Nothing is More Important


This morning the air feels thick and settled, and when I walked down the field to feed and water the meat birds, I could barely discern the cows through the haze. They rose clumsily upon my arrival, lumbering forms in the half-light, heading for the well-trod path that connects field and barn. They know the routine.

It has been more than five years since I started writing in this space. For at least the last two of those years, I have understood that someday the nature of my work here would change. That day has arrived.

There are many reasons I have decided to stop posting regularly, but chief among them is the sense that, in ways I have yet to fully understand but nonetheless know to be true, it is undermining my sense of personal integrity.

I have long believed that this medium cultivates and even encourages two-dimensional relationships; indeed, I have written of this often. Perhaps it is the very nature of these relationships that foments another of my primary concerns: That my continued presence here is slowly transforming my family’s life and experiences into a product. Our lives and experiences are too sacred to us to risk having them become a lifestyle fit for consumption.

Finally, my relative absence from this space over the past few months has enlightened me to how much healthier it is for me – in mind, body, and spirit – to focus my energy on direct experiences shared with family, friends, community, and the non-human world.

I will continue to publish my work here on occasion. After all, I am a writer (among other things), and one of the things I do appreciate about this medium is its lack of an editorial filter. Here, for better or worse, I can publish writing that would not otherwise find a home. But while this writing will inevitably draw on my real-world experiences (indeed, it can be no other way), it will no longer include the minutia of my family’s lives in either words or images.

This has not been an easy decision, in no small part because I have been the beneficiary of amazing support from so many of you. Thank you for that. For those of you whose support is expressed financially on a monthly basis, please know that I will not be offended in the least if you suspend this support.

Finally, I leave you with one small request. I ask that for every minute you would otherwise pass reading this blog, you spend at least one minute engaging in the real world with your family, friends, and non-human community. For these are the basis of a real and meaningful existence, one that is rooted in genuine shared experiences and the commonality of a particular place.

And in a society that is rapidly succumbing to the false promises of technology, nothing is more important.

86 thoughts on “Nothing is More Important”

  1. I applaud you. I understand. And I will truly miss your writing.

    Best wishes in all you (and all of your family) do, and thank you for everything you have shared. It made a difference.

  2. Hi Ben –

    These posts over the past several years have provided delight and provocative challenge to my 78 years, with resulting inspiration. My habit of enjoying the archived posts will allow me to still feel connected to your always-growing wonder in discovering life’s magic. Thank you Ben, for the gift of sharing your your amazing journey!

  3. Many of us have gone through similar learning curves when it comes to find the “right” place for technology in our lives. Blessings to you, Ben, and your family. _/|\_

    1. I’m glad you put the quotes b/c it is not as if the flower could unfold otherwise. Blessings to you too, Martha, and your family. Much love in the unfolding,

  4. What you are saying is exactly why I so admire you and your family. You have your priorities in the right place. I will, though, look forward to anything you see fit to write. Best wishes to you all in your future work and life.

  5. You have been such a great inspiration for me. With your posts, you have pointed me in the right direction on how to live more frugal/ simple/ self sufficient and you have taught me the importance of involving my kids.
    I never saw your blog or your life as a product. I see it as inspirering place where a kind and open family has been so giving in lessons of real life, that I am forever thankful.
    I understand your decision and I think your values – as ever – are spot on.

  6. I’ve never posted, Ben, but always checked into your writing in this space and found it, at it’s best, intellectually stimulating, while being just plain fun. But “Cyberia” can’t compete with the flesh of the world – that’s where it’s real, that’s where the truth is found. Peace and thanks for everything!

  7. I’ve enjoyed your blog for many reasons, the content as well as the style. Maybe part of the reason for your choice is that writing the blog became a chore, a burden, a quasi-obligation. In any case, I’ve learned a few things from you and for that I thank you. Who knew you could wash your hair with baking soda?

  8. Thanks for all those years, it has been very enjoyable and educational! Good thing I got your Nourishing Homestead book last month, looks like I’m going to need it. Though I read a ton, I don’t buy many books but this one was worth every penny!

  9. 🙂 The little birdies will still be fed. Seek and you shall find. If you seek big strong hands and reflections of your father you will find them. Likewise, if you seek peace you will find it. I have faith in you. Much love,

  10. Hey Ben–can only add my thanks to the others. Grateful for what you’ve given us here, but your decision seems profoundly right. Especially right, I think, is the intuition I sense behind it, which is (uh oh, I’m about to speak Buddhist again) that change is the essence of life. When we try to keep things as they are, or as we’d like them to be, we create suffering. When we give ourselves over to the ebb and flow, we come in contact with joy.

