Choices Part 3

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Image taken from the artforadults Instagram page. Not my work.

Several previous posts have outlined the events that have lead up to the mess my life is in right now. None of it is pretty, lots of it makes me ashamed. I am stagnant and depressed. I keep saying I have no hope, but if I didn’t, then I wouldn’t be writing this, I wouldn’t even try to get up in the morning and the dreams I have would go away and leave me alone. It’s been brought to my attention that I have choices. I CAN change my life no matter how impossible it seems. I NEED to change my life, or at least my outlook on the life I have. I have always gone where the wind blew me, until it blew me into pregnancy and marriage, which seem like a dark corner where the gusts can’t reach and so I stay here damp and rotting till someone comes with a broom and sweeps me out. The thing is, I don’t want to depend on anyone with a broom! I want to sweep myself out! Maybe not even out of marriage, and certainly not out of motherhood, but out of this stagnant depression, this groundhog day like existence of doing the same things day in and day out. Get up, take kids to school, go to work, come home, eat, help with homework, go to bed and do it five days a week and then clean and prepare all weekend for the next week to be exactly the same. My life isn’t horrible. I have three beautiful kids who love me, a husband who cares deeply for me, a job that pays the bills and feeds us all even if just barely, a car, clean running water, this computer, all things that most of the world doesn’t have and many yearn for. It’s absolutely unfulfilling, boring and enslaving. I have no time or money to LIVE. I only exist and I MUST do something about that. So here I plan to list my dreams, plans to make them happen, obstacles to overcome, pros and cons of each including the effects they may have on my family, in the hopes of being able to choose a pathway to freedom and happiness, or at least less depression. getting them all in order is going to be tough, so please bear with me as I struggle.

 

When I think of the ultimate happy life for myself from this point on, this is what it looks like:

I could somehow magically quit my job and still pay my bills, no, pay them completely off except maybe the mortgage and I could stay home while my husband worked at whatever amazing job has magically presented itself.

I would still have to wake up Monday morning at the ungodly hour of 6:00am to take my daughter to school, but once I got home and saw my boy off, I could start laundry, do dishes, clean the downstairs and then the upstairs. In the summer, I’d tend my garden before cleaning the house, before things got too hot. That all should take maybe two hours. Then I would shower and dress and shop for the week. I’d get home, unpack groceries and head upstairs to Blog for the remaining two hours before it was time to pick up my daughter from school. We’d come home and I’d help kids with homework before starting dinner. We would eat, and clean up together, then I’d either hang out with them or go upstairs and read articles and watch vlogs on how to homestead, permaculture, how to raise animals for food, how to build treehouses, how to navigate the art business…

Tuesdays, up at 6:00am, off to school, home, garden, clean, shower, then go to some art studio like The Generator for four hours to work on some massive project till it was time to pick up my girl. Then home, homework, dinner, clean up, and hang with kids or watch more vlogs and read more articles on beekeeping and woodworking and outdoor survival…

Wednesdays, 6:00am, school, home, garden, clean, shower, Generator for art, school, home…well, you get the idea. All that till I could accumulate a big enough body of work to show my art at as many events, galleries and contests as possible up to and including Burning Man. Hopefully that would allow me to make more money and connect with people who could actually show me how to do all the things I have been trying to learn about through blogs, vlogs and articles. I would be able to keep up with housework and homework as well as having my own time to do the art, building and gardening work I’m passionate about. I would have time to plan the healthy meals which I love to find and prepare for my family. I would make meals and snacks that I know would help heal their minds, bodies and spirits as well as my own. We would use essential oils and other 100% natural products to clean our home and treat ailments and keep us healthy. I would have the TIME and money and energy to decorate and prepare for holidays and vacations. I would have TIME to clean up after our adventures and get the home back in order. On weekends I could afford to take the time and money to go on adventures with the family and bring them to my shows and exhibitions.

With the money I’d make from my art I would continue to fix this house up. I’d be able to put new floors in, update to energy saving appliances, make the murals and decorate the rooms the way I envisioned them. I could finish the ocean mural in my friend’s home and all the other projects I’ve started for friends but haven’t had the time or energy to finish. Once it was all done, I’d stay for two years enjoying it, making art, making connections and getting the kids through school as happy and healthy as we can be within this system and within this marriage.

