Farm life and Semi-ER

Where are you and where are you going?
horsewoman
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Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Oh well, I just got a call that a musician friend of mine is hospitalized with covid-19. So maybe my cough is not quite so mysterious since I had a 3-hour rehearsal with my friend 12 days ago. I'm pretty nervous now because my brother was at the same meeting. I've talked to him on the phone earlier and he is fine. Good thing I learned this only now since the 14 day period is over soon with no symptoms showing in my brother, less time to worry. Best case scenario is he got infected with no problems and is now immune. Since the testing capacities are maxed out in Germany it will be difficult to get tested... I also worry about my friend, he is nearly 60. Those poor Italians, where family members dying left and right.
I was talking to DH earlier that the Italian health system will be in shambles after this virus has burned out - all those nurses and doctors must be suffering from PTSD, just imagine having to decide whom to save and whom to let die, on top of being mentally and physically drained. And it looks like things might get this bad in all of Europe.

RoamingFrancis
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Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Reading your journal and wishing you the best.

I have relatives in rural Bavaria; when I read about your farm I think about them. Aber leider kann ich gar kein Bayerisch, nur Hochdeutsch :)

horsewoman
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Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Thank you @RoamingFrancis! Yeah, Bavarian is tricky like most German dialects. I sing in Bavarian and I have been asked to provide German subtitles for videos because my non-Bavarian friends and listeners don't understand it. But I suppose this is the same with any language! I tried to listen to a podcast made in Newcastle, England - I did not understand much at all, even though my listening comprehension in English is pretty good.

chenda
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Location: Nether Wallop

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by chenda »

I love reading your journal horsewomen. I'd like to travel in Bavaria soon, as I grew up with Brothers Grimm stories and like all things German and rustic. (And also have a slightly morbid fascination with the Hinterkaifeck murders :o )

RoamingFrancis
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Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by RoamingFrancis »

I'd love to learn a dialect because frankly they all sound nicer than Hochdeutsch. I like Plattdeutsch a lot - I have some cousins that speak it. I really like Hannes Wader's Plattdeutsche Lieder too. And Hannes Wader in general :)

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Thanks for reading and commenting @chenda! I'm glad someone enjoys my rambling :)

Today we got some work in with the garden. DH put a few loading shovels of horse manure into the new sunk bed, the raised bed and in my herb tub. Tomorrow we will cover it with compost. I shudder to think how back-breaking this must be without a tractor! Even with our huge font loader, we cannot reach in all corners of our sunk bed, so we need to move some manure and compost manually. Hard work, let me tell you! When DH spent €25.000 on this (used) tractor a few years ago I was not sure that it was justified for our situation, but oh boy has this machine helped us a lot since then. Transporting large hay bales, compost, wood, horse poop; it makes felling trees safer because of the winch, schlepps the trees out of the wood, powers the wood splitter and transports the firewood in the shed. I rakes, fertilizes and mulchs our pasture, and it powers a huge concrete mixer - which we used a lot when we fixed up our farm, and now we plan to use it to mix dirt and compost. There is probably plenty of other useful stuff DH gets up to with his tractor which I don't remember or rather take for granted these days. Or would like to forget, like moving dead horses, but this is part of farm life as well, unfortunately. 25.000 was a lot of money a few years after buying the farm, but it was money well spend. Most people spend this much on a regular car, which has only one use! Crazy!

We have a pretty cold spell with ground frost at night so there is no planting outside yet. I have some beans and peas sprouting on my windowsills to get a head start. Since DH works in a nursery we do not need to start a lot of seeds, he can take home discarded seedlings that are leftover there.

Other than gardening we spend a lot of time with our horses. My youngster is at a difficult stage right now and needs a lot of attention. He is a thoroughbred and those guys are veritable workhorses, either you put them to work or they will drive you crazy with their pent-up energy. That he is a moody and often recalcitrant teenager does not make it easier, but we like the challenge. Raising and training a horse from a young age is very demanding but also gratifying if you have the temperament for it. Once they get around 10 years old they settle down and you reap the rewards of all the sweat and tears of the years before.

