Since harvest is almost done around here I thought I would start discussing another project – something other than cooking the food that we grow.
I have a renewed motivation regarding what I want to contribute to the world. I’m sure many, if not all of you have a similar thought, that you want to live congruently with your beliefs and contribute your best.
Recently, we took a long trip. We were gone for 10 days and drove about 5000 km or 3100 miles to visit a friend in Ontario, Canada. The total cost for the trip was really no more than what most people would spend on a yearly vacation, but what I found was that I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would based on how much we spent. Considering we camped every night and cooked most of our food, the price tag was too much.
It was was great learning experience.
I learned that I don’t like rushing vacations. Our biggest mistake was to allow other people to rush our vacation. I had planned this getaway weeks in advance and two days before we left, a client called (one that I can’t say no to) and wanted to book his dog in for part of the time that we would be gone.
That worked out fine however because we had to come back before that since our sitter for Tommy, our dog who can’t travel, was going away two days before the boarder was to arrive. So either way we had to rush the trip.
I learned that I have to learn or accomplish something while on vacation.
I don’t really like being idle or just travelling for the heck or it. Many people can and need to do this but as of now I don’t. This trip was actually a working vacation because the friend we visited is a breeder of Hungarian Kuvasz. We really went out there to pick up a pup. Yes, it is a long way and she could have flew him out to us, but the amount that we learned by doing the trip was more important than not going.
The puppy we picked up is part of a goal or contribution I want to make to our lifestyle and the environment. Many of you already have livestock guardian dogs. These dogs are important to keeping wild animals, livestock and livelihoods safe. I believe they help us all to work together with nature not against it.
On another note, since neither Ernie nor I had been that far into Ontario, we felt it was worth it in the experience. We learned that large amounts of traffic and lots of people are something we want to minimize in our lives.
I learned that I don’t really need to go traveling that far to enjoy myself.
The amount of driving we did was horrendous. Much of the time it was what I could call not enjoyable. But because we were there and had to continue, I tried to enjoy everything. When you do that, time goes slowly and you can take in everything. You remember more. You aren’t just trying to get to the next destination faster to get it over with so that you can unwind on the weekend.
Most people I know go on vacation to get away from a life that is boring and uneventful, to break up the monotony, or to rest their overworked minds. Time goes by quickly because there are no memories worth remembering. When you make your life full of different things and novel experiences, you make memories and time slows down. You enjoy everything more instead of just working to get through another week.
That said, I now realize that I can enjoy things that happen locally more because they are what I CHOOSE to do, not what I dread to do. This is so important. If I dread something, I know to make an effort to stop doing it. For me it becomes completely unproductive to continue.
The more things you do that you want to be doing, the easier it will be. Most of the things that we do are done because of habit or fear. To slow your time and increase your enjoyment of things simply do more of the things that excite you in larger blocks of time.
So, if we need to drive to a destination, we will make sure that we stay there for several days or even a week to enjoy the local atmosphere. After all that is really what a vacation is about anyway.
Anyway, that’s what I learned and what I got out of the trip. From a homesteading perspective it was good because I found that for me a simpler vacation is better. I think that is how I was always trying to live in the first place.
I am currently experiencing extreme burnout at work. So much so that I have to stop working and shut down my business. My job and business – grooming, training and boarding dogs, has for years ( 9 years) made it so that there is no time away from dogs. I work from home and I have my own dogs here as well as other people’s as part of the business. The whole thing was part of my plan to be an urban homesteader: working from home at something I love to help support the homestead lifestyle.
Most people enjoy going home from work to be away from work. For me, there is no such thing. When I board dogs, the dogs live here with us so I am on edge 24 hours a day thinking about the boarding dogs.
Don’t get me wrong here, I appreciate being able to even HAVE a job that I can do at home and not have to commute. I know there are people who don’t have jobs. However, in my enthusiasm to work from home, I picked a career that was too similar to my home life and therefore had no separation.
Because we live in a lowly populated area, I am forced to take most if not all clients at the risk of not making enough money that year or losing clients. Sometimes there is overlap of clients so that I don’t have any days off for weeks and weeks. We can’t go anywhere or really do anything as there is always someone’s dog to consider, even if it is just one dog staying with us.
As a business owner, I also am in charge of promotion of the business in real life, and on social media. As well, I took on some extra work as a social media manager for several other businesses. These were not pet businesses, but added to the workload.
I discussed this with Ernie, and we both agree that the burnout is in part because of the long hours and no breaks, but I also believe that at some point my heart was not really into it. I feel that I may have been pursuing the pet professional business because I had something to prove. This, however, is a subject for a completely different post so I won’t elaborate here.
My burnout is so extreme, that I have even stopped going to dog shows which I used to enjoy, training my own dogs, and have completely changed my hobby interests. I am now painting.
Strangely, I am OK with all this, especially the painting part. Yes, I am a beginner, but this is something that I am using to relax my mind as I recover from the burnout and is purely for the love of the process. I don’t care if it ever gets me anywhere. It is FUN.
So, I am a little depressed and sad about closing down my business that I have pursued for so many years, and leaving behind the clients that I enjoyed meeting and interacting with. But I think that I will be able to do more in another area of work when I find it because I learned what I did wrong with the previous one.
My 4 HP High Velocity dog dryer is outrageously loud. I bought it when that was all you could get. In fact, they now make HV dryers that hardly make any noise at all – at a nice high price. I am not going to throw this dryer out and buy a new one. The noise however is unbearable and in the winter I can’t put it outside to dampen the sound.
