It turned out to be a good month to take a sabbatical, as August has been a VERY busy month for us. Before I reveal the future of AFN, here is a brief rundown of how we’ve spent our days.
We took our yearly, week-long vacation at the camp on the pond with extended family.
I planned out school for this fall and have gathered nearly all of the supplies I will need for Buddy’s 2nd grade year, Girlie’s 1st grade year, and Pal’s PreK year.
We registered with the post office in our town and got our mailbox set up at our physical address.
Papa’s truck broke down again. For fear it is going to nickel and dime us we bought an ‘02 Ford Taurus for his work vehicle until he has more time to fix the truck.
Pal had the hives.
I have a health issue I’m working out right now, though I still don’t know exactly what is going on. We thought we were experiencing our third surprise pregnancy, but it turns out something funky is going on with my uterus. We’re praying I start my cycle again within the next few days or I’ll be starting a second round of testing with my midwife next week. Your prayers are appreciated!
We had our family pictures taken.
I’ve been getting my doula business set up to run more efficiently.
I’ll be pickling cucumbers tomorrow.
I have tomatoes that need to be processed.
The peas, radishes, lettuce, and green and wax beans are either passed or nearly so. Most of them were eaten fresh – the best way!
Our turnips, onions, and carrots are growing very well and I’m happy with their progress and hopeful for a decent winter storage.
The beets and bell peppers didn’t grow much for “fruit”. Not sure what happened there.
Our broccoli is just now growing heads. There is hope yet!
We’re still eating off the kale, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, and basil.
We bought a new push lawn mower! YAHOOOO!! Not that I’m happy about that or anything.
Last night we had a visit from the contractor who is going to put in our foundation!
There are other things that have happened, but I think you’ve now got the idea of why taking off this past month has been helpful in permitting me time to mull over my thoughts about what comes next for American Family Now. The last thing I wanted to do was make any rash decisions, or say things without putting extra thought behind the words I use to describe said decisions.
So here we go.
One month ago I shared that Papa and I had begun reevaluating our lives to ensure that we are following the path we want to be on. In that post I talked about how Papa and I share the same long term goal – to live off-grid in a cash-built home, as self-sustainable as possible in order to be prepared for anything. Yet our methods of getting there have diverged enough that we realized the current path we had chosen was not as easy, nor as peaceful or joyful, as we had hoped it to be.
We like to throw ourselves into adventures, but we do them together. That’s just the way we like it! And we know we would both be happier if we were following the same path to our chosen goal.
Unfortunately in the short term, that meant I needed to decide to change my priorities and say a few temporary goodbyes. Not because I had to, but because I knew it would be better for my family if I did.
So, after lots of hashing out ideas, brainstorming, and weighing pros and cons, I made a few big decisions. The most relevant to you is that AFN is going to become solely a facebook page.
I know not all of you use facebook, and I would be sorry to lose any of you as readers, but this transition would allow me to continue sharing photos and stories about our life with you, without spending the 6-10 hours a week I spend on average maintaining this blog. We are now closing in on 600 facebook likes, and much of our blog traffic is coming from social media as well. I believe that for many, it will continue to be a convenient way of keeping in touch with our family.
What does this mean for the blog? I am currently in the process of publishing paperback and kindle versions of American Family Now: A Four-Year Blogging Journey, from 2010 to 2014. This book will be very special to me as it will include each and every post and picture I have shared here, telling the story of our family’s life in detail for a period of time. It will hold a dear place on our future bookshelf :::smile:::
When this book is published I will share about it here, and then say my final goodbyes on this blog. I anticipate that by October I will have transitioned to facebook entirely and be ready to close the doors here, taking down the web hosting, and the posts with it.
Closing americanfamilynow.org is just the beginning of the changes we have in store. I have also decided to put the garden and homestead progress on ice for 2015 and possibly 2016. I’ll wrap up the gardens this year and preserve all I can, we’ll continue collecting and selling eggs from our current hens, but next year I will not be planting veggies or buying more chicks. I plan to fill the veggie boxes with a cover crop like buckwheat or alfalfa to add nutrients to the soil while I wait until the time is right to start planting again.
