Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Living the Simple Life- Part 4 WORK

Work, sometimes called a 'four letter word' because people dislike it so much, is a fundamental part of the self-sufficient or back to the land movement and philosophy. Many western societies are losing the work ethic among the younger age groups and so there's a growing divide between those who know how to work hard to achieve something and those who don't see any point in putting in any more effort than they need to. Am I calling them all lazy? By no means, but some definitely are. It's different from those who have the brains to work smarter rather than harder, that's admirable and efficient. What I dislike is the fact that so many young people are avoiding hard work at all and preferring to not work and live on the handouts of society when they're physically capable. In Canada at the moment there's a debate going on in the media about why we bring in so many migrant workers. Here in Nova Scotia where the unemployment rate is over 7% I believe we are still bringing in workers from Mexico, the Phillipines and Jamaica by the hundreds. They work lower paying jobs doing hard physical work at farms and in restaurants that frankly Canadians are either too proud or too out-of-shape to do. I guess that means you know where I stand on this whole thing. I think that if someone isn't willing to do the work then they can't complain when a farmer hires someone from overseas who is grateful for a job. I was listening to the radio last week as a farmer in New Brunswick told his story. He runs a dairy farm and needs to hire a farm manager to work 7 days a week. The pay was about $12 per hour I think and included a house and truck. He's been looking for 2 years for someone and had 4 or 5  replies but nobody suitable. So he went through the appropriate channels and found a worker from the Philippines who's experienced and really wants to work. He got his work permit and is on his way, but Canadian callers to the radio station shared their dismay at the farmer not hiring a local. This is a classic case of a job that's hard work which nobody will do.

Part of living the simple life is work. The simple life, at least at first, is going to be much more work than most of you are used to and more than you expect no matter how good your plan is. So if you have ideas of just buying a farm and sitting back in a comfy chair on the porch you are either enjoying retirement or have hired a farm manager and have lots of money in the bank. If you're not like that though then you have to expect a good amount of work and time will be invested in your farm. But it's just that, an investment. We found that the biggest drawback in renting a farm is that you put lots of time and energy into it and at the end of the day it's not yours. And while it's admirable to improve the land for someone else I still think it's better to do it for yourself.  Buying even a small place that you can call your own is a better way to go. You can always rent a field somewhere if you need more space or intensively and wisely farm your own small acreage. Amazon sells numerous books on making a profit off 1/4 acre or other small pieces of land. That's where planning and work collide. The better you get at planning then the more efficient your work will be. So plan ahead. We used our pigs last year to dig out the ground that is going to a garden this year. They loosened up some rocks for us, removed the sod and roots, turned it over and manured it at the same time. And now it's fenced too. We rotate our sheep around the pasture for several reasons. By moving them frequently we keep down the number if intestinal worms and parasites, they fertilize as they go, they eat the grass but while it's young and more nutritious, and it prevents a fire hazard of long dry grass in the late summer. Of course there was still work involved such as fencing and building a house for the pigs but once that's done then the work is minimal (unless the sheep make a hole in the fence and escape).

Work is good for you mentally and physically. One of my favourite quotes from the movie Star Trek Insurrection is this "We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man, you take something away from the man." This is from the leader of a group of people who have given up their technological lives in exchange for a simple rustic and self-sufficient village life. I'm not saying that we all need to be luddites and avoid technological advances. It's smart to use tools and resources wisely. But what I am suggesting is that there's something fundamentally good for humans to work with their hands. If you start out modestly and respect that it's going to take your body time to get used to it then you'll be less likely to strain muscles and hurt yourself. So start now getting into better physical shape if you know that this summer you're going to be gardening or splitting firewood. And pace yourself. Some jobs have to be done right now because of necessity, and some you can spread out over time such as getting the winter wood chopped and ready. Oh my back is aching just thinking about it, lol. Time to take my own advice and get moving.

1 comment:

  1. You're right about it taking lots and lots of hard work to live the "simple" life. In fact, it's not really simple at all with all of the equipment and skills involved. But it is better, for sure. I do disagree though about the farmer hiring someone from another country and I can't really believe that he looked for 2 years and didn't find anyone. Word-of-mouth alone probably would have done it. What bothered me though was that the farmer was clearly breaking the Labour Code of Canada by wanting someone to work 7 days a week with no day off. Even God's word says the 7th day is for rest (and that doesn't mean someone is lazy if they don't want to work 7 days). Studies have been done with horses who were never given time off to rest (i.e. a day without working) and the horses died. You can't mess with God's word because He's always right. It's not healthy working 7 days a week and that's why the Labour Code exists, to stop this sort of thing. The other issue I have is that $12/hour may be huge money for someone from Mexico or the Philippines, (like us making $200 K a year or something) but it's barely a living wage in Canada, and herein lies the rub. Now, in this case, if the lodging was included, that's not bad, except you still don't have a day off. What happens to your family life, etc.? Maybe this is why he couldn't find anyone. He should have split the job up into 2; 1 full-time and 1 part-time. There's always more to a story than you hear. What truly bothers me (and I'm not saying this is the case with the farmer) is that often companies pay abysmal wages even when the company is making very good profits. A friend of mine works for a company in PEI doing the same job he did in Ontario and makes HALF the money. The problem here is that the place he works for in PEI has more profits than the place in Ontario did. There's something wrong with this picture. It's called greed and many companies and their owners are hugely guilty of this in the Maritimes (and everywhere, for that matter) with the owners skimming the cream off the top and paying their employees a paltry wage. No wonder they can't find anyone. They all had to move west because they couldn't pay their bills on what was being offered. It's not laziness at all in this case. (Granted, there will always be lazy people who don't want to work but I'm not talking about them here.) Companies need to start paying a living wage with living hours. That's the problem. "The workman is worthy of his wage." 1Tim 5:18 Amen to that.