Friday 27 April 2012

Plying My Trade

Despite all of the ideological rhetoric regarding survival, there is really only one thing that you need to get by in contemporary society.
Regardless of hard work, innovation, virtue, altruism, and enterprising spirit, our economic climate exacts a singular cause.
Set aside any misgivings for the means, for the end outweighs the method.

Money will get you shelter.
Money will get you food.
Money will get you clothes.
Money will get you heat.
Money will get you energy.
Money will get you around.
Money will get you anything...... the metaphysical.

And so, it is with a heavy heart that I pick up my trade to generate money to put into the farm.
As beautiful as the homesteading dream may be, the cold reality of the times dictate the need for money.
For not all work is equal.
Your hard work is not valued in and of itself.
Your hard work is valued according to how much money those whom you work for have.

I worked on boats and motors.
Boats and motors normally belong to people who have their basic needs met and have extra money to spend.
Of course there are exceptions.
Most notably, people who use boats to make a living, and people who cannot really afford to boat.

Now, I'm not talking about canoeing, or kayaking, or small-craft sailing.

This kind of boating requires a combustion engine, gasoline, and someone who can repair and maintain the craft.
I happen to be that person.
The irony of our homestead, is that the greater part of the money used to finance it came directly from the popular and lucrative nature of recreational boating.
The ideological contradictions are grave.
Yet the ends have justified the means.
And while you may not agree with John Stuart Mill's reasoning, I would not have been able to maintain the level of investment in our project without the funding from this nefarious power-sport.

Even now, having changed careers in order to reconcile my integrity, I am compelled by the lure of easy money.
It is not money without hard work and skill.  
It is however, much easier to convince people to hand over their hard earned dollars for a petroleum drunk joyride rather than argue that $5.00  is not highway robbery for a dozen organic eggs.

I draw lines when it comes to combustion engines.
There is great value in being able to use them to make light work of an otherwise grueling task.
The math isn't always so clear when tallying up the negative impacts of gasoline and diesel engines.
Opinion and values may be applied to a debate fraught with subjective fact.
Yet I call for caution and restraint.
There must be balance.
Excessive consumption, by virtue of it's nature, will compromise our future.

I am appreciative of having been taught my trade.
Boats and motors call for a wide variety of skills, tools, and knowledge.
From that experience, I may apply what I have learned to whatever I wish.
For certain, the homestead may rely on engines.
There is also plumbing, carpentry, electrical wiring, welding and custom fabrication.
Many of the building trades translate well into the homestead, for they all require a hands-on approach with an emphasis on problem solving.

My tools and my trade will sustain me in two ways.
The first is the skill that I will never lose or forget.
There is no need to call the repairman, whether it is the washing machine or the tractor or the chainsaw or the sewing machine.
The second is the potential to generate revenue.
Farming is not known to be easily profitable. Despite the demand for food, the market has driven price expectations so low, that without high volume production, the small scale farmer must rely on marginalized niche markets.
It is widely known that most farm families have a supplementary income in order to carry on. Perhaps in the hope that one day, producing wholesome food alone could support a family.
With a wrench in my hand, I carry that same hope.
The hope that my tools will not be for boats and money, but solely for food and shelter.

There is something so beautiful about being on the water.
It's almost like flying as you glide over 
the depths.
I can feel my heart beat with each dip of 
the paddle.
Time slows and flows as I am absorbed by 
the hypnotic cadence,
of the drip, drip, drip.
Water caught on wood.
Rushing to shed uniqueness,
and return to 
the whole.


  1. i hope i am able to convey the admiration i have for you - sharing your honest words. you are so correct. out in blog-o-sphere people share only what they want to share, and sometimes it looks so perfect- no mess, no arguing, no anxiety .

    life is not easy. for me reaching limits and having to making choices and compromises, grows my understanding of and compassion for others making their choices and compromises. (i tend toward the opinionated, maybe even at times -judgmental ;)

    i love, love reading what you both write here. keep on, i will keep reading!

  2. Thanks Rebecca, we really appreciate the compliment.
    I hope we can live up to our claims of transparency.
    It is really easy to edit our lives through the blog medium.
    Our goal is to show how this lifestyle can be attainable.
    We wouldn't be very convincing if we had no credibility.
    I must admit to editing things like the messy house, and junk in the yard.
    But, I want to be clear that on the important matters such as organic food and homemade sundries, that we practice what we preach.
    The blog is our first step in bringing our project to the public. The next step will be to bring the public to the project as we host on-site workshops. There will be no editing and so we live by what we post on this blog.
    Thanks again for reading. Your interest helps keep us going.