a few of the benefits of living somewhere a bit wilder

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Approximately hundred years ago, the vast majority of human beings – including those living in Europe and the United States – lived in rural settings, with only a minority of the population living in highly urbanised environments.

Today, the situation is the exact reverse, with urban areas being highly crowded population centres, and the wilder parts of the world being increasingly sparsely populated.

Throughout almost the entire span of human existence up until this point, we have lived in natural settings that bear virtually no resemblance to modern cities and large towns, and there’s a lot of evidence that living somewhere a bit wilder and a bit closer to the heart of nature can convey all sorts of different potential upsides.

Civilisation provides many amazing benefits, ranging from modern healthcare, to the ability to purchase the best quality eyeglasses for your needs, within moments, via the Internet.

Fortunately, living in a wilder or more rural area doesn’t mean that you have to become a hermit and totally turn your back on technology and modern innovations.

Here are a few of the benefits of living somewhere a bit wilder.

A much closer connection to nature and a sense of being part of a greater whole

For a long time now, a wide variety of people have reported feeling alienated, atomised, and disconnected as a result of city living.

Sociologists dating back at least to the 1800s have made the point that living in dense urban centres naturally creates a sense of distance and disconnection from other people, even when you are completely surrounded by them, and fosters sensations of anxiety and rootlessness.

As human beings, we all need to have a sense of connection to a greater whole in order to really thrive – and that sense of connection to a greater whole frequently comes in the form of a connection to nature, and the more natural and organic kinds of communities that tend to develop in wilder and more rural settings.

Increasingly, psychologists are finding that people who regularly spend time in nature enjoy an enhanced sense of well-being, feel more balanced and whole, and suffer less from many of the issues that afflict people in urban environments.

The psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, for example, makes a compelling case that urban environments keep us completely submerged in a landscape of human artifice, which makes it very difficult for us to feel the sense of organic wholeness that we associate with things like the natural world, and nourishing interpersonal relationships.

Regular opportunities for “silence” and getting in touch with what really matters

One of the most common issues that afflicts virtually everyone today, is the sheer, ever-present, overpowering nature of the various distractions that we are surrounded by day and night.

Whether it’s advertising, worrying stories in the news, the latest celebrity gossip or cultural event, notifications in your social media feeds, or any number of other things, it can often be overwhelming just going through day-to-day life while trying to maintain a bit of balance and poise.

On the one hand, having your attention under constant attack is certainly annoying, but the issue might be significantly more serious than that.

The highly accomplished Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge, who – among other things – was the first man to walk solo to the South Pole, believes that we all need moments of “silence” and freedom from distraction on a regular basis, in order to help us get in touch with our authentic selves, and truly thrive.

For Kagge, many of his best moments of what he calls “silence” came about when he was doing feats of endurance in extreme natural environments.

In recent years, however, he has written a book entitled “Silence in the Age of Noise,” and he argues that it’s possible for us all to find moments for this kind of silence in our own daily lives.

Living in a wilder and more natural area naturally makes it easier to escape the countless distractions that so often bombard us. Simply stepping outside into your garden, going for a stroll, or even just turning off your TV, opening the window, and listening to the sounds of nature, can help you to take a breather.

Importantly, it’s in these kinds of moments of calm and quiet that we often realise what it is that we actually find most significant and meaningful in life.

A higher baseline level of physical activity

As you hear from a huge number of different sources, one of the most pressing public health issues across the developed world today is sedentary living, and lower and lower baseline levels of physical activity for the average person.

Maintaining a high level of low-to-moderate intensity physical activity on a regular basis is associated with all sorts of fantastic health benefits, ranging from improving cardiovascular function, to maintaining a healthy body weight, enjoying an enhanced sense of well-being, experiencing improved immune function, and more.

Living in a wilder locale almost automatically means a higher baseline level of physical activity, as you walk more around your neighbourhood, go strolling through the landscape, potentially work in your garden or on your smallholding, and so on.

At the very least, you’ll almost certainly find it easier to motivate yourself to go out for a stroll if you have some beautiful natural scenery to appreciate just beyond your front door.

Daily opportunities for fascination and insight

It’s probably fair to say that everyone wants their life to be full of moments of fascination, novelty, and insight – and living in a wilder and more natural setting can provide a virtually endless number of opportunities in this regard, if you approach things in the right way.

The natural world is an extremely intricate and fascinating web of different interdependent organisms, forces, and dynamics.

In her book, “Finding the Mother Tree,” plant scientist and former forester Suzanne Simard describes some of the profound ways in which trees and other plants communicate, engage in deeply intricate symbiotic relationships, and shape forests as essentially interconnected, living and breathing mega-organisms.

Whether you are interested in hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, or other high-octane sporting activities, or whether you want to take up birdwatching, explore the forests, try your hand at beekeeping, plant a vegetable garden, or a variety of other things, there are opportunities – on a daily basis – to explore new avenues, delve into new interests, and keep a childlike sense of wonder alive.

While there are certainly all kinds of different things to do in urban environments, the very nature of those environments tends to give us less room to explore and experience those sorts of primal pastimes. Instead, urban environments typically present a preset number of different recreational activities.

