While on my unplanned respite from blogging, I recently ran into a Springfield Journal-Register Dave Bakke article about the Moorman family. This homeschooling family took a controversial lifestyle path.
Dave Bakke: Cost of living a simplified life? Priceless
With the economy tanking, people are cutting back on expenses. Not many of them will go as far down that road as have Don and Carey Smith Moorman.
The Moormans have no car, no furnace and no TV. They shop for groceries once a month. They grow food in their garden on their quarter-acre lot in Springfield. They homeschool their 8-year-old daughter, Kaleigh. The price of gasoline means nothing to them.
As I read the 120 comments under the article, there seem to be a few issues that bother others. Most of the comments are typically and anonymously over the top. Both Carey and Don Moorman have responded with more details to many of the criticisms in comments.
Here’s their budget, as listed in the article:
Carey and Don Moorman’s income last year:
$4,140 for work at SIU School of Medicine
$1,600 from selling Don’s plasma
$4,600 adoption subsidy
$2,200 tax refund
$900 economic stimulus check
$3,000 food stamps
$500 energy assistance
TOTAL — $16,940
The adoption supplement comes with Carey’s explanation: "The adoption subsidy is not income-dependent. It’s a subsidy to assist with adopting a child through DCFS, and we will receive it until she is 18."
The $3,000 in food stamps also comes with Carey’s explanation and hope: "Our time on welfare is a transition period for us, providing a way of dropping out of a society built on money and dropping into a society built on community."
If one views welfare as a temporary foot up during a time of work and lifestyle changes, then that appears to be how the Moormans are using it. From Carey again:
This will be the last time we receive energy assistance. In another year or two, we should be at the point where we can produce most of our own food. At that point, we will be free of welfare.
Many homeschoolers can relate to maintaining home grown food and kids.
What Carey and Don Moorman are doing and planning for their family is what I hear so often as a hope of many. That often unfulfilled dream is also frequently sprinkled throughout the comments by some dissatisfied naysayers. One example: " People have a right to work the system, but I also have to right to resent their lifestye being praised in the media."
I imagine that the Moormans would have made this happen even if food stamps weren’t available. But it does remind me of an enlightening conversation some 20 years back. It very likely was when I lost my more liberal edge of trusting The Government. My husband and I chatted with the owner of a small grocery in Kentucky’s beautiful Red River Gorge area. The good grocer talked about the changes he had seen over the years with his customers and neighbors. He said that everyone used to have huge back yard gardens where most of their produce was eaten, canned and enjoyed all year. When food stamps kicked into the area as an acceptable way to get by, his grocery inventory changed, while the Victory Gardens disappeared. There was more of a demand for Wonder bread and non-nutritious convenience foods. People gave up their home grown and home cooked food in that depressed area and their taste buds settled for overly processed products and governmental services.
The vastly reduced agrarian lifestyles since the induction of the Industrial Revolution seems to have turned a simple life on a farm into visions of unenlightened redneck hillbillies. I stopped telling the majority of my college classmates where I was from, as there were frequent questions (with apparent pre-set answers), concerning what I didn’t have not living in Chicago land. I was such a country bumpkin. (I adore Chicago, but don’t want to live there.) Following that, rural ‘needs’ are usually listed right in there with pro-governmental sorts’ long wish list for institutional service increases. But I think I’m wandering off. Maybe not.
The Moorman household expenses seem frugal.
Carey and Don Moorman’s expenses last year:
$3,600 mortgage payments
$2,400 wood stove (includes purchase price of $1,000)
$75 garbage service
$76 magazine subscriptions
$775 household supplies
$200 homeschooling supplies
$1,000 home improvement
$400 bus fare, cab rides
$100 bike repair
$200 vet/cat care
$80 stamps and postage
$250 state fair/county fair/field trips
What seems to bother many is that the Moorman’s are getting away with something in not working a 40 hour plus week outside the home….The Rat Race. Homeschoolers hear that a lot along different lines. "You DON’T have to test?" "You just sit in front of a tv and watch videos all day." "You DON’T have to report to anyone?!" A commenter (also known as racingmind) says this:
$200 on homeschool supplies (education) and the same spent on their pets . . and 3x as much on phone/internet ? uhmmm yea right
This whole story just makes my stomach churn and blood boil. They might be really nice, friendly people and have all the best intentions but this should be the method to get to that end.
Another sad problem I see here is that people think having a job is some sort of bad thing.
If you ‘work’ doing what you love, then work is a breeze. Get a job !
It seems like Moormans are doing what they love and their work is satisfying. They are volunteering their time in the community without being told to via Universal Voluntary Citizen Service. I wish the three the best in their goal of self sustenance. The article and the ensuing comments were thought provoking. I hope they were the same for others.
On a current family note, our family has been thrilled with the first 5 eggs that were gathered from our hens this past week. They are very expensive eggs with the inclusion of feed for the last 5 months, a new chicken house and chicken tractor. But the pleasure we’ve had nurturing and raising these free-range chickens still makes me say thank you out loud to the little hens as I gather their treasures. Treasures they are, with deep orange and tasty yolks. We’re grateful for what we have out here on our farm, even as we’re far from self sustaining. We could get by (with quality) by reducing our material quantities, if we ever felt that need.