Non-Traditional Employment: Homesteading Income
Revisiting How I Spend My Homestead Hopeful Days
Last year, I wrote about Why I’m Not Seeking Traditional Employment. One of the main reasons left out of this post is the obvious one – my health issues make it difficult to hold down a steady job at this point. But while I’ve been working to figure out what was going on inside my body, I’ve also been working to generate income without the need to commute to an office. Living off-grid will make commuting very difficult, and both Ryan & I are developing ways to work from home.
For Ryan, he’s working at Ozark Natural Foods to learn more about sustainable eating and types of produce, while networking with knowledgeable people and helping reduce our grocery bill. But his main focus is on improving his technology skills so that he can one day be a tech consultant for non-profit organizations, and work from home. Currently, he’s learning a ton about the tech field by spending one day a week as an apprentice behind-the-scenes at ONF – and loving it! This morning I caught him curled up on the couch reading about tech stuff such as web design. He’s already stepping out into his dream by assisting a local non-profit with their website – go Ryan go! The rest of Ryan’s work time goes into helping with the cats, cooking with me, solving problems, and “think time” – one of the biggest uses of our time currently. “Think time” involves answering questions like, “How do we solve the ant problem in our kitchen?” (extended to everywhere, as in this moment I have one ant crawling up my left arm, one going across the computer monitor, and another one crawling up my calf…) With a suggestion from our landlord, a borax/powdered sugar paste has been effective at reducing the population.
Time to Think
“Think time” consumes the majority of my work time, tackling questions such as:
- How should I design our bathroom and what type of tub should we buy?
- What do I do in case of a brown recluse bite, wasp sting, snake bite etc?
- Which kind of stove is the most energy efficient and can run off sustainable energy?
- How can I help myself heal faster and reduce symptoms further?
- Should I begin illustrating Ripples with unique drawings of us building the homestead?
- What is our main goal for annual income that exceeds our expenses now & while off-grid?
- Should we buy the earth bag home plans now, or make alterations with the architect?
- Would raising ducks be feasible for us while we’re off-grid?
- How can I cook more meals using quinoa, a safe gluten-free grain?
- What’s the best way to develop native species habitat in a small acreage?
How I Spend Work Hours, Updated:
Besides thinking, and I kid you not – thinking is a black hole for time! – I do actual work. Since I seem to have my symptoms mostly in check, I’ve been able to work a few days at the Himalayan Mountain Shop downtown, as well as working regularly from home by writing Ripples blog posts and learning about blog promotion, preparing for our bed & breakfast, looking up allergen-free recipes for Ripples’ Cookies, taking care of chores and cats, pet sitting for neighbors, creating blog illustrations and earth bag home concept designs, and researching all the stuff we need to know about homesteading. While Ryan’s emphasis is on income, mine is on reducing expenses. In essence, though, I’m a writer, just like Ryan is a tech consultant. Those are our “jobs” – the alternative to the 9-5 traditional employment in an office.
As a writer, I’ve written for magazines, newspapers, and writing contests, as well as writing several grants for non-profit organizations. In the future, I want to continue blogging on Ripples and write books or essays about various subjects. Even though it’s still in its infancy, Ripples is already receiving a good foundation for what Ryan & I want to be doing as social entrepreneurs: living sustainably, writing, tech consulting, selling homemade goods and helping non-profit organizations worldwide. Now we just have to grow it stronger, live better, and help more people.
The Biggest Challenge in Working from Home
I decided to write this post today after a nightmare I had last night wherein a bunch of people were saying things like, “You need to get out more,” “You’re a bit crazy doing what you do,” “Why don’t you just get a job?” and other demeaning things. Sometimes I don’t know what is a bigger challenge to a social entrepreneur – overcoming the public’s misunderstanding and ignorance, or overcoming my internalization of their criticisms. Today, it’s the latter. Whenever I meet new people and they ask the usual questions – “Where are you from and where do you work?” – it’s hard for me to explain my alternative lifestyle in a way that doesn’t leave them with the impression that I’m a lazy vagabond.
The biggest challenge for me in working from home is trying to justify my decisions to others, and accepting myself even if they don’t understand.