Grit Blogs > Rural Legend

Everything Old Is New Again

Brent and LeAnna Alderman StersteWe recently have become the proud owners of a 1950s, metal-topped farmhouse table with carved wooden legs and 4 matching wooden chairs. We bought it off of craigslist for $50. The whole experience was made even more endearing by picking it up in a barn at a local maple farm where the owner and all of her kin had gathered to reminisce about their childhoods spent around the table in their mother’s kitchen.

Brent had recently cashed in a savings bond, which had spent 30 years maturing. So he had put a lot of thought into what to buy. It just seemed wrong to spend money that had been around that long on a dvd player that would be out of date in a few months. He was craving something more permanent. So he finally ended up with a soil blocker from Johnny’s and this farmhouse table.

Our 1950s metal-top farmhouse table.

It seems that all around us, there is this stirring to reconnect with something we’ve lost in our plugged-in, technology-saturated generation. NPR was recently playing letters from listeners about their experience living in these hard times. One from an antiques dealer was surprising. He said that since this recession started, his business has been up by 30%. I read a similar story in the local newspaper a few days later. It said that visitors to Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in Massachusetts, were also up by over 30%. It seems that people are looking for things that hearken back to simpler times and looking for things that last. I recognize this same urge in myself – this solace in old-fashioned things, in baking bread, and planting seeds. I find myself wanting to reconnect with a time before everything was instant and disposable.

Despite all the dire predictions and our house being “under water,” we are finding a weird pleasure in the recession. Our efforts to simplify and learn some old-fashioned skills have had a strange effect on us. We find we’re turning off the television more and finding we enjoy making and doing more than just consuming. Is anyone else experiencing this during the recession? What kind of old-fashioned things do you find yourself doing? Have you been enjoying it?

– LeAnna

granyhuskr
9/12/2009 10:25:30 AM

We moved onto our 5 acres 9 1/2 years ago with lots of plans to pay it off and work to do to it. Now we are both out of work and have major health problems, but when things start to get to me I go out to my garden and hoe my troubles away. Will we do all the work we had planned, no. Will we have it paid off when we had planned, no, but my garden is bigger this year and my freezer has never been so full. I am already planning to double my garden in size and add chickens next year. I'm happy and content. We live a simplier life and I am at peace. I've learned how to make and freeze tomato juice, beans, asparagus, eggplant. We have lots of cantalope and when I couldn't find any honeydew seeds or plants I bought a honeydew to eat and we threw the seeds into the garden and now I have loads of them also. I have 12 feet high mammoth sunflowers and the bees, birds and bugs love it. I talk to them as I work in my little spot of heaven and I've never been stung. I do respect their privacy however and don't get too close. I am baking our own bread, and make as much food as possible from scratch. We buy very little processed and convenience food which is better for our health and the taste is fabulous. We've cut most junk food. Life is Good.


julie_3
7/28/2009 9:19:00 AM

For years, I've been an avid garage saler and junk shop visitor. 95% of my home furnishings are 'recycled' pieces -- including a chair I bought at a garage sale for $2.00, and when I had it reupholstered, a decorator offered us $2,400 for it! No, I didn't sell it to her. We live under the poverty level, and have a small 60-acre farm that takes every penny we have, but because we know how to be frugal, we probably have a lot more than those who make in the 5 and 6 figures! The current state of the economy does concern us, but it doesn't worry us. Most of our food is raised by us, including our beef, pork, fish and poultry, our home is heated by firewood we collect and cut. We love our life, and strongly recommend it to everyone. And I absolutely LOVE that table! Great find, LeAnna!!!!


marysienka
6/30/2009 11:40:58 AM

I have often felt that harder times can't help but be good for us. They remind us of what's important. I was laid off from my tailoring job at a high-end fashion retailer in March, subsequently freaked out, but soon found a contractor job I love. Even though this new job will not need me Sep thru Feb, and I will have to live on other means during that time, I feel it's the best thing I've ever done with my career. I am now seriously (tentatively) planning to open my own shop in the next few years. Friends of friends, and old customers I met through the retailer, have all gathered round and told their friends about me, building my client base. I've had to cut costs, and will need a roommate in the fall, and won't be able to afford fancy lunches out or plane trips like I used to, in order to pay quarterly taxes and insurance. But I love what I do every day. It's directly connected to my livelihood: it IS my livelihood. I feel closer to what God's plan is for me, and couldn't be happier. Hard times can make us strong, if we decide they will.


jim beidle_2
5/18/2009 4:23:58 PM

For our part, we've purchased five acres with the intent of moving our horses home. We'd begun our search last summer, when the barest hints of the economic downturn began to appear on the nation's radar screen. Since buying and moving to the farm, we've joined countless others in raising chickens and starting a vegetable garden. Our plans have an eye toward greater self-sufficiency and a reduced dependence on non-local products.


jim beidle_2
5/18/2009 4:19:43 PM

For our part, we've purchased five acres with the intent of moving our horses home. We'd begun our search last summer, when the barest hints of the economic downturn began to appear on the nation's radar screen. Since buying and moving to the farm, we've joined countless others in raising chickens and starting a vegetable garden. Our plans have an eye toward greater self-sufficiency and a reduced dependence on non-local products.