Finding a Part Time Job

Finding a part time job is sometimes just a matter of figuring out which economic activities in your local area need intermittent, seasonal, or contract labor and embracing an attitude of flexibility. .

| September/October 1973


State forestry services often hire part time workers for a variety of tasks, such as reforestation or fire response.


When Shona (my wife) and I decided to return to the land, we knew it would be tough sledding for a while ... because no matter how much of your own food and other essentials of life you produce yourself, you're still going to need some cash. Unless things have changed recently, the County Auditor doesn't accept bushels of pumpkins to settle real-estate taxes.

I think this very question—how to have a cash income without being caught up in the 9-5 routine of a city job—is the one hang-up that most often prevents people from going back to the land. In my experience, at least, this is the main worry that usually comes out in any discussion of the subject.

My own solution was finding a part time job or jobs, always stipulating that—if possible—they had to be outdoor and nature-oriented. The list of things I've done to make money over the years is varied, interesting, and probably adaptable to any part of the country.

To begin with let's take my favorite part-time employer ... the Minnesota State Forestry Service, which has furnished Shona and me with a lot of well-paying short-term work. I started with the agency as a towerman in the local lookout. My job was spotting and calling in smokes. I then transferred to the ground as a smokechaser, and Shona took my place in the tower.

When the danger of fire subsided that first year I was hired to help with local reforestation projects, both county and state ... and from there went on into custom tree planting for private individuals. After I'd set out a considerable number of seedlings for one man who owned a large amount of land, he hired me to build several miles of nature trails that wound scenically over his property. I then accepted a seven-months-a-year position with the state as Forest Officer and began fitting the tree planting and trail building into my spare time.

That schedule worked out quite well. I wasn't burdened with or harnessed by a full-time career-type job and I had plenty of time for my homestead chores: gardening and collecting roots, driftwood, and insects for sale.

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