We bought new vehicles when we moved here 11 years ago.  I needed something to drive when I was here and Cherie’s 10-year old minivan was about to bite the dust.  For hauling and farmwork, I bought an F-150 4×4 pickup truck.  Cherie bought a Honda Pilot.  They turned out to be good choices for us.

The truck is now used almost exclusively around the farm, primarily for hauling heavy loads.  It’s pretty beat up, but still runs well.  It has a little over 100,000 miles on it.

The Pilot has been our workhorse vehicle.  Because the truck is a gas-guzzler, we use the Pilot whenever possible.  It’s been ideal for our produce deliveries and has never given us any trouble at all.  It now has well over 200,000 miles on it and is still going strong.

Considered without regard to the context of our lives, neither vehicle seems an environmentally wise choice.  That is particularly true of my truck.  But a heavy duty pickup truck is nearly essential for this life, and as much as Cherie wanted a hybrid or a smart car, neither made sense for country/farm living.  We are careful to drive as little as possible and we try to minimize our ecological footprint in as many other ways as we can.  We want to live in a less toxic world, but fuel efficiency isn’t the only relevant factor in deciding what we’ll drive.  As with so many things, there are other factors that have to be balanced in the mix as well.

I see lots of city people driving tricked-out pickups without a scratch on them.  Worse, I see them driving monstrosities like Hummers or Escalades.  I try not to be judgmental or “greener than thou,” and perhaps if I knew their life circumstances I’d see that those vehicles make sense for them, as ours do for us.  But I suspect that in most cases those vehicles are chosen not for their utility, but rather as fashion-statements.

We’re hoping our vehicles have another good 11 years in them.  But when the time comes to replace them, we’ll try to make the right decision on what to do.  Whatever other factors we end up considering, I’m pretty sure our choice won’t be intended to impress anyone.

Let Me Tell You How It Will Be

Taxes are said to be one of life’s certainties.  We’ve paid a fortune in taxes over the years, and I’m not satisfied that they were used wisely.  But as we all know, they’re not optional.

We did find a seemingly foolproof way to avoid paying income taxes. Homesteading small farmers don’t have to worry much about that one. Likewise consumption-based taxes can be greatly reduced by greatly reducing consumption. When you don’t spend much money their bite isn’t so bad.  The tax that gives us the most heartburn these days is property tax.

As someone once said, if you think you own property just stop paying your taxes. You’ll soon find out who the real owners are.

As we prepared to transition to this lifestyle we eliminated lots of expenses and made sure that going forward we wouldn’t owe anyone anything and could be as reasonably self-reliant as possible. But we must pay the government every year for the privilege of owning our farm and our property taxes keep climbing.  It’s an expense we can neither eliminate nor control.

As tempting as it is, I won’t launch into a tirade about local government.  It really doesn’t matter much whether I agree with how it raises revenue or what it does with it.  We’re required to pony up whatever they tell us to pay and no amount of complaining is going to change that.  And to be fair, some tax revenue is necessary and there will be valid objections to any method used to raise it.

But for anyone thinking of transitioning to a less-complicated lifestyle, don’t forget the taxman.