Then we would sell this house and buy unimproved land somewhere and build ourselves a homestead where we could get EVERYTHING we need from our own land and be independent of the system except for property taxes, insurance, and the smallest necessities needed from town or other homesteaders. We’d go to music festivals and sell our wears and grow our own meat and veggies. I KNOW it’s not impossible! I can SEE people out there DOING it!

 

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Again, not my image. Taken from Instagram username wendyortizart.

 

All of that is how I WISH things could go from now till then. But where is the money going to come from? I have to face the fact that my husband is probably never going to get a job that could support us all and provide enough money to actually live life like that. No one is going to just GIVE us money to make that happen, and I’m not sure I’d even want them to. I hate feeling DEPENDENT on anyone. I hate being dependent on my husband for his half of the contribution to everything right now. I don’t want to ever feel obligated to anyone except those less fortunate than me. Maybe this hang-up with obligation is why I have a hard time opening up to my husband physically. I hate that I feel obligated and that it’s not my own not passionate choice in that moment, especially since there is only a small window of time between other obligations to get it done. I also HATE going to work outside my home and having to bend my family’s life around it. My kids are alone far too much of the time. I just don’t see any way around it. I make art whenever there are no other obligations and there is time before bed or I can afford to stay up and work when the inspiration is there. That happens maybe once a month, if even that. But I still do it and I will hopefully be able to come up with a consistent body of work at some point. Right now it feels like it’ll never happen. I’m struggling to come up with any kind of plan to make even small parts of this lifestyle come to be. Here are things I think I should do:

Meal plan on weekends and give a list of groceries to my husband. I don’t do the shopping, but maybe I should start doing that on weekends. He would scream about the bill, but maybe I can get him to trade the mortgage bill I pay, for the grocery bill he pays and then I wouldn’t have to answer to him for the amount of money it takes to feed a family of five an abundantly healthy diet. I’m not sure I’d even have the money or energy to pull that off, but I can look into it. I don’t get home till almost 7:00pm and I still have to help kids with homework, so he does most of the cooking and I’d have to depend on him to stick to the meal plan. Sometimes he’s not home till late either and then it’s even harder, but I enjoy cooking, and if we are eating right, the kids might not have as much trouble in school and I might be able to spend less time having to help them. I have no idea when we’d have time to fix up healthy snacks that so often require putting together instead of just opening a plastic package, but we can try…

I need to make a budget. How much we make vs. how much goes out. I already know it’s pathetic. I’ve done it before and got scared, so I put it out of my mind and hoped for the best. I need a PLAN for paying off all this debt that wasn’t a problem when I was getting paid a lot more. I can’t ignore it anymore. I MUST put in more effort to stay on top of my bills. I must get my money organized. I need to accept the possibility of bankruptcy or at least call the creditors and ask  for options to lessen the burden. When I think about this I get terrified. I’m no good on the phone even with friends and family. Seriously, the phone SCARES me. I know it’s irrational and after I do take care of something like that I feel better, but I’m literally terrified of paperwork and legal stuff and talking to people on the phone, or asking for help, or accepting defeat and fault. But it’s time to suck it up and act like the adult/parent that I am.

I need to stop complaining and be grateful. My kids aren’t sick, my husband isn’t sick. I am sick, but it’s fatigue and depression, not some life threatening, expensive hospitalizing disease. I CAN still get up in the morning and I CAN still go to work, I CAN still help the kids with homework and let them vent and talk to me about whatever they need. No matter how much I want change and adventure, no matter how much I resent my life as it is now, I DO have a lot of things to be grateful about.

Lastly, I guess I need to ask for help. I don’t know who to ask or how to ask or even really what to ask FOR. Anyway, enough for now. Thanks for reading. Really just typical American woman lifestyle stuff I guess. Advice and encouragement welcome.