Our daughter takes very well to temporary homeschooling so far. This is usually not legal in Germany so it is an interesting experiment for us. I definitely would have tried the homeschooling route if it was allowed, I read a lot about homeschooling and unschooling and I'm very sad that Germany has such strict laws about mandatory attendance at school. Maybe this crisis shakes up a few rules here, who knows. But even if the laws were changed DD would probably like to stay in her Montessori school until she graduates. It is expensive but as long as she's happy I'll gladly pay for the school.

My hospitalized friend is still feeling rather poorly with high fevers and pneumonia, but I'm sure he'll pull through. All in all, I feel more positive compared to last week. I'll go back to the tailor shop next week, people are ordering fabric masks like crazy, which is good for the shop because all other business went down considerably. Crazy times...

horsewoman
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Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Let the mask frenzy begin! German politicians have been hinting that obligatory mask wearing will come, so people start to reach out to me if I can sew cotton masks for them, plus the tailor shop still has plenty of orders for masks. My sewing room has been a bit neglected in the last few years, so I put everything in order, optimizing placement of machines and tables to get a good workflow for mask production and doing basic maintenance on my machines. The first batch of masks is on its way to my parents and siblings. I'm curious how this will turn out, there was an article last week in our local paper of a tailor shop being overrun by people wanting to buy masks. Not having a shop front is probably an advantage right now :)

The garden is starting to pick up as well. The humus is in the beds, onions and garlic is planted, the beans are sprouted and moved outside, and there are plenty of cucumber and tomato seedlings on our window sills. I'm very grateful for having so much space, apart from some boredom on our daughters part we are very little impacted by the lock-down.

The situation with the virus is confirms to me that our semi-ER lifestyle is pretty robust. Both of our PT-jobs are secure, and even if one of us got laid off due to recession, it would be not difficult to find another PT-job if one is not picky (we are not). Plus, we could tide ourselves over quite a while on one PT income without too much hassle.
It strikes me as kind of funny that being a seamstress is bringing so much work my way right now - everyone warned me not to learn that trade 25 years ago because it had no future. Today the German government is giving cheap loans to companies who want to change their production to making masks and protective gear, since it has been driven home very hard that outsourcing and globalization has some downsides in a crisis. There used to be 2 sewing factories in our rural district, both of them closed down in the 1990s - the machines were sold off and seamstresses were no longer trained. Sewing is no rocket science, but I know plenty of accomplished hobby seamstresses and I see key differences in how they work compared to me. The resulting garment might look the same, but churning out larger amounts of quality pieces in a short time requires a certain workflow and industrial equipment - which not many people possess or can operate properly. Nevertheless, it is lucky that sewing has experienced such a renaissance in the last few years, so that there are at least plenty of laymen seamstresses to fill the gaps.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by classical_Liberal »

You started making masks after you said you didn't want to in AxelHyest's journal. Tisk, tisk horsewoman! I suppose it's OK if you're just doing your part, but if it's for money and you didn't want to do it, minus 2 semi-ERE points. :)

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

No lost points for me yet :) I'm nobly doing my part, apart from my neighbours, who wouldn't take the masks without pressing a small fee on me, I gave plenty of them away for free.

It is of course different in the tailor shop, I'm being paid to work there, but this was a part of my diversified income stream before covid. Phew!

To be serious, it was never in question that I would make masks if they are needed. I have the skills and the equipment, so I could not not do my part.
The tempting part is to reactivate my shop and sell masks in style, because I could. And because making money is nice. But I don't want it to take over my life, and once I made an official business out of it I will start to think in terms of profitability - and this takes all the joy out. This is the downside of having an commercial education, I suppose!

classical_Liberal
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by classical_Liberal »

I really can't call you out anyway because I extended my nursing contract for an extra couple of weeks to help out with COVID. I really didn't want to, and I certainly don't need more money right now. So, I guess we can both "do our part" without any semi-ERE shaming.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Nevertheless, it is important to be aware. We are all recovering consumers reared in capitalism, so it is easy to relapse if easy money beckons :)

There is another facet to making and giving away masks that complicates things. I've noticed that people are very uncomfortable with taking stuff for free. So I settled it with myself that I will either barter something for the masks or charge a small fee to cover my costs. That way people don't feel bad and I can easily say no if I get swamped or fed up with sewing, since I don't actually sell goods.

