Ever since I can remember, I have always thought of how much fun it would be to move out to the country and have some animals and quit being a full-time consumer and be self-sustainable and self-reliant and self-preserved and all that stuff, and I have worked very hard for the last few years to move toward that goal.
I started out my research into the life of a hobby farmer the way anyone would–I drew on my vast experience reading Jane Austen novels, because, you know, they all live in the country. Plus, I am a lot like Mrs. Jennings (see previous post).
I then graduated to watching Jane Austen movies and other BBC period dramas. I also moved out to the country and lived in a beautiful, beautiful home with 10 acres of pasture and neighbors who had horses. And cows. I was on my way. I even planted a garden that yielded three zucchini and about 20 teensy, cute potatoes.
I was moving right along toward my dream. I went organic. I wanted to live sustainably. I baked my own bread, and then got a bread machine, because my attempts at real, homemade bread were disastrous. Finally, I just resorted to becoming friends with people who could make bread, and who would take pity on me and bring it to me in exchange for me being able to make them feel vastly superior and accomplished.
I spent $500 on the wrong kind of gravel for the horses to rest their hooves in. I found a horrible farrier that nearly killed our Arabian and who charged me outrageously. I then found a great farrier who was furious at what the old farrier had done. I learned how to fix founder and make beet mash. I bought 25 gallons of sticky molasses for the beet mash, not realizing it came in powdered form at the IFA. I bought ridiculously overpriced hay. I now know what a colicky horse looks like and what to do to save it.
My husband learned how to pay the vet.
I worked some land that in the late summer (when we first started renting it), looked like paradise, but in spring turned into a marshy quagmire of mucky goo and naturally produced six trillion giant, bloodsucking mosquitoes.
Marshy Water Is Not Supposed To Be Here
I gardened some more with my daughter, who actually could make things grow. I bought fly traps and bug repellant.
I lost an apricot and cherry tree to some weird disease that made the bark ooze strange, icky, sticky liquid from the trunks.
I was singlehandedly responsible for the untimely demise of several chickens and ducklings.
The Ones That Lived
I moved to another home with 5 acres and neighbors who own goats and roosters.
Did you know that some roosters crow every 10 minutes from about 1 am until noon?
I discovered that goats stink and cow poop is really gross.
In short, I was living the dream.
I still have my horses, and I still live in the country, and I love it.
My Daughter At The Rodeo
But, you know what? I am just not that talented.
I can’t bake bread.
My attempts at gardening would not sustain my family for five weeks, let alone a whole winter.
Canning makes me want to swear, and I don’t like it. Also, I don’t really want to swear and then have to repent.
Grape vines are a natural habitat for wasps, and I don’t like wasps.
I cry when my fruit trees get sick. I can’t stand it. It just breaks my heart.
I don’t like poo.
I am not brave and I can’t just let my toddlers wander around the property while I try to move five tons of manure with a tractor.
I don’t have the focus or ability to be pregnant, homeschool, raise toddlers, and milk goats while holding my breath so I don’t vomit at the smell of them.
When my husband is home from work, I don’t want him outside for six hours on a tractor or making giant bonfires. I actually want to see him sometimes.
So, what am I going to do?
Well, I’ll tell you right now that in the event of an emergency, I would be the first to pass out. I am not a survivor. I am not self-reliant, self-sustaining, or self-sufficient.
I am a horrible homemaker, even though it’s “in” to bake cupcakes and have homemade bread. Besides, even just driving by Jo-Ann Fabrics terrifies me. I am so scared in there. It’s this big, mysterious place full of material that seems far too expensive for me to ruin. Also, it’s not a place for children. Children + Jo-Ann Fabrics = Chaos. And crying.
My homemaking skills end at being able to buy a cute, trendy retro apron from Etsy.
I have few, if any, ethically marketable talents. (I am great at getting pregnant, but that’s not ethically marketable). I have absolutely nothing to offer to a community co-op.
I must shamefully admit that I am a consumer. I can’t help it. When things go wrong, I buy stuff.
When I can’t keep up with the housecleaning, I call the maid service or burn scented candles that I did not make myself.
When I am too lazy to put the bread machine mix into the bread machine, my kids eat bread I bought at the organic health food store.
When I realize that building a chicken coop is too hard for my 7 month pregnant self, I buy a ridiculously overpriced one because it’s cute and it looks like a barn!
When I want to eat meat, I prefer to find someone else who has done all the hard work and buy it from them, already dead and in packages and cut up so it doesn’t resemble the actual animal from whence it came.
I guess I could feel horrible about everything. After all, it’s constantly humbling to live in a community full of self-reliant, self-sufficient milkers of goats, raisers of cows, plowers of fields, and makers of homes knowing that I am the one on whom they should all take pity…of course, I am the first person to admit that I am always in need of a good, strong dose of humility and I really, really adore my neighbors. And their livestock. Including the rooster.
They are all amazing, and I love to take advantage of their bread making, goat raising, egg laying, tractor driving abilities.
It’s just sometimes I feel like, “You know, what do I have to offer to these amazing people who are so much more gifted than I am? Aside from “opportunities for service?”
I have realized that my dream involves pregnancy without morning sickness or bedrest, unfailing energy, animals that don’t poop, roosters that only crow once at 9:30 am for the ambience, goats that don’t stink, bread that always rises, and children that never get hurt. In short, my dream is for something that does not exist on this planet. So, I am going to take it as I sign that I am just trying to be more…heavenly. After all, C.S. Lewis once said:
If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.
Until I make it (if I ever do!) to that world where animals don’t poop and goats smell like lavender, I think I’ll limit my “farming” to children, waterfowl, and maybe some vegetables.
And, I’ll limit my culinary adventures to looking at recipes on Pinterest. That way, no one gets hurt.
Of course, I won’t forget to don my trendy apron while doing it.
The first photo on this post is from Mary Jane’s Farm, which really is amazing.