamb from our own flock. Many of these people don’t have time for the activities we enjoy because they are too busy making money – asset rich, time poor.”
Rosana from Opotiki says, “The great oily rag ideas have really inspired my lifestyle. From Townie to Coastie, now 51 years old it’s time to get back to nature. We do a swap – hen eggs for duck eggs, or a cake or a batch of fried bread for some cows’ full-cream milk. But the best part is making new friends. I am hoping to revive a small orchard and grow all my own veges this summer.”
H M K from Waipukurau writes, “We have a decent sized vegetable patch, with raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants under netting. We have a row of coppicing gum trees (which means they regrow after being cut at the base) for firewood, lemons, apples, plums, walnuts (which we trade for hazel nuts and almonds), sweet chestnuts, feijoas and peaches all help, and our three hens lay up to 10 eggs a week (which means a couple have a day off!). Various herbs can be found among the flowering plants.”
There are so many great co-ops now that there are endless opportunities to grow what does well on your patch of dirt and trade it for other things you need.
Please send in your tips and queries by visiting the oily rag website (www.oilyrag.co.nz) or by writing to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.