Frita
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Frita »

Good thing you learned the seamstress trade despite the discouragement! It sounds like your masks are in demand.

Isn’t it interesting how money complicates things? I wonder if wanting more, especially during unprecedented events, is more genetic. Hoarding, and in some cultures sharing, has kept people alive. What is the reason that consumerism become the norm? Ease? Power dynamics?

Free is definitely a gray area. It can be used to manipulate like a free sample of cheese at the farmers’ market and then feeling that one must buy some $13/pound organic cheddar. Accepting free can also signal status, such as being a dirtbag accepting others’ castoffs or a privileged environmentalist who eschews new items. Free also can imply a trade of sorts, either bartering or owing someone or paying it forward. Sometimes free means the item or service isn’t as good or can invite poor treatment of the giver (I am thinking Freecycle no-shows and rude Couchsurfers.). And sometimes free is the start of a great friendship, an awesome experience, learning something, or personally transformative.

It can hard to negotiate between parties what free means, depending where folks are functioning (the difference between Wheaten levels) and the lower-level person seems to pull the other down if the difference is too great. Are you finding that it is easier to charge the small fee or barter?

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@frita - actually I try to keep it easy in regard to the masks, since I don't sell them I don't advertise at all. Only right now a lot of my acquaintances remember that I happen to be a seamstress :)
Bartering seems to work, I'll trade masks with my sister-in-law (a hairdresser, who needs quite a few for her employees) for a professional haircut for my daughter and me. Usually we cut each other's hair at home, so this will be a treat for us! A friend gave me some home-made jam in exchange, which I always enjoy. It is actually quite fun to think up stuff and services to trade.
A school friend of mine prefers to pay me money for the masks, so I guess I will really assess it by case.

Since we're on the topic of free stuff, we scored a hit this week with free furniture. I've put out word that we were looking for a used large sofa a few months ago. We have been using an iron wrought daybed instead of a sofa for a few years, but it was never a good fit. Way too small and the iron was really uncomfortable to lean against. But since we typically spend little time on sofas in general it was not a pressing concern to replace it. Now with a teenager it gets more important to make the downstairs more attractive - at least she is with us while staring at her device ;)
A few days ago my office mate connected me with her neighbour, who wanted to get rid of their sofa. It will never cease to amaze me why one would buy a new sofa if the "old" one is hardly used and obviously not even 3 years old. There is a rip in one of the seat cushions that has been somewhat badly mended, but with a blanket over this spot the sofa looks like fresh out of the store. One man's trash is another ones treasure! A further plus was that they live pretty close, so we could go over there with the tractor to pick it up, no hassle to borrow a trailer.
We are pretty happy with our new living room arrangement and have been joking that we have now a sofa like "normal people".

Frita
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Frita »

Bartering sounds like it works out well. Treats like professional haircuts (My teen has never had one as we are also a DIY family.) and homemade jams sound terrific. After your positive experiences, do you see yourself bartering more?

Score on the free couch! At least where we live, some people seem to view furnishings (and other things, to include people) as disposable. When in the wear-things-out camp, it can be mind boggling why people get rid of such good items. Personally, I appreciate used and slightly imperfect items because I don’t have to worry about damage.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

The ongoing discussions about the virus and the pros and cons of lock downs etc are rendering me pretty silent these days here on the forum. I want to participate and often start to reply but don't post in the end.
The issue is so clear in my head but I start to wonder if I'm naive or stupid for thinking that this whole mess was unavoidable because of the way the global society has been living in in the last few decades.

