When I started this blog, I wrote a lot (here and here, for example) about D and I building a home-centered life on Bee Branch, living simply and together with our community, eating food we would grow and setting ourselves apart from the mainstream, get more stuff, job-centered culture. Our plan has always been for me to work at a job that will allow Derrick to work at home. We have lots of examples of people successfully living this way; friends and acquaintances in Virginia and Michigan are making it work (with the added challenge of children!), so we know it can be done.
It has been two years since I wrote about that, two years since we moved into our own home and we both started working full-time. We have kept up gardening, tending animals, and loving our home and community, but as you can imagine (and as many of you probably know from experience), both of us working 40+ hours away from our home has made it
difficult to homestead in the comprehensive way we would like one of the most stressful, yucky times of our lives! On weekdays we leave home together at seven in the morning and get home around five-thirty or six. We fly into chores, me catching up on laundry, cleaning up, and starting supper; Derrick feeding animals, mowing, and/or working in the garden (or splitting wood, in the winter) until around eight-thirty. Then we eat supper, do dishes, and are lucky to get to bed by ten! It feels like we are running a marathon, every job is done just well enough, and we barely even see each other (let alone friends and community members!)!
(I know that the lifestyle I’ve just described is one many people have no other choice but to live. Circumstances demand that they work hard at a job just to survive. I understand that to want something different is a privilege.)
How did this happen? If you remember, D started working at a local heating and plumbing business nearly three years ago, while I was frantically submitting job applications and looking for work. Then, I found it! I got a full-time, grant-funded position in the public school system in our neighboring county. While I loved the work I did with students in the GEAR UP program for nearly two years, I couldn’t shake the instability of grant-funding, and the pay wasn’t quite enough as our single source of income. During this time, we bought a small home for (we think) a modest price, and we encumbered a small monthly payment. We needed a reliable vehicle (we live in the mountains where the nearest grocery store is 30 minutes away, winter includes snow and ice, and public transportation is virtually nonexistent), so we bought a nice car that we hope will last decades. And we adopted another monthly payment.
Now, I’ve just started a new job at our local community college, which has meant longer hours but more financial stability. While I am immensely thankful for the comforts of a home, car, and job, I fear that our homesteading dream might soon become unrealistic. Sometimes I find myself thinking more about the purchases I’d like to make. In my moments of extreme self doubt, even though I know that we have tried to spend little and buy intentionally, I even start to feel like a phony, wondering if we’ve sold out by making these big purchases, and aligned ourselves with the culture we were trying to avoid (the horror!).
So, while D and I still have the luxury of making choices, before our lives so subtlety adapt to two incomes that we can’t do anything but keep working away from home, we want to make a change. Next week, D will drop his job and start working at home full time.
We are nervous but terrified! We have just started imagining what it will look like (“You mean, you will do supper, and the laundry, and grow our food?”). Please say prayers for us as we try to scale back our expenditures even more, as we communicate to friends and family this big change, and as we seek to connect on a deeper level with our home.
I will keep you posted!