I realised something fairly monumental the other day: we have lived here on the farm for a year now! Holy smokes, I can’t believe it’s been that long (and yet not very long at all). Time sure has flown past and we have been busier here than ever before in our lives. The past year has held so many amazing moments, challenging moments, stressful moments, exhausting moments, joyous moments – tears, laughter, more tears, more laughter.
I have learned so much in the past year, I don’t even know where to begin. What immediately comes to mind is the ways in which our family rhythm has changed. We now flow with the sun & the moon and the weather. I do my laundry on sunny days. My kids tend to sleep when the sun is preparing to set, and as time passes we get farther and farther away from an established bed time. I weed the gardens during the coolest moments of the day, which is generally in the morning but sometimes in the afternoon when a cool breeze sets in, and sometimes at dusk. Our prepared foods are more seasonally appropriate, too.
I’ve learned to really go with the flow, especially with our animals. The books will tell you that if you do this, this and this, you will have more eggs, you will get more milk. But you know, our animals are not production machines and I find they are happier when they live their true nature. Sometimes that means that we don’t have many eggs, or that the milk pail isn’t very full – and that’s ok! We do our best and treat our animals well, and they are happy creatures. And most of the time, they give us an abundance of good, healthy food.
I’ve learned that much of what we thought was essential when we lived in the city, really is not. I’ve happily and joyfully hung the laundry on the line each day – who needs a dryer? Never once has laundry felt like a chore when it gets hung on the line. Instead it is a peaceful and meditative task that calms me. And who needs a lawnmower? A dishwasher? A bread machine? Who needs a television? We’ve happily gone without these things, and life is better for it.
I’ve learned that sometimes, the best thing to do on a snowy day is just stay put. Cancel plans, get the animals fed, and bunker down inside with some hot soup and lots of art supplies for the kids. We didn’t have this luxury in the city – snow or not, there were places to be and things to do, and no time to worry about the weather. I have a whole new appreciation for winter, now. This past winter certainly was much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be, but there were many wonderful aspects to it, too. I had moments of desperation in which I wondered how the heck I would feed all the animals when I had three very small children in the house and no other adults around to keep an eye on them for half an hour. Somehow I managed, and I realised that I’m stronger and more resourceful than I previously thought.
I’ve learned that there is nothing more satisfying or more delicious than producing your own food. One of my greatest joys in life is collecting eggs and gathering produce from the garden. I feel really good feeding the products of my labours to my children, watching them grow and thrive on healthful, real foods that were grown right here at home. When I read about GMO’s, or wood pulp filler in foods, E-coli and salmonella poisonings, pesticide poisoning, birth defects caused by Roundup, rising rates of obesity & diabetes and other food woes, I am so grateful that we are able to produce at least some of our own food and that I am able to provide good, nourishing meals to my children. What a blessing!
I’ve learned that sometimes I need to stop carrying the world on my shoulders and rely on others a little bit more. Jae and I have grown so much together over the past year, and I’ve learned what it means to really rely on another person. I’m impressed by how much Jae has done around here – from thatching the roof of the chicken coop to fencing in the gardens – there is no way I’d be able to do it all myself, and sometimes just having another brain to think on a problem means that the solution is so much greater.
And, of course, I’ve learned so many skills – milking a goat, trimming hooves, pitching straw, storing hay, eliminating tomato hornworms & cabbage moth caterpillars, growing a garden without needing to water, the best way to hang laundry, how to use power tools, basic carpentry, how to contain goats, how to can peaches, how to make mulberry jam, what to do with frozen eggs, how to tap maple trees & make syrup, how to hatch chicks, how to keep a baby happy while mama works in the garden (babywearing is a mama’s best friend!), spinning great yarn… and that’s the shortlist. There really is so much more.
I feel so blessed, so lucky, so full of gratitude when I think on the past year of farm life. My children have grown and thrived and we’ve all settled into country living beautifully. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!