But I love it! And I’m learning so much.
I quit my job three months ago to stay home with my kiddos – Little Monster, almost 3 years old, and Little Miss, 11 months old – and to ‘farm,’ whatever that means. I loved my job as a secretary in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, but when I returned to work when Little Miss was 11 weeks old it completely disrupted her cycle and she started waking an average of six times a night. I wasn’t able to do my job well. All I could think about was the time that I was missing watching them grow. I had bonded with them so deeply during my maternity leave and we had just started to create a routine. We had plans for our land and we could hardly keep up with day to day life let alone expanding our homestead. I felt like I was being called to stay home and farm. Which is crazy talk because I used to think I had to balance a career and family, and I used to poke fun at the county school kids in high school! (“JF has the fastest cross country runners in the region because they’re busy chasing cows all day!” True story.) But I couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Over the last three months, I have gotten to know the girls on a more personal level. I have watched them learn and discover the world around them. And I have watched them get mad and frustrated when they don’t get their way or something doesn’t work out the way they expected. I try to be patient during those times, but I did mention I have no idea what I’m doing! I want to be the best mom I can be for these girls, and I’m learning. I am a work in progress.
This city girl is also learning about farming. Our house sits on 10 acres and my new job, in addition to taking care of the girls, is to start the homestead. We’ve had rabbits for a year already – New Zealand Whites, mostly. We didn’t breed as often as we should have last winter, but still we’ve enjoyed about one meal a week from them. They had been mainly Hubby’s responsibility, but I have taken over their care and I’m learning their individual personalities.
Shortly after I quit work, we went in on a pig venture with our new neighbor. We have five pigs who live in a pen on our shared fence line – Beulah and Snowball, our Yorkshire sows; Hamish, our Duroq/Berkshire breeder boy; and Bacon and Sausage, two mutts who will grow to provide good food, like bacon and sausage! We got them all at about 8 weeks old and the girls and I take care of them daily. The pigs are great. I am constantly amazed at how quickly they grow and how smart they are.
Our other neighbors lease our pasture for their cows to graze, so we have gotten to know the herd quite well on our twice daily walks to the pigs. It’s funny because I used to be fairly afraid of them because of how big they are. Now I’m getting to know them and many of them let us pet their heads as we walk through the herd. Number 116 is very curious but doesn’t like to be touched. Number 55 will walk right up for a pet.
Our next big venture is dairy goats. In just a few weeks, once fencing is complete and they have an enclosure to protect from the sun, rain, and coyotes, we’ll be getting a couple of Nubian does to provide fresh milk for our family. We discovered that although Little Miss is allergic to cow’s milk, she can tolerate goat’s milk. And I’ve always wanted goats, so it was the perfect excuse! I have already learned a lot about fencing – how NOT to tamp dirt around new fence posts and then the proper way to do it. I completed my first little construction project and built a milk stand for them. All by myself. And how to entertain the girls while I work as well as their limits. A mud hole can provide a good hour of fun on a hot day!
The garden has struggled through the summer. It’s just too hot for anything to grow, aside from sweet potatoes (we’ll see what happens with those) but I am gearing up for my next planting and just put some beans in the ground. I should be doing lots of planting over the coming weeks. Here’s hoping my black thumb can turn green! We’re raising so much of our meat now I need to get some good veggies coming into the house too. Hubby created an amazing garden space for us for my Christmas present last year, but now I need to do my part and make stuff grow. No pressure!
Back on the homefront, I’ve taken over meal planning, grocery shopping, cleaning, reorganizing, purging, etc. It took a couple months, but we’ve settled into a nice routine. Mondays are clean up and catch up from the weekend/prepare for the week ahead, Tuesdays are grocery shopping days and any other errands in town, Wednesdays are baking days, Thursdays are Bible Study mornings when we meet and maybe another errand or visit a friend, Fridays are filled with clean up and getting ready for a relaxing weekend. Then there’s the weekends when I try not to do too much of my work but just support and help the hubby with whatever he’s trying to get accomplished, and relax. The routine is very flexible and subject to change, but it seems to be working well for us so far.
Taking care of two small children, caring for pigs, herding cows, gardening, housekeeping… This is a whole new adventure. I had dreamed about reconnecting with the land, getting away from the rat race of everyday life, and I am doing just that. I’m learning so much – what to do and what not to do. I can’t imagine a better place to be right now.