Pinto Beans and Cornbread

Author Photo
By Martin Parmer

Although my wife and I are fortunate enough to have many choices, sometimes we just want a batch of pinto beans and cornbread. (A slice of raw onion, on the side, of course is included). If you’re not from the South, perhaps you weren’t raised on this meal as we were but let me tell you, it’s delicious, easy, and cheap. When I sit down to eat this meal, I look at my plate and think about what it says about us and what we are trying to do. A major reason we are working very hard to build a homestead is to be able to do for ourselves as much as we can and to save money. We are both very fortunate to have been raised poor (huh?). We had to learn how to do things for ourselves. My father was a preacher. He had a little farm when I was very small but he gave it up to follow the ministry. And, to supplement the family income, he did a little carpentry, including wiring and plumbing. When I was getting close to driving age, I was allowed to work one summer on a house with him and accumulate my wages to buy my first car. Since then (with my oldest brother’s help) we’ve built two houses and now plan our 3rd and last house (our homestead). We bought 5 acres. 5 acres isn’t much land but it’s what we could afford and much more than the three quarter acre we live on now.

When I walk on our 5 acres of land, I feel a sense of home unlike I’ve ever felt before. I’m excited about the plans we have for the place and all the potential it has. It has a great spot to build a house and shop. There’s plenty of room to have a nice garden. My wife wants raised beds. I see that as no problem. There’s room to plant fruit trees, muscadine vines, and other things we would like to grow. The property is not as remote as we really wanted but it has decent privacy so we’re very happy with it. Our overall goal for our life there is a high level of self sufficiency combined with a simpler lifestyle. At this point while we juggle things like home, family, job, health, finances, friendships, etc things haven’t taken a turn for the simple yet. Our work on our future homestead is considerable. Since we’re going to do most of the work ourselves, only bringing in outside help when absolutely necessary, we have an enormous job in front of us. But we can do it. It reminds me of an old joke I heard one time. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

What are the steps to take to make our lives simpler? There are tons of resources on the net that help with this question. Many of them will direct you to reduce possessions. Get rid of stuff. We all tend to accumulate “stuff.” Too much stuff. We then buy a bigger house, build an out building, rent a storage building. Why? So we can keep our “stuff.” If you really step back and think about this, is it not kind of crazy? Many people complain that they don’t have enough money, or don’t make enough money. But if you look at their possessions, often you will find tons of “stuff” they’ve spent their money on that they really didn’t need. I know we are definitely guilty of this. So as we proceed with our plan to build and live in a much smaller house, guess what? We are going to have to get rid of a bunch of “stuff” for sure. This is just one piece of the solution of moving to a simpler life. No doubt there are many others.

I thought of another example of making things simpler this week. Now, most of you will think this silly, however, it’s still an example of what I’m talking about. I have an old GPS unit in my truck. I’ve
had it for years and rarely use it anymore. The functionality of GPS maps and trip routing on my smartphone works much better. But, I received an email from the manufacturer this week that an update is available for that GPS unit. I haven’t deleted that email yet. I’ve considered getting the unit out of the truck, carrying it inside, finding a cable to hook it up to a lap top, finding the website, trying to remember my password, probably won’t be able to, going through the trouble to reset it, finally getting the update downloaded, putting the GPS unit back into the truck. For what? All this time and trouble is really for nothing. What I should do is take that unit and give it away (I doubt anyone would want it) or just throw the thing away and unsubscribe to updates. I go through all this because it’s just a fact that we allow useless activities like this to build up on us until we just “can’t get it all done.” Nuts. Undoubtedly, there are many things just like this we could weed out of our lives to make them simpler.

For now though, my dinner is ready, thank goodness. Pinto beans and cornbread. Simple.

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Published on Mar 18, 2016