Hearth,  Permaculture

Can TV Inspire Homesteading & Self Sufficiency?

When Mr BirdCat and I got married in the beginning of 2018, neither of us expected to live the life we are living now! I was definitely in a more homesteady mindset than he — but even then, my thoughts wouldn’t land me where we are now. Growing up I had plenty of opportunity for gardening and farming, and while I liked the idea of it, I usually preferred to stay inside and work on websites or the like. It’s still a work in progress for me to knock back my natural tendencies wanting to stay holed up inside, but there’s been leaps and bounds made so far, and each new step feels more right!

The Good Life

When we were dating, Mr BirdCat introduced me to a show that changed our lives for the better. The Good Life (also known as the Good Neighbours) first aired nearly twenty years before either of us were born, but it still resonated. In the show, the main character and his wife decide to stop living the rat race, and become self-sufficient in their typical suburban home. Mr BirdCat and I watched it thinking how lucky the characters were that they could do that, and wishing we could do similar.

Tom & Barbara Good, in The Good Life

Then the thought came. Why couldn’t we live like that? The seed had been sown in our minds, and the gears started turning, until we find ourselves having followed down that very track at the present day! Without the Good Life to inspire us on, I’m not sure where we’d be.

River Cottage

I was introduced to River Cottage Australia by Mr BirdCat’s Mum. We had already started on our journey toward homesteading and self-sufficiency, and this show really helped concrete things in. We spent weeks digging holes, filling trenches, and in other preparations for our little cabin unit before it was delivered onto our property. After a long day of hard work, we’d bundle ourselves in front of the fire at Mr BirdCat’s parents house and watch River Cottage Australia.

Just a section of the 170m trench that needed to have pipes laid, be filled to a certain depth, more pipes laid, and then filled over — all by hand! Thankfully a friend helped us dig it with heavy machinery, out or we’d still be there digging.

River Cottage Australia is a cooking show at heart, but matches that perfectly with homesteading, gardening, and foraging guides. Its predecessor, River Cottage (UK) is also very much worth a watch, and super inspiring for this lifestyle.

Paul West, in River Cottage Australia

In River Cottage Australia, Paul West works on a little homestead with the help from many different locals on a range of subjects. It’s great for getting snippets or tastes of things that we might not have considered before, and makes things look very easy!

Happen Films

Not necessarily a TV show, but Youtube has definitely helped our journey, and I’m constantly falling in love with the mini documentaries that Happen Films produce. They highlight alternative eco-friendly lifestyles with permaculture and tiny house living in such an accessible way, that it makes sense to anyone. We’ve shown some of their videos to friends and family, and after watching they are much more on-board with what we want to do, and why we want to do it.

Hard not to be inspired seeing beautiful edible gardens like this!

Seeing a community of other like-minded people helps with the motivation any time it lacks a bit. The first thing I want to do after watching one of their videos is get out in the garden! It’s also good to see the outcome of hard work that others have put in over the years. A permaculture food forest, for example, takes time, and knowing what it could become ten years down the track helps us put in more effort here at the beginning.

You can watch Happen Films on Youtube by clicking this link here.

All Creatures Great & Small

Our most recent show! Again, All Creatures Great and Small came out nearly twenty years before either of us were born — but we don’t much mind that! As we have been working with our few livestock, I kept being reminded of the James Herriot books that my Mum used to read snippets to us kids of when I was growing up. It then dawned on me that I hadn’t actually read any of the books myself, so set to it!

These days I find I can concentrate on books a lot better when I’m doing something, and was able to find an audiobook of All Creatures Great and Small. Listening to it was very addicting, and helped me get through a lot of dishes and weeding in record time. Just at the very end of the book, Mr BirdCat overhearing it one day said that he reckons it would be a book he could get into…right at the end! Then we found the tv series.

James Herriot & Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great & Small

The show is so relaxing to watch, perfect for rugging up as the days grow cooler here, and tells of a simpler quieter time. It definitely doesn’t have the pace of tv shows these days, but it’s perfect for a calm evening. It’s really helped me see that no matter how good ones intentions, sometimes things just go wrong when working with animals — but you do your best and be patient with them. It’s also helped push me along to work harder than what I have. I understand it’s a tv show, but seeing the lives the farmers lived and the hard work that they put in to live their lives, makes our life seem like a walk in the park.


We don’t want to spend all of our time on it, and there’s sure a lot of nonsense “fluff” out there, but without these shows inspiring us, I’m honestly not sure we’d be where we are today! I’m sure there’s a whole lot more out there, and we’d love to hear if any shows have inspired your journey or are along similar lines — let us know in the comments below!

All images copyright their respective shows & producers

One Comment

  • Krissy

    After we had begun living on our homestead, we found an American TV show, Homestead Rescue. A family, which has homesteaded in Alaska for many years, travel to help homesteaders with problems threatening their dream. The show provides so many ideas.

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