The Good Life is actually the combination of two books written by the Nearings about their experience homesteading in Vermont and in Maine. They moved from the city to a rural setting in 1932, where they homesteaded for decades.
Having never heard of the Nearings prior to this book, I approached reading it with a bit of trepidation. Honestly, the description struck me as being a bit survivalist/”prepper” in nature; while I’m not opposed to that lifestyle, they are not views that I actively seek to integrate into my life right now.
I walked away from reading The Good Life with a sense of admiration for the Nearings. I appreciated the fact that they left behind what the world deemed necessary and instead lived as they saw fit–as homesteaders.
While I could see myself living an even simpler lifestyle at some point in the future, even in a tiny house (who knows?), living completely self-sufficiently as the Nearings did is something I can’t envision doing, so I will have to settle for reading about dedicated people who actually do it, like the Nearings.
I loved reading the take of back-to-the-farm homesteaders that got started before my grandparents were born. In many ways, their actions were responses to some of the largest atrocities of the 20th Century: world wars, Great Depression and the Cold War.
I think it’s important to recognize that the Nearings approached their experiment from a place of privilege. Though it was the Great Depression, they had the resources to buy the land they needed to support their needs by growing most of their own food, cutting their own fuel and selling maple syrup to supply the rest of their needs.
I found interesting that the Nearings were against raising animals. While I don’t have the same moral issues with using animals (or even eating them), and I have never liked animals, I always assumed that they would have to be a part of a self-sustaining homestead. Turns out they’re not necessary.
Reading books like this always makes me want to give up everything and homestead. While I won’t be doing so any time soon, I do hope to at least part-time urban homestead at some point.