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Donít Quit Your Day Job by Sheri Dixon

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I do have a Homestead. And Iím right proud and serious about it. But while Iíve always managed to raise up, sell, plant, harvest and otherwise oversee creation of things that bring in some cash to defray the cost of the farm proper, Iíve always had to have employment off the farm to pay for those little luxuries like clothing for the children, upkeep on vehicles, health/auto/property insurance, taxes, and stuff we canít grow, like toilet paper and ink pens.

Iíve tried to work a normal job during normal hours and still maintain the farm, and itís a dreary, precarious slog. When my co-workers were enjoying a cuppa and the morning paper before their drive in to work, Iíd been up already for at least an hour, milking goats, tending horses, and then diving into the shower to become halfway presentable, and most always not quite making it- the stray hay in my coat pocket, forgetting to take off my Ďbarn shoesí before leaving for work, arriving to work just a tad late because I forgot to turn off the water hose to the horse tanks and had to turn around and go home to turn it off- all proof to the world that you can take this old gal physically off of the farm, but it always follows me like a fed cat.

Daylight savings time is a particularly nasty season for normally employed small homesteaders. For fully half the year the critters get fed in the dark in the morning, and fed in the dark at night. Itís almost enough to make anyone throw in the towel and move on back into town.

But hereís the thing. Just because you need a Ďrealí job to support your country living dreams, doesnít mean youíre stuck in the 9 to 5/M-F nightmare.

The first thing that needs to be addressed is that 9 to 5/M-F is an inconvenient time to be away from the farm. Thatís daylight. And when the Vet is available. AndÖ.daylight.  So the first logical option is that if there are multiple shifts at your workplace, apply for your same position, but not 1st shift. Either 2nd or 3rd shifts are good options for homesteaders. (And they generally pay more, which is an extra bonus).

Are you trained in something thatís open to working flextime? Many medical positions can be arranged so that you can work say, 3 twelve hour shifts instead of 5 eights. I know one Flight for Life nurse who works 2 sixteen-hour shifts and is done for the week. If thereís no Dr. in front of your name, and no RN or LVN behind it, thereís a wide assortment of 2-year degrees that would afford the same schedules- X-ray tech, lab tech- check out your local community college for the different courses. While the thought of having to go back to school for 2 years may give you the heebie jeebies, stop and think a minute about being trapped in your cubicle for another 20 years. Better?

Do you have small children? Do you LIKE to have children around? Daycare is a wide open field, and depending on where your farm is located, there may be a niche waiting for small people to enjoy YOUR wide open fields while their moms work at the jobs you donít want to, and pay you to stay on your homestead, Bless their hearts. Make sure to check state and local guidelines regarding certification and insurance requirements.

Keep your eyes and ears open at your current employment- when there was a brand new position coming up at my workplace, I was offered the job and I took it even though my original intent was to QUIT as soon as I could afford it. The benefit of being the first person on a job is that thereís no existing job description, and the possibility of writing your own and pretty much making up the job as you go is both an awesome responsibility and wonderfully freeing.  While I wonít even pretend that if we won the lottery tomorrow Iíd stay on my job for the love of it, itís been just what weíve needed to allow us to do what we need to do on the farm, and for our family.  Of course Iím very careful not to take advantage of that freedom.


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