We have deliberately chosen not to commute to the cubicle, or to find a job with benefits (drawbacks?), or dream about retirement. Instead, we live our retirement every day. By incorporating things in life that have meaning and value, and require discipline, hard labor, and sacrifice, life develops a deeper flavor, a richer smell, and a clearer vision of what is possible. Instead of going down the mainstream laundry shoot, we chose another path. This path has taught us lifelong skills, and how to become the carpenter, the brick layer, the mason, the mechanic, tree feller, the log scriber, grower, fermenter, wildcrafter, hunter, and problem solver. When something breaks, no repair person is called. We choose to read (or not read ) the manual, and become the expert or better yet the apprentice in training. The choice to live this lifestyle leads us with more time than money, an integral part of the equation.
Living on the homestead can mimic riding a rollercoaster. During the Alaskan midnight sun we are in high speed, no rest for the weary, often thinking “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” As soon as the sun returns in February, we start seeds. When the ground thaws in June we are off to a running start transplanting and growing food. The race continues with salmon fishing, berry picking, harvesting medicinal plants, putting up food, hunting, canning, curing, smoking, and drying meat, fish, and herbs.
We are constantly trying to achieve greater self-sufficiency. With this comes an independence from the modern consumptive and materialistic life. We strive to live disconnected (literally and figuratively) from life’s unnecessary distractions and choose to focus on skills necessary to take care of ourselves. The goal is to stay focused on what we really “need”, primal care of the land, ourselves, and each other rather than what society tells us we “need”. By staying connected to the land, living one day at a time, paying out of pocket, and doing everything ourselves…we gain skills and are rewarded by the most fulfilling life a human can choose this day in age. We are living life NOW and not waiting for retirement.