The Coming Crisis

I recently got a comment on the About page from a new reader. She made the escape from the east to northern Idaho back in the 70s, and as I wrote to her about that common bond, I was struck by the degree to which I feel like I’m at an inflection point in my family’s journey to personal freedom.

I’m currently in a bit of a crisis about our move to Idaho – as I tilled the winter manure into this year’s corn plot and split firewood for the winter this weekend, all I could think about was, “What am I doing? Why am I not painting the house or refinishing the floors or building that long-needed front walk? Why am I not doing the things needed to get this house on the market?” Simple answer: we gotta eat, we gotta stay warm, and we’ve got to survive before we thrive. Going all in on the move would mean not doing anything remotely like homesteading for at least a year. I’d have to buy in all my food, pay someone to split and stack my wood (or worse, pay for like four tanks of oil over the winter), and concentrate on nothing but getting out.

But I just can’t do it! Not only because paying someone to do what I can do and like doing is anathema to me, but because I simply can’t afford it. The repairs and renovations needed around the house are going to be expensive enough as it is, and adding on the cost of four cords split and stacked and buying in all the groceries is simply not in the budget.

Hence, the crisis: I need to be working on getting out, but I can’t afford to go all in, and yet I can’t afford to live here another year, in terms of taxes and family security. The stress of this situation is becoming unbearable. I look around the house and mentally tick off a hundred projects I should be tackling, but have to mentally uncheck them because I don’t have the materials, or the weather is bad, or I know that I have a competing task that has to be completed first. Case in point: I needed to get the chickens moved out of their winter paddock last week, so I could prepare that bed for this season’s planting. That meant finding a place for a new paddock, which meant spending a day clearing brush and setting up the electric fence and doing nothing else. Sure, the simple act of running the brushcutter and chipping up saplings will pay dividends – if last year is any guide, the plot the chickens just came off of will provide at least 25 pounds of corn for us to eat in the winter, and a pile of woodchips to use as mulch. But having to spend a day doing the clearing is a hard price to pay for what could have been bought for a few dollars.

And so, my happy little homestead has become the stress center of my life. I look around at all I’ve accomplished and long to chuck it all so I can start fresh in Idaho. That stresses me out and so I fall back on the things I know how to do and make me feel like I’m accomplishing something, like gardening and firewood, which in turn leads to more stress.

Nice vicious cycle I’ve set up for myself.

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