| Blog #12 | Number twelve | Answering the Question: Are Our City Jobs Kosher With Building A Homestead? (Athena)
Some of you who have joined us on our journey here or IG and FB may know that Kyle and I both have non-agricultural career backgrounds. Mine is as a Registered Nurse (Kyle is a Structural Engineer).
Kyle works full time and, recently, after our move to Appalachia, I have been a 100% stay-at-home parent. It's been about 7 1/2 months of all the wonderful and difficult things about being a SAHP.
Just in the last couple of weeks I have felt a strong desire--and different sense of readiness--to return to my nursing work in some form or capacity. When we first moved here to North Carolina we did not know for sure geographically where we would find our permanent home (we were in a temporary rental for the first 5 months of arriving in North Carolina). It makes a difference where you drive to work from around here where you can drive 30-60 minutes to a location that is still considered all part of the same centralized area.
Now that we know where we will be rooted for at least the next 5-6 years it makes searching the area for a job a lot more straightforward.
More than that, though, it makes a difference as a mama to finally feel like my nest is settled. Now I can fly around a little and feel free to do so.
Also, many of my career ambitions have changed in the last year or so. Actually A LOT of both of our career ambitions have changed. Most of that change has intensively been since we have arrived and started making our home here "boots on ground". There is something both physically and spiritually influencing about the soil actually you put your roots down into. This is true about plants and how they grow in various soils and it serves as a metaphor for humans as well I believe.
When Kyle and I first met I never would have imagine either Kyle or I would actually seriously consider being farmers (in the sense that we could actually see it being truly viable & possible). But something has done it's work in us the last 3-4 months. Something "in the water". And it's certain to be only beginning it's work in us. The culture of this area has awoken a deeper and clearer longing for things we would never of assigned to our lives back in Kansas City.
Much is clearer and more real and much can be said to also have become more complicated...as is true for the actualization of any dream into living reality.
Part of what is yet to be determined still where our educational and career backgrounds fit into this richly colored tapestry we find ourselves weaving. We have asked the question, "what role should our 'city jobs' play in our homestead journey and our family's pilgrimage in the next half decade--particularly because we don't hate our careers.
We do really desire that we could have WAAAAAY less time away from home and WAAAAY more time together as a family. Whenever we get to the end of the weekend we always wish we had just one extra weekend day...or whenever Kyle has to go to work we wish he could just do so from home. Just to be together. Idealy, we love working out in the sun sweating and getting dirty together...but even when that's not possible yet...if we could only just have him with us more and away at his office less. Or vice versa (if our roles were reversed--which, they TOTALLY could function as such if that ever presents itself as a better alternative).
And, well, that principle right there is pretty much the casting form for which our future career and farmstead will most likely find its shape and function. For us to have more of each other and to be able to do so with financial viability.
As a nurse I am incredibly lucky enough to be able to work only one day per week if I choose. I can also get 12 hours our of that day, that "day" be overnight so I am never away too long during any daytime hours, and I can make descent money. All these things are invaluable when building a homestead or starting a major family life a career change, like entering farming or starting a business. And, as a hospital nurse, I have A LOT of control over how much or how little I work and that is an incredible blessing I will never be ungrateful for. I am aware how invaluable both my career and Kyle's (as an engineer) are as building blocks for our farmstead.
In fact, that awareness is in large part why I have decided to return to work. In reality, we have slimmed our budget down enough that we do not need me to go back to work. For this I cannot ever express enough thankfulness and encourage anyone to work toward living off only one income even if both partners choose to work.
If I stay away from my career too long, it will be harder and harder to get back in (at least to get hired to a decent unit or company).
And, if I give up my career altogether, as I contemplated seriously at few points over the last 7 months, I would be honestly sad (I really DO love being a nurse). It is a deeply satisfying skill-set I have to offer my community. I don't love a lot about our healthcare system in the U.S. and I don't really like the litigious "machine" that is the hospital. I do, however, love having a skilled "nurturing" and healing career that, at least in most of our society, is valuable and respected. And, I have no shame in admitting that this value and respect is important to me and brings me personal fulfillment.
