It’s so hard to know exactly where to start in the telling of this type of story, isn’t it? Technically everything since birth has contributed to who we are today and how we got here, right? Alright, . . . . stick with me. I promise I’m not going back that far!
It Began With Financial Survival
I have a full-time job as adult program specialist at a library. Jobs simply don’t pay well in my neck of the woods. I wasn’t able financially to make it on my own. My daughter, SIL, and the kiddos were struggling also. They had a home they purchased several years ago. It needed work. They made it livable. But they were both working full-time (plus), while they had to depend upon relatives to watch the kids. The kids were unhappy with the small amount of time they were getting with mom and dad.
We were all struggling and unhappy.
We had a thought. Since we were all struggling financially; and we all get along well and have similar life-goals and beliefs, we wondered if we could do better if we all lived and worked together as a team.
We turned the empty open attic space into a bedroom for me. I moved to the ‘new’ space in late spring. I kept my job, SIL kept his. Daughter quit hers to stay home with the kids.
Benefits of ‘the plan’:
- Daughter home with the kids full-time
- SIL renegotiated his hours at work. He is now home every evening with the kids also.
- 1 extra adult in the household to split chores and child-rearing duties
- I have a permaculture design education and life-long gardening experience, . . . . which leads to
The Next Steps in The Plan
Now we have a slightly more livable plan but as prices continue to rise while salaries do not, we know that we have to figure out our next move. If we can’t make more, we have to need less. We’re going to try and apply Permaculture Principles to most aspects of our lives as we grow and change.
- Step One in this part of the plan is to grow at least some of our own food. At this point we have a generalized zone plan for our yard. (We are very fortunate—we have almost ¼ acre lot within the city limits.)
- Step Two is to ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without’. We’ll be dragging out the sewing machine and adding to our skill-sets in repairing and refashioning clothing. We’ll also be using ‘found’ materials and items we already own to turn them into things we need, rather than running to the store to buy new. (It’s good for the brain to learn to think of solutions that are outside the box!)
- Step Three is to bring back and expand our skill-sets in cooking from scratch. All 3 of us are cooks—with different skill sets, but when you work full-time it’s simply easier to buy a loaf of bread at the store. We’ll also be working on food preservation so that our summer food harvest stretches through the winter and early spring months.
- Step Four is to monetize some of our homestead products and skill sets to add a bit to our income doing the things we are already doing anyway.
- Step Five is to de-mechanize some of our systems. Can we hang laundry rather than using the electric dryer every time we wash? Can we add solar panels to off-set some of our electric bills? Can we collect and store rain water to lessen our need for city water? We’re not looking to go completely off-grid, just looking for ways to lessen our need for money and our dependence upon the fluctuating economy.
In the photo to the left you can see the only gardening that happened this year. I didn’t get moved in until late spring and there was so much to do! We did manage to plant 2 small apple trees with zinnias, hyssop, rudbekia, and a few herbs in our front yard.
Check out my post on Fruit Tree Guilds for more information!
As I write, we are heading into Autumn. I’ve just finished a week of vacation where we all worked hard to get a few of the larger projects going while the weather is nice. I’ll be writing about those very soon. For now, whether you’re working to begin your homestead or you’re more of an armchair homesteader, won’t you follow us on our journey? I’ll do my best to share both the successes and the failures!