 

 

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Planning an Off-Grid Life

You haven’t, but, if you want to, you can read a few blogs down about how my heart’s desire is to eventually go off grid. WAY easier said than done. Way easier to dream than to actually jump. The absolute first step is to get out of debt. That is a whole other plan. This here is a list I hope some of you who are planning on going off the grid will find helpful, and I hope that those of you who are already there will leave comments about what I’m planning wrong, with advice about things I’m forgetting, and encouragement where I’m thinking right. I promised myself I’d keep working on this even if the possibility of it becoming a reality is very low. So here are my plans so far:

Homesteading Tips n Tricks

A List of Tips, Tricks, Advice, Ideas and Resources

 

EQUIPMENT:

ATV – $500-$800

ATV Trailer – $150

ATV plow attachment – $400

Underground water catchment tanks ??? Maybe $600??

2 inch stainless steel pipes – 4 ft long, up to 40 ft of them with threads. $60 each?

Well pump – $150

2 shotguns, 2 rifles, 2 handguns – $1000

Bullets – tons of ‘em – $1500

Wood stove for cooking and main room heat $3000

Possibly 3 more small wood stove heaters $600 each

Go pro $300

Google glass $1200

Video editing software – $60

5 longbows of varying draw and accessories – $200/each

Heavy-duty wood chipper – $500

Chainsaw – $100

Good ax, wedge and sledge hammer – $100

Gas generator $150

MIG wirefeed welder, gloves and mask – $100

Brushcutter – $200

Come-along – $50

2 ton pullys – $30/each

Steel Cable – $50

Router – $200

Table saw – $200

Drill driver – $100

Mill saw – $3000

Miter saw – $200

Composting toilet – $1000

Tankless water heater – $200

Solar panel system – $3000

Wind turbine – $300 ???

Hydro power system – ???

Hole saw drill attachments – $60

Build our own beehives – plans on internet

Beekeeping equipment like hoods, smokers, brushes and scrapers – $100

Portable Manual Washers. Two of them with modified cranks so they can be placed on either side of a stationary bike like pedals. $55 each.

 

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Upstairs loft with railing all the way around. I picture our wet laundry hanging all over that! Lol! Three sleeping chambers for kids and one master loft for adults.

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Main floor of my dream treehouse. The problem with that is that I have no idea what trees will be where on my future property. I just hope that it might be able to have a layout somewhat like this.

 

 

 

REGULAR MONETARY COSTS THAT CAN’T BE AVOIDED:

Insurance – auto, property, medical, life

Savings – should have $5000 to start and put $50-$200 away/month

Groceries – for the first two or three years actually MOST of our food and the animals food.

Once we start producing we’ll need:

flour, sugar, rice, pasta, peroxide, rubbing alcohol, alcohol for consumption and tinctures/extracts and cooking, spices that can’t be grown, natural ingredients for personal care products, feminine products, supplemental animal feed and small things to supplement our diet.

Gas

Propane

Hay

WIFI

Phones

Cloth or clothing

Vehicle and equipment maintenance

 

IDEAS ABOUT HOW THE HOMESTEAD WOULD BE RUN:

Two to four acres of land, with a spring or stream and water rights. Hopefully on higher ground. $150,000 WITH TREES!!!! Preferably in mountains.

Try to purchase and close in late winter- early spring

1st order of business is water and shelter. Maybe have a trailer or two or a yurt or two that are fit to winter over in and can be lived in for two to three years.

dig well, or install water filtration system or both, figure out transport, pumps, pipes etc

2nd food storage for first two years and plan for getting and storing perishables. Safe from animals and elements.

3rd storage of critical equipment

 4th plan out the land – where will permanent dwelling be? What will it be and how will it be designed for the most self sustaining and efficient use of resources? What are our biggest advantages/disadvantages? How much can we do to be as comfortable as possible before next winter hits? Where will garden be? Chickens? Goats? What needs to be done to protect all those from elements and predators?

Clear spaces for each aspect.

Build temporary shelter if that’s needed.

Build permanent animal enclosures.

Clear land for garden

Start composting right away.