So if I’m not blogging, gardening, or raising chicks, what will I be doing, you ask? Part of me laughs at the fact that I feel I have to defend my choice. Let’s see, there’s raising and homeschooling four kids, managing my home, caring for our chickens, yard maintenance, and running my doula business. I could very well not replace gardening and still stay busy!
Yet there is a very specific reason why I volunteered to set them aside.
I could choose to over exert myself, to continue working on building the homestead, but aside from occasional help, I have largely been doing it myself. With Papa’s focus elsewhere, I realized that homesteading on my own is not what I wanted. I want to enjoy life, not just check off as many things on the “good things to do” list as I can.
Part of me felt like I would be cheating on my ideals; disappointing myself and others for setting aside priorities I had stood so firmly beside before. I suppose that was the perfectionist in my, rearing its ugly head. But there is a season for everything, and right now that means setting aside raising vegetables, herbs, chicks, and wheat, at least for a year or two, so we can give our businesses a better chance of thriving, and of helping us become financially self-sustainable.
Instead of raising our own food, I plan to stick by our values and support local farmers through a combination of farmer’s markets, farm stands, local shops, and a nearby community garden. The same goes for herbal remedies. As for our hens, we expect to wait every 2-3 years to buy new chicks so we can maintain our egg needs, rather than raising more hens to sell eggs.
These changes will inevitably increase our expenses a bit, but the idea is that it will also free me up to do other things that can sustain our family better, while not compromising our values, and contributing to the local economy at the same time.
So in all of my spare time ::: wink ::: this is what I’ll likely be doing:
- maintaining BagsOnSticks.com and its facebook page
- networking with businesses interested in displaying Bags On Sticks samples and planning next year’s fair events
- managing Bags On Sticks finances and inventory
- taking on more clients as a doula
- hosting doula teas and other maternity related events
- teaching more childbirth preparation classes
- continuing my education as a birth doula
Each of these things is time-consuming, but will make our businesses more efficient and contribute more to our family’s income, and the 15-20 hours I would save each week by not blogging or gardening would be put to good use in this endeavor.
I love AFN. I don’t like looking at this situation in such a practical way because it is sad to say goodbye. When Papa and I started talking about the practical side of setting the blog down, I felt almost sacrilegious talking about this before adding the heart factor to the equation. Papa always said, shutting down AFN would be like a death in the family. This hasn’t been just another hobby to me; it has become an online community where I pour my heart out, and many of you have here as well. Making this decision forced me to go through a mourning period of sorts, of which I have passed through and now feel confident moving forward.
The letters and comments you have shared with me have touched my heart and I am so glad I spent the past four years here. It has made a positive difference in my life, and from what you have shared, many of yours as well.
Because of that I want you to know this was not a decision I made lightly, nor quickly. It has been on my mind for nearly a year as I have searched for answers about the direction AFN should take.
That’s why I hope you will continue to follow our family on facebook as we build our house, our businesses, and live life off-grid, homeschooling our kids. While the homestead may feel stagnant in growth to me right now, I know this journey to self-sufficiency is only moving forward, and will be an exciting one.
On facebook, I will continue to share photos and updates about our family’s unique life, homestead happenings, progress on cash-building our house, opinions on events, politics, and the like, as well as our journey to financial self-reliance.
Papa and I hope that by focusing our energy on becoming financially independent that we will be able to finish our house sooner, be able to maintain our values for eating good food, using natural medicine, and buying local, and create a savings. Perhaps we will be able to establish a business that not only would support our family, but be adopted by one of our children some day!
Once our house is built, our financial pressures will be somewhat relieved, and I expect to begin gardening again. I don’t believe I can stray to far from it now that it’s in my blood!
If you have any questions about this transition, please ask! I do hope you will join us on facebook if you haven’t already, and that you will enjoy your own copy of our book once it is published.
Thank you so much for all of your support.