Februray Speaker Intro:
TheGoblinChief has volunteered to lead a breakout sessionon urban homesteading, gardening, and food preservation. I'm excited to hear about raising meat rabbits and growing crops in Milwaukee where neighbours and winter moight stop less hearty folks. In his own words, here is David's story:
By the time CMC hits I will be 33 with kids at home ages 11,10, and 7. When I first joined the MMM community I worked part-time on the weekends and homeschooled during the week. Unlike a lot of people, I came to MMM not via the financial independence and debt-killing angle. Instead someone on Facebook shared the post about the "Low News Diet" which linked to the post about Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. No joke but those two posts changed my life. I used to be a huge political and news junkie but all being "informed" does is get you angry about stuff that's way out of your ability to control, let alone influence. Yes, I could get involved in politics but I had no desire at the time, and nowadays I'm so odd compared to the thrust of American politics that I would have zero expectation of success.
My session is focused on being a stay-at-home parent, a homeschooling parent, doing urban homesteading, and thus the interaction between all three of those. I figure on giving a brief introduction and then treating this as a free-ranging AMA discussion and idea-swapping session between all the participants. In a lot of ways, my wife and I have a very traditional marriage, just with the gender roles swapped. Our stress levels went way down and our happiness went way up when we finally made enough financial progress that I could stop working on the weekends and focus exclusively on the home, and my wife had to juggle less between her career and day-to-day household tasks.
I started homeschooling almost on a whim, making the decision just a week before the start of the 2013-14 school year. Our oldest really struggled in school. She was expelled from kindergarten at a Catholic school after just a couple months. The second school she attended was better, and we stayed for the rest of that year and 2 more but she never really thrived. Both her and her younger sister would be so tired after a long day at school, and I felt like they never understood what they learned until I worked one on one with them doing their homework. Why were we paying tuition when the best teaching was happening at home?
It's been a journey of lots of trial and error but three years later we don't regret the decision. A lower stress, more intimate learning environment has been so much better for the two who had gone to regular school. Our youngest has only learned in the home and really thrives. I fear if he had been in regular school, he would be one of the types to be labeled ADD or ADHD despite being very bright for his age and definitely able to focus on tasks he wants to focus on.
Our urban homesteading journey was also triggered by homeschooling. We had a small ornamental garden but I built a raised bed to grow some fun veggies as part of their science education. Within a year, that small raised bed became most of the lawn being ripped up and it's grown from there with more gardens, perennials, chickens, and meat rabbits.
On a strict financial basis, very little of this has saved us any money yet, though it may as the capital outlays amortize. We love the lifestyle, being closer to the source of our food. I struggle a lot of anxiety and depression, and working with the plants and animals is very therapeutic. Our eventual goal is early retirement of sorts for my wife, though she's expressed a desire to never stop working at some level (i.e., part-time or doing consulting here and there), and to move out into the country.
City living stresses people out. I don't think it's natural for us to be so closely together without the ability to tend the earth and raise animals. It's very difficult, if even possible at all, to make city living truly sustainable. I want a land base that can feed my family and work towards communal sufficiency with likeminded homesteaders and farmers. I see how my kids benefit from exposure to the animals and gardens. All of them express some level of interest in gardening and keeping animals when they're grown up. I'd encourage the kids, if they want to, to start a farming enterprise of their own on our land as they get older, or even as adults in some form of inter-generational living.
Let me know what you want to see in this session and whether you think this format is best or if something more structured would be better.