Usually in the thick of life, I just forge ahead and crossroads moments appear in the rear view mirror, as it were. Perhaps because it is the beginning of a new year, I feel like I am standing in a decision point, trying to figure out which way to go.
The last three months have been a blur of constant rain, a rush of end of semester activities at work, and preparation for the holidays. Because money was tight, I made up for it by baking and making other treats, to keep that holiday spirit with the very few presents we were able to buy. In fact, going back to work felt like a respite! Because of the rain, everything on the farm slowed down - repairing the fence was impossible, upkeep on the animal pens was more about damage control than actual deep cleaning, and the garden was literally a washout. What survived the rain in the garden was eaten by sheep as they treated the non-functional and sagging electric fence as if it weren't there.
The fact is, my job alone is not quite enough. We slide into payday each time and any kind of variation from the monthly budget (car repairs, doctor's visits, etc) are not easy to cover. We've done a lot to mitigate this by lowering some of our utilities, trying to grow more food, cutting down on groceries that aren't the building blocks for scratch meals, getting more creative about feeding animals, etc. There are a few more places to cut in that sort of budget-level, but the squeak room there is really just a few dollars, and doesn't contribute to a more tenable, long-term situation.
I did apply for some online and local tutoring agencies and so did my currently unemployed husband. I am not having much luck, because there seem to be a glut of English tutors and my full time job has to take precedent over any other opportunity. I think my husband will have more luck, because of his skills in upper level math and science, but he will need to brush up a bit on the vocabulary, etc.
Although these steps are part of the choice of ways at the intersection I feel myself at now, the biggest decisions are about what to do with the farm in 2012. It would be stupid of me to continue to plant in the outside garden until the permanent field fence is put up between the yard and the pasture. I have been planting in the greenhouse, but it is a fairly small space so it won't be productive in a way that will really put a dent in our food bills. My husband has plans to build a bigger greenhouse, but he doesn't have any plans beyond building it - I know I can't teach, tutor, scratch cook/bake, hang laundry (takes 3 days to dry in our normal weather, so it is an all-week chore for five people), keep my small greenhouse going and handle an 800 square foot additional green house, too. I let the small greenhouse get shockingly neglected during October - December. Once I cleaned out the dead and dying and nonproductive plants, I planted more greens, more tomatoes, more peppers (probably way too many peppers in several varieties - I will be making lots of salsa), but the fact that I let it get so bad in the first place tells me that it will be difficult in the coming months. Second semester at my new school is full of extra duties for staff - and my son is graduating, which is a whole other proposition. I have financial aid forms galore to fill out, too! Even if I often make big plans, overestimating my capacity, I am trying to be more realistic.
In big dreams, I want to get a dairy animal or two (if goats). I want a huge outside garden and a productive greenhouse garden for tomatoes and peppers and greens. I want to work an extra 15 hours a week to bring in the money I need to feel secure, to handle extra expenses. I want to continue to bake all our breads, make breakfast each day for my family (instead of the increasingly expensive cereal that has been so easy for years), cook ahead on weekends so weeknights aren't so slapdash for dinners (burritos again, Mom?)
The Crossroads Decision is which one of these big dreams do I work and which several do I have to put on hold because I am one middle-aged woman who does need to sleep and to read at least one hour a day?