Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Skills and Craft › Caught between a dollar and a dream
- January 31, 2008 at 1:58 am #39433PlowboyParticipant
My wife was sick for 3 days this past week. After being home from work she had much time to reflect as we don’t have TV. Last night she told me she wants to find a job she loves instead of the one she has which is great for this area. She rattled off a list of things she would love to do but none would pay nearly as much as she’s making now except for becoming a veterinarian which takes many years of schooling and would put her in her late 30’s upon graduating. Meanwhile we are paying a mortgage on our farm and wanting to start a family.
She made me start thinking but I too have a good job and a sideline landscaping business on top of my farming habit. She asked what I would like to do so I told her farm and log with horses and train draft horses. She said why don’t you? I said because it wouldn’t be nearly as easy to pay the bills.
Everyone has to make sacrifices so we continue to toil working at our 40 hr jobs and fitting in what else we want to do around it. Maybe some day we can do what we enjoy full time.January 31, 2008 at 3:14 am #45504longshot38Participant
brother i hear ya. yer preaching to the choir as they say. id love to do the whole farm/homesteading deal but my DW isnt into it and she isnt working right now due to illness so i keep plugging away learning and planning.
deanJanuary 31, 2008 at 12:35 pm #45495RodParticipant
It took me 40 years till I could get to farming fulltime and only because I had a income all those years allowing me to pay for and build up the farm. Now I am retired and that also allows me to make it financially. During those years I experimented with honey bees, sheep, Christmas trees, stocker cattle, direct marketing, internet selling and now miniature cattle for beef and breeding stock trying to find a formula that would work. I am getting closer to being profitable but if I had jumped in years back I may not have made it, who knows.
I remember one of the prime reasons keeping me from jumping in earlier was the considerations for my family. We have 4 children, now grown and on thier own with families. My dream back in those days when the kids were small was a farm that would support the whole family, provide enough money for college for each child and serve as a base for future farming at least for our two boys. I was hoping for a situation where our children and thier famlies would settle on or around the farm as they grew up. But it diden’t happen that way. They all went off to college and now have good jobs but each are quite a distance away in other States which makes it very hard to share in thier lives as we would like.
Would I do it the same way again? I am not sure I would. Perhaps I would go for it earlier and figure out a way to make it work. I sure am enjoying what I do right now and if I were able to have my children and grandchildren close by to share it with would be the frosting on the cake.January 31, 2008 at 6:03 pm #45497goodcompanionParticipant
I can really see it both ways. For all of my 20s I was eager to start farming but I had a partner during that time who had another agenda. So I ended up accruing experiences and some money which were helpful. In retrospect it’s hard to imagine bootstrapping it the whole way. You need to inherit, or you need some cash to jumpstart.
In order to make it, you need such an array of resources and skills. The return on money invested is pathetic, though we receive non-monetary returns that can be extraordinary. It astonishes me, for instance, that the farm I am building up is probably worth half a million yet I can barely make it above the poverty line working it full time (at least right now). Clearly, the real estate is way over-valued and the products way under-valued. I think we are already seeing global and national events in motion that will correct this, ultimately to the advantage of those of us that farm.
If you can live with a foot in each world, that’s great.February 3, 2008 at 8:39 pm #45502KristinParticipant
It’s a tiny minority that asks these questions. I figure 98% of people are just quietly dissatisfied in their work, and never even imagine that they can make a change. Ironically, I never knew what security felt like until I left the city. There was something shockingly simple, and profoundly comforting, about realizing that as long as we were growing our own food we’d never be hungry, and as long as we could cut wood we’d never have to be cold. I’m OK with the fact that I’ll probably never have a new car or a house that looks the way I’d like it to or a pile of money to blow on clothes. I like clothes, but not enough to work forty hours a week for them at a job I am not crazy about. Luckily, I’m married to a person who would find a way to be happy living on a park bench, so we’re not pulling in opposite directions. Will we have enough cash to send our baby girl to college in eighteen years? I don’t know. I hope that if she wants to go to college she’ll be talented and resourceful enough to find a way to do it. And I hope that we can make up for what we won’t be able to give her in material things with the things we can give her, including a farm-centered childhood with happy parents who really love the work they do every day. Hope that doesn’t sound self-righteous. I know everyone has different priorities, responsibilities, debts, and resources. I just feel awfully lucky that I get to do what I love at a relatively young age and wish the same for others.February 4, 2008 at 6:06 pm #45503AnonymousInactive
Kristin hit the nail on the head! I’m so thankful to be in my 30’s starting our farm. Hubby has the golden handcuffs type of job, so I’m hustling so that he can farm with me full time. We’re living in two different states though. Sacrifices come in many forms. It’s worth it. Farming is in our soul.
