The Master Couple’s Subsistence Life: A Journey to Turn a Dry Land into a Fertile Farm

“Live your own life. Happiness is simply two like-minded people being together,” they said.

Zhang Hehe and Zhao Tianxiao are a couple born in 1980 in Beijing (China). Both have studied abroad, have a master’s degree in biology. In 2015, they left the city to live in the suburbs, rented 20,000 square meters of land, and together lived a self-sufficient life in the middle of the wilderness.

Using many unique methods, over the past 7 years, the two have transformed the arid land into more and more lush. At its peak, it had more than 300 animals and more than 200 fruit trees and other food crops. In addition, wildlife living in the vicinity also often visit the area.

Their daily activities start at 7am and end at 10pm. They do not have spacious houses, nor have children, they almost completely go against the mainstream of society.

The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 1.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 1.

Gradually, over time, their lifestyle has also received support and respect from relatives and friends around.

“Live your own life. Happiness is simply two like-minded people being together,” they said.

The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 2.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 2.

Since studying abroad in Norway, Hao and Thien Hieu have enjoyed exploring the wilds together. After graduating, they worked together as conservationists.

Despite having a home in the city, the two spend a lot of time living in the countryside and in the wilderness. They used to rent a small farm to cultivate for 3-4 years in a row.

However, this is not enough to satisfy. In 2014, the couple decided to move completely to a wild land to live, 1-2 hours drive from the city. The land lease term is 14 years, of which they have lived here for 7 years.

The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 3.The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 3.

The residence of Hao He and Thien Hieu is located at the foot of the mountain. In front of the house there is a garden, field and meadow, behind the house is an area for growing fruit trees, in the distance is a hillside about 200m high and a wasteland.

READ MORE:  How to handle a car with a blown tire – Advice from the number 1 famous racer in Vietnam

The population of this area is quite sparse. The nearest neighbor’s house is 300m from the farm. If they want to buy and sell goods, they have to drive down to town.

The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 4.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 4.

Here, the couple combines farming with animal husbandry. The two once raised 200 chickens, 30 sheep, 5 big geese, 5 dogs, 2 cats and 3 rabbits. Later, to reduce the burden on the environment, the number of chickens and sheep was significantly reduced.

The orchard has more than 200 trees, which have been planted for a long time. After harvesting, the fruits will be processed into jam.

Farming is a very hard job. No matter how well you understand plants and animals, once you start doing them, difficulties are inevitable. In the first 2 years, they struggled to find a way, feeling that living here is more tiring than working in the city. One day, they exercised so much that their whole body ached.

The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 5.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 5.
The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 6.The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 6.

It took a few years for Hao and Thien Hieu’s lives to stabilize. Currently, they live according to the rhythm of the sun. The sun rises is when two people wake up, the sun goes down is also the end of a working day.

The cost of living here is also relatively low. They cost about 3,000-4,000 yuan (VND 10-14 million), mainly to buy oil, water, electricity and gas. The two rarely buy clothes. The last time they shopped was in 2015 to serve the needs of the fields. Now, Hao and Thien Hieu no longer have to spend money shopping to satisfy their spiritual needs.

Leaving the streets to return to their hometown, the goal of Ha Ha and Thien Hieu is not to earn money, produce or enjoy, but to integrate with the ecosystem here. They want to see if they can live next to nature without encroaching on nature.

READ MORE:  9 Ways To Add Efficiency To Your Remote Team Work

This land has a relatively dry climate, and there are no surrounding rivers and lakes or tap water. To solve the problem of living and production, the couple built a water tank behind the house with a capacity of up to 30,000 liters of water, and then took it from a good station 1 km away.

Water is returned to the farm by an old pipe that has been damaged. Each time an incident occurs, the couple will suffer from a lack of water for many days, having to make use of rainwater.

To collect rainwater, they built 3 reservoirs on the mountain. In which, there are 2 large tanks containing up to 1,000 liters of water: 1 to irrigate crops, 1 to bury in the ground to avoid sunlight, for livestock.

The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 8.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 8.
The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 9.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 9.
The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 10.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 10.
The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 11.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 11.

Hao He and Thien Hieu also installed eco-dry toilets instead of normal ones to save water. It doesn’t smell or fly, it’s very clean.

To save water, two people do not use the flush toilet as usual, but use an ecological dry toilet. Human and animal waste is carefully collected, sorted and treated to make fertilizer for crops.

The couple also do not use pesticides or herbicides. They also set up a small weather station to learn about the climate of this area.

Although life here is very inconvenient, but that helps Ha Ha and Thien Hieu have the opportunity to solve problems with their own hands and wisdom. Each time they finished processing, they felt much more successful and happy.

The hillside behind the Hach and Thien Hieu houses is only about 200m high, but contains an extremely diverse ecosystem with a variety of plants and wildlife.

READ MORE:  Which province has the lowest cost of living in Vietnam?

The couple installed infrared cameras on the mountain, observing both wildcats and leopards – rare animals that need to be protected. Occasionally, these “wild friends” visit the farm to steal chickens.

The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 13.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 13.
The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 14.The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 14.
The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 15.The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 15.
The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 16.The master couple left the mountain to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 16.

Birds also love to nest around the house, even on the front porch. The couple also opened a small path up the mountain. Animals in the forest love this route, going back and forth often. Besides the friendly animals, they also encountered many scary ones. However, as long as you don’t touch them, they won’t do any harm.

American writer Richard Love once wrote the book “The Last Child in the Woods”, which deals with a syndrome called “nature deficiency disorder”. Urban people, who have been separated from nature since childhood, when going to the wild, they will feel tense and alien. Even someone who went to the mountain to play and met a passing bug also felt insecure.

The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 17.The master couple moved to the mountains to live like Robinson for 7 years, turning the arid land into a fertile farm: Self-sufficient but surprisingly relaxed - Photo 17.

People encounter this syndrome because they do not understand nature well. It is humans that frighten plants and animals, not the other way around. As long as we keep a proper distance and respect each other, humans will have no problem with nature.

From the knowledge and experience of survival in this wilderness, Hao He and Thien Hieu have synthesized and together wrote a book to share their experiences with everyone.

(According to Sohu)

News related