There are so many neat magazines and blogs out there, depicting farm life. The pictures are beautiful, and show scenes of weed free gardens, and groomed well behaved animals. Lately there seems to be a huge interest in people wanting to take their families out of populated areas, and move farther out and enjoy farm life. I often wonder if it is because of those awesome pictures?
But pictures never tell the whole story. They don't tell of families investing every last dime, to dig a well. They don't tell of that well, being described as a dry hole and not even worth trying to use. "Four gallons an hour isn't supposed to produce enough water for three people"... the well driller said. Sweet Man and I looked at each other and said, "Well...it will have to!" Eight years later, and this dry well does not produce as much as we would like, but it has done well to provide enough for not only three people, but five.
Pictures don't tell all of the lovely adventures of septic systems, or the fearsome Health Department. Once you get on their radar, they just don't like to leave you alone. They love to pop in at the most inconvenient time, and ask you to turn your faucets on full blast, to see if you have a leak in your line. Remember the above paragraph? You can bank on not having water for a couple of days after that! Or what about the time you have a friend over for the first time, and you decide it is perfect weather for porch sitting? This is when the Septic company, that you had to reinstate a contract with thanks to that Health Department, will show up to "stir" your "stuff" in your tank. And since that tank is super close to your porch, let me just say, that is not appropriate for porch sitting!
Pictures don't tell of neighbor dogs who consistently visit, to snack on your livestock. Dogs that take off with a pair of shoes that you had saved up for, to buy your Sweet Man. Neighbors that apparently don't care that their animals are a nuisance. Or even your own dog, who decides to try and eat your dairy goat. Or a beagle who just couldn't help herself, and ended up eating a whole flock of baby chicks, the first night they were put outside in their "dog proof" house. This was especially hard since the girls raised them for 2 months in our laundry room.
Pictures don't tell of animals dying and being buried various places around the farm. We have several little mounds of dirt, that used to be thought of as family members.
Pictures don't tell of all the wild critters that are constantly testing you, and seeing just what you will let them get away with. We have had coyotes take out whole flocks of chickens/ducks, cats, and even tried eating that chicken loving beagle of ours. I think I scared the coyote to death though, running out on the porch in my underwear, armed with a flashlight, screaming and throwing things at it. It had that sweet little dog of ours, in its mouth! We joke about how useless that dog is, but I will not let it succumb to being dinner for something!
You won't see many pictures of my gardens in the summer. The main reason? I have a hard time finding it among the weeds. I am not much on weeding regularly. Between the animal care and preserving, I just can't find the time. I don't know how others keep theirs looking so nice, but at least I can find the food when it ripens!
Pictures don't tell of just how hard it is to prepare for winter. You spend tons of time getting your log pile ready, only to run out of wood and pretty much freeze for a couple months out of the year. I call this bonding time! You scoot a little closer on the couch and share a big ole' blanket, while reading good books. And you hope this year will be the one when you have cut enough wood!
Pictures don't tell of angry neighbors, who aren't really pleased that you are trying to have a homestead. They aren't so keen on the fact that you have animals that make noise, before their alarm clocks go off. They don't understand the fact of wanting to know where your food comes from, or how important it is to you to teach your children the "old ways" of doing things. "Why would you want to grow that, when you can get it at the store"...they ask. You use to try to explain it, but now you don't even try.
Pictures don't tell of how much skill there really is to gardening, and it is hard to figure it all out. You pour through library books. You seek wiser farmers/gardeners that are willing to give advice, and hopefully you will have a better crop next year....for the deer to eat!
Pictures don't tell of just how often you think about giving up on this dream of yours. Of just trying to be normal and not worry about your food. Not think about all the JUNK that is put into it, or taken out of it. To not do the extra steps of homemade, home grown, or farm raised. You often wonder what it would be