Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Farm After One Year

Holy smokes, it's been a year since we moved to the farm. A bit more, actually. I was thinking yesterday while hanging laundry (I do a lot of good thinking then) about what we've been through, how much has changed for us and what we have on the horizon for the coming year.

I'll be honest, our first year was hard. We really went full-throttle. We plowed forward through a swirling haze of excess enthusiasm, self-imposed deadlines, enabling co-conspirators, emergency repairs and do-or-die home improvements. We lived through the hottest, most miserable summer with essentially no air conditioning, and spent most of a cold, wet, windy winter with essentially no heat. Did I say "windy"? We learned that the wind blows steadily at about 30 mph from November to April. We learned that doing farm work in 30 mph sustained winds inspires foul language. Doing farm work in 30 mph sustained winds when it is ALSO COLD is positively soul-crushing. And I can't tell you how many times I've collected laundry from all over the yard after it was blown off the line.

All of that is balanced by the good, though. We've enjoyed cool evenings when folks in town were still cursing the heat, wildflowers in virtually every season of the year, and moons so large you can't help but stare, transfixed. Listening to coyotes singing in the nearby trees while the setting sun lights the pond on fire is unearthly. Watching a Blue Heron come in for a slow landing will take your breath away.

When we first moved to the place, it was wild. There were feral dogs running the property, the grass and brush were practically impassable and mud daubers were squatting all over the inside of the house. We found shed snake skins in the closet. It was a mess. Now, a year later, it's still a mess, but it is comfortably lived in. We have reclaimed a good portion of it and made it ours. The small barn that once was piled high with junk now houses actual animals. This time last year, we had thirteen chickens - today, we have something like sixty. Or eighty. I've actually lost count. Fourteen chicks and thirteen ducklings were hatched on our farm, and it was amazing every time. We've lost birds, too - enough now that it makes us annoyed rather than sad. We've put up fencing and more fencing. We've moved the same lumber pile two or three times. We planted a garden, harvested, moved it and planted it again. We've been slaves to the milking schedule. Two new dogs joined our little family and one left it, having done everything she could for us. We have gone to great lengths to protect our animals' lives so that we may later kill them for our own meat. We have wrestled with the irony of this. What a year.

I must be honest again - looking ahead, I fully expect the second year to be hard as well. It will be different, though, and I'm filled with hope and eager anticipation as we start the next leg of this journey. It was exhausting to do so much right away, but at the same time, we feel better knowing that those things are now behind us. We will be no less busy, but our projects now will be mostly chosen, and will hopefully provide more for our comfort than our survival. We rest more easily, though, knowing that if it does become a question of our survival, we can handle that too.

Last night at dinner we were discussing how different our life is now. If we still lived in town, we'd be sitting on the sofa watching TV all the time, wondering what to do with ourselves, and cursing the lousy traffic on the way home from work. We traded all that for lots of hard labor, tons of chores, acres of mowing, long commutes, no social life. We also traded all that for quiet, for letting the grass get as tall as we want, for goats that wag their tails when they see us and for chats with Very Old Men at the feed store about the weather. Would we go back? No way.

P. S. It would be unfair of me not to point out that this endeavor has belonged to my husband as much as to me. When I asked him to share his thoughts and experiences for this post, he simply stated the following:

"I'll deal with snakes, raccoons and coyotes the rest of my life before letting an HOA meddle in my business."

Bless him.


  1. wow. I found you through CAF and I love this post. I will promptly go now and read your whole blog! lol, thats how I roll. :)

    I love your "about me" and I love your husband's contribution to this post. This reminded me how sad it is that right now, we are sitting on our couch, together but each on our laptop. Bf has his headphones on as he "games". The world has no idea how much I'd rather be in bed and passed out already from the exhaustion that hard work on your own land brings... Ahhh, someday. Someday.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. It makes it so much more real to me that I CAN do this... someday. :)

  2. Good for you! I'm a year or 3 away from making my escape from the rat race, but I have my eye on the prize. I envy you a partner who shares your farm-dream. Mine hasn't listened to the siren song of the farm yet. Rather doubt he ever will; he's more comfortable in town than country. Ohwell...I'll find a man who shares my ideals or I'll do it by my DARN self, like Jenna.

  3. WOW! Tara, I can't believe its been a year since I helped y'all unpack. And after this particular post, I realize again, why I love you two!

  4. Fabulous post--thanks for the update!

  5. What a great chronicle of the past year. Tired but happy, what a good way to be. I love and agree with your husband's sentiment - no HOAs ever to tell me what I can and can't do.

    Thanks for continuing to write your blog and share.

  6. A year that seems fast in some thoughts and slow in others. Congratulations!

  7. I was just catching up with your blog. I remember at your wedding reception, someone mentioned that y'all were moving out to a farm. That seems like a very long time ago.

    I'm so proud of you both! You've done it the right way.

  8. Great post! Congratulations on the hard work paying off. It'll be fun following along on Year 2. Thanks for sharing!