Clear a road (defensible space) all the way around property. Plant hedges and berry bushes around perimeter inside the road. Regular barbed wire fencing around perimeter and once a week/month (as we determine it’s needed), drive around whole property with trailer full of fencing supplies to inspect and repair fencing and irrigation system supplies to repair irrigation to shrubbery.

Clear defensible space around dwelling, garden and animals, leaving as many trees as we can and still feel safe from fire and have enough sun for the garden while keeping the forest feel.

Yurt or travel trailers for first three years while working on real house.

About ¾- 1 acre for garden and animals, let the rest be wild but taken care of.

Plan for power. Solar, wind, and hydro are preferable, to be supplemented with propane and gas as little as possible. City power, maybe for the first two or three years.

Composting toilets only.

Goats and chickens only for the first three years. Maybe ducks and quail. Consider rabbits, a dwarf cow, and maybe a pig or two later on.

Spring is for planting and building, summer is for maintaining/cultivating, building, and selling arts, crafts and homestead products off property, fall is for harvesting and winter prep, winter is for maintaining animals and household, resting, planning, schooling and creating arts n crafts.

Early mornings are for animals, late mornings and early afternoons are for building and maintaining, late afternoons and early evenings are for cleaning and food prep, evenings are for family time. Not sure how to fit school in there yet, or if the kids would go to public schools. I want them involved on the homestead, but not at the expense of their education.

Beginning of each year is a family planning session where we try to map out our yearly goals in a realistic timeline. At the start of each season we go over the goals that must be reached in the next three months to help us stay on track. Break those down into weekly goals, and break those into daily goals.

Trip to urban area every other weekend for shopping and for kid’s sanity. Visit family once every season. Those can be combined if needed.

School would be reading, comprehension, history, science and writing (which could all be combined), computers, archery/shooting, physical fitness, Homesteading/sustainable living practices/home economics.

Kids get two hours of screen time/day if chores/schooling is done.

We each will have minimal necessities:

One fork, spoon, cup, bowl, plate each and everyone washes their own. And we take turns on the pots, pans and serving dishes.

Two pairs of jeans, shorts, sweatshirts, long sleeves, short sleeves each. Two to three bras, five pairs of undies and socks. One heavy jacket and one light jacket each. One set of nice clothes and we will maybe buy nice outfits to go to events, but donate them after. This will cut down drastically on laundry.

I want to rely on fossil fuels as little as possible, but I have reservations about wood heat as well. I want our permanent dwelling to be a treehouse, so a wood burning cook stove would be ideal, but I don’t want to use too much wood either. It is too much work, and it pollutes as well. A rocket Mass Heater seems ideal, but I fear it may be too heavy for a treehouse and too difficult to construct up in a tree.

 

RECOURSES:

My First Step Toward Homesteading. Help? Please?

I have all these passions inside me. Things that grew from … probably my childhood living in Oregon and Tahoe, I don’t know, but as I have become an adult, the passions grew but so did all these circumstances that have prevented me from actually perusing them. So now I find myself, almost 40 with this weird “American Dream” (More like nightmare!) type of lifestyle with a pretty ok job and a husband with two pretty ok jobs, barely making our bills, living out in suburbia (A.K.A. hell, ok maybe it’s not SO bad…) with our 2.5 kids (Three. We have three kids. I guess we are the rare family that made that stupid point five, like you can have half a kid…whatever.). Our cars are on the brink, and the boy has a nice medical bill from THINKING he MIGHT have broken his arm,that we can’t pay thanks to medicaid cutting the kids off every other month and having to re-apply which is a torturous process (I loath paperwork!) and I’m about to take the family dog to the vet next week because he’s limping, has stinky ears and seasonal allergies that cause him to scratch himself bald.  So I know you’re kinda sorta supposed to start these things with some kind of “budget” (Watever that is), but yea, our budget right now is negative nothing. So all I’m left with are these passions, and my head is gonna explode one of these days and I’m gonna go postal if I don’t do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to start moving toward them. So I’m making lists. Things to research, to learn about to do in order to get us closer to the actual DOING of the things. I’d love any insight any of you homesteaders have regarding this list (I need SPECIFICS people!!!) and I’m going to work on each thing at least three times a week (God and Family willing). So here’s my list, my first tiny baby step, me, throwing it out into the universe (A.K.A the internet) in the hopes that if I keep stepping and keep throwing, it’ll all come back to me somehow.

