A Day in the Life of a Small-Scale Mama Farmer

When I tell folks that I homeschool my children, keep a small farm, spin yarn, knit and crochet, and teach violin, I often get asked how in the heck I find time for everything.  Since so many people seem to want to know, here’s a snapshot of an early-Spring day in the life of this farmin’ mama (the rhythm of the day changes with the seasons – things will be so different in Summer!).

 

8am: The kids are waking, which means I am waking too if I didn’t get up earlier.  We have our morning snuggles and make our way downstairs where I get started on breakfast.

8:30-ish: Breakfast is served!  Our morning meal is usually comprised of scrambled eggs, oatmeal (the oats have been soaking for a minimum of eight hours and fermenting with a bit of kefir), or hemp seed butter and raw honey on sprouted bread.

9am: The children are fed, the table is cleared, and the littles are all wrapped up in a game or an elaborate make-believe.  Time for Mama to go do the farm chores!  I gather the goat bucket, which is full of kitchen scraps, and fill a jug with water.  Then I slip on my coat and boots and head outside to commune with the farm animals.  The dogs come out with me for their morning pee – Miss Molly prances along beside me, quite delighted to be helping me with the farm chores.  I dump the goat bucket into an old Rubbermaid tub that serves as a trough of sorts, empty my jug into the goats’ water pail, and give each goat a good-morning pat.  Then I climb up into the hay loft and throw the day’s ration of hay down into the barn, and the goats come running to devour it.  I like to take a few minutes to sit quietly and watch them as they eat; there is something so calming and peaceful about being with the goats in the barn.

Next I’m off to the chicken coop, where I make sure the feeder still has food in it and the waterer still has water.  Most of the chickens are out in the goat yard, cleaning off whatever kitchen scraps the goats left behind.  Some mornings I shovel chicken poop out into a manure container – it will be dumped into the gardens where it will enrich the soil.  Then I gather the eggs.  Although Jae made a nesting box that is mounted on the outside of the coop, with an easy-access lid that should mean just reaching in and grabbing the eggs, many of the chickens choose to lay on the second floor of the coop instead.  So I climb up on a step ladder and search around for little nests in the straw.  (Being strapped for space, we built up instead of out – the coop is two stories, but narrow, rather than one story and wide.  The birds still have just as much room per bird as they need to have, but we used only half the ground space.) Some mornings, Raina comes out with me and I lift her up to the second floor, where she gently and delicately pokes around in the straw and hands the eggs down to me.  This is by far her favourite task, and she takes great pride in being so careful that she doesn’t break an egg.

9:30-ish: Finished with the outdoor chores for now, I bring the eggs inside and wash them off.  The dogs get fed.  Robin is getting tired of whatever it was that I amused him with after breakfast and lets me know it with a piercing shriek.  We snuggle on the couch for a while, nursing and playing with each other’s fingers & hair.  I sing, or if Robin doesn’t seem to like my songs, I read the other two children a story.  We spend a bit of time together on the couch, me and the kids, just enjoying each other’s company (well… some mornings Lynden and Raina are at it, hollering back and forth about who gets to sit on which side of me, which book we’re going to read, which song I’m going to sing… but many mornings all is quiet and peaceful and calm).

10am: If I’m lucky, Robin has fallen asleep and I lay him down for a nap.  If I’m not lucky, he’s still awake and I put him in a carrier on my back.  Then I send the older two off to their playroom for a while and get started on the household chores.  I toss a load of laundry into the washing machine (one day I will hand-wash everything; this has been my goal for years) and wash the dishes.  I take last night’s diaper laundry out of the dryer and fold & organise it all, lay it on the change table shelf, and head back into the kitchen to prepare the kids a snack.

11am: The kids and I enjoy the snack, and then we move into the dining room where we get out coloured pencils, crayons, glitter glue, construction paper.  Robin nurses while I supervise craft time.  In the course of their morning play, the kids have made quite a mess in the family room, the bathroom, the living room, their bedroom… when they finish with their crafts, I attempt to get their help in cleaning up.

I fetch the laundry from the washing machine.  If the weather allows it, I hang the clothes out on the line with Robin on my back.  If the weather doesn’t allow, I toss the clothes in the dryer.

12:30pm, give or take: If Robin napped earlier, he is now happily playing on the floor.  If he didn’t nap earlier, he’s napping now.  Either way, the house is relatively tidy, my baby doesn’t need me for the moment, the kids are off playing, and I have a bit of time for spinning or knitting, or crocheting, or carding, dyeing, cross-stitching, rug-making, needle felting… whatever the project of the day happens to be.  I keep going with it until Robin wakes up or gets tired of playing, or until the kids decide they need another snack – whichever comes first (we often forgo “lunch” in favour of several healthy, raw snacks throughout the day).

2pm: We’ve played, we’ve crafted, we’ve cleaned  – we need some time outside!  If the weather is nice, we take to the Greenway, a public nature trail at the back of our property that spans the entire county.  There’s plenty of coyote poop out there this time of year, and lots of other natural treasures to discover.  Some days we trot along at a brisk pace and get a good workout.  Some days we amble along, take our time, delight in small pleasures. Some days we bring along a snack to enjoy outdoors, some days we bring nothing but ourselves.

3pm: The kids are not quite ready to come back inside, so they play in the yard while Robin and I go inside to check on the veggie seedlings.  I water them all and gaze lovingly on these little green shoots that will grow to sustain us this summer.  If the time is right, I start more seeds in trays and rearrange my grow table to make everything fit.  I sure am looking forward to putting these seedlings in the ground – only a few more weeks to go!

4pm: Robin’s diaper has been changed for the umpteenth time and the kids have come in from playing.  I read them a book, fold the laundry, and prepare a small and very light snack to keep the kids happy while I get started on dinner.

5pm: In the middle of making dinner, Robin decides that he needs to nurse RIGHT NOW.  I turn off the stove, sit on the couch, and cross my fingers that he’ll fall asleep long enough for me to finish cooking. Some nights I’m lucky and he settles into a nap.  Some nights I’m not so lucky and Robin remains wide awake, and I wear him on my back while I finish making dinner (I love babywearing, but dang! Robin is a big, solid baby weighing in at 25lbs, at least – my back aches by the time I’m finished at the stove).

6:15-ish: Jae is home this evening and our family gathers at the dining table.  I sing a blessing on our food, thank Mother Earth for all She has provided us, and we take our turns telling what we are thankful for today. Dinner is always made from scratch from fresh, whole foods.  I’ve been trying to stick to recipes that I will someday be able to make entirely with homegrown ingredients.

After dinner, Jae rough-houses with the kids and gets them all wound up.  They laugh, they squeal, and they wear themselves out.  Jae gets the older two kids off to bed, while I lay down with Robin.  If I’m lucky, he’ll fall asleep easily and I’ll have a little bit of time for more crafting or reading a book.  If I’m not so lucky, he’ll wake up repeatedly until I give up on having some time to myself and head off to bed for the night.

So there you have it, a typical Spring day.  I’m thinking I’ll have to write another “Day in the Life” in early Summer when things are really busy around here – goat milking, gardening, chicks & ducklings – we’re only just starting to come out of our Winter hibernation!

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