Less pollution

Pollution is one of the most pressing issues in the world today, and a lot has been said – and continues to be said – about the ways in which air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, and more are not only undermining the stability of the planet’s various ecosystems, but also directly harming human health.

Many common pollutants, for example, have been associated with hormonal changes and an increased risk of serious disease.

While many modern cities are far cleaner than they used to be, and while there are pollution concerns in certain rural areas, related largely to pesticides, living in a relatively wild area is likely to mean you will be exposed to significantly less pollution, and can literally “breathe easier” as a result.

Particularly if you have a young family to raise, things like the relative pollution levels in your environment might be major factors to consider, when planning for the future.

More space

It almost goes without saying that living in a wilder and more rural environment automatically tends to mean that you have more space available – both in terms of a larger home and plot of land at a more affordable price, and also in terms of more space between you and your neighbours.

There are many potential benefits to simply having more space at your disposal – ranging from the fact that it might allow for a more comfortable style of living, the fact that it might allow you to work on various projects and interests of yours that would be difficult to work in a more urban environment.

For example, you might be able to create a small barn or workshop, grow a well-sized garden, keep a certain number of livestock, or a variety of other things.

A bit more space between you and your neighbours also means a bit more privacy, and less of the sense of claustrophobia that people sometimes experience when living in crowded cities.

Ultimately, living somewhere wilder can really allow you to tailor your living situation to your particular preferences, in a variety of different ways that will often be at least quite difficult, if not impossible, elsewhere.

** This was a contributed post.

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the fruits of my labour

With the change of the season came the need to harvest our gardens. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t plant as wisely as I could have. We moved to our acreage in early March and then created two small gardens from scratch. I planted vegetables late in the season in one, only to uproot them and move them all to the second one a few months later. My husband warned me that doing so would mostly likely kill them. It didn’t, but it certainly stunted their growth!

Negativity aside, everything managed to grow. It was just on the smaller side, or cute side as I like to call it. I was still able to get a haul of everything that we use in the kitchen daily.

Remy and I harvested some white onions, green onions, thyme, and bell peppers. We even managed to cut down one massive sunflower that grew from one tiny seed from the children’s festival.

The afternoon was bitterly cold, and our haul was on the tinier side, but it was a summer filled with growth. All of our hard work paid off in the end. I was able to learn a lot from my first two gardens, which will only benefit me next year! I will start my seeds earlier, plan better, and with Geoffrey’s help, build a larger and raised garden bed on the west side of our property.

Trial and error is never a bad thing. I still call this past season a successful one.

For any gardening tips please leave them in the comments below!

Emory

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our acreage: gardens

When we first moved out here, we didn’t have a garden. Geoffrey and I talked about making a large vegetable garden somewhere in our yard, but we couldn’t agree on where. What we did agree on was waiting at least a full year to think about it and get a feeling for where it would work best before we went ahead and dug up the grass. Then the snow began to melt.

What we noticed first was a small square perimeter of wood in our front yard. As the snow melted more, we began to see sand. Once it completely disappeared, we were left with an old 8′ x 8′ sandbox that had clearly been neglected. Not wanting to keep it a sandbox because of all the stray cats and wildlife around here, I eventually chose for it to become my rock garden.

I envisioned a desert-inspired garden with lots of cacti and rocks. I asked many people what I should do to transform this sandbox into a usable, grow-able space and was given lots of ideas. My sister-in-law was the most knowledgeable, so I listened mostly to her. The first thing I did was stain the wood. I chose a darker colour called “Coffee” thinking that it would contrast our light grey house nicely. I went in blind since I had no idea what exterior theme we would eventually go with- modern, western, etc. I therefore aimed for a slightly more modern look.

Next I dug several 1′ x 1′ holes. I think I started with around seventeen. Then I filled them with soil. It was still too cold to plant anything, so for days I just stared out the window at these holes. To me, it looked much too cluttered. I decided to fill those holes back in with sand and dig new ones. This time I ended up with ten. Much better.

Over the next few weeks, I set about getting everything planted in my garden. I started by propagating a few cacti that were growing in our home. Right away it was clear that they weren’t going to survive. (I was too excited and planted them too early.) Then my next door neighbour gave me thyme to put in my garden. I thought, ‘OK, this will be a thyme and cacti rock garden’. A few days later I went to a greenhouse and came back not with cacti but bell peppers, white onions, succulents, and red Canadian roses. Clearly my desert-inspired garden was slowly becoming a vegetable/flower garden. Oh well!

Have you ever tried growing green onion in water from food scraps? It is ridiculously easy, even for a brown thumb like me! After you buy some from the grocery store and consume the dark green part of the vegetable, take the leftover part (the white bulb with roots attached) and put it in a glass of water. Be sure to change the water every day or every second day. Almost instantly you will see new growth occur. I did this for about two weeks before I transplanted them into my garden. That’s when they really took off! They are over 3 feet tall. I have never seen green onion quite like this before. Geoff and I still laugh about how massive they are.

To finish it off, I purchased large river stones to cover the sand. I think that it took around eight bags. Then I bought small smooth pebbles to fill in the gaps. I found the large rocks to line the plant holes along the dirt roads that we walk on everyday.

