If you’ve considered the homesteading lifestyle, you may be wondering whether it’s worth it. And how much does homesteading pay anyway? You may find that it’s not what you earn, but what you learn, that makes it worthwhile.
Farming and homesteading are obviously not the most lucrative jobs – but are they worth it? That will depend on what is important to you, and what makes you happy in life. While some may consider back-breaking labor with little financial reward not exactly the road to happiness, others find the rewards inherent in becoming self-sufficient to be far beyond any monetary value.
If you love being outdoors, experiencing the wonders (and frustrations) of nature and climate, and using your hands to create a living for you and your family, homesteading may be the life for you.
I love this description of the less tangible rewards of homesteading from Dyan Redick of Homegrown.org:
The realities farmers face each year are enormous. The biggest realities are always: how much will each year cost? Can I continue year after year without at least making it pay for itself? That’s the very least farmers expect, because if we can’t say that – if we aren’t at least growing or raising beasts or plants to feed ourselves to cut down on the grocery bill –it’s hard to continue justifying the effort. Most people will say, you’ll never get rich farming.
After sitting down with all my piles, sorting through the slips and bits of paper with numbers scratched on them, I add up the two columns. One is what it costs to open my barn door every day. The other shows how much wool and cheese and milk and jam and pickles and soaps and other things I’ve sold. Turns out, at the end of the day, every day, 365 days a year, I am earning 91 cents an hour. That’s my definition of sustainable. I am earning, not losing, 91 cents an hour.
Now you may say, “You’re kidding, right? 91 cents an hour? Who would work for 91 cents an hour?” As it turns out, there are a lot of folks who do, and they wouldn’t trade it for 9,100 cents an hour. I’ve met a lot of them and we all seem to have something in common. We love what we do.
There’s a certain pride and satisfaction in farming. Things almost never go according to plan. When you’re relying on Mother Nature in the form of living things, whether it’s beasts or plants, it’s all a crap shoot. I think it’s hard to explain why we do it to someone who thinks we’re all crazy for choosing the farming life style.
I’m frequently asked, “You can’t go anywhere, can you?” My reply is always, “I’ve been other places. I’m happy right where I am.”
I gaze across the pasture watching my newborn lambs leap in spring’s cold morning air….
I think I’ll take a break from my paperwork for an hour or so today and invest my 91 cents or even $1.92, in snuggling lambs, sitting with a baby goat in my lap, or running the brush over the girls’ backs. I might even bake a custard on this cool spring day with eggs from the coop and milk the girls gave me this morning.
After all the other jobs I’ve had and all the paychecks I’ve gotten over the years, it’s today that I receive the largest paycheck I’ve ever had, plus 91 cents an hour….