    I wish you and your family joy in all you do. Who knows, maybe we’ll run into each other in the analog world.

  11. Dear Ben, Oh dear, just when I recommended your blog to Ogden Publications staff you decide to (mostly) quit. Oh well, they can still read all your past blogs, right? Are you also closing down the blog site? Please don’t. That would be my request. Your blog is a great archive of information.

    We are embarking on our next level, from ranch caretakers to our own homestead and it would be great to have your past experiences to draw from. I’ll understand if you don’t want to. I’ll just have to research other homesteaders to network with.

    I am so grateful for the time we had together, all of us commenters and you! Thank you thank you thank you!

      1. Reading Ben’s book I see so many parallels to the process of finding the right place. It can be an ordeal. But we’re determined. We’ve been practicing and we’re ready.

  12. Beautiful, Ben. I had drawned and still draw much inspiration frome here. I will miss the butter pictures. 🙂
    But if seriously, hoping to still read all your articles in the Yankee magazine and hear any thoughts or adventures in the unschooling path. The Homegrown is a part of my unschooling bible together with Peter Grey and Richard Louv. Very grateful! And I am so happy to see young people inspired by your writings and your blog changing their lives and calling themselves Hewitt fanboys/girls. 🙂 Blessings to your family.

  13. Dear Ben,
    it’s true, whenever you decide to do something, you also decide not to do something else in that time.
    We’re just about to move on a farm (not or own – yet) and I hope that I’ll be able to do the same… get away from the computer and onto farm life and real life interaction more and more. Even though I just recently started my own blog, so personally I’m at a totally different point right now.
    Thank you so much for your work!
    By now I’ve read “Home Grown” and I’m about to finish “The nourishing homestead”. I think you have already given so much through your writing, that there is just no need to feel obligated to give any more – especially if it doesn’t feel right for you.
    All the best from Germany, to you and your family!

  14. Ben- Thank you for what you have given me through this blog. It is the only one I read. More often that not I finish reading with tears in my eyes because I feel so connected and thankful and alive and you put words to this. It is a sense of remembering and joining with someone else. I’ll miss you and plan on seeing you again in person. Yet as we meet each other- I mean anyone meets another person we are guarded – the amount of time together to reach this comfort you have in the blog is very signifigant. On the other hand – language is not needed to share those moments. So cheers to not needing to use words. I am simply full of gratitude for the honesty you have shared.

  15. Ben, we will miss your more frequent writing but fully understand and support this important decision. I will especially miss two things, one is your keen ability to articulate the subtleties of human experiences and second is the balance you give me from a very suburban lifestyle. And I agree fully, I think all your readers do, about the mixed blessings of technology and the importance of fingers in the dirt rather than on a keyboard. Xo HHM

  16. I think it is totally understandable 🙂 I’ve been following your blog for 1 year and you’ve become a source of inspiration for my own projects. I’m reading the nourishing homestead book you’ve written and I’m so glad I’ve bought it because it really resonates with my work . I needed to read about experience because at times it all looks so hard (a Transition) but I feel less tired just by even reading some of your experiences. And I thank you for that, from a little corner of the world to another 😉

  17. Thank you for in essence saying goodbye to your readers. I have found meaning in your observations and thoughts. I have enjoyed reading about your work and your familiy’s life because it is real and authentic and different from my own. Through this, my own lens has widened and my worldview expanded. Thank you.

  18. Hi there, I am relatively new to reading your blog and I very much enjoyed reading Homegrown. I want to say that I admire your decision and can empathize with the thought that must have gone into it. Keeping a balance between the benefits of technology and life in the real world is so diffcult. Keep up the good work, especially your most important work.

  19. I will miss your writing, but I see where you are coming from. i would hate to see your blog and your family and your life morph into a “brand.” Ugh. Best to you and your family.

  20. Wow, Ben, what a decision – but a good one and understandable. It’s one of the reasons I have not restarted blogging myself – it can shift one’s life in a direction they may not wish to go in any more. I spent too many years online and in a cube and have come to cherish real life now, and real solid relationships. Be happy and I will see you when I see you I am back there.


    Sent from my happy mobile world to yours!


