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Today I want to share a little bit about life our on the homestead. I don’t talk a whole lot about it, but now, maybe more than ever, people are looking to the “homesteading” way of life with curiosity.
Maybe it’s out of fear that the stores are running out of food, or maybe it’s because they’ve been forced to stay home, and they want their home to be a productive place.
With gardens, fresh eggs, and fruit trees.
If that’s you, I’m right there with ya.
Two and a half years ago we were living in a big suburban house. It had two stories, a nice big backyard and neighbors we could wave to as we did our yard work.
We had garage sales in the summer, and we could even walk to my sister’s house a block away. It was a good life.
But there was a problem. Our house was too big. When we bought it, we only had one kid. And there were 5 bedrooms. Within the first year of being there, our second daughter was born, but the house still just felt huge.
I also had this feeling about it that really bothered me.
I felt like I needed to buy more things…just to fill the house. Because…I mean…we had the space, and a giant empty wall would look a lot better with a mirror on it, and a couch underneath…ya know?
But I didn’t like that feeling. Because deep down I’m a minimialist. Well, I think I’m a minimalist with hoarder tendencies. If that makes any sense (I’m sure it doesn’t).
I know that things don’t bring joy, but in that house, I started to think “if I only had ______, this house would feel more like home”.
But it didn’t happen.
On top of that, we really wanted to be homesteaders, and when we seriously looked at getting goats, we got really excited about getting a pig or two, too. We even plotted out a way to turn our quarter-acre suburban yard into a mini-farm.
But, while our neighbors were accepting of our chickens, I’m pretty sure they didn’t move to the suburbs to walk out to their deck and get the stench of farm. Plus, I’m not sure the city would have allowed it either.
So we started looking for a new place to live.
And we found this place. We downsized our house (lost about 1,000 square feet) and up-sized the land (gained about 4.75 acres).
Now we live on a 5-acre “farm” (as we affectionately call it), although it’s really just five acres of fields, fruit trees, and some run-down 80 year old barns. If you’re picturing one of those beautiful, perfectly manicured homesteads, that’s not us.
It might be our neighbor though.
The “big barn” which is actually quite massive for a five acre piece of land is kind of falling down the hill. Meaning…the lower side is collapsing. The wood is eroding, and the bottom corner doesn’t look good.
To remedy this situation, the people before us got about 10-15 winches and connected them to each side of the barn. They’re what’s keeping the barn upright. Oh, and there’s one that’s attached to the nearest tree.
At first we walked a little apprehensively in and around the barn, but then our neighbors told us it’s been like that for 30 years, so now we just think it’s “normal”.
This spring has been an exciting one here on the farm. We’ve got six new baby goats who have all been born in the last month. That just about doubles our herd size right there, so we’ll have some tough decisions to make in the coming months.
Which goats do we keep? Which do we re-home? It’s a tough choice to make, especially when your human kids have bonded to the babies like this:
Hopefully this year we’ll be able to make plenty of goat cheese, goat yogurt, and other goat-milk products from our farm fresh goat milk. I often get strange looks when I tell people I’ve milked a goat. Apparently it’s not too common!
The other day I looked up in the cedar tree right outside our house and saw a full sized racoon staring down at me. It looked like it had made a nice nest where the two big branches split off from the main trunk.
The raccoon just stared at me. And stared. And stared. Kinda creepy.
Our giant dog, Capo, was sitting inside the fence (where the tree is) and I was on the outside in the driveway. I’m an Enneagram 6, so of course the first thing I do is think through what I’m going to do if that racoon jumps down and attacks me.
I came to the conclusion that I’d try to jump inside the fence and *hope* that our giant dog (who still acts more like a puppy than a guard dog) would be able to focus more on defending its loving owner than the idea of jumping all over me just for fun (as he
sometimes usually likes to do).
If you have ever trained a livestock guardian dog, email me. Seriously.
