Ah, the simple life...
Well, here it is. The very first post on our Axe & Anvil blog. I will be posting more over here, while Atlanta continues to run the “Home at Winshaw” blog. It has been very cold here in Middle Tennessee the last couple of weeks- it only got to about 23 degrees Fahrenheit today, with most of the coming week also expected to be below freezing. I’m sitting at our walnut dining table, as close to the wood cookstove as I can get. I have been keeping the stove as hot as I can safely get it- and it is still chilly at the other end of the room.
This weather reminds me how much work is left to be done on our log house. Sealing the outside chinking, insulating, chinking the inside, getting a door built (first I have to forge a latch and set of hinges) for the stairwell to help hold the heat downstairs, putting the drop ceiling in the bathroom and getting it insulated, and on and on.
What a simple life. Homesteading and self-employment can mean lots of DIY projects- from building your own house, to heating it with firewood you cut yourself. Then there’s paying the bills. Instead of doing something as ridiculously complicated as just showing up to work on time, clocking in, putting in your hours, then clocking out, all while someone else figures how to make your paycheck clear, does most of your bookkeeping for you, keeps the lights on at work, and often pays for your dental work and vacations, the self-employed homesteader has many oh-so-simple offices to fill.
To be successful, the self-employed homesteader must sometimes be or become a marketing expert, a photographer, a mechanic, many kinds of biologist, veterinarian, accountant, contractor, woodworker, metalworker, inventor, artist, electrician, arborist, researcher, employer, and who knows what all. I have opined -and run into no little resistance- that self-employment and/or homesteading is anything but “a simpler life”. It is usually not easy, is rarely un-complicated, and can be pretty risky. That being said, it also has many perks- not the least of which is freedom to explore new ideas in business, unlimited entrepreneurial opportunities, the indescribable physical and mental rewards of hard, honest work, and the ability to be more in control of one’s own schedule.
I personally wouldn’t trade the life I have with my beloved Atlanta and our wonderful kids for anything. I measure success as being able to provide for my own, and help others. So far, I feel that being a work-at-home family is helping us create a good environment for our kids to grow up in, and to really think hard about what matters in life. We have a long way to go, though, in being successful at managing time and opportunities well enough to create an ideal family life, as well as freeing ourselves up to serve our community more. To be perfectly honest, I really stink at self-discipline- and this has been the biggest drag on our progress. But by God’s grace, and through the power of His Holy Spirit, I hope to overcome that even more this year. It helps a lot to concentrate on the joy of my calling.
I do want to add here that in no way do I intend to downplay the difficulty or complexity of many a career in which a person is not self-employed, or to belittle anyone who does not choose the lifestyle we have. Some of the men I respect the most in life have been (or are) men who have faithfully punched a clock most of their working lives. Still others are men who moved on to create opportunities for others by taking risks and dreaming big as entrepreneurs. And the most successful small farmers and homesteaders I know are those who have had to stretch themselves to learn to wear many different hats, or to delegate things to others successfully, in order to make their operations run smoothly and profitably. I believe that, while this so-called “alternative lifestyle” is FILLED with simple pleasures, it is anything but simple, and sometimes, the “simple life” is one where someone else keeps the checks coming- and where all you have to do is get up and show up.
Thanks for reading – and if you want to keep up with our adventures in the ‘simple life’ you can follow along here, by joining our email list, or on Instagram @axe_and_anvil. I would love your feedback and comments. Lord willing, I will be writing here fairly frequently.
Until next time,