After filling my rock garden with all of the plants and vegetables that I could think of, I felt like that it began to look a little disorganized. Somewhere along the way I lost my vision of a minimalist cacti haven. Following advice from my mother-in-law and mum to start a garden along the garage, I decided to do just that. I removed the rhubarb from the rock garden, then the sunflower plant, then the white onions, then the peppers, and put them in my new garden that Geoff made for me by rototilling a long and narrow patch. We also added the peonies that we took from our other house. Garden thieves.

I tended to that second garden for a few weeks before I began to notice that every night animals were digging in it. After a lengthy search on Pinterest, I found simple and practical fence options that one could DIY in a matter of a few days. Back I went to Geoffrey, asking him to now build a fence around our spontaneous little garden. He was probably hesitant at first, but once I showed him the pictures, he became very excited and said that he would love to do it.

As an added treat, I took the kids to visit an out-of-town friend for two days. Armed with music, beer, and hot weather, he constructed the cutest darn fence that we have ever had. He used cement, chicken wire, and treated 2′ x 4’s and posts. Then I laid down mulch.

We finished it off by adding hinges and a latch on the gate. Beautiful and practical. Yet, we weren’t done.

Once I saw how lovely the treated lumber looked, I knew that my slightly-modern outdoor theme was now out the window. Rustic was the way to go for our acreage. This meant that I wanted to change the stained wood that housed my rock garden. I sent Geoffrey back to Home Depot for treated 2′ x 6’s. He went and picked them up, then came home and replaced the wood, making it much taller as well. I love the way it turned out. This rock garden will forever remind me of my sister-in-law.

Next year we have plans for raised flower beds in an enclosure along the sunnier side of the garage. Until then, these are our acreage gardens.

Emory

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growing a daisy ecocube

I must confess that Geoffrey bought me this cube of daisy seeds nearly two years ago. I remember because it’s the first time that I noticed that my favourite flower is also known as ‘Marguerite’. A few days after learning this, we watched the zombie film “Maggie” and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter, Abigail Breslin, is also named Marguerite. I thought it was a strange coincidence.

Getting back to the cube, I never could bring myself to open it due to a few reasons. One is that I can’t grow anything that isn’t a succulent. Two, the packaging itself was too darn cute. Every time I was about to open it I found myself putting it right back down next to my other plants. I kept telling myself “next month.” 

That month never came. Until recently, that is. Nearly two years later, I’m getting rid of things we no longer need. This includes furniture, baby items, and throwing out dying plants. I knew that it was now or never with growing this daisy cube. 

The instructions of the ecocube are as follows:

1. Open and pull back sticker.

2. Carefully pour 30 ml of water into the cube.

3. Keep the ecocube at a bright, warm place.

4. After 7-14 days, the daisy will start growing.

5. After another 10 weeks the daisy will start blooming.

6. After about 12 months you can bury the entire cube in a pot.

7. The ecocube slowly decomposes and turns into a valuable fertilizer for the plant.

Right now I’m probably on week 3. The seeds have begun growing but are nowhere near blooming. I’m hoping that they will. I really love the idea of an ecocube.

Do you have experiences with anything similar to this?

<3

Emory

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indoor/outdoor succulent basket – diy

Many weeks ago, I had gone to one of my favourite local greenhouses to buy a hanging succulent basket. I thought that the front of our house desperately needed one, and I had seen these types of hanging planters when I had gone there previously. I had never thought of filling a basket with succulents instead of flowers, and after leaving empty handed that day, I couldn’t get them out of my mind. So after days and days of pining over them, I decided to go back and buy one!

I wasn’t sure how much they cost, but I was hoping that they wouldn’t be more than $50. When I had arrived, I found the first basket and flipped the tag over. It was $75. My heart sank. I did the same for the others and they were all the same price. Darn.

Remy and I walked around the greenhouse for the next 20 minutes hoping to find smaller succulent baskets. There were none. Knowing that all of their plants were reasonably priced, my next thought was to make my own. 

I picked out a beautiful basket and quickly gathered up all of the same type of succulents that were found in it. Then we paid for everything and left. The total was only $23!

Next I asked Geoff to meet me at the dollar store. He was between shifts and so he sat in the vehicle with Remy while I ran inside and grabbed a hanging basket for $2. After that, he drove to his second job and we drove home.

That evening I spray painted the basket and switched out the rope for twine. Then I added the succulents one by one.

After playing around with the arrangement, I grabbed a ladder and drill and went outside. First I hung the iron bracket. Finally, I hung the basket.

Remy helped! Kidding, she kept going in and out of the house and closing the door on me. Brat.

All in all I’m more in love with my version of the succulent basket than what I saw at the greenhouse. It was really fun to make. Additionally, I saved $50! 

This is something that will last the entire year, as you should bring it inside during the colder months. Then, its back outside for the spring and summer. For $25, how can you go wrong?

<3

Emory

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  • Welcome, friends! My name is Emory. I am a wife and mother to four (two on earth, one in heaven, and growing another). This is our life on the Canadian prairies.
    email: helloscarlettblog@outlook.com

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