For some, town life is fine; living close to others is not a problem, even welcome in some cases. Many folks have no trouble buying their groceries at the local supermarket, or paying others to do for them what they could certainly do with some effort and sweat.
But for others, the desire to own land, to live off their own sweat and toil is so strong that it consumes their entire life. They would rather spend every day working in their garden to grow their own vegetables, or shoveling manure as they raise their own livestock, then to spend any day without it.
That’s me. I am consumed by my desire to live off my own land. I am overwhelmed by this dream to own my own home, to farm my own food, and ofttimes it is all I can do to think of anything else.
The fact that I am able to have a garden, and keep my bees at this rental property is likely the only thing that has sustained my soul these last five years, but it is sorely inadequate. It is not mine, and we can do nothing to the place. I cannot put up a chicken coop, rabbit hutch, or a goat shed because we will not be here indefinitely. The barn that sits next to the house is not ours, and although Keith is able to squeak out enough materials in there for me to expand the apiary, it is a cluttered workspace at best, filled to the brim with old mowers and miscellaneous paraphernalia from days gone by, and anything that goes on therein is ultimately the decision of the barn’s owner, our landlord.
I may have set us back this year, with the start up of a new business. Financially it was difficult to keep up with bills, and since government programs that we relied on have all but dried up, there was little relief. Discovering that our credit scores (or Keith’s credit score, since I do not even register on the scales of the 3 major credit reporting agencies) has dropped by at least 50 points, likely due to a number of late payments we’ve made this year–was a difficult pill to swallow. I’m no longer confident that 6 months will be enough time to get our credit on track before we go to the banks to apply for a home loan.
That’s right–we are poor people.
I don’t like to publicize that fact, and when I sit here writing I am usually unsure of how much personal information to include in this blog that the whole world can see. But there you have it. Keith makes little more than $20,ooo a year working as personal care and living specialist in a group home for the mentally challenged, and as a stay-at-home-mom I have not contributed to our family’s finances for the last eight years.
It feels like a failing to me. I feel like I should have worked harder to make money.
Appeasing myself with the notion that I’ve been building up my writing portfolio does little to ease the burden of guilt I feel. If I were not so committed to homeschooling, writing, and farming–I would have gotten a job at the local supermarket like so many other young mothers. I would have sent my kids to public school to free up time to work outside the home, and likely I would have less trouble getting a loan to buy a home.
But I’ve been consumed by the need to sweat and toil, the need to write, and by this commitment to my kids (I know, weird, right?), and for me to work at anything else would almost be a death of sorts–of my soul. It’s just not in me to go mainstream.
That’s why I started Runamuk.
I managed to bring in an income this year–for the first time in almost a decade. And while it may have set us back temporarily, I know that in the long run my business plans will lead to greater financial independence for our family.
Thanks to the last decade I’ve spent studying sustainability, honing my writing skills, pursuing alternatives to mainstream living, I feel confident that I can give my family a better life. I just need to hold onto that knowledge when things are tough and looking dismal. We will get our home and we will get to farm, maybe next spring, maybe later–but we will get there. Until then I have my gardens, I have the apiary, and I have my family to sustain me.