Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Country Roads/City Roads

We have some big decisions to make over the next few weeks and it's breaking my heart.  We are 100% committed to homeschooling our children next year and to my husband going to seminary in January.  Now we just have to adjust our current lifestyle to make those things happen.  We have wanted to close our construction/remodelling business or at least depend on it less financially for the past year or so, but that need has become more urgent in recent months.  The state of Oklahoma has started to heavily regulate how construction contractors do business and it's getting ugly out there.  Good, hardworking men (and a few women) are leaving the field because they can't operate with the autonomy they used to, which in most cases is the reason they were working in the field in the first place.  Unfortunately, the new regulations aren't really protecting anyone from anything.  Either they were put in place by some well-intentioned bureaucrat who thought he or she was protecting workers from harm or there is a sinister plot to drive the little guys out of business so the big guys can take over. 
Being for the most part a die-hard liberal, I have scoffed at my conservative friends' rants about government hindering business through over-regulation, but now I'm beginning to see that this idea is at least partially based in reality.  I certainly don't want, for example, oil companies drilling in a manner that endangers my water supply; however, the new regulations for contracting businesses and the way they are being enforced borders on insanity.  We have tightened our belt and will make it through this.  In most cases, anyone can make it through financial difficulties by doing exactly the things we are doing--eliminating eating out, utilizing library resources, seeking out free entertainment, turning the thermostat up, couponing and eating meals from scratch, etc.  These are things we do anyway so our lifestyle hasn't changed drastically, we are just more committed to these habits than ever.
The one thing we haven't done that would save us the most money is sell Dome Farm.  We owe very little on the farm compared to what it's worth thanks to my husband's amazing carpentry and remodelling skills.  We spend a lot in gas driving our children to activities "in town", attending church, engaging in service work, etc.  There are so many benefits to our family from being heavily involved in service work and community that it's hard to consider cutting back in those areas.  Thanks to recent tornadoes and wildfires, our home owner's insurance has gotten terribly expensive.  Unfortunately, it costs us a lot of money to live where we do.
We also moved here to create a more independent lifestyle, which in many ways we have.  We raise a significant portion of what we eat and could raise more given a few more years.  We heat our home almost exclusively from wood we cut from our own property during the winter. I would be fooling myself, however, if I thought that we weren't depending on "the system" (whatever that is) for our lifestyle.  We spend a lot of cash on gasoline to drive to all of the places we need to go and I hate it that the oil companies are getting so much support from us. 
We have looked at houses in town with big yards, green belts, etc. and could save significant money by moving.  We could still have a big garden and even our chickens (yes!).  My husband really wants to start bicycling again and perhaps even share one car for awhile.  There are many ways in which we could still live a semi-independent lifestyle.  Thanks to our awesome local food systems in Oklahoma, we can still have access to many locally produced foods without an acreage.
It all makes sense logically, but then I arrive here, where I am surrounded on all sides by the woods.  The butterflies have taken up residence at the end of the driveway by the hundreds.  I certainly can't bring my goats to town with me.  This place is so beautiful it hurts my heart to think of leaving.  I really don't know what to do.  I really wanted more time here in the home I love so much, but I'm willing to go where my family will thrive and be the happiest. 
We are praying about this with all of our might.  We have a realtor coming by to look at the farm.  We are going to look at a couple of houses that meet our criteria of a very large yard, enough room inside for our family, a nice bike-friendly neighborhood with lots of trees, and access to green belts and community outdoor spaces.  There are a few out there for a really good price, if I can keep my heart from breaking.

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