August has been a tumultuous month. In the middle of horrible pregnancy sickness, I took the kids on a week-long camping adventure, while my dear husband stayed home and quit his job. Yes, that’s right, he quit his job. After years of working in an office, Jae and I decided it was time for him to break free so that we can live the life of our dreams. No more schedules! Two adults to run the farm! Both parents home full-time with the kids! And, a lot less money.
I could write a very long essay on all the reasons Jae quit his job, but I’ll hold myself back. The long and short of it is that having the majority of his daylight hours sucked away in an office has meant that Jae has not been able to do the things with his life that he truly wants to do. His family time was limited to a few hours in the evening before putting the kids to bed, and we never seemed to have enough money anyway. Why sell the hours of your life away when the money’s not enough? Now we are free and all of our options are wide open. It’s the dawning of a new age for our family.
We’ve had to think long and hard about how our money gets spent, over these last few weeks. Our feeling has been that being jobless is the kick we need to REALLY live off the land. Sure, we’ve kept a garden and a flock of hens, we’ve eaten local food, we’ve tried to provide for ourselves, but at best it has been a practice round. We still shop at the grocery store on a regular basis, eating food that has been trucked in from lands far away (yeah, so what if it’s organic? It still traveled far too long and gobbled up far too many resources getting to us!). Our grocery store dependence needs to end.
Jae and I have been vegetarians for a great many years. Our children were born vegetarians. Now, our diets are changing. In an effort to live off the land, we’ve decided to do some fishing in the local creeks, marshes and rivers. We are blessed to live in an area with an abundance of waterways – why not make use of them? Our goal is to fill the freezer with fish to eat throughout the winter. So, today we set out with the kids in the canoe for our first attempt at fishing.
Our oldest son, Lynden, was very hesitant when we told him what our plans were. Being a lifelong vegetarian, the idea of killing a fish was upsetting for him. I had a good long talk with him, explaining that we are trying to have a small footprint on the Earth, and that after lots of thought and discussion, Daddy and I thought the Earth would be happier if we caught our own fish down the road than if we bought avocados from South America. By the time we were out on the water, Lynden was brimming with enthusiasm.
We enjoyed the canoeing (as we always do!) and were treated to plenty of wildlife encounters – ducks, geese, Great Blue Herons, swans, egrets, water snakes, frogs, snails – and we felt so at home on the water that any doubts I had started out with simply vanished away.
After a time, we realised how silly we had been to do our fishing from within the canoe, while trying to manage three small children and keep our lines from getting tangled. When over an hour passed without anything more than snag after snag, our toddler screaming between my knees and trying to throw himself overboard, we decided to head back to shore and fish from the banks instead.
Instant success! Jae and I each caught a fish almost immediately. Mine was a small sun fish, his, a small catfish. They were both too small to eat, so we threw them back and kept trying.
Before long, Lynden caught a catfish. He reeled it in all by himself, pulled it up out of the water, and started hollering to me that he had caught a fish. His excitement was enormous!
Granted, the catfish wasn’t very big, but Lynden was so thrilled with himself and couldn’t wait to eat it. A far cry from the nervous boy who didn’t want to kill a fish earlier this morning!
We took the fish back to Jae’s parents’ house, where “Papa” knew just what to do (Papa is an expert fisherman!). Lynden got hands-on lessons on how to clean a fish.
Papa fried up the little catfish filets, and added a bit of pickerel that he had caught. I never thought I’d enjoy fish as much as I did this evening.
There is much to say about sustaining a family of five (almost six!) on the land, divorcing the system we’ve been raised in and slave to for so long, living without regular employment, and having the life of our dreams. There’s not room in one post for all the thoughts that are swirling through my head – you’ll have to bear with me as I sort through this new stretch of our life’s adventure!