So Ernie and I came up with a way to save the dryer. He cut a hole in the drywall that separates the workshop from the dog room and put the dryer hose through the hole. The dryer now sits outside the dog room and only the hose comes through.
Imagine having to have a motorcycle or snowmobile revving its engine in the same small room as you. This is what it was like before this change.
Ernie found some old vacuum hose at the dump and that’s what is used to go through the wall and attach to the original dryer hose. The dryer and hose is now out of sight and in a contained area so it is not an eyesore.
We used electrical tape to secure the hose to the hooks on the wall but I will be covering that with something a bit more appealing to the eye.
Finally the hose is long enough now that I can use it properly. The pic below shows it hanging from the ceiling onto the grooming table.
So, all of this is just really the start of changing over to a more eco-friendly business and way of living. Some may think it looks cheap and crappy but I believe it is a state of mind. We take our time to finish projects and eventually it will look better. If we expect everything to be new and cookie cutter, then old buildings will be torn down and good stuff will be shown in the garbage. Not here anymore.
My grooming room is large enough for my purposes but I still have to use all the space I can. The shelves in the pic below were made from salvaged wood – of course. One used to be a shelf itself, the middle one was a section cut from an old table, and the bottom was a shelf Ernie made but couldn’t find another use for.
The orange high-velocity dryer has been moved from where it was in the pic, which I will show in the next post. Ernie rigged up a neat arrangement for it where we didn’t have to spend any money.
With the arrival of 2015, we have decided to make the slow switch to EVEN MORE eco-friendly living, which means anything that I need for the grooming shop has to be homemade, reused, recycled, dump-picked etc. I will even be composting dog poop and finding more eco-friendly grooming products if such a thing exists. The obsession has begun.
Running a business from your home can be considered part of the homesteading mentality. I tried staying away from home to go to a job, but I couldn’t do it for long. I made the jump to staying at home and working for pay and not, quickly. I just did it. Not everyone should do this, or will want to, but I had to.
My workplace is our home and it is small – about 900 sq feet, including the upstairs. It is a 90 year old house. I believe that all buildings – unless they are seriously un-usable, in danger of falling down or contaminated, should be saved. Their historical value is irreplaceable, and the chance to live in a unique home is just as important.
This summer, after much thought, Ernie put vinyl siding on, over top of the old exterior. Because we were doing the work ourselves, this was our only choice. In order to put wood siding on, the old siding would have had to come off and that was not something we were able to do. If it makes it SEEM better, the siding was made in North America, and is good quality. I would have liked to put on siding that was eco friendly, but not this time. We feel that if we don’t fix it up, someone will tear it down.
The garage on the right, which we call the workshop, is our work area. Ernie does woodworking and fixing stuff there and I do my dog grooming, including bathing, there. Everything has its place. It has to – or we would be living in chaos. We also have six dogs in the house.
I will be talking more about our living working arrangements this year, in order to show how we can live in such a “small” area and still enjoy life! I know a lot of you do this too, and would love it if you could share that as well.
Finally, I’m getting to posting about our natural Christmas tree and its decorations in keeping with the homesteading tradition as well a few other things we did before 2015 got here. Below is our tree. I made popcorn garland (only 2 strings) but it was still appropriate, and I used the pine and spruce cones.
I also used ornaments we purchased for our wedding 9 years ago – plastic- but since I’m not going to throw them out and they are in good condition we use them. As of now, we will no longer be buying any more decorations for Christmas.
Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve we had good weather so we did a lot of walking and some dog sledding on our property. Below is me and 3 of our 6 dogs. I was warming myself up before I hooked up the dogs.
I packaged this garlic for a local event raffle. We love giving gifts from our garden, even if it is winter. Besides the fact that there is no cost to us for buying this gift, the benefits of eating the garlic is beyond what we could charge anyway. I hope you all have a wonderful 2015 and enjoy lots of garlic for your health. Happy New Year!
We really enjoy making our own stuff. This is especially true when it comes to the garden. It is so simple to go out and buy what you need – which usually promptly breaks because of the poor quality found in most things made nowadays.
This spring we made a hot house for our peppers which has really turned out to be amazing. I also included pictures of a hand trowel that Ernie found lying around here and fixed with a nail because not surprisingly it broke after a small amount of use. As well, we use an old barrel to destroy personal papers – the lid is from an old fridge, and the milk jugs are used to protect plants in the spring from frost, all piled up on a metal pole found at the garbage dump.
In other words, buying new isn’t all what its seems. Making your own stuff is creative and stimulates the mind, and it is easier on the earth.
After reading many blog posts about being frugal, saving money, being happy, how to find your purpose in life (thank you James Altucher), I decided to make a post.
I am happy. I do not own a cell phone. I do not make a lot of money. I do not live in a big city. I do not have a lot of “things”. My truck is a hand-me-down and works when I need it.
Things do not make us happy. It is our attitudes about “things” that make us happy or miserable.
I have always known that I cannot keep up to the “Jones” as “they” say. I just can’t. I only feel good when I am working for myself at something that I love doing no matter how much I make. When I don’t do this, I become unhappy. Then I get sick.
My husband was born right after WWII. His family was REALLY poor. But he remembers being happy. Happiness is an inside job. And after many years of self help because of trying to find out my life’s purpose, I just let go and let it happen.
Allow what is trying to work its way into your life. Trying too hard, especially if you are not doing what you really want to be doing, will result in stress and unhappiness. Oh, and most if not all of this will get easier to do after 40.
And if you are so kind as to make a comment here, please be nice.
Here are some of the things that I do to make me happy: