‘Don’t let money rule your life’

by DGO Web Administrator

I’ve been scouring Craigslist for a month to find a Tacoma. When I find one – with a manual transmission, no less! – in town at a decent price, I waste no time asking to meet up and take it for a test drive. Kale Casasanto-Zimmermann and I meet in the Bread parking lot. He wears a dirty baseball cap, has a hedge-thick beard down to his collar bone, and speaks with an unmistakable Midwestern accent. He hands me the keys, and we go for a drive. As I shift the four-banger down CR 250, Kale tells me about farming, the value of work and the importance of money. I relay his story here, in his words.

“I went back home to Michigan this summer to make some money so that I could spend the winter snowboarding, living, getting ready for next growing season. I made the most money I’ve ever made in my life. I’m 23, so that’s not saying a whole heck of a lot, but still. I’d have $800 days for a five-, six-hour shift. It was cranking. Me and another bartender. Good vibe. It’s a boat dock bar called the Red Dock. People could pull their boats up right up. It was a really fun experience, throwing drinks around, but I didn’t get along with my boss the best and blah blah blah.

I think it’s really important, especially for my generation, to gain a sense of involvement, of community. My major was environmental studies. I really enjoyed it and I liked what I learned, but it was really depressing. What I got out of my major was, “You have to become a politician and change government views and change stipends for environment causes—” It seemed insurmountable to help, to do any good. Then I started thinking that I could make my daily life small bits of good. I think it’s really important to be a steward of the land, to do hard work. It’s being lost in my generation. People do things all day long, but nothing that they can point to. That’s the big draw for me about farming. There’s something humbling about getting down and dirty. Knowing your local soil, your community.

Bartending, I was making monetary compensation that wasn’t really meaningful to me. I’d rather work really hard and feel the way that I feel after a day of farming whether I got paid a cent or not. I don’t really care about money too much. I realize that you have to have it in order to live, but I have conversations with people a lot like, “Don’t let money rule your life, and don’t blah blah blah—” My mom said to me at Christmas, “Well, you have to have money to live. You can’t say you don’t give a shit about money.” I was trying to say that I don’t think you should get caught up in the game of money; how having it makes you feel, and how material things make you feel. I think it’s more important to live for something that makes you feel good as a person. A more holistic way of living. It’s scary to me that people are walking around in front of a screen, not interacting with each other. Especially little kids. It’s pretty funny to see parents just hand their kids a screen and go, “OK, here you go. Don’t bother me.” I feel like there’s some changes going on that are separating us from how we’re supposed to feel as humans.

Ultimately, I want to be able to support myself in any way, shape, or form. Food, heating, pretty much any resource that I might need, being able to get it myself. Cutting out the middle man. Being able to get it from my local circle, or from some action that I’ve taken. Fix a truck, plow some land, build a house, you know? I’m young, so I have these big goals and dreams. What would it be like to walk into a house that’s mine, and to fix anything that goes wrong with it? But how the hell do I achieve that? Because you have to have money to do it. You have to work hard to get money to buy the land, the house, all that. So I guess you do have to give a shit about money. Eventually, I want to get to the point where I have everything I need so that I don’t have to have money anymore.”

Cyle Talley bought a truck, and is very happy about it. Email him at [email protected]

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