We have a home in a college town in PA, so we rent out rooms there to grad. students to cover our mortgage. It’s unconventional, but it allows us to divert more to our debts. We’re both first generation college grads, and still paying for it. All of our material things are second hand, who cares? It’s just stuff.May 26, 2009 at 1:50 am #45520FermentationParticipant
I personally believe that the economic order as we know it is collapsing due to peak oil. You guys have no idea, you’re luckiest people on earth. PLEASE count your blessings and keep farming. How we’re going to feed ourselves as a country, in an agricultural system almost entirely dependent upon fossil fuels, with diminishing marginal returns is scary. I don’t want to repeat the facts, but read this here: http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/100303_eating_oil.html You guys using draught animals are so far ahead of the game, it isn’t funny.May 26, 2009 at 9:47 am #45501Does’ LeapParticipant
Got for it. I quit my high school teaching job after 10 years to work full time with my wife on our farm. That and getting draft horses are some of the best things I’ve done for myself and my family. We had been building our goat cheese business slowly during the time I was teaching and there were definitely concerns about getting by with no outside income. Intererestingly – and not unexpectedly – our farm did so much better with both of us on full time and we are doing fine financially (but, like Kristin, without the new car, fancy house, etc.)
GeorgeMay 26, 2009 at 11:04 am #45493Gabe AyersKeymaster
There is definitely a disconnect between poverty and sustainability in this country. This could be a long thread and possibly a book… maybe even a movie or series of books or something long and complex….
I have never made more than poverty level income working on the farm and in the forest of the community. The point is that having economical lifestyles and living within our means, means not much money. The entire modern world has so little value placed on personal dignity and independence that many of us who commit to this reject that way of measuring on own sense of success.
This is a very hard way to make a living, yet the only way some can live… Every person that is involved with this culture of interdependent agricultural and forest endeavors is a precious part of the best potential humans have for the future of our species on the planet in my opinion and experience.
Helping each other find our own place in the natural world is the best thing about this forum and it’s members. Thanks to all of you for being here and where you are….keep up the good work to any degree you are able.
Maybe we can expand on this thread and continue to help each other in this unique cyber community of interest.
Thank goodness there is more to life than money….meanwhile we all have to have some money so off to work we go…May 27, 2009 at 3:26 am #45516lancekParticipant
Jason you hit it right on the head this is a hard way to make a liven but when you realy look at it when you go into the real world you can make more money but you will spend more money! I left the rual life and went to driving truck baught a big rig made 150,000.00 dollers but spent 135,00.00 in expenese and taxes so I made less mony than in the woods by being resorceful and frugal you can create a life that you can be proud of.September 21, 2009 at 5:39 am #45517sam_forestParticipant
I am appreciating the conversation between everyone. I think about these questions – quiting the city for the country, forsaking money and societal values in favor of learning these REAL skills everyday.October 10, 2009 at 4:51 pm #45518Nat(wasIxy)Participant
I’m in my early 20s and my partner’s in his late 20s and we both farm fulltime. Through my childhood I wanted a farm and grew veg, kept chickens etc on a rented allotment. Then time to grow up and I went to uni and then left that after a year to get a proper grownup’s city job. Sure, I earnt plenty of money, but I only lasted 7 months full time before I started having panic attacks and constant nosebleeds. I spent my whole life commuting or bored out of my skull.
I ditched it. For a young inexperienced female, a job in farming was a long time coming but once I had a foot in the door I learnt fast (with passion) and soon started renting my own land and selling meat on the side. My partner was a dairy farmer’s son so he had a bit of a head start experience-wise and he spent his student loan money on a lucky bit of land he found and he we are 😀
It’s tough – no haircuts, no big/new cars, no new clothes all the time. Our secret is to cut your living costs all you can – you’ll NEVER earn a city wage out here so something else has to give. We produce all our own food and fuel. We live in a caravan/trailer. We don’t have a TV. We buy the food we can’t produce in bulk, and make things like bread, cakes and biscuits from scratch. Like someone else has already said – I like new clothes, but not enough to slave 40hrs a week for the privilege! Many people like THE IDEA of our life, but few could do it every day.
I say, if you are willing to slog your guts out and make many sacrifices, go for it!October 28, 2009 at 9:33 pm #45510Robert MoonShadowParticipant
Reading this thread,after being gone from here all summer – trying to get a bit closer to getting my own place, with very limited “success” – I’d have to say that it’s about attitude & expectations: what do you REALLY need & what is it worth to you?
