Living Like Tom and Barbara? – Part 2

In part one of this post, I liken the two main characters from the 70’s TV sitcom “The Good Life” to Kim and myself.

In this post, I will talking about some the successes and failures that have made us laugh and cry, just as Tom and Barbara often did.

One of the most infectious things about the TV show was Tom and Barbara’s eternal optimism and determination to succeed, even when things were not going to plan.  It made you feel for the characters in a way that meant something meaningful to the viewer.

Let me describe some similar events that happened to us whilst on a similar journey.

During the first season, Tom re-purposed an old diesel generator to run on pig manure, so as to provide electricity for his home (even though they would have required a lot more manure than their two pigs could have been able to produce).

He was ecstatic and enthusiastic when he was showing his handiwork to his neighbour, Jerry.

This takes me back to the day that I first turned on our Solar PV system that generates electricity for our home, and the time that I build a small solar power system of my own.

Back in 2007, this was quite a big deal, because even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was well ahead of my time in our area.  In fact I was the first installation in our town.

No one I knew had seen a residential PV installation let alone seen one functioning.  I was just like Tom showing off his new invention, every time someone visited my home.

On the downside, I remember how sad Barbara was when Pinky and Perky were sent to be slaughtered.  Even though Tom told her that this was what being self sufficient was all about, she still didn’t like the fact that two animals that she personally raised were going to be no longer.

This has happened to us as well   Raising chickens for eggs means that even though you do not have to intentionally despatch the animals in order to gain the food, the fact remains that you do get very attached to the girls and when one dies, it affects you.

Kim gets really upset, and I have a tear in my eye if one passes suddenly.  It never really gets easy digging a grave for a feathered friend.

Living the good life each day has its own rewards and it is the simple things that surprise you the most.  For example, Tom and Barbara had no idea how to grow food when they first began, and Tom read books to learn the basics.

This is the same way that I learnt how to start growing our own fruit and veggies.  Lots and lots of library books were required reading.  I would visit twice weekly, and borrow at least six books at a time.  Some about gardening, preserving and many about self sufficiency, even though my initial goal was to reduce food miles.

I then wrote down every tip that I thought would work in our climate and just started gardening.  I learnt from my failures and successes as I went along.  If I didn’t grow something very well, I tried to figure out the reason and made a note (via this blog) to prevent it from occurring in the next season.

Another thing that we learnt from the TV show was never to give up.  On a few occasions  both Kim and I have looked at one another when one of our plans went pear shaped, and think is it all worth it.  However, we do know that it is worth the effort, even if it is only to set an example for our kids.  Tom and Barbara were the same on occasion.

Deep down they just knew they were doing a good thing.  When one of them became despondent, the other reminded them of whey they shouldn’t give up, due to the daily rewards of living the good life.

Margo and Jerry were a big part of the Good’s life, and we also have friends that remind us of the Good’s next door neighbours.  They are still our friends, who we respect, and they also admire all that Kim and I have achieved since becoming green.  They haven’t taken the leap towards the simple life because it doesn’t suit their consumerist lifestyle.  Time will tell.

However, I do have many other friends and good neighbours who have started to make lots of small changes for the better.  We are often encouraged by many of the things that they tell us they are doing, growing, or changing.  They are very proud of their achievements, as they should be!

Even though Kim and I don’t live the full blown good life as Tom and Barbara did on the show, and probably never will, we have the same outlook on life that these characters did.  It is this outlook that keeps us going day after day, because as the Good’s found out quickly, it is difficult to swim against the flow, when so much (or many) are pushing in the other direction.

You find that you just have to swim harder, that’s all.


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