This is not homesteading, is it?

The point of friction and growing edge in our homesteading life is making homesteading in rural America work financially. Once the city career's nest egg is used up and 401k drained how does homesteading become economically viable? We've been exploring the method of reducing the cost of living and creating a cottage industry using technology - the internet.

We did reduce our cost of living. We grow our food, make our medicines, produce our fuel and power, and create our own domestic products. Favoring waste helps too. We live on one fifth of what we used to require for living. But we're not yet able to make that 1/5th from our cottage industry, the Holy Scrap Store. We're close!

To make up the difference Mikey's designing control systems for alternative energy companies and I'm writing. We sincerely like this freelance work and we're grateful too, but it takes us away from homesteading. Of course as I say this I realize that my whole life is homesteading: making cheese, wine, collecting grease, making bio fuel, welding busted gates add infinitum. . . it's the big projects that are slipping. The list of things that need to get done here has gone stagnant. Welding projects, laying flagstone, finishing our papercrete dome!

This November our online store will see it's first holiday season. Our fingers are crossed. I sure do miss my overalls! Sitting at my desk with a large screen in front of me reminds me too much of a life of clocks, unnecessary pressures and bad food.  But this is the reality of digital homesteading in rural America, at least it is for now.


morgaineotm said...

For those of us, of a certain age, there was the day of going "back to the land". But as you are finding out, there is, and has been for some time, the need for "money". and yes, making money takes the time from being self-sufficient, and so the capitalist society was born. And in looking at your list of tasks, I wonder how you are going to feel about working that hard, that consistently in another 30 or 40 years! because the need to do the basic maintenance is not going to decrease, but will become harder as you get older and have less stamina. As one of those from that "back to the land" generation, I know how it feels to be 60+ and constantly having to do the few things we do here, along with all we need to do to earn our living! That being said, have you considered giving up some of the things that cost you $$, even if they are the things that make you $$? Where is the break even? You are keeping some cutting edge technology going. Do you really need it? or could you make do with the library computer?

Wendy Jehanara Tremayne said...

I have never eluded myself about what prevents people from being able to live without money. Real change is in order. Freedom hardly exists. But it's important to bump up against what prevents it so we know what it is. Capitalism has no opt out. And globalization will be sure that this is so for the rest of the world.

I recognize context though. Technology may get us to a moment that is better and that only it could have delivered. RIght now, it's giving us options, a bridge if you will.

I think I'm physically stronger and will remain so longer because I live a life of labor. I'm tougher than I would be from a desk job.

I think that civilization is so flimsy that all the acculturated knowledge humanity gathered to operate it will one day prove useless. It's innate knowledge, how to live on earth, that will never fail anyone. So I am happy with where I have placed my bet.

I have considered the dwindling energy of aging. We build many things that will provide benefit without ever needing further energy such as shade structures, our solar system, flagstone patios and the like. And we use technology to automate laborious and time intensive tasks. In the end we all get old. Some things will be harder. Some wont get done at all.

morgaineotm said...

Yes, one of the most important things you do is keep old "technologies", ie. skills, alive. A time will come when those who's lives are bound by the social network pages will have a much harder time than those who know how to survive under diverse conditions. 45 years ago, we thought we couldmake enough $$ to survive making candles . . . Have you ever seen the movie flashback? where the woman who is the last to be living on the commune comments on dreaming about a bread making machine?

Carlos said...

We aren't living in capitalist economic system. We've got crony corporatism in the US and throughout most of the industrialized world.

We're social creatures and have relied on the family/tribe since the time our species lived in trees. Self sufficiency is a relative term. Farmsteading(which most folks mislabel as homesteading) is an easier life than being a hunter-gather. Still, farmers face much higher risk of economic failure than most other occupations. They can't control the weather, crop disease or insect infestations can they?
Gov't's, economies and societies fail and fail on a fairly frequent basis. The ability to provide a useful service or product to your fellow human being is what will make you sort of secure in this world. BTW Security is a false human construct.

Mikey Sklar said...


You are right that we invest in cutting edge technology paying a premium to have it early. We carefully pick when to invest in something like a fancy cell phone or home CNC. We don't want to over invest in these things, but we do want the time saving and potentially income producing options.

As digital homesteaders we have a specific view as the tools of our liberation. It is only through the Internet that we can quickly learn about what is actually happening in the world. example: Occupy Wall Street in Oakland went into full riot mode yesterday and the media was asked to leave the scene before it could be covered. There were plenty of photos in the alternative news blog world. These same tech tools produce our income and automate our homestead to the point that we can accomplish more. This is important 40 years from now when are bodies are not able to do as much physical labor.

Matt said...

Well, right now I'm learning from old pioneers in northern BC, real people of the mountains, the skills necessary to live on less than $30 a month. But it is a very tough, austere life. There will have to be no technology. No cell phone/computer. Off grid with no alternative energy. candles and wood burning. hauling buckets from the creek. dirty anuses. greasy hair. and rotting teeth. But you are the land. And the land is you. you taste the earth with every breath. there is a certain comfort to slipping on manure patties in the pasture. we have to wean ourselves from the dopamine draining "necessities" of modern life. Apple Incorporated, has stolen the keys to our minds. the sound of water trickling down rocks in the brook has been supplanted by our fingers caressing strange icons on glowing screens, with bells and dings and friend requests as our reward. ecstatic pleasure.

let's give up the modern life completely. it takes courage. it is isolating. your ego will melt away but you will return to whence your first came. back to the garden.

The High Desert Chronicles said...

Digital homesteaders...hmmm, I never thought of myself as that, but we've only been doing this for a little over a year. We are still way behind you guys, but we'll get there little by little.
I'm a digital whore and I LOVE my big ass Apple computer. Sorry, but I have to disagree with disconnecting ourselves from everything. We live in Los Lunas, NM, (not terribly far from you guys) and while we aren't totally isolated, it only takes a power outage for us to feel miles and miles from another life form. (we do have neighbors LOL) I don't think I could give up my computer. But talk to me in a few years from now and maybe that would change. So far this whole year has shown me that I can trade certain habits in for something better. We will be starting our cottage industries soon and I couldn't imagine not having both computer as well as farmer's markets to help us along our homesteading adventure.

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