If all goes according to our very ROUUUUUGH plan for the future it will be incredibly useful for me to be able to step in with more hours as a nurse while Kyle steps down his hours at the office (either altogether or bringing work home) and we can BOTH have more resources for building our farmstead. (Not to mention it is simply helpful to have nursing skills and knowledge for a variety of events that can occur on a farmstead, out in a rural area or while parenting a tiny wild human).
This whole scenario is kind of the crux of the struggle, it seems, for the new generation of farmers in our world today, doesn't it? Yes, we younger ones have heard the calling. Yes, we want to respond and many of us are taking some major steps toward that engagement. But, most of us are transitioning from a "standard western career mindset" and the actual reality of moving from our city jobs to something more simple like farming or even part-time homesteading can be seriously challenging.
Besides, most of us grew up in cities and have a POOP TON of stuff to learn (or unlearn) in order to not DIE when we move out to our dream property in the country or mountains...we also have a whole personal identity invested in a different kind of cultural lifestyle. A different kind of wealth. A different kind of friend and neighbor. A different kind of happiness.
The transition from the typical American Dreamer of our generation to this emerging Liberated Next-Generation Farming and Saving the Planet Through Personal Responsibility and Taking Action Dreamer is not as simple for everyone as quitting a city job and moving out to the country with a horse, some chicken, a plow and some seeds.
It takes periods of detoxing and relearning a new way of life. It takes finding where you truly find joy and incorporating that into the fabric of this new reality. It might mean you still work at your "office job" in some capacity. It might mean you don't work at all and instead give yourself totally to raising money to run a rescue farm for animals with an associated farm-based boarding school. It might mean you don't fit in a box.
And, thank goodness the biggest part of this whole movement we see in our world today (away from factory farming and big-ag to earth-stewarding and authentic simple living) is that, beneath all the labels, we are joining our hearts and minds and actions and lives together to throw out the box entirely.
We all hate to be put in a box. And, now we can be freed from the expectation that we have to put ourselves in one to be socially acceptable. We might not know exactly how it all will look or exactly what we will be wearing once we step our of the box (yikes... ;p!), but, we would rather be out of the dang box and free to experience the fullness of joy rather than sit obediently inside a box and never fully walk in our own skin.
For this gal, a small and practical-level part of this "unboxing" process is being loved, secure and supported (and frugal) enough to be able to move in and out of full-time parenthood. And, after 7+ months of wondering when, how, or IF I would return to my nursing career, I am now embracing that particular thread into the fabric of our Homestead Life. Let us all see what this colorful life tapestry continues to look like as the fibers weave together!
S T O R Y | S H A R I N G |
| As always, we love to hear our reader's stories! | How have you managed to make your own transition to your dreams of living closer to the land, being a future farmer, running a rescue farm, or urban homesteading? | Have you kept your "city job"? | Do you plan to move away from working in the city 100% or keep working part time? | You can email us or message us or comment below! | With Love, From Our Homestead to Yours! <Kyle and Athena> | Appalachia, North Carolina, USA |
I have often felt that life is comprised of a series of distillations. According to it's dictionary definition, the distillation process is used to extract an essential meaning; a whittling down to a core of importance that drives all other purposeful action in our lives--or should.
You may not be like me. For me, this process of whittling and refining, and distilling and extracting can really suck. I don't like it. I like it in theory, but in reality the process of having my core exposed makes me uncomfortable, moody and annoyed at best.
Multi-tasking for me is not an easy feat and, in truth, it really stresses me out. Since childhood, if I am deeply interested in something, it draws me in to itself and shuts out the rest of the world akin to a passionate musician recording a first album in an bomb-proof, underground, sound-proof studio.