I see many mentions on ‘sacrificing’ this and that for “living the dream” –> I’m sorry, but I’m an American = I want it all, and expect it. It’s not how many toys you have: it’s how much time you get to spend playing with the toys you DO have. And the adjustments you make to fit it all together.
Case in point: I don’t want or have any use for a nice car or even a big fancy new truck. What for? My Datsun p/u is paid for. Have to get it fixed, but I can have the whole motor rebuilt for less than a year’s payments on that 2009 Ford 3/4 ton deisel p/u my boss just bought for $42k. So, when I say I want it all – AND expect to get it – it’s because I have taken the time (like 5 years in prison) to decide what I really want.
Freedom to pursue my dreams…and to fail at them, if it so happens.
I looked around the other day, when the place I wanted to rent/eventually buy was sold to someone w/ the $$ up front, and realized: I want a farm w/ livestock, draft animals, a vehicle, a lifemate beside me, and the respect of my neighbors to either accept me or leave me the hell alone. I’ve got 2 donkeys that just fit me right, 20 goats, 16 1/2 rabbits (one got out & lives in the yard w/ the ferocious dog & cat)…and no one bothers me at all if/when I choose to celebrate my Pagan holiday Samhain (commonly known as ‘Halloween’).
And I’m hot on the trail of land to rent, not buy…for now.
There must be 50 kids in the 3 towns I sell in, that call me MR. Pirate-Farmer; as do many of their parents.
Yep, I want it all…and I think I’ve got most of it.
Attitude, my friends.
What do you really want?October 29, 2009 at 2:48 am #45521blue80Participant
I really appreciate all your comments and insight!
Our family is working on dreams too, with four kids (oldest is 6, youngest is two weeks old) We are trying to make a logical but dedicated transition to “the simple life” I believe it may have started 8 years ago when I convinced my wife we shouldn’t have cable TV anymore. Then our brains started working on their own again. Step by step, we are trying. And not to get started when we are financially comfortable, rather right now so our kids can and have to be a part of it.
Built a low maintenance home and barn/shop; still not finished of course, as I do construction work….
Install underground drainage in the field to lower the water table, and reduce sodicity and compaction.
Dig 40 years of neglect out of the farm drains.
Spread gypsum and beet lime
Incorporate some philosophies like http://www.kinseyag.com I knew that I wanted to be involved growing my soil and farm when I found myself spellbound by Neal Kinsey’s book “Hands-on Agronomy” I read it cover to cover, understood about 10 percent of it. But I figure the philosophy is bang on, “feed and balance the soil”
Hopefully soon, like right now, we’ll be able to start. Problem is we don’t know how to grow things. Or sell farm produce legally. Or live within our means. Yet.
My wife said it best, and most comforting, “what’s the worst that could happen? We lose all our stuff and money.”
When she puts it like that, why wouldn’t we at least try?
So please keep the advice coming, we are going to need it!
KevinOctober 29, 2009 at 5:59 am #45511Robert MoonShadowParticipant
Kevin ~ Where do you live at? ‘How to sell farm produce legally’ covers a lot of ground…most places I’ve heard of, are similar to here (Idaho) = farmers’ markets are primarily regulated about 3 things: 1) weights/measures = need to either have a state-certified scale or post “all weights approximate” 2) food safety = here, you can give out samples of almost any produce EXCEPT melons. This info can be found at your local health department and/or dept. of ag. 3) sales taxes = they want “their” share of what you make. I just figure the tax into my per-unit sale price & don’t bother to collect the pennies – just figure the 6% sales tax out of the year’s gross & send it in.
These simple regulations are usually also all that’s applied to roadside stands, although local codes differ, of course.
As for HOW to grow things: apprenticeship with someone who’s doing it. Rural Heritage has a system set up with just that info.
Or, do as I’m doing; learn by doing, while keep on working at a paycheck-providing job.
The true learning will really come from the land, anyways, if you learn to listen to it. Preparation is important – especially with young ones about – but the circumstances will never be ‘perfect’.
One last “secret” = the seed companies have great motivation to see you succeed with their seeds: and lots of (usually) friendly people that will give you advice to ensure that your growing attempts are successful. Use them…they know how to grow their product.
Enjoy each step – forward or backwards – that you take, in and of itself.
I’m no expert at all…I just like to dig in the dirt. 😀
Hope this helps, and sorry that I got so long-winded.
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