 

Homestead check list.

 

 

How much wood will we need for approximately 2000 sq ft of structure (Not nessesarily one big house, but maybe a network of tree-structures for the family, a small barn, a shed and a wood shed?

What kinds of wood will we need?

Will we need steel beams or other components, what kind and how much will they be?

What types of widows will we have?

What type of insulation will be best?

Composting toilets. How do they work, how much do they cost?

What kind of bathing system will be best for us?

What other supplies for building will we need?

cattle panel

What kinds of tools and equipment will we need?

come-a-long

hand tools -screwdrivers, hammers, hand drills, saws, crowbar, ropes, chains, pullys

power tools? cordless or non? how much power would we need for the running of such things?

Wood burning stoves. What are the best kinds, how much are they?

Rainwater cachment systems?

How much does it cost to dig a well?

What should we look for when purchasing land as far as growing food and having enough water and wood?

Can we use water from nearby lakes/rivers/streams? How?

Plumbing to and from a treehouse?

Water filtration?

Water heater?

What kind of power and how much will we need?

How much storage will we need?

How will we make money?

What will we live in while building and implementing our plan?

How much $$ will we need initially?

What is our plan for getting that $$?

Internet/WIFI? We know we need it, how will we get it and how much will it cost?

How much food will we need to grow to sustain our family = How much land will we need?

Best growing/harvesting practices?

Food preservation practices?

Wood storage shed.

Hoop house for growing during winter months.

10-12 chickens.

One milk cow.

Four or five goats.

link to article I read on arched cattle panel animal shelter DIY:

http://www.valhalla-project.com/2013/09/valhallas-quick-and-easy-arched-cattle.html

 

A dog.

Several outdoor cats.

Maybe a llama for wool.

Best composting practices?

Keeping critters out of the garden.

Bees! Types of hives and best beekeeping practices.

Treehouse building practices and techniques?

How are we going to gain that knowledge?

Fruit trees, how to prune and take care of them.

How much money will we need each month for things we can’t grow or make from the nature around us? Like castile soap, borax, hydrogen peroxide, essential oils, flour beans and rice, gas, clothing etc. as well as bills like property taxes and insurance etc…

What exactly WILL all those extra expenses be?

A small barn/coop for the few animals.

Clothes washing? In winter?

What will our daily schedules look like?

Weekly Schedules?

Monthly Schedules?

Yearly Schedules?

What laws/regulations/codes make life harder/easier for homesteaders?

recipes:

Cinnamon Bourbon Cherries

useful hacks for homestead living:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/51702/10-lifehacks-100-years-ago

http://www.homesteadingfreedom.com/the-worlds-simplest-and-oldest-chair-design/2/

 

So that’s it. My baby step.

American Woman

I thought I’d share a poem I wrote around 2007 when the kids were still little.

American Woman

she’s an average American woman

full of questions, dualities, confusion

says and thinks she don’t know what’s wrong or right,

but in her heart she knows the truth from the lies

she’s a mother and her kids so love her

but she no longer has time to be a good lover

marked and saggin’ from bearin’ and raisin’

she knows her body’s no longer worth cravin’

the girls on tv are fake, an illusion

it’s so wrong to need that to feel like a woman

she wants to get back what she lost with her youth

but how would she feel if her body weren’t truth?

she knows earth will die from so much pollution

can’t afford “green” so she lives in delusion

she wants to help the worlds hunger and strife

instead her family’s fed at Wal-Marts low price

she knows it’s wrong to add to the landfills

but what can she do with all the diapers and spills?

resycaling’s expensive, laundry takes time

it’s all an excuse, she knows she’s committing crime

“This world is so screwed!” she cries in her heart

can she teach herself and kids to make a new start?

she feels way to weak, too tired, and too dumb

so she goes about her brainwashed life feeling numb