On the Farm . . . what's happening this week -10/11/15 & 10/25/15.
This past spring I asked Bill and the kids questions about living on the farm. Staring into a busy summer full of long, hot, tired, aching-muscle kind of days, I felt it would be valuable for each of us to think about why we 've chosen this life.
I've decided to share their answers with you this week and next. After all, our CSA members are the largest financial supporters of My Fine Homestead. We are very grateful to you for subscribing to this local food model, enabling us to live as we do. We realize the importance of this relationship on many levels. Your words of encouragement, delight in tasty produce, advice on getting to market on time, recipes, and laughter make our lives richer. We thank you for sharing this journey with us.
Here are our responses. I hope you enjoy reading them:
What do you like about living on a farm?
Aidan: Living around wildlife. Sometimes I can see cats walking on the road, and they pounce. That's cool. A little while ago, there was a vulture in the field that I watched for a long time. And sometimes there are sparrow and nuthatches pecking in our driveway. Then they fly into the goat pen. And the best thing is you can pee in the bushes! Kids probably learn different things whether they live in town or on a farm, neither one is better, just different. I prefer the farm but don't have anything to compare it to since I've always lived on a farm.
Marlee: I like being around animals on our farm. I like to watch the baby goats play. They jump straight up in the air sometimes. I think I've learned a lot about animals, like how they act, and how they are born.
Bill: I like watching plants and animals grow. I like being my own boss - other than my wife (wink, wink). I can have a lot of "toys," i.e. 4-wheeler, snowmobile and a place to drive them.
Liam: I like having a really "big yard" (pastures and fields) to walk around and think or listen to an audiobook or hunt rabbits.
Stacey: I love the space, especially for my kids. I love growing healthy food for us; it is icing on the cake that other people value it, too. I love that we are creative all the time, making things like soap, lotions and tools. I think it makes us question and be inquisitive about life, other people and ideas. Yet, we always have this safe place, our farm to retreat to. A place where no matter what, there are chores that need to be done. It is my anchor.
What do you dislike about living on a farm?
Aidan: Washing and sorting eggs. It's not fun when animals like goats sneeze, and I get snot on my face! I also hate it when there is a sick animal we have to put down.
Marlee: I don't like it when the chickens go, "Bruck, auck!" really loud . . . and they do it all the time!
Bill: Everything I like about a farm, I also dislike. I dislike the work sometimes, especially when it is really hot or really cold and machinery breaks or water pipes freeze. Sometimes I dislike being my own boss. If I don't do my work - it doesn't get done, and since it's our business, I let us down. I like to think I don't have any inadequacies, but I do and face them on a daily basis because I never get everything done that needs to be done.
Liam (our teenager): Answering these questions.
Stacey: I dislike the cruelty of a sick animal. I dislike the manure and flies. I dislike the inevitability that we won't ever accomplish all we set out to do.
What is your favorite animal and or vegetable?
Aidan: Animal = Alpine goats, Araucana chickens, rabbits and dogs. Vegetable = cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, peas, yellow wax beans, NOT beets. And I like goat milk.
Marlee: Animal = goats, dogs, rabbits and cats. Vegetable = cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, peas, and I LOVE beets!
Bill: I don't have a favorite animal. I guess my favorites are any animals that stay in their fences or pens! My favorite vegetable is winter spinach because it is crisp and sweet. My favorite summer vegetable is Sungold cherry tomatoes. When I'm not working, you can find me in the cherry tomatoes eating handsful warmed by the sun.
Stacey: Animal = goats, because they are inquisitive, and they only have two teats so they are easier to hand milk than cows! Vegetables = shelling peas, not only do they taste great, but remind me of different times shelling peas with my mom and Grandma Carver as a child.
What do you think would surprise people about farm life?
Aidan: I think hand milking a goat and squirting the milk into a jar would surprise people.
Marlee: I think butchering chickens would surprise people. And that we help, and it doesn't gross us out.
Bill: The reality of all the work, like daily chores and unexpected problems. This really is a 24/7 job, especially because of the animals. There isn't much time off.
How do you think you would be different if you didn't grow up on a farm?
Bill: I think if I didn't live on a farm, I'd have more depression problems. I'd feel boxed up if I lived in town. I need to be where I have space and can just go work.
Stacey: I can't imagine who I'd be. I think decisions I've made in my life are a direct result of growing up on a farm and having a strong sense of that land and my place in the world. I'm not sure I would have chosen to birth our children at home or to homeschool them without the independence I learned on the farm.
Do you consider yourself a farmer?
Aidan: I think it is cool that we grow our own vegetables. (I took that as a "yes".)
Marlee: Yes, because I like to be around goats.
Bill: I guess I see myself as a homesteader because I'm trying to grow much of our food here. I like knowing where our it comes from, I feel good being fairly self-sufficient, and I enjoy learning the processes of growing and preparing food and supplies. I like the challenge of figuring it all out and making it even better.
Stacey: I do. It is what I wanted to do from a young age, but I didn't know how or what kind of farmer. I feel very satisfied in this moment in my life to be a woman farming organically, on a polyculture farm (the simultaneous cultivation of several crops or kinds of animals) that sells directly to local communities through CSA membership and farmers markets. I'm in the right place at the right time with the right people - I'm so grateful.
Do you think it important/beneficial that we make our own soaps/lotions?
Marlee: It is nice because if we need a bar of soap we just go get one out of the soap boxes. We don't have to go to the store. And I like to smell the different essential oils and guess what they are.
Bill: Yes, it fits in with homesteading.
Liam: I guess so.
Stacey: Yes, yes, yes! My skin used to be so dry and itchy especially in the winter. Now it isn't. I love feeling good about what we use on our skin.
Would you like to live on a farm when you grow up?
Aidan: Yes, I will have Aracauna chickens, dogs, some grouse,and five or six Alpine goats. It will be a zoo!
Marlee: Yes, because I like being by animals. I play with them and watch them and climb on rocks with them. I would plant gladiolas and roses because they are pretty.
Liam: I'm not sure. I think so, but I might try living in town just to try it. It might seem too close to other people though, and I like to be outside a lot.
Why do you think local farming is important in a cultural sense?
Bill: I feel less vulnerable because we have these resources. I also feel like I can help others if there was some emergency like the Y2 scare or 9/11 making food and supplies scarce. I hope nothing like that ever happens, and I know our farm can't save the world, but we are all better off if there are local farmers around.
Stacey: I think it is important to be close to your food supply by either growing your own or by knowing your farmers and their practices. That food and relationship contribute positively toward the quality of a person's life physically, emotionally and possibly even spiritually. It is also community building. I am certain our world is better when everyone has access to locally grown food. I am proud to be part of making our members' lives better.