But, alas, no raccoon attack happened that day (thankfully). I haven’t seen it since, but every time I walk by the cedar tree I look up…half-way hoping to see it and say “hi”, half way terrified I’m going to look up to the underside of an attacking raccoon.
Yeah, that’s how my brain works. All. the. time.
With everything going on in the world, and with social distancing in place, I’ve never been more thankful to live where we do.
Our kids can still run around outside, swing on our swings, visit the baby goats, and play in the dirt. Life for them isn’t too different.
My husband and I can still go for walks/runs up and down our ridiculously long driveway and easily avoid contact with people.
I’m aware that this is a blessing and that so many people are stuck inside a tiny space with nowhere to roam. If that’s you, I’m praying that you find some space to stretch your legs, and and you’re able to experience joy in your possibly overcrowded home.
- Practicing gratitude – Every morning as part of my morning routine I write down 5 things I’m grateful for. This seems to really make a difference in my attitude throughout the day. I recognize more blessings to be grateful for.
- Routine – We’ve got a pretty solid routine going. We do “nap” time for the kids every day which is really more of a “give-mommy-a-break” time. It’s a couple hours where the kids can sleep or play quietly in their rooms. Also, I’m back to waking up a couple hours before the kids, and let me just tell you…it’s awesome.
- Virtual connections – We’re fully immersed in video calls, Marco Polo messages, and Zoom “story times” with family. It’s keeping us connected, without being in the same physical space. Thank-you technology!
- Intentional time at home – We’ve started asking the kids funny “Would you rather” questions at dinner time, and they’re loving it. Our favorite so far is…”Would you rather have melted cheese on your face or guacamole in your shoe?” The kids are old enough that they actually understand the questions and can take part in the dinner table conversation. It’s a highlight of the day.
- Hugs from family and friends – There’s something comforting about an actual human-to-human hug, don’t ya think? I miss that.
- My oldest daughter’s pre-school – She’s five now and probably thinks that this kind of sickness just happens sometimes. But she misses her friends and her teachers dearly, and often talks about playing with them “when the sickness is over”.
- Church physical gatherings – We’ve been watching some of the Sunday virtual services, but it’s not quite the same.
- Babysitting services from the grandmas – Long gone are the days when I can just drop the kids at my moms, or have their Mor Mor come watch them (I know I was spoiled). We’re adjusting though, and we’re adding a few more movies into the rotation when mommy needs a break. The sunny days help too. We even brought out the pool last week (in the balmy 75 degree weather).
- Freezer meals – I’ve been trying out freezer cooking, and am thoroughly enjoying spending less time cooking dinner each and every night. Stay tuned for some healthy & delicious freezer meal recipes coming to the blog in the near future.
- Chocolate peanut butter cups (homemade & absolutely delicious). This is my treat. Well…one of them.
- Spiced hot cocoa (with two scoops of my favorite collagen and maca powder).
- Local meat – We have our homegrown pork in the freezer, and some beef from a farm near us. If you’re struggling to find meat, or are worried about it, check in with your local farmers to see if they have meat for sale. Check Local Harvest to find farms near you.
A little humor goes a long way
We were eating dinner the other day with the typical food battles and negotiations. One of these days, I swear, my kids will eat their vegetables without complaint. Someday…
But that day is not here yet. So dinner time is often a struggle. So there we were, in the middle of a negotiation, trying to convince them to eat more vegetables. Or at least some vegetables.
They were already pretty excited about the tortillas, guacamole and cheese. But mommy thought some vegetables would be good for them, too.
Mid-way through my incredibly convincing argument (I’m sure) my youngest daughter mumbles, “I wish cheese was a vegetable.”
Don’t we all, little girl. Don’t we all…
I’m trying my hardest in these uncertain times to laugh as much as possible, dance more than usual, and cherish these moments we have together in our small house on five acres.
How have you been handling quarantine/social distancing? Leave a comment below with what’s working and what you’re missing. I’d love to hear your stories.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Wanna continue the conversation? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear more about you and what your life is like right now.