A few months ago, a reader wrote: How did you overcome the financial hurdles of homesteading, both starting and continuing? I am wondering if you homestead full time or if you or your husband work part time (or full time) in town. Obviously you are happily “living on less,” but you also have obvious real expenses.
I loved this question. It’s probably something that many, many readers want to ask, but feel that it might be too intrusive. Two months ago I wrote about the Financial Hurdles of Homesteading, where I talked about the very real expenses that exist when you buy land, build a house, and create infrastructure for livestock, plants, and people. In the future I plan to also address how we “live on less.” In this post, I want to talk about what I call Creative Employment.
I have always been one of those people who likes to change up her job every few years. I have so many diverse interests and skills, and I like learning new things. My undergraduate degree is in Biology, and for many years I taught at marine science centers, working with children and college students. When I moved to Oregon (inland), I found a job working at a wholesale plant nursery and an organic garden, and fell into my love of plants. I also took up dance after a decade hiatus, got very involved in the local musical theater scene, performing in and choreographing musicals, and ultimately decided to earn my Master’s degree in Arts Administration and Nonprofit Management.
I’ve also worked with International Students, managed a theater box office, a children’s dance program, and a musical theater camp, and knit hats and painted silk scarves to sell at a craft market. So far in Missouri I’ve acted professionally, taught choreography to kids, managed a school garden, done transcription work, and cleaned houses. And I’ve just started a Sponsorship program on my blog that will help support my family as I support small businesses.
My husband, on the other hand, has worked as a carpenter/handyman and self-employed Artist Blacksmith for the past 14 years. His creativity is expressed through working with wood, metal and other media as he creates and builds.
One thing we have in common: We have rarely had a “real” job.
One thing we also have in common: We have never earned “real” wages.
One more thing we have in common: We have (almost without exception) really enjoyed our work.
I guess my point here is not that you should work less or work more or quit your job to homestead full-time. It’s just that I truly believe that when it comes to balancing homesteading and employment, anything is possible. What are your passions? What are your skills? What can you make money doing? Put these together and see how you can create a life that you love.
If you love working a 9-5 job, great! If you prefer to work part-time and garden the remaining hours, wonderful! Do you have techie skills like html coding? See if you can work from home and set your own hours. Do you love to create with your hands and sell your wares? Then see what options there are for crafters in your community, or join an online sales arena like etsy.com. If you want to homestead, or just spend more time connecting with the earth and with your community, then brainstorm ways that you can make employment work with your dreams.
Our family supports our homesteading lifestyle with each adult working part-time to pay the bills, consciously cutting expenses, and remaining open to ways to barter, trade, or do it ourselves. We try hard to find employment that feeds our souls, so we can in turn nurture our family and our community.
This is a big topic, and there is so much more to say. I hope we can begin a dialogue here in the comments, or on the Homestead Honey Facebook page, and support each other in finding creative ways to balance employment and homesteading.