pinterest (including my own boards) are filled with dreamy images of flower fields, backyard chickens and expansive gardens. and i’m not going to lie, there is a lot a lot of that. never in my wildest dreams would i ever think that homesteading (or at least trying to) would be something that i would even remotely be interested in.
growing up in zeeland my parents had 11 acres and i was so so mad at them. whyyyy couldn’t we live in georgetown forest where all my friends lived!? they had swimming pools and could ride their bikes to each others house. i could hang out with my little brother. my dad had us both in 4-h which i never appreciated at the time because i was you know, so totally cool trying to be baby spice and wearing glitter eye shadow up to my eyebrows.
i didn’t really appreciate anything about 11 acres in the country. even though we could have bon fires, walk through the field to my grandmas and have a dog that didn’t need a fence. i wanted….the city life.
i was convinced that i was bound for new york. i was going to be a fashion designer. i was going to be…. big.
it took about less than a year of living in a sub division after college that i wanted out. gimme no neighbors, gimme silence. gimme michigan. i think what really made me realize the error of my ways was my very first garden which was inspired by two friends who loved to cook. some of my favorite memories were when my friends rachel, laura and i were too broke to go out for dinner so we would make these amazing meals at each others houses. i was never a cook growing up. my grandma was fantastic and so was my mom but i never really cared. getting bit by the bug with friends who were passionate about is awakened something in me that i didn’t know i had. i started watching food tv and hoarding cookbooks, taking any class i could afford and decided i needed a garden.
working in the garden it was quiet and peaceful… until the neighbors started having a rap guys girl friend pool party every da*n day and robbing me of my peaceful alone time.
the more i cooked the more i got into where my food came from and savoring any moment of peace i could get my hands on. that is when i realized. i’m outta here. joe the dream killer actually got on board when we bought what we thought was the right house. that fell through. then we found this house and it was meant to be.
however as we are coming up on our first year as farmers i feel inclined to share a few things that pinterest hides from the world. i don’t mean to be deterring or gross but it is a reality and if moving out to the country is something you are considering. ask if you can handle these things.
1. it takes a long time to get anywhere – we both work in grand rapids and the majority of our friends live in the grand rapids area. it takes us about 45 minutes in good weather, 55 minutes in construction weather and about 1hr – 1hr20min depending on snow. you learn to “pack” the night before because there is no quick running home if you forgot something. you plan to get groceries on your way home from work (i even bring cooler bags in my car). your life just requires more planning. the positive though is you get about an hour and a half a day to slow down, be by yourself, listen to NPR and get ready/cool down from the day.
2. there is a lot of poop – there are many other things to call it but poop seems to be the most appropriate. if you are getting animals brace yourself for the massive amounts of poop duty. cat poop, dog poop, chicken $hit <- that is in a league of it’s own, and lamb poop. and guess what YOU have to clean it up. you can deter smell with straw and sawdust but sooner or later you will be shoveling it and hauling it away. after a few times of accidentally smearing your finger in a pile surprise you don’t get as grossed out. you will soon find yourselves having a night out in the barn shoveling crap when you used to be watching the daily show eating popcorn.
3. stuff dies. and sometimes it’s your fault and sometimes you have to do it – death. life comes full circle. the worst is when it is something that you did. didn’t pick them up from the post office quick enough, didn’t patch the fence correctly etc. in my opinion that is the worst kind of animal death. when it’s your fault. it is your responsibility to give your farm animals a good happy life and it feels terrible when you ultimately failed them. the second worst kind of animal death is when you have to do the ethical thing and stop them from suffering. i won’t get into detail because it can be kind of controversial. but sometimes $hit out of your control happens and an animal is in a lot of pain and you have to suck it up and take care of it. this isn’t a don’t want to pay the vet bill type thing. this is when an animal is beyond healing and waiting for the vet seems cruller than putting it out of it’s misery. this really sucks. then there is animal on animal crime. chickens for example will really follow the pecking order. if one chicken is causing drama they will all turn on them and basically “take care of them”. a few weeks ago i walked in on a bastard rooster pretty much doing sex things with my chicken to death. it was quite traumatic. lucky me the bigger hens taught him a few lessons and he seems to keep to himself now. bottom line, death happens a lot on farms and it really sucks.
4. animals are freaks – last night joe called me terrified because he was laying in bed and could swear he heard a baby crying outside. (skin crawling yet?) he went outside to check it was so clear. that is when we found two cats going to town inside the bush outside our porch. animals are weird. and there is a lot of gross things they do (other than poop everywhere). they do a lot of ummmm things and sometimes you have to be the dr. phil and intervene. (I see you rooster).
5. chores will take up 90% of your life – there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done around the farm. fencing, poop, weeding the garden, picking the vegetables, preparing the vegetables, repairing bricks, boards, roofs, chopping wood, cleaning the pool, painting etc. it’s a ton of work. however. HOWEVER, it is so rewarding to build something with your hands, accomplish things you would never think to accomplish. it gets you outside and connects you with nature and each other.
i hope none of this has deterred you from country life. it is truly truly a rewarding life. just a little dirty at times 🙂