And so I did. And I have. And I continue to do so. It's that simple. And even though I have often failed, often experienced pain and hardship, and rarely do my dreams "look" the way I thought they would if and when I do achieve them, I continue on, with nothing short of joy. And that's what I'm feeling this morning - joy.
There are all manner of vegetables sprouting in my garden, flowers blooming, herbs growing, butterflies flying, and (yes, finally!) baby chickens chirping outside my window. My kids are fast asleep after a long day in the sun helping us (and they do really help!), my muscles are sore and tight, yet warm and alive at the same time, and my skin where I forgot to apply sunscreen is a lava flow. This feeling is what Brian and I both have been working towards since we met and fell in love: land, house, family, farm. While we aren't a farm yet, we are becoming a homestead - a family trying to use their land to feed themselves as much as possible.
No, it isn't perfect and no we're not even done yet. Already we've toiled countless hours and spent way more dollars than we'd planned just to get this far. We've argued and fought and hollered at one another, then kissed and made-up and compromised. We've adjusted and re-adjusted and re-re-adjusted our dream down to a workable goal with a solid plan. And here we are. The infrastructure work - the costliest in all manner of resources - is nearly complete. We have survived and will now be able to reap a bountiful harvest to enjoy all winter long.
Today, as it happens, is my 30th birthday and also the one year anniversary of the closing on our house. We closed on my birthday and moved in that night, and I awoke the next day to Mother's Day and a mile-long chore list I couldn't wait to do. On the top of that list was realizing that dream of self-sustainability through growing our own food.
Here is what the backyard looked like on that day 1 year ago:
An empty canvas. :) That dirt puddle you see in the top right corner was where the previous owners had an above-ground pool. First, though, we spent a lot of time on the interior of the house and some repairs that needed doing, then had to hastily plop in a garden as best we could. It wasn't pretty, it was super hard to weed and maintain, but we managed a fairly good crop of carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and a few potatoes. Our corn was thriving until raccoons got into it one night and that was that.
This year, there is no painting to be done or furniture to be made or boxes to unpack. Just a mild winter that allowed us plenty of time to plan and prepare for the coming spring's planting. Finally we felt we had adequate time and available resources to make our dream come true. And so we have. :)
Here's a quick tour.
|Here are our first chicks! These are bantams, so they'll be on the small side. Not very good for eating, but good layers that won't take up too much space in our small garden shed that is being converted to a "barn." :)|
|I tried to get the whole yard in the shot and it's impossible. This is the jist of it, minus the butterfly bed and raised garden to the right. |
So there it all is so far! Ignore the mess, we're under construction still, and ignore my weeds for they are numerous with all the rain. And the rocks in my garden that need raking. Just pay no mind. If you close your eyes, they aren't even there. :) I'm weeding and mulching this week, I just haven't finished. I'm also power washing things and getting the planting frenzy mess cleaned-up. The porch is in dire need of cleaning and organizing.
The only things we have left on our "must-do-to-do-list" are the chicken coop and a three bin composter. (Oh, is that all?). Once those are done, we can focus on weeding, planting, and harvesting until fall arrives and we decide to build a greenhouse before winter. :) I know us. That sounds about right.
So, until next time, here is an excerpt from a book I just finished reading (and can highly recommend), that states far more eloquently than I everything I'm feeling at this moment.
"A farm is a manipulative creature. There is no such thing as finished. Work comes in a stream and has no end. There are only things that must be done now and things that can be done later. The threat the farm has got on you, the one that keeps you running from can until can't, is this: do it now, or some living thing will wilt or suffer or die. It's blackmail, really.
...But we were both falling in love with it.... I had never cared so much about anything in my life. I was in love with the work, too, despite its overabundance..... I knew why I was doing what I was doing, and believed in it.... I had always been attracted to the empty, sparkly grab bag of instant gratification, and I was beginning to learn something about the peace you can find inside an infinite challenge."
Kristin Kimball from Essex Farm in The Dirty Life: On farming, Food and Love