by Ryan Cashman, Writer
The answer to the question posed by the title of this blog is actually pretty simple. But, like all simple answers, it is not always easy to achieve. The answer? Yes, freelance writing and modern homesteading can absolutely align for the life that you want. Here’s the addendum: IF that is the life that you want. Let me explain.
How I came to write and homestead:
My own journey to becoming a full-time freelance writer and homesteader began when my family moved to New Hampshire two years ago. My wife, Briana, and I had been searching for land in our native Massachusetts, and had absolutely no luck finding anything that was within our price range. Mind you, the budget of a middle school English teacher and a bank-teller turned full-time dad and writer wasn’t anything to gawk at.
Once we looked north, however, we found what we were looking for: a small house on just shy of three acres. We’d made the move, and, as a result, had to completely change our lives.
My wife quit her teaching job to homeschool our three children, and I began to search for writing work that would bring in enough money to keep our new roof over our heads. It wasn’t easy, but for the last year, I’ve been able to support a family of 5 on a freelancer’s salary.
This is the first change you will have to make if you choose the freelance/modern homesteading life. Whatever was working for you, or whatever you were doing beforehand is likely not going to fit into this new life you’ve created. You are going to have to be okay with a certain amount of discomfort in order to make your freelance/modern homesteading dreams a reality.
I also want to point out that our own modern homestead is fledgling. Sure, we have laying hens who have given us an absolute bounty of eggs, and my wife grew a brilliant garden this year, but we are far from where we want to be. Which brings me to my second point.
Have a vision:
You need to have some kind of vision in mind when you begin your journey into modern homesteading. Understand, however, that modern homesteading is not like the homesteading of old. Those beautiful New England farms of yore, with their enormous barns, perfect fields, and white picket fences are both unaffordable for most writers, and overly idealized. You are very likely going to have to commit to property that is unconventional, and likely needs work to make it fruitful. The Independent Farmstead by Shawn and Beth Dougherty is a fantastic resource for this.
Our own homestead is from 1850. It’s tucked into the hillside of what was once an old granite quarry. There is clear evidence of fields and farming from years past, but it has been overgrown for at least 50 years. So we’ve got a lot of tree clearing to do in order for us to develop enough pasture to run meat chickens on, feed the flock of sheep my wife has been dreaming about for years, and grow the veggies we need to feed our growing family. There are also retaining walls that need to be built, trash that needs to be thrown in a dumpster, and plenty of wood that needs to be processed.
It’s a lot of work, but all of it is in keeping with the vision my wife and I have for this property. We imagine a verdant hillside, with apple trees, roaming sheep, happy chickens, and children running around the soft green fields and abundant gardens. Modern homesteading is a long game, but so too is writing.
So how can the two align:
Nothing will give you more writing fodder than the everyday drama that occurs on a homestead. Chickens escape, heavy rain wipes out your freshly planted seeds, and surprise frosts in June almost destroy your tomato crops. But here’s where freelancing and modern homesteading align to make this work: they keep you home.
Everything about these two careers, and homesteading is a career in the most traditional sense, center around being home. Why not make the most of what your home can offer? It offers you a place of comfort, where you’re close to your family, have a wicked short commute, and have a highly adaptable schedule.
It can also offer abundance. If you can see past the overgrown woods or the very small patch of green you have for garden space, you can build a modern homestead. And nothing offers a reprieve from a day spent in front of the computer than going outside for an hour and chopping wood for the stove.