Hostel Homestead Economy Part II

Reader Contribution by Anneli Carter-Sundqvist
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We’re spending the week getting ready to open the Hostel. Airing out mattresses and blankets, wiping kitchen counters and rehearsing the check-in procedure. Our home won’t just be our home anymore, but a place for many to rest, eat and enjoy themselves.

Working at home can be done in many ways and have a lot of different meanings. As I’ve mentioned before Dennis and I do leave once in a while to go and make money elsewhere, but we prefer to spend our days together, at home, and produce what we need right here. For most people the word homesteading means just that; to meet basic needs at home for example by growing food, keeping some animals, harvesting wood etc. For me, homesteading means to not have a great need for money in the first place. It also means that the money one does need is being made by utilizing the land, as in our case, running the Hostel. We use the land as an attractive place for our guests to come to; to provide their water, the fuel for the outdoor fire, trails for their hikes and grow food for their dinners.

Meeting our needs at home, from the land, comes with the effect that we can reap the benefits, and multiply them.  We could go off and make $2000 building a shed for someone, but when we stay at home and build a hut for the Hostel that building can make the same money year after year. It will also give us other benefits, like further experience in timber framing, a chance to train others and an opportunity to try out various building techniques that paid work won’t allow for. Time invested in the gardens won’t only pay back with produce worth the equivalent of several month’s pay every year, but will add to the beauty of the farm, once again provide training for others and a unique experience for our guests, seeing how the dinner food was grown.

The freedom to stay at home and set our own schedule does come with challenges. To work and live in the same place means you’re confronted with the work all the time, whether it’s the successes or the failures or the unfinished projects. We’re achievers, both Dennis and I. We love what we’re doing and enjoy the hard work, traits I think most homesteaders share. I also think most of us share the experience of how easy it is to take on too much. It’s all so fun and exciting and we choose to improve and expand and add to and it’s hard sometimes, to balance our ambitions with how much work that feasibly can be carried out in a certain time. It’s a learning curve for us, to be ok with the pace it all happens in. And to choose not to expand or add to when we already have what we need.

But at the end, the choice of staying at home is easy. Believe me, I’ve tried many other ways. 40 h working week, hours of commuting, sitting in an office, getting laid off when times got hard, employed when they needed another part in the machinery. I don’t like driving and burning fossil fuels. I don’t want to work anywhere if it means being bound to someone else ‘s schedule, their whims of keeping me employed, a customers ability to pay and otherwise not being fully in control over the work I’m asked to perform. I want to spend the majority of my waking time  in connection to the land I reside on and with the person I love. Home is where the heart is and that’s where I want to be too.  

Anneli blogs for MOTHER EARTH NEWS about her insights and ideas from a handmade, DIY-everything homestead and hostel on Deer Isle, Maine.

Photo by Fotolia/Alison Hancock