The economy is suffering, yes. It should have been very clear to anyone who cares that the economy as it was is destroying our planet so maybe it is a good thing that it is finally suffering?
Does this sound callous, considering that the livelihood of do many people depends on this economy? Probably, this is another reason that keeps me mostly silent.
Neoliberalism has turned most western societies into debt laden consumerist monstrosities and the people in it to mindless consumers. We are all of us entitled little shits used to a level of wealth that is perverse. You have access to clean water food, and the Internet? Congratulations, you are rich compared to a large part of humans living on this earth. Will we loose a lot of our wealth if "the economy" is hurt? Yes, probably. But it would pay to remember how our grandparents used to live, so what we consider "normal" has been going on for a very short period only.

Consumerism has turned us into helpless idiots, highly specialised but unable to care for ourselves. Got a problem? Throw money on it. No need to use problem solving skills, and guess what - those are dwindling pretty fast if not used, (practical) knowledge gets lost if one generation skips teaching it to the next. Re-skilling oneself takes effort and lots of time - time that is not easily available if one works 40+ hours a week for a salary, earning enough money to participate in what is considered a normal life these days.

The economy is the vehicle that locks people into jobs with ever increasing demands on time and energy with sinking real wages, all so that a few can make profits. Im not a politician and my opinions have zero influence on what will be happening,now or ever. So I'd rather use my energy and brain power to make my own situation more resilient for what will be the unavoidable consequences of human behaviour in the last decades.

On an individual level, it all comes down to how much slack you have built in you systems, doesn't it? I notice that all of us here who have been focusing hard on the expense lowering side of ERE are pretty relaxed right now.
Remember the renaissance/salary man/business man/working man quadrant in the book? It seems to me that we are heading towards a renaissance age again, considering that the salary man (and to some extent the business man as well) is neither resilient nor sustainable. The only thing in nature that shows perpetual growth is cancer...

There is a thread "what do you hope we are learning from covid?" I hope that we will get all more humble and grateful for what we have, instead of always longing for more.

Another post I spent an hour writing and now I'm not sure about pressing "submit". What's the point?

ETA to end on a less depressed note - this whole situation reminds me strongly of fighting with my teenager about tablet/smartphone use :)

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Alice_AU
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Alice_AU »

You are so right...
I also couldn't post on the forum, because anything I thought of posting, good or bad, makes me look at myself like I'm this 'entitled little shit'.

Alphaville
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Alphaville »

horsewoman wrote:
Sun May 03, 2020 1:38 am
Another post I spent an hour writing and now I'm not sure about pressing "submit". What's the point?
Would a “thanks for writing this” work? 🙏

7Wannabe5
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Clearly, I also thoroughly agree with your take. The 1890s are calling, time to give them back their economic theories which aren’t even internally consistent mathematically. I am kind of shocked how this crisis is bringing out that neoclassical take on capitalism really is like a religion for some people. Same old chants with no sense of context.

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TheWanderingScholar
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by TheWanderingScholar »

Yeah, don't worry you are not alone.

It is crazy how COVID-19 thread essentially devolved into a politics thread about something none of us can affect. Honestly reminds of reddit, which is not what I expected to find here. Wasn't the ERE movement focused on becoming less beholden to the economic system ultimately? Beyond the 4% rule for retirement savings.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by classical_Liberal »

@Horsewoman

I tend to share your view as well, but with more empathy or even sympathy. Maybe because I was raised and lived this "helpless" life up until my early 30's.

It's not that people make a specific, conscious choice to join the ranks of consumer class. In the same way most people don't make a specific, conscious choices to get married and have kids. It's just the way things are, so they go with it... If that makes any sense. Most people just aren't exposed to alternatives to the consumer culture. They don't see themselves as fragile or unskilled, they see themselves as normal people. Which, really, is what they are. You and I are the outliers. I'm not saying that makes it right, just staying that most people have been raised and indoctrinated in a culture that encourages specialization and reliance on others for everything else.

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