  21. Ben, I hope you will re read all these comments frequently as they should provide nourishment for your soul. Just small payback for what you and Penny have given us so generously over the years. Thank you.

  22. I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for a year or so and will miss it, but totally understand your reasons.

    Best wishes to you and your family and the move to your new place.

  23. Bugger. I found your blog a couple of months ago, and have been enjoying reading and getting to know you. But yes, just a couple of days ago we imposed a ban on screens in our house for a couple of hours around main meal times, as we found ourselves not being present even while in the same room. I will look forward to your occasional postings and wish you well. Thanks.

  24. Aw heck, will miss your posts, but so glad you’ve made this decision, it’s a good path to choose, in my humble opinion. I shall look out for your future writings, and meanwhile be content with what you have shared with us out here in the virtual world. Thank you, and the best of luck to you and your family in all your future endeavours.

  25. Feeling great gratitude to you and your family for the gifts you have given to us in your posts and books over the years. You have been an inspiration for us and others we know to also begin parenting off the beaten path down here in New Zealand. So thank you for inspiring us to begin this beautiful and humbling journey. Sending much Arohanui from our family to yours x

  26. Sad for me, happy for you! I will be happy for anything you post, and totally understand where you are coming from. Best wishes!

  27. This blog has been one hell of a read and I have enjoyed my time here, especially reading and participating in the comments. You and yours desire to live offline and while you will be missed, I understand. Tech is great, but all of us are plugged in a bit too much at times. Thanks for sharing your experiences, it has been a pleasure.

  28. Well, now I might actually get to bed at a more decent hour! 🙂 Have stayed up late reading and pondering your many posts too many times to count over the last few years and it has been worth every bleary-eyed morning. I have felt (and have commented on) the connection I felt to your writings and the stories you share about your family, particularly your boys whom mine resemble so much in a younger form. I have marveled at (and commented on) your remarkable willingness to share such personal aspects of your lives which makes your current decision not at all surprising to me. Most of all, I hope that the “price” you have paid (the negativity, the intrusion) has been worth the real community you have created here. I am astonished that (Luddite-leaning person that I am) I have found such kindred souls via technology, of all things. I have had difficulty finding this in my daily life, particularly since becoming a parent. Nothing like having children to make everything seem to take on SO much significance so that it can be hard to find others who look at the world with even a remotely similar lens. But your most precise point hits me right in the heart. I have struggled to find my tribe for many reasons but know that I MUST. My familial tribe of four is everything and I know we matter most to each other but we also must know we don’t exist in isolation if only (and especially) so my children can go out into whatever this world is when they are grown and make their lives with their own tribes so the song can keep on playing and playing and playing. Otherwise, what is this all for?
    Thank you to the Hewitt family for just being who you are. I feel better about the world just knowing you are in it. Similar thanks to all who regularly share in the comments. I smile knowing you all are out there.

  29. I will certainly miss your blog. I’ve really enjoyed reading it over the past year. I think you are so different from me, but I have been flat out amazed at how much we have in common. May God bless you and your family and your future endeavors. May your house be completed by winter. You and your family have been a blessing and encouragement to me (through cyber world!).

  30. I completely agree with your sentiment and love that you are choosing your privacy over any financial gain, good job.

  31. Having just discovered your blog, I am sad to see you go. That being said, I “get” it. But your writing is beautiful and your priorities are straight. Good luck!

  32. I understand and agree, but will miss your personal, enlightening posts which have encouraged me and deepened my awareness, and even aroused a new way of thinking. Thank you for that.

  33. Great post, Ben, and something I, too, have been contemplating lately. I look forward to reading whatever you write– here or in print.

  34. This morning the air feels thick and settled, and when I walked down the field to feed and water the meat birds, I could barely discern the cows through the haze. They rose clumsily upon my arrival, lumbering forms in the half-light, heading for the well-trod path that connects field and barn. They know the routine………I will miss your wonderful way with words. Bless you, your family, and your decision. Enjoy life my friend.

  35. Knew this was only a matter of time. Am knee deep in “Nourishing Homestead” and felt that with your new venture ahead and your children getting older, you would feel that dissonance between the physical and cyber communities more acutely. That technology tightrope we all walk. Your writing is wonderfully real and inviting and I hope, along with everyone else here, to be hearing more from you in the future. Only the best to you and yours.

  36. Hey. I was hoping to see you at drop off this morning, but meeting Penny will do as a substitute…. I left you some of my kimchi. Coals to Newcastle, I know.


