Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Before we settled down on the acreage with the chickens and goats, Hubby and I traveled.  We backpacked, separately before we met, then together, and tried out an all-inclusive once, too.   Between us, we’ve been to over a dozen countries on four continents.   We both love checking out other climates and cultures, preferably for at least a few weeks at a stretch.


Egyptian monument


About a year after settling the goats and chickens in, it hit us:  we were stuck.  My sister was planning a wedding, and we had no idea if we were going to be able to go.  We couldn’t just leave the critters for a two weeks while we traveled to her destination wedding, but we didn’t feel we could ask any of our neighbors to watch them, as the average age around here is approximately 75, and we haul water from the house to the barn twice a day.  Uh-oh.


We eventually found a paid farm sitter who was willing to come out to our place…for a price.  A high price.  A very high price.  In fact, our farm sitting cost almost as much as the rest of that trip put together, and the sitter was not as reliable as we would have liked…up to and including ignoring some of our instructions!   It was not at all a viable option over the long term.   So we have been limited to day trips or, at most, overnighters for quite a while – a couple of years, now – which really sucks for a couple of wannabe globe trotters.


Camels in Wadi Rum


I would guess that is why the majority of people who get into hobby goats get out again –  in about three years, if the stats are to be believed.


Not us, though.  We’ve found a stellar farm sitter (two of them, actually), who live relatively close, are physically able to take care of the critters, and who are trustworthy and reliable.  We’ve had them watch the place for a couple of days here and there, but we recently went away on a vacation for a couple of weeks, and left them in charge.  They dealt with unexpected inclement weather and a mass goat escape, and kept their good humour through it all…and the place was in great shape when we got home.  What a relief to know that we can schedule a holiday, or even go to a wedding or a funeral in another province, without having to worry about how to get the goats fed and watered while we’re away!


We have our freedom back now.  I’ve signed us up for a couple of last-minute travel discount websites, since we all have our passports, and our super-fab farm sitters are willing to come by on short notice.  Yay for us!  I just can’t emphasize enough how much freedom we suddenly have, or what a relief it is.  If you (like us) love to travel, make sure you have a realistic plan for how you’re going to take care of your critters when emergencies come up, or when the travel bug bites – it’ll save you a lot of money and heartache, and help you keep your sanity while you work on your homesteading dreams.


Sea Turtles in Hawaii

(We went to Hawaii.  Took the kids and Hubby’s parents.  Had a great time.  Would love to share some pictures, but WordPress is having a bad day, so perhaps in another post…)







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I just read an article from Slate about how the ‘Do What You Love’ mantra devalues actual work, as well as entire socioeconomic classes of people who do the dirty and unloveable, but so very necessary, jobs that keep society running.  You know, the shelf-stockers, hospital janitors, and farm laborers of the world.  It was an interesting perspective, and one that makes sense to me, though I had never considered that particular angle before.


I have the sort of job that lots of people covet.  I have my own office, work (fairly) predictable hours, and get paid quite well.  I get benefits – good ones, like paid sick time, a pension, and four weeks’ vacation.  My work is challenging, has creative elements, and often is under minimal supervision.   Sounds dreamy, right?




Well, it has its challenges, too.  I carry a great deal of responsibility, including a threat of lawsuits and other legal action, or even people being hurt or killed if I make a poor recommendation or fail to consider all of the information in a case.  My clientele is difficult at best, and the physical work environment ranges from depressing to dangerous.


I don’t love my job, though many of my colleagues do.  But you know what?  I think that’s okay.  I strive to do a good job of the things that are required of me, and I recognize that the structure of a work week is good for my mental health.   I’m grateful to have a secure job that pays well, and I do truly enjoy my colleagues, who are a smart and funny bunch.  I may not love my job, but I’m committed to it, and I do get gratification from writing that stellar report, overcoming challenges, or meeting that super-tight surprise deadline.


There are lots of things that I do really love, things I am good at, and could marshal into a business or career if I wanted to.  Travel writer, portrait photographer or pet portrait photographer, market gardener…there are things I love so much that I do them for free, or even pay for the opportunity to enjoy them.   Here’s the thing, though:  I think they would become work if I had to do these things day in and day out, for my living.  I could see dreading ‘yet another trip’ if I didn’t get to stay home when I wanted to.  Some days, I don’t feel inspired to pull out the camera, but leaving it in the closet wouldn’t be an option if that was paying the mortgage.   I don’t know how long I would continue loving those hobbies if I were forced into them, day in, day out.   It seems to work for some people, but I don’t think it would do it for me.


cat portrait


The other issue is money.  The job I have pays in a way that small-town photography or one-family market gardens just don’t.  It pays enough to enjoy all of my hobbies, and gives me enough time off to pursue those things.   As a market gardener, I doubt I would have the time or the money to travel overseas.  As a travel writer, I’d never be home to plant or tend the garden.


temple restoration, Egypt


As it is, I do lots of different things that I enjoy immensely – blogging, photography, gardening, travel, canning, mentoring…the list goes on and on.  I DO do what I love.  All the time.  I just don’t get paid for it, and I do a job I don’t love in order to have the time and money to do the rest.  It’s really not a bad compromise, as far as these things go.  I am happy with the lifestyle I have, and wouldn’t trade it, even for a job I loved.  It’s just not necessary.


squash harvest


So I’d say go ahead and do what you love, but maybe recognize you don’t always have to get paid for it.


Eiffel Tower at night

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April 1st, 2003, I was working at a job I didn’t like very much, living in a place I often found quite lonely.  I had just gotten a dog (Fox) from the SPCA, and was on the road a lot between where I worked in Alberta and where my family lived in Saskatchewan, 8 hours away.  My grandma was in the hospital, with cancer.  It was not a very happy time.


April 1st, 2006, I was kicking back in a little ocean town in Morocco, writing a joke email to my family that I had been hired as a camel tour operator.  I had taken a year off work to travel, and had been away from Canada for around five months by that time.  I can still smell how that little town smelled, with its cooking tagines and salt and rotting fish.   I had been in Morocco for a few weeks, and was heading up to meet a friend in Portugal.   I took a surfing lesson from a man who spoke no English, and (mostly) survived, though I did get a board to the face.


April 1st, 2007, was around the time I met Hubby.  Neither of us remembers the exact date, but it was Easter time.  Our first date was at a little 50’s diner, and we showed up driving matching little white beater cars.  I remember the way his huge hands engulfed his coffee cup, which he turned around and around, a sweet nervous gesture.


April 1st 2009, Hubby and I were in Guatemala, backpacking there and in Belize for a month, as a ‘honeymoon’ prior to getting married.  We lost our luggage, climbed a volcano (well, okay, I hired a horse), poked around some incredible ruins, watched the Easter parades in Antigua, and had a grand old time.   We traveled so well together!  I knew then, for sure, that we were a truly good match.


April 1st, 2011, we had just taken official possession of our acreage in Saskatchewan.  We (I) got enthusiastic, and ordered fifty day-old chickens, four goats, and a tractor to plow up an enormous garden.  We survived.  Barely, some days, and with chickens in our tub for a week, but we survived.


April 1st, 2012, I was getting ready for baby M’s arrival, painting, cleaning, re-arranging the house, and planning the garden.


Today, I am bottle-feeding three goats, getting ready for three does to kid, and have just ordered another twenty-five day old chicks.  We’re planning another big garden, and I already have a ton of plants started, with plans to plant a whole bunch more next weekend.  I go back to work at the end of the month, and Baby M is finally starting to eat and sleep predictably.   He’s an awesome kid.


I am a very lucky girl.  It’s been an amazing decade.



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It Takes A Village

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Even with Baby M being only three months, I can see how this is true.

We’ve been traveling for the last couple of weeks, up to Alaska to go to my sister’s wedding.  Travel with a baby would be challenging enough, but trying to eat at restaurants while working around Baby M’s allergies was pure frustration.  We were not as successful as we hoped we would be, and there were several nights where M was back to inconsolable screaming and general misery.  Surrounded by family, however, there were always willing hands to pass him off to, so that we could take naps or just get a break.  We even got to eat entire meals, while they were still hot, using both hands, without interruption!  It was nice to have so much help.


We have such wonderful families and friends, and lots of support, but now we’re realizing how unfortunate it is that everyone is so spread out.  I wish we could gather everyone in one place nearby, but it’s just not going to happen.  Aah, well, at least we’re lucky enough to have such amazing people in our lives.


I will get back to regular posting once we’ve unpacked and gotten the house and barn back in order…

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I read a quote, once (and I cannot remember who to attribute it to, unfortunately):

“Those who believe they can, and those who believe they can’t, are both right.”


I went for lunch today with a lady from work.  We were talking about stubbornness, and I commented that being stubborn was my worst flaw and my best asset.  She replied that she wished she was as stubborn, and could only dream of doing the things I have done, like traveling and buying a farm.

Huh?  Really?


She makes as much money as I do.  She is very intelligent.  She is quite organized.   I don’t see any reason why she couldn’t do whatever the heck she wanted.

When I pointed that out, she said

“Oh, but I can’t

“I’m too old”

“I can’t afford it”

“I’m not adventurous enough”


Well of course you can’t, honey.  Look at what you’re telling yourself.  All those lovely excuses you’ve made…


I got this a lot when I took a year off work and backpacked through Europe and North Africa.  Colleagues, all of whom make comparable wages, went on and on about how jealous they were.  I told them to stop being envious and start planning to do it for themselves.  That did not make me very popular, but they could do it just as easily as I did.


This is not to say that it was easy.  I paid off all my debt, scrimped and saved for years, lived in older rental places, worked overtime, lived below my means, drove an old, crappy car, and, in general, worked really really hard to be able to do that.  But I wanted it badly enough, and I accomplished my goal.   I’m not all that special.  There was no magic trick.  Just planning and time and a few sacrifices and some hard work.  I was 29 years old.


Now, people are commenting on how we could afford our farm (and acreage).  In fact, my father commented to my sister “I don’t know how your sister plans to pay for all this stuff”.  Of course, Dad lives in a brand-new house in a nice subdivision, got a new car last year, and just spent thousands of dollars remodeling his kitchen with oak cupboards and marble countertops.  I’m not sure he has grasped that we bought an old, run down place that is going to need a lot of work.  I also don’t think he has any understanding of how cheap land is in Saskatchewan, if you get far enough out of town.  The farm costs us about as much as an average car payment.   The acreage, being run down and needing work, will cost us less than renting in that city would.


So, how can we afford all this stuff?  Easy.  We drive old cars.  Like 20 year old cars, that we buy for cash.  We don’t have cable or rent movies (no TV).  We play board games instead of going shopping.  We don’t eat out a restaurants very often.  We cook our food from scratch.  We don’t buy brand-name clothes.  Our dogs and cats are mutts that we rescued, not $2,500 purebreds. We ‘redecorate’ by buying some new fabric and making different pillow cases for the throw pillows.  We mostly buy our books second hand.   Every year, when I get a raise, I put it into savings, so that we continue to live below our means, and have a safety cushion if we need one.


Does this make us somehow less cool?  I mean, a lot of my colleagues drive Hummers, or at least new Jettas.   They wear True Religion jeans ($250-300), and lululemon hoodies ($100).


Well, it depends on your definition of cool.  My vintage Corolla gets me to work just as reliably as my buddy’s Hummer, and costs me about 1/10th as much in gas, let alone insurance.  My $30 jeans still keep my butt from hanging out.  My $20 Costco hoodie keeps me warm, and I like the color.  I think our trip to Cuba this winter was pretty cool, and we paid for it out of cash we saved by not buying that other crap – stuff we don’t really need or actually even want.  You can be a trendsetter, or you can be unique just like everyone else.


Or, you can quit fussing about what everyone else thinks, and just go do whatever makes you happy.   Do you believe you can?  Or will you tell yourself you’re too young, too old, too dumb, too broke, or not adventurous enough?  Either way, you’re sure to prove yourself right…

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