The uncertain future

As much as I want to move right now, obviously reality dictates that is not going to happen.  I'm not sure it will happen any time in the next 5 years, simply because there is so much uncertainty in the world right now.  The Middle East and north Africa is in major turmoil.  Governments across Europe are implementing "austerity measures".  And the United States has its head in the sand, with our leader telling us that we can save money in the future by increasing our defecit this year.  Huh.

I really don't see things in this country improving much in the near future.  I fully expect housing prices to decrease again (side note: housing prices from the 1890s through 1990s increased at an average of 3% per year.  In order to get back onto that average trend, prices still need to contract another 20%.  Ouch.  Thankfully, that's a national average, not local.  So we may only contract another 3-5%, since we were never all that inflated to begin with.).  Loan rates are increasing.  Food prices are rising.  Gas prices are climbing.  Unemployment is hovering around 10%.  Remind me again why I should be optimistic?

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: It's so important to increase your family's self-sufficiency!  So many skills from our grandparents and great-grandparents are on the verge of being lost.  How many people know how to butcher their own meat?  Render lard?  Make soap from tallow?  Use herbs medicinally?  Grow and can their own produce?  I can see that we're in the midst of a movement to regain these skills, but how many people out there are really doing it?  By connecting with like-minded people on the internet, it sometimes feels like everyone is involved.  And then I go to work and talk with people who don't even know how to cook something that isn't from a box.  There are children who don't realize that food must be grown or raised and slaughtered before it appears in the store.  We've surrendered our freedom in exchange for purchasing power; America has become a nation of consumers. 

I'm not saying that there's anything inherently wrong with buying your soap from a store instead of making it yourself, or getting carrots from the market instead of from your garden.  But when you buy something, at least do it mindfully: consider where it came from, how it was made or grown, the negative effects its production had on people and the earth, and whether it's something you're willing/able to learn how to do yourself.  You'd be amazed at the satisfaction you can get looking at a few jars of freshly canned applesauce or a blooming garden.  Seeing my chickens outside destroying my flowerbeds honestly gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.  I raised them, they're mine, and they make food for me.  All in exchange for my table scraps and a bag of chicken feed every few months.  I'm grateful that we have started ourselves down the path to homesteading, especially with the state of affairs in the world.

I'm feeling very conflicted, though.  All of the uncertainty is exactly why I want to leave the Prairie Box and buy a farm or some property on which to build our farm.  Especially after talking with the realtors, I think about the improvements we planned on making to the house, and I just feel so discouraged.  I was really expecting to make money on this house.  Not a lot.  We aren't house-flippers, and that was never the plan.  But I was expecting that our sweat equity would translate into about $10K after closing.  Looking at just breaking even after closing, even with 5+ years of payments behind us and paying extra on the principal... just makes me sad.  I have a major "why bother?" complex. 

I don't want to fix up the house for us, since we aren't planning on staying here.  I don't want to fix it up for someone else, because it's not worth my time and money.  I feel like I'm smacking up against a wall, and I'm not sure how to get motivated again.  I suppose I just have to look at it as a necessary step on our way to moving.  I just wish I could be excited about it.  Maybe once we start making progress, I'll find some enjoyment in it.  Hmmm.


Idabloomstein said...

Oh Honey, I'm right there with you.

I recently had a little experience I'd like to share with you, because I think you'll understand my perspective.

I went down to southern California to visit some relatives for Christmas. My cousin Tara and I are very close - more like siblings really since we grew up together. She lives in Palmdale on the far eastern edge of LA County which is half way to Las Vegas. High desert. Windy. Rocks. Sand. Strip malls. Gated communities. Trailer parks. Emerald green golf courses out in the wasteland. People like my cousin and her family moved there because houses were cheap and you got a big yard. Her house has five bedrooms, but it's made of Styrofoam and synthetic spray-on stucco. You could put your finger through it. The trade off to having a huge house and a pool is that everyone has to drive an hour and a half each way to a decent job. Understandably, people all drive enormous cars because they pretty much live in them.

Anyway, I went to church with Tara's family and got really excited when I heard that the pastor's wife ran a food pantry for needy families in the area. I take food security very seriously and I was ready to donate a few fifty pound sacks of grain or beans. So I started asking about how the program works and how I might help. I wanted to see the church kitchen, the store room. I imagined all the church ladies getting together to bake bread and cook huge pots of soup. Well, that's not exactly how it worked at this particular church...

The pastor's wife explained that people just don't have the time to cook anymore and that it's impossible to get a group together. People are all busy working and driving and trying to squeeze in a few minutes with their kids. And very few people even know how to cook anything from scratch any more. Not even the grandmothers, who all came of age in the sixties and seventies when Tater Tots and TV dinners were all the rage. So I asked how the church food pantry works.

Turns out, various church members stop off at McDonalds, Subway, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, etc. on their way home from work. Then they drop the food off at the church parking lot where the assorted bags and boxes of fast food are collected and organized by a few volunteers. Then the families that are in need of food pull up and are handed bags as they drive by.

There was so much wrong with this system that I couldn't even respond. I thought to myself, "*&%#! We've lost the Lutheran church ladies. It's all over."

- Johnny

Omar said...

Ouch, great post. Sometimes I feel your pessimism though. I too have hesitation dumping large sums of money into our house when the future can look so murky. I don't know.. it can feel like you're digging yourself deeper into the mud while you're trying to get out of it. Hang in there kid.

To the previous comment: WTF?! That's disturbing..