Yesterday I mentioned Daniel Suelo, and his caveman existence, as part of the weekly roundup. While scanning my list of daily reads on Thursday I happened upon a great follow up to Suelo’s story. It comes from a post at The Digerati Life about homesteading in the wilderness, and features The Long family living (almost) off the grid in New Zealand.
Robert Long walked away from medical school at the age of 24, rejecting a materialistic lifestyle and all its trappings, and sought to start a life completely unplugged from civilization. He and his wife discovered a remote area of New Zealand nestled between mountains and the sea. Here, they would live in a hut rent free in exchange for being caretakers of the surrounding area. That was 16 years ago.
Now the Long’s have two teenagers who have grown up in isolation. They have been home-schooled by their parents, and are far removed from the lifestyle most teenagers experience today. No MTV, iPods, laptop computers, and other goodies teens enjoy today. With the exception of a monthly plane drop of a few supplies, they live off the land, and animals around them.
A garden provides vegetables, and the ocean, a variety of sea life to eat. For entertainment, the family does have a radio where they can pick up New Zealand national public radio. The kids complete their studies minus laptops, and instead do research the old fashioned way – they read books (the video shows the kids working on homework with the help of an encyclopedia – remember those?).
Critics of the Longs’ lifestyle show most concern for the welfare of the children. Admittedly, I had similar concerns while watching the video. Were the parents stifling opportunities for their children by raising them in such isolation? Or is it us who is exposing our children to harmful influences raising kids in a debt-driven, materialistic society? It’s an interesting debate.
I enjoyed the video because it was one of the first stories I have heard of someone successfully going off the grid with a full family. Often times we hear about the lone hermit, or even the occasional couple, who cash out and head for a life of simplicity. Rarely do we hear about family survival with small children.
I suppose the difficulties of raising kids is hard enough with the comforts we have today, but imagine doing it without any modern conveniences. My great-grandmother did it during the depression, raising a large family (nine kids) as did many in her generation. Her lifestyle was one of necessity, not the product of a voluntary rejection of the finer things. But today we’ve been spoiled by these modern conveniences, and in a way, we’ve become slaves to them.
How many of us, myself included, are working to pay for debts accumulated years ago for things we probably no longer enjoy, rarely spending time with our families while we eke out a miserable, corporate existence? I personally think there is more to life than accumulating wealth while climbing the corporate ladder. Perhaps we could all learn a little from families like the Longs.
What’s your take on this family’s lifestyle?