Ahhh… It has been a long day, and a long week with another long week to follow. It feels really good to put my feet up and wind down here on the farm. I was just thinking, as I milked the goats, that life is very interesting. Here we are, on our new farm, with lots more land. Life is pretty darned good. However, as with many good things in life, it feels like we are always working (or looking at things that need to be done). It made me think of all of you who have commented on this blog and on our Facebook page over the years. Comments have always kind of embarrassed me; many times you were patting me on the back or telling me you envied how easy it all seemed for us. Other times you would be asking for help and all I could think was “What? You want help from ME!?” *squeaky voice*. “I am nobody, I am self-taught and screw up more times than I care to admit!”. Yet there you all were, and your encouragement and comments have meant a lot to me. So, I am writing this for all of you.
Both my husband and I have done farm activities throughout our lives. Both of us were raised with gardens as a mainstay in our homes. Both of us did a little of that after leaving home even. When we married we kept it up, but then we added livestock… and more livestock… and a bigger garden, along with kids. Over time our little plot of land became this amazing source of food and relaxation. It was wonderful! The kids could play in our little swimming pool while I worked in our very productive raised garden beds. The sounds of roosters crowing, hens clucking as they searched for food, goats hollering as evening neared to remind me not to be late for milking. It really was wonderful, even with some small drawbacks, like the small size of our land and the fire siren that went off many times a day.
Then we moved. It took a while to adjust to a smaller house and more land. We have only been at our new home for 8 months, and it seems at times like we haven’t stopped working. I was so excited about the large space for the livestock… only to find out just how many predators live at the edge of swamps. It seemed I would finally have a garden big enough to fill all our fresh food needs and beyond… but I forgot how long it took to turn 1/2 acre plot into something bountiful (it took 7 years). Our garden feels like a dismal failure this year. The beds I worked so hard on are full of termites, and one has very nasty ants. The late, unexpected frost killed almost all the early crops, and the rain has about drowned the rest. Many root crops simply rotted in the ground. We have gotten a handful of beans this year, and a few tomatoes are starting to ripen, but most of the garden stuff has gone to the pigs. We are having to learn everything over on this new property, from what kind of soil we have to parasite management with the animals. Since the property is so much more than before it means there is simply more of everything like cutting grass, weeding the landscaping, cleaning the new (and in need of repair) pool. Sometimes it gets very hard to get out of bed in the morning.
So, here I am thinking that this is great news for all of you! It really doesn’t matter if you are starting out with your very first plant or animal or if you have been doing this for 50 years; we all have to start somewhere, and sometimes we have to even start over and learn it all again in a whole new way! Here we are, after a lifetime of learning how to do the basics, and we are starting fresh. Sure, we have some information, knowledge and skills to fall back on, but often it needs tweaking in a new situation. And you? You have those who have been there! You have people to help guide you, but you are going to have to take what they “know” and tweak it for your own situation and home. It’s okay to make mistakes, for things not to work out. It’s okay to stop and remember that a huge garden doesn’t get claimed out of a long-time lawn in a single season. It’s okay to have half done projects or not know quite how to fix something. Eventually, if you really want to live on a homestead and make your own personal oasis, it will happen, and one day you will be weeding your garden and looking at baskets full of bounty and think “Wow! Seven years ago this was nothing and I thought I would never succeed, and now I have enough for us and plenty to share!”. So keep at it, you are not alone. Remind yourself of that often, and keep on trying, friends, and we will too!