    On the move…

  37. What a sad day for me, but I applaud you wholeheartedly. Thanks for all you’ve shared. I hope to see a book on your new homestead sometime in the future. All the best to you and your family!

  38. Thanks Ben, you’ve been an inspiration. Everybody here has pretty much said it all. I’ll miss your writings. Dernit, I hate to see you go but totally understand. I’ll most miss the community that has sprung up in the comment section. Thanks to all who contribute here as well. Live life well.

  39. I was just thinking last week that soon it would be time to add another of Penny’s stars to our ornament collection. You have said it many times – you have to choose something because nobody gets to do everything. I look forward to any writings that come this way and I’ll miss hearing about the boys and Penny. Best wishes to you all!

  40. You paint with words. It’s a gift. I’ll miss your sense of humor. Your badassity. Even your contentiousness. If I’m being honest, it was also
    part of the draw. Definitely had my moments. 🙂 You made us think, take stock of our lives and evaluate our priorities. Thank you Ben.
    Blessings to you and your family for all that you’ve given and on your journey ahead.

  41. Hi ben, well likely never meet in person. But I just wanted to congratulate u on reaching this moment. I have slowly weaned myself off of all things bs Internet relationships. I let go of Facebook 2.5 years ago. And this is the last blog I read and I am happy for it to end too. Let’s all get on with living the dream. Which needs to be in person, place based and personal. And Iknow there is a time and place to reach out via the Internet. Mostly cause we are so lost as a culture and it is a bridge. But he’ll yes get the Frick off the computer and love up your people in person. And teach with your presence and actions and voice those you gather together.

  42. I have not commented before and have been following your blog for years, but I want to say thank you for sharing what you have, it makes homeschooling/homesteading feel easier in our own lives when I read about how your family does things – thank you for that (and for your books, too!)! 🙂

  43. Ciao Ben!

    Wishing you and all of your family all the best and hope that you are, and will continue to be, well in body, mind, and The Holy Spirit! Frankly, I’m surprised that it took you so long to pull the plug, given all of the people who seemed to be living vicariously through your on-line diary.

    Jeff in Omaha/Trinidad/Avon

  44. Ben, I will very much miss your posts, but I wholeheartedly understand! Do you think that you and Penny will eventually do more of the teaching classes?

  45. Amen to that…you fulfilled that analogy..teach a man to fish and he will feed himself .
    All the so very best to you and your family.

  46. I’m a bit sad about your decision but I completely understand it, making our life a product we sell to the world is also a risk I’m aware of. I loved reading your posts and I hope you’ll come back regulary here!

  47. I am going to miss your writing here very much. The words themselves that have a way of resonating long after they’ve been read. I’ve always had the sense that you’ve got your priorities right in a world that’s gone a little crazy chasing things that don’t really matter when all is said and done. Thanks!

  48. So grateful for all you have shared in this space. Your thoughts and words have empowered my choices living and growing with my husband and our three young children on a small family farm in West Virginia. I completely understand the challenges you face sharing your family and your lifestyle. I am personally boggled navigating these new waters of social media and abundant communication technologies. For what it’s worth, the moments I’ve spent reading here have been as nourishing as liver pate. It’s one of only a handful of spaces I choose to visit online with any regularity. I’m admittedly guilty of being a bit gluttonous at times and going on spending sprees as a result of reading here, such as buying: many books as written and recommended by you (my definite shopping weakness but oh aren’t they such grand tools) and pigs this spring (first time pig farmer, bought breeders not feeders (yike$)…and then some more feeders…and then another feeder and a boar…); also have saved quite a bit: homeschool curriculum (or more and more lack there-of), more food straight from our farm then ever before, and I’m ready for (read delaying…) the shampoo and toothpaste break. Thank you Ben and Hewitt family. Btw, our youngest baby girl has recently enjoyed her first food (egg yolk from our free-range hens) delivered straight to her mouth on a lovely Penny-carved willow-wood spoon. I am hopeful we can find the same quality of consumption straight from our home community. I know we will. I also look forward to seeing what else you will offer here from time to time.

  49. i was reading another blog yesterday where the blogger didn’t want to post a pic of herself as she was afraid certain readers would shred her appearance but has no issue posting thousands of pics of her kids.
    I think its great that the boys finish growing up privately but selfishly I’m excited to see what they do. Thank you for your words

  50. Ben, I looked forward to each of your posts. Your posts and approach to life certainly altered Katie and my course through life. You will be missed. No longer will I be able to return home from work and holler “Did you see Ben’s post today?”, but I’ll take satisfaction knowing that you’re grabbing life by the horns.

    If possible, keep the blog active for a little while longer so we can peruse the archives…

    Also, if you have a pack basket workshop, you’ve got two students (plus a 3-yr old).


  51. Thanks Ben – I’ve enjoyed your posts immensely. Best wishes to you and your family – enjoy your new land. If you ever find yourself in Scotland, you’ll find a warm welcome in our little cabin in the woods.

  52. It has all been said by so many posters ahead of me. Best wishes to you and yours and enjoy your life and where it takes you! Thanks for all that has been shared and given us (me) things to ponder as I go about my day.

  53. I don’t blame you one bit, though I’ll miss your writing. Now, having gotten past the politeness- there is no email address for you (other than for media requests) and I need to recommend this book. You may have read it- The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks. The whole time I’m reading it I’m thinking “this is Ben Hewitt’s English BFF.” If you haven’t read it, you must. It’s really fantastic. One of those books you read really slowly because you don’t want it to end.

  54. I have so enjoyed this space, Ben. Thank you for sharing your writing here. It has been a very thought-provoking exercise for me, to read about your life, your philosophy and your opinions on many things that make me pause.

    I often find myself thinking hard about this tricky dynamic between technology and living life…I have read so many incredible and touching and challenging pieces of writing through blogs and links from social media (as well as pieces of crap, yes)…and I often find myself wondering if my time would be better spent with a face-to-face encounter, or working on a project, or doing a chore! I suppose if it is nagging me a bit, then that is my answer.

    All the best to you and your family.

  55. This is a sad day for readers, but I can appreciate the thought that must have gone into a decision like this. I think your writing has been bringing you to this point for a long time, which doesn’t mean that we won’t all miss you (and I totally agree with those who said they would read your shopping lists).

    I hope that you do still occasionally post, just to keep us up to date in whatever form you choose, and please, please don’t take down the archives. I’ll be happy for quite some time just to wander through the back posts and think — and talk to other, real people — about what I’ve read there.

    Your blog has spurred some of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had, with people I might never have spoken to otherwise. So there’s that.

    Best wishes on the new house, and new (more private) life with your family.

  56. As much as I’ve looked forward to reading your posts, I salute you 100%. I am often made uncomfortable seeing people share intimate details of their lives online, especially photos of children. I clearly feel that it robs our sense of integrity, of spirituality. I noticed you rarely showed photos of faces and appreciated that, even wondering if you too were actually uncomfortable with even those more limited views of you family. Seeing the same thing in print somehow doesn’t seem to quite have the same effect, but even then it’s hard to know where to draw the line. I don’t often come across people who feel the same way, to my knowledge, so the fact that someone I respect does is reassuring. So thank you.

  57. I want to echo all of the gratitude here. You and your family have been an inspiration to me — so much so, that we just put an offer on a new house with some land. So, we are going to be starting our own homesteading adventure! Thank you for helping reconnect me with the earth. Bless you.

  58. Thank you Ben for all that you have shared. I will miss hearing about the boys adventures and wish you and your family all the best in life.

  59. Ben, good for you. It is always good to know when to stop. I had an online book business for several years. I really enjoyed it while I did it, and was real clear when it was time close down too. The listings were pulled within twenty minutes, and I loaded up 400 boxes of books and shipped them off to an auctioneer 100 miles away.

    Your decision to stop writing regularly reminded dear wife of the frugality expert Amy Dacyzyn from Leeds Maine. She got a lot of press, and founded the newsletter, the Tightwad Gazette, which did very well. The spot light got to be too much and she decided to toss the whole thing. She had made quite a bit doing the newsletter, but instead of selling it she simply shut it down, and went back to living her quiet frugal life. Very little has been heard from her since.

  60. I just stumbled into your blog via the blog of Maggie from Berlin who wrote about s. th. you wrote (http://www.beyourbody.com/unschooling-how-to-learn-the-most-important-lessons/).
    Thanks for blogging and sharing your thoughts with all the invisible visitors from allover the world.
    I strongly believe you truely had to give a lot to us readers out hee.
    But I also 100% understand that real life is most important.
    Time is just so very precious and has to be spent with the ones who are most important to us…

    Be blessed!

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