Since setting up an analytic program to track traffic to our Website, I’ve been snooping around a bit to see who’s linking to the site, and why. Recently, I found a link in a homesteading forum. The comments were interesting, and gratifyingly complimentary in most cases, but one less-than-flattering phrase caught my attention: someone who knew Haines said that there are a lot of “trust fund hippies” in the area. I don’t know if he assumed we fell into that category, but if so, ouch!
I’m okay with being called a hippie. I’m old enough to remember the original hippies, so I’ve never considered myself one, but the label fits many of our neighbors, and, in many people’s eyes, us as well, I suppose. As for the trust fund part, while there are surely such people in town, none of them live in this neighborhood. Nor does anyone in the neighborhood draw welfare, as I’ve heard said. All my neighbors have jobs! We’re about the only family that doesn’t have regular (in some cases seasonal, but still regular) employment.
A lot of people ask us how we get by here, especially financially. Would that we did have a trust fund to rely on! Mostly, we’ve survived the almost 5 years of living on the homestead by relying on our savings from years of work in the “real world.” We also managed to sell our Juneau home for more than we paid for the land here. That has been invested modestly, but slowly erodes as time passes. Yearly PFDs help. We earn some from freelance Web work through my small independent publishing company, and occasional odd jobs.
The rest is “micro-incomes.” I earn a bit processing orders for my brother’s sailboat designs. All other family funds come from “passive” sources: orders of my short story collection, associate income from orders made through our Book List page, affiliate income from ads that appear on our Web pages, and a few other online revenue streams. This is why I try to mention my book as much as possible—I figure I need to sell 30,000 copies if I’m going to send Aly to college!
So, in a very real way, your interest in reading this blog helps keep us afloat financially. And for that, we are grateful! Every book you buy, every link you explore, helps us survive.
The real key, as you might imagine, is not making money, but carefully using what little we have, while maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. We couldn’t live this way if we accrued or carried debt, or had to buy the amount of food we garden, forage, hunt, and fish each year. It’s not a very secure way to live, but the risk, so far, has been worth it.
But, a trust fund certainly wouldn’t hurt . . . .