“What do I do for a living? I live for a living.” – Peter Karena, This Way of Life
One of the many tasks underway as we get prepared for an exciting (possibly overly ambitious new year) has been properly archiving the thousands upon thousands of photos currently clogging up my computer. Moments documented lovingly, albeit sporadically over the past four years of our relationship with each other, our many animals and this journey toward farming.
Along the way, I stumbled across the photos of our first eggs, first cow we milked (and Scott would later help to slaughter, his first time), first goat to capture our hearts (RIP Pickles), first homemade “no machines involved” bread.
First wood chopped.
First animals lost to predators.
First. So, so many firsts.
Someone along the way said to me that you don’t really understand how rapidly time passes until you have kids.
This pretty much describes my life. Somehow this kid has sprouted up into a chatterbox always on the move, seemingly overnight.
“Farming is a profession of hope” – Brian Brett
The other day a group of homesteaders and farmers I know were circulating stories of everyone’s biggest failures. At the time, I considered mine to be a wasted investment of far too much hay that went moldy before we could even get through half of it. As a result, I’ll be trekking back and forth into town for hay over the next few months, kicking myself that we didn’t have better foresight (and ultimately, ventilation) to protect our investment.
My answer has changed today. Lost money doesn’t seem to compare to the loss of a life, especially a feathered one that was handpicked out of a dozen to be just one of two pairs of webbed feet on this little homestead.
All day, all night, in the back of my brain is the ongoing weighing of options, toying with ideas, dreaming of the various paths we can go down in our hunt for a plot of land to call our own.
How many acres. Which province. Does it have a house? How about outbuildings. Know the zoning? Need to be cleared? Forest-y or pasture-y?
Well? Septic? Hydro? Phone? Internet?
The timing couldn’t have been better.
I’ve been checking in on the girls every couple of days to see how things are ‘progressing’…which basically means a gentle poke to the area where their udder will be (at least in the case of the three first time fresheners, Maple (pictured), Waffles and Pancakes. This will be Gertie’s fourth kidding, so we have a better idea of how her pregnancy and labour will play out…once her udder starts to ‘bag up’ it’ll be 24-48 hours before kids are on the ground.
Tonight…there were little pouches forming.
The reality of farming is that everything has a purpose. Everything has a place. When something ceases to have a purpose, well…decisions need to be made.
Warning: I talk about slaughter and butchery and all the emotions and conflict that goes along with it in this post. I don’t recommend reading further if this is something you’re not comfortable with…unless you’re interested in becoming more comfortable with where humanely raised, loved, fed meat comes from. I promise, I’m not gratuitous with actual photos.
I’ve been fortunate enough in my evolution from city to farm that I have a gentleman standing next to me who up until recently could handle “the tough bits”. I’ll be there to help clean up, de-feather, butcher, collect the fat for rendering into lard.
Lately I’ve been feeling much more reflective about my role in recent months. When we had to slaughter the Muscovy drakes that would take over our porch every night like raging frat boys, leaving behind a scene of destruction and far too much poop for us to wash down every morning…I helped. I didn’t put up my usual wall of “Oooh, I don’t think I could.” and I just did.
You hope your kids can have role models. Good people, solid folks. Smart, savvy and the type of person you hope your child can admire and perhaps one day emulate.
We’re so fortunate to have people like Sheena in our life as both a wonderful friend and person we trust and love to help take care of this little bean as she grows into an enthusiastic explorer of a child – one who’s not impressed when we have deadlines to meet or a client calls to make during the day.
There are so many things to admire and respect about this woman – not the least of which is the way she’s able to make Isla break into conspiratorial giggles with just a look.
In addition to being new homesteaders and new parents, Scott and I both keep pretty consistent freelance work schedules.
Working from home with a baby rapidly learning how to move about the room, while there’s also animals to tend to (and during the summer months, a garden to care for)…can be daunting.
There are days like today where it’s too busy to find a minute for confirming that there’s flour in the house to make the biscuits to go with the lamb stew that’s been simmering all day. On these days, I fall victim to the old ways of trekking out to the store to load up on carbs (freshly made from our local bakery though) instead of maintaining my commitment to homegrown/homemade/homeways.
I used to think wanting more was about things. Commodities. Purses, shoes, vacations, dining room tables, the bigger apartment, the better job title.
More. And more, and more.
Stepping off the escalator of urban life, away from the corporate ladder and any Joneses to keep up with….I have more. Only with a lot less.
It’s not just because of her.
We were here long before – well, a little less than two years before – she appeared before us.
But she’s a big reason why we tough it out. Why this is worth it. How we set our goals and what we’re looking for.
I want to give this girl an appreciation for animals. Hard work. The outdoors.
(if she wants a pony.)