I have a really hard time switching my focus back and forth from different things going on around me. This is especially true when I am engrossed or engaged in a task such as learning something new, writing a blog post about something close to my heart, reading a book, editing pictures or even gardening.
Needless to say, this isn't a great parenting quality. As a stay-at-home mama who is the primary companion to my curious, inquisitive, incredibly bright, very verbal, high energy 2 1/2 year old wild woman I need all the focus I can get just to keep up with her.
I love being able to stay home with her...but I also feel like it is the most challenging thing I have ever undertaken.
And then--I choose to take on learning how we can become homesteaders...
Anyone who has not stayed home with kiddos may think...surely, you aren't complaining. Surely you have plenty of time to study about gardening, permaculture, companion planting, no-till methods, veganic soil ammendments, canning, preserving, pickling, bread making, noodle making, dehydration, farming, caring for rescue farm animals...
Sure. Yeah. Tons of time.
So, yes, in truth I have more time than my husband who works 40 hours is away from home about 50 hours per week. He only has a limited number of hours in the evening and he uses that time to spend engaged as a father and a husband. Our weekends are utterly precious and we use each moment as if it were gold. I do have more time than him...but not extravagant amounts by any means.
But, as mentioned previously, if my daughter is awake and not watching T.V. (which we do very selectively but really try to minimize), I have to be fully engaged as a parent to her and this can be difficult at times. Sometimes I simply don't feel like it. Sometimes my introvert self feels overstimulated. Sometimes I just want to finish my dang text message or take a moment and poop in private. Sometimes my mind wanders into the garden even though my body is still in the house. Sometimes being a stay at home parent is just hard.
You are always on and when you do have a break (naps specifically) you often have a personal to-do list that is about a mile long and still constrained by noise levels.
WHAT THE HECK IS YOUR POINT WOMAN?
The point of all this rambling (sorry, sometimes it just needs to be journalled out) is that we are in a season as a family, especially now that we have settled into the home we will live in for the next 5 to 6 years, where we MUST answer our WHY.
WHY do we want to do ANYTHING? Why would we want to homestead? Why would we want to garden? Why would we want to farm? Why would we want to care for rescue farm animals? Why would we want to own land? Why would we want to live in a more rural area? Why would we want to homeschool? Why would we want to implement veganic growing? Why would we want to build our own house? Why would we want to live in the mountains?
What is our why that moves us steadily and in a centering way in any authentic direction?
I can often get tripped up on figuring out a bunch of HOW's (because I like to learn) and get busy or deeply focused (as mentioned above). Simply because of my focus (issue?) alone I have to be very aware not to get too far off the flight path of my why. Because I am also a we my why is part of a collective why for my whole family.
We have not fully answered our core why yet. We are navigating the answer on a daily basis. It isn't always easy to verbalize these things.
It is very important to do so, however, because our why will determine our path of life actions. Our "doings" that end up making our life in much of how we define it.
So the ongoing questions that are especially drawing us inward as a family in this season are: What is our why? What are we doing and does it align with our why? Are we willing to be distilled?
To conclude, I will lovingly borrow the words of a fellow journey'er on this experience of living distillation:
But my mind is always saying:
"What do I do?!
I am a protector of the old ways.
I am an ally for the soil and the insects and the wild weeds and animals that I share this earth with.
I provide care with my whole heart and soul for the animals that the earth has placed in my care.
I nurture food and medicine from the earth and lovingly preserve it to ensure my family’s needs are met.
I am a provider for my family, in the most traditional sense."
--Kaylee of Project Zenstead
Kyle and Athena
Welcome to our Farmstead Journal. We warmly invite you to read along as we share our journey as we learn and grow more authentic is our care and honor of the earth and all our fellow inhabitants, as we pursue our search for our own land and explore the meaning of homesteading and growing within plant-based/"veganic" principles. We seek deep authenticity, true peace, sanctuary for all and simplicity as our continual journey of learning and growing as a family.