Hostel Economics 101

Reader Contribution by Anneli Carter-Sundqvist
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Something that interests me greatly with this homesteading life are the economic circumstances for it. To live like we do has a lot of political reasons, and to stand outside of the general, mainstream financial system is a major one. For you who haven’t followed my blogs before, here’s a short update on our homesteading economy;

The overarching philosophy when it comes to money is that if we don’t spend it, we don’t have to make it.  We strive to keep the circle closed; to provide our own needs from the gardens, woods and our own hands, thus minimizing need for cash, thus being able to focus on providing our own needs from here at home. So there are two parts to this; how to live a rich life with little money, and how to make the money we do need in a sustainable, enhancing, and ethically sound way.

We choose to live without a lot of things that would cost money to get, do or maintain. We like to make most of the cash we do need here at home, and do so by running the Hostel in the summer months. Dennis and I have chosen to spend our life together, therefore we’d like to spend our days together. We’ve chosen this place to live, therefore we’d like to spend most of our days here.

We do go to work off the farm every so often. Partly because the Hostel still mostly pay for itself without leaving much for us, partly because it’s nice to see something but you’re own weeds sometime. I do landscaping with my neighbor, once a week on the island. I pruned apple trees for a week this past month and maybe once a year or so me and Dennis fix up a roof, usually in the neighborhood. That amount to about 35-40 days of work, off farm, a year. And that, my friends, is enough.

As you know, this is a very complex subject that can be elaborated on extensively. Which I will, and I’m very interested in comments and feedback on the different ways a self reliant economy can work. But for this time, I’d like to share some thought I’ve had this past week. You see, I’ve had a lot of time to think, treading the path between the wood stack and woodshed. Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. 3 cords of wood to split and stack and whenever the pile felt too big or my arms too tired I reminded myself about the alternatives. First off all, we probably use much less fire wood than most. In the fall, as it starts to get cold we close off the sleeping attic, our mudroom and our cold storage backroom, cover the windows with insulation plastic and move a bed into our one room kitchen/living room space. The wood stove is two steps away if it needs to be replenished throughout the night and our Norwegian cook stove is efficient enough to quickly heat up both the house and tea water in the morning. 

When I’ve been in need for even more encouragement, I’ve repeated to myself that in the state of Maine, the average household using heating oil pays $4000 annually for it. We would probably never have to spend that much, but it still gives me pause. $4000 to heat your house? I don’t want to spend any money on oil, and I still do. Gas for the car, gas for the sawmill. Heating our house with wood we harvest and process on our own might be labor intensive, but so is making the money it’d take to pay the oil truck to come.  I rather keep trudging along, back and forth. One armload at the time, for a more independent economy.

To learn more about Anneli’s and Dennis’ homesteading hostel — and to schedule a visit — go to theDeer Isle Hostel website.