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Homesteading a complicated simpler life  RSS feed

 
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I am by no means a 100% off grid or 100% self supporting homestead, in fact I work 50+ hours a week at my day job but I am making my slow transition over the last few years. I started with just getting back to my farming roots and a few chickens, now I sitting on a small flock of laying hens raising my own meat chickens and pasture raised meat rabbits along with dairy goats and butchering hogs plus my ever increasing garden and a few fruit trees. I was talking to a friend the other day complaining about how wet it has been and the chicken coop is wet and need cleaned the garden is behind and I need to get the brooder ready for meat chicken and repaint the goat barn and she said "what a mess your always busy".  I simply said "Yes but im busy if I didn't have all this to do what would I be doing sitting around watching tv bored?" An I think that honestly sums up what happened to the world once everything became so simple everyone gets bored I barley ever watch tv anymore just always have something that needs done. Even though it all seems overwhelming at times and always seem everything happens at the same time I don't think I want to go back to being bored. When asked about my lifestyle by people at work they don't get why im always so busy with things I just say "Its a complicated simpler way of life." and I don't think I could go back to the modern day life style anymore I would be bored im actually happier when doing my chores which don't even seem like chores to me anymore. I find this lifestyle is not only healthier food wise but healthier for the soul as well.
 
pollinator
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I think boredom is given a bad rap. it used to be that people could walk down the street without listening to music or looking at their telephones. But now people condition themselves to require constant stimuli.

It seems perfectly normal that you have lots of things that need doing, and I think it's unusual for anyone to say, I'm completely done, there's nothing more to do around here. I do say that at work, when I'm completely finish something, but it almost never happens in my private life. There's always more to do, and I'll get to it whenever I do.
 
pollinator
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Though I also get overwhelmed sometimes because so much seems to need doing right NOW, I'd be bored if I sat still I don't NEED to do everything- I could get rid of my chickens, put my garden to lawn, etc- but then I'd be watching tv and I'd be bored!

Also, homesteading/gardening/etc- works out a relatively cheap hobby!
 
master steward
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I'm glad I've finally gotten to the point where I can say "If I can't get XYZ done, I guess it will have to wait till next year".  I used to think I had to get everything I wanted done so that I could do more next year and complete ALL the projects on the homestead so I can relax.  I thought that would take two years.  Now I'm in year five and I think there are two more years to go.  So not killing myself and working at the pace I want has been a good change for me.  

Now if "working at my own pace" was an hour of puttering a day and 14 hours of computer and tv time, it would be different.
 
pioneer
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Mike Jay wrote:was an hour of puttering a day



Lol, I love that you use the word "puttering".  Any time anyone asks me something like "what are you doing this weekend?", I say "just puttering".  That's what I call doing whatever I want to do on my land, working on the food forest, cutting trees, building a greenhouse, making charcoal, building a new compost bin, and on and on.  People think it means I just goof off all weekend.  They have no idea how much work "puttering" can be  :)
 
Mike Jay
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Thanks Trace, I don't know a better word  Monday was a great day.  Got 6 IBC totes set on cinder blocks for rainwater collection, got gutters half installed and the plumbing figured out and installed.  Lots done and it went twice as fast as I thought it would.
 
pollinator
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I love the complicated simpler life. It does sum it up well. Every few weeks I will take a day off my (paid official) work to work on the farm. I consider it cleaning out my head- I spend a lot of time with my head full of lots of info and I need to spend a day in the garden, in the dirt, working with my hands, digging, chopping, etc, to get all that crap out and still stay sane.
In zen buddhism there is wisdom and valuable practice in the most basic activities (most famously, chop wood, carry water). When you add in the joy of watching things grow, planning, expectations, or even just watching the birds and the bugs (as long as they're not eating my food) it is fabulous. So much better than whatever else I could be doing.
 
pollinator
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Mike Jay wrote:Thanks Trace, I don't know a better word



I think that better word is Retired!

I am just as busy now as when I worked full-time, but I do not feel compelled to try and cram all that I have to do into a 2 day or 3 day weekend, that is all. Because of that, the quality of whatever I do has gotten a lot better because I am no longer in a rush.

Really what all this boils down to is contentment.

EVERYONE, from people who sit in their Mom's basement and play Minecraft all day, to the hardest working workaholic ever; has 24 hours in a given day. What people do with that time is up to them, but playing video games just means the person is getting their fun up front, and will pay for the rest of their lives in other ways. The gamer is content at doing nothing productive, and the workaholic is always productive, but never content. Both are morally wrong.

The ironic part about homesteading is, in order to "make it", is NOT how much you accomplish physically around the homestead. I say that because doing "stuff" costs money. A homesteader has to have a few things going on granted to stay sane, but often times what I see is a lot of homesteader frantically thinking if they get this done or that, then they will be able to make enough money to thrive. But it really does not work that way. That is because producing anything costs money, so a person has to perpetually work and work to make money.

I wish I had listened to my own advice years ago, as it would have saved a lot of turmoil, but the best thing a homesteader with a traditional job should do, is use that job to get out of debt. There is no "complicated, simpler life", its just a damn simple life, and it is easier...and faster...to do then most people think.

Here is an example: if I have twenty chickens I have a few eggs for myself, and a few dozen to sell at the end of my driveway. Now I can either buy a bunch more chickens so I have even more eggs to sell, and hopefully make enough money, find enough buyers to pay for the extra birds, the extra feed, and the travel to town to try an sell so many more eggs...all the while maintaining a lifestyle with payments to a bank, or I can work really hard, sell crap I do not need, and pay down my debt so that on my little homestead, I can just be content with a few birds, and the few bucks I make in my little container at the end of my driveway is plenty because I do not have any bills to pay.

Everyone has a choice on which route they decide to take.
 
pioneer
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That's a really good point, Travis.  Less is so often more.  I recall a conversation with a 95 year old Aunt-in-law when I asked her about living through the Great Depression, and did she feel poor.  She thought for a moment, and said no, it didn't feel like they were poor at all.  They had fresh eggs from the chickens, fresh milk and butter from the cow, a couple of pigs for ham and bacon, fresh veggies and berries from the garden and plenty to do every day.  They didn't buy much, but nobody else did either, so it wasn't like they felt deprived relative to others nearby.  Come to think of it, sounds a lot like a Gert life!  Get the mortgage and any other debt paid off and life can be pretty simple in a good way, even without much cash income.  
 
Travis Johnson
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Just so people do not feel bad; a mortgage is consider "good" debt. Yes, it is best for the person to pay it off as soon as they can, but the real burden is consumer debt.

I am not stating this to chide you in any way Artie, I just do not want people thinking being out of debt is unattainable. In fact, for most people, they can get out of consumer debt completely in less than two years. But for a person (or a couple) that just bought a farm, and have a mortgage, hugs my dear friends, it is perfectly fine, you are not doing anything bad. By getting out of consumer debt (or not getting into it in the first place), the mortgage can be paid down quickly.
 
Artie Scott
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Completely agree, Travis, it is a journey. As I have learned here over the years, whether through the concept of Gertitude or the Early Retirement Extreme discussions and podcasts, if you know the desired destination, it is infinitely easier to get there!  
 
Travis Johnson
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Artie Scott wrote:Completely agree, Travis, it is a journey. As I have learned here over the years, whether through the concept of Gertitude or the Early Retirement Extreme discussions and podcasts, if you know the desired destination, it is infinitely easier to get there!  



And it is freeing!

Katie got a notification that her credit score just dropped! GREAT...because 100% of a credit score is based on debt! The lower the credit score, the less debt a person has. While many people are constantly worried about how good their credit is, because we use cash only, we are not concerned by some hyped up number based on materilism. That is freedom.

My insurance agent was concerned about it though, saying because of our poor credit we did not "save" $10 a month on car insurance. Really? Our cars are paid with cash, so we only have liability inssurance anyway, and NONE for the houses. If one was to burn, we would just move into one of the other two. But beyond that, just do the math. Beause we have to have farm insurance, insurance was $1400 a year. On (3) houses, over 10 years time I have saved $42,000! A person can buy a kit house for $31,000, so if a house burned today, I would get a new home and still have $10,000 in the bank, and yet my Insurance Agent is concerned about "Saving" $10 a month on car insurance. Screw off pal, I will gladly pay $10 to save $360 a month!

This is how screwed up the current system is, and yet people buy into it. I am screaming to everyone who will listen, get a plan together, and get out of debt because then you will really enjoy homesteading.

Edit: For total tranparency, we are not 100% debt free yet. We have $16,000 to go, but if we can maintain our plan, we will be debt-free in July 2020.


 
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I think Travis is absolutely right.  My wife and I have always wanted to be out of debt.  We worked 2 or 3 jobs each.  When we had a child we went to 1 job each.  In the mean time the slow growth of the farm started to pick up some bills.  I am 44 and have been out of debt for 2 years now.  I still work full time as a mechanical and a hydraulic engineer.    My wife is a school teacher and loves teaching.  Her schedule works great for the farm.  I work because I have a skill set that I feel extremely blessed to have.  Few have been chosen to get the kind of education I got from where I come from.  

That being said, there are a few thing that let me be both an engineer and farmer.  First I gave up watching TV 20 some years ago.  We have one, but I cant still enough to watch it.  The farm has to many things do. Second we always drive used cars till they won’t move anymore.  Being in my profession the other engineers have a tendency to make fun of my rust buckets, but my payment at $0.   My insurance per year is less than one days tax for working.  It costs me $13.41 in fuel to drive back and forth to work for 1 week with the new diesel tax here.  They often joke when I get fuel that my vehicle has tripled in value.  I can’t imagine working 2 years to pay for the one’s they drive.  

Without the debt It’s pretty simple for me to do the things I need to do every day.  I don’t have to go to work, I want to.  The complicated stuff comes when I need to slow down and observe the farm to make things more sustainable. It’s just too easy to use unsustainable energy.  
 
Travis Johnson
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Here is an idea, everyone become debt-free, and if they do not like that kind of life after a year or two of trying it, well, they can always go back into debt.

The same with not having a martgage; try it. If you can absolutely cannot stand having a mortgage in your life, just go out and get another mortgage!

Of course I say that jokingly to make a point, but the hardest part is not getting out of debt, it is once you are out of it, no longer falling into the trap of getting into debt again. That is where it comes down to contentment with what you have.

 
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