Ever since the beginning of our marriage, we have been taking small steps towards self-reliance and self-sustainability - whether it is in growing plants or chickens, recycling, finding creative uses for things other might discard, fixing up furniture someone else might have deemed beyond repair, and teaching ourselves to do a whole host of things we didn't even think possible.
People who are "in tune" with our lifestyle and goals understand us well, even if their lives might be, at the moment, vastly different from ours. Others are puzzled. For instance, we've had people tell us that with all the effort we are putting into our chickens - hatching them from eggs, taking care of baby chicks, providing safe housing, battling foxes, buying good-quality feed (which is necessary even with whole day free-range, at least during the dry months, to provide balanced nutrition) - we could easily buy organic free-range eggs of the best quality.
To this I might reply that it isn't always about dry numbers. We love to see chickens pecking and scratching and clucking around the yard; we derive immense satisfaction from observing how an egg miraculously cracks, and a tiny beak appears in the hole; then a wet and bedraggled chick climbs out and lies exhausted... to become, in an hour or two, a very cute and fuzzy creature! This is a great source of education (not to mention entertainment) for our children and ourselves.
An added bonus is, the simpler and more down-to-earth most of your daily tasks are, the easier your children - even very young ones - can be included, to become, from a very young age, genuine helpers around the house - this gives them such a sense of accomplishment, and solves a host of problems that arise from children being cooped up, bored, and over-stimulated by artificial means.
We do not feel the need to travel as often and as much as other people do (and of course, there's the necessity to find a babysitter for a bunch of assorted animals, and a volunteer gardener!). We do not feel the need to compensate for the rush of life by treating ourselves to expensive gifts; we don't often crave shopping malls or costly night-out entertainment. Our home is not a show-place, but it's a spot that bubbles with life and creativity - and all the mess that follows. I even feel our living room will become a little dull when the boxful of peeping chicks is removed. :)
So, indirectly but very definitely, all of this also means we are living less expensively. But it isn't about the money; it is about the joy and satisfaction, without which all we do wouldn't be possible.
I'm not romanticizing or idealizing our life, and I realize it isn't for everyone; we live very much out-of-the-way of everything, there is a lot of work to be done - over and over again every single day - and when it comes to some tasks, I praise G-d for giving me enough physical strength. But I do want people all around the world to know that such choices can be made, and can turn into something very interesting and beautiful.
PS: In the picture above, you can see hens and a rooster which are no longer with us... they fell prey to a sneaking fox. Thankfully, we have obtained and hatched fertile eggs from them before this happened, so we've been able to raise the next generation.