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Sonlit Acres

Encouraging sustainable living

Hmm, The Hard Life?

Just what is the hard life? Is it leaving home to our 7:00 to 3:30 job in order to pay the bills? Is it living life in what we call roughing it? I think it is a good question to ponder and talk about.

I am guessing most would call how we live as homesteaders the hard life, I can't be sure if it is or has society convinced itself that the poor (or crazy guy.)  living up or down the road is working too hard for what he has or gets. Lets use heating our house as an example then maybe another thing or two later. 

In our area home heating oil is $2.73 a gallon right now, if I worked minimum wage for $10.00 per hour I would have to work 409.5 hours in my secular job to cover one winters worth of heating at  about 1500 gallons of heating oil per year. We normally burn about 7 cords of firewood that we cut from stump to shed, in all honesty I have never timed how long it takes my son and I to cut, haul, split and stack a cord of firewood, but I am saying we can do this in about 3 1/2 hours per cord and we never really push it. So we aren't being held to a production standard as we would be in the work place. We just go out to the woods, cut down a couple of trees stake the limbs, buck the wood, load it and haul it to the splitter. Once it is all moved, split and stacked we do it again until we have a full shed. Figuring this at 3 1/2 hours per cord would gives us roughly 24.5 hours of working time. Even if it took us 4 hours to accomplish this it is still only 28 hours to get the job done. I normally buy 5 gallons of mixed fuel and a couple of gallons of bar and chain oil a year, so we would have 28 hours invested and roughly $38.00 worth of fuel and oil giving us 3.8 hours away from home to purchase the fuel and oil we needed to heat our house and hot water for a season.

Food on the other hand for a family of 10 with younger children using the USDA moderate cost food plan says it would cost $2051 an month to feed. I admit this next scenario can be tricky based on how each family eats, ours all had huge appetites. So I will use our homestead as the example and what we have done and do. Though because we raised a family of 10, one would have to figure everything based on their family size and how much they consume.

At $2051 a month, working minimum wage in our area which is $10.00 an hour, you would have to work 205 hours a month to buy your groceries. Now the difficult part of how much to grow comes in and as is normal there are many variables to come from. Here is where I need to express that You are not going to produce 100% of your food needs at home, we just don't normally have the room or the land to do this. So that being said what you are doing here is reducing your total dependence on the modern food system. We normally in a good year produce 80% of what we eat in vegetables, and all of our meat, milk and dairy. Our garden can be cared for in about 2 hour a day 5 days a week, chores to include milking can be done with 2 of us in about a 1 hour both sides of the day making up 2 hours a day or 10 hours a week. Our milk can be strained the cream separated and all the equipment washed in a half hour making up 1 hour a day. For a total of around 7 hours a week. This gives us 27 hours a week, or 108 hours a month to produce 80% of our food needs.  Based on this information the hours spent in producing 80% of ones food is still less time spent than the 160.8 hours it would require to earn 80% of our food needs away from home. And since a non overtime job is only 160 hours a month, the homestead becomes the viable way to make ends meet. 

Granted, not everyone works for minimum wage, I know I did not. But there are many that do and no they didn't and aren't raising a family as large as we did. However, if it wasn't for the homestead we could have never raised as many as we did working for even the income I was making before getting cancer and having become disabled for the time being. Since becoming disabled, the homestead is proving to be the wise choice we made so many years ago, it is seeing to many needs and saving valuable income for us to pay things like property taxes and other things we have to purchase. 

The Hard Life? I guess that statement would have to be coming from how one looks at life and what they want to get out of it, I worked a full time seasonal job at a local ski area for many years as our source of outside income because in our geographic location those jobs and part time jobs make up most of the jobs. Having worked winters and having spring and summer to do the work on the homestead worked out great for us as it gave me time to spend with my family nurturing a family relationship that is strong compared to many today. 

I guess it comes down to, what the individual calls the hard life.






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