Freeman had taken riding lessons, classes in livestock management, and even raised a steer. He'd wondered for years how he could make a living working with livestock, but hadn't found a way. "I liked the cattle themselves, and I find the environment appealing," Freeman says. "The people who work with them seem to have a little more integrity than the urbanites I was hanging out with at the time."

As he researched the field, he found plenty to like. Farriers typically work for themselves, taking their services from stable to stable. Shoeing a horse usually takes one or two hours and pays from $80 to $160 in his area. More importantly, it seemed there was a need for farriers near his home in Corte Madera, California, a suburban community close to the semirural areas where people pay big money to board their horses.

He spent eight weeks learning the trade at a school for farriers, bought and outfitted his pickup, and hit the stable circuit. Besides all the fresh air, Freeman enjoys working with the animals and their owners. "It's very satisfying when you start with a horse that's a little difficult, and they get to trust you," Freeman says.

* * * * *
A Change Will
Do You Good

There are plenty of reasons why people like Freeman are getting out of high-tech and into high-touch occupations - helping, fixing, growing, creating. With the horrendous high-tech downturn of the past four years, legions of workers were pushed out of the technology industry, like it or not. According to the American Electronics Association, the high-tech sector shed more than 750,000 jobs during the last two years, while the number of sinks that need to be unplugged or meals to be served hasn't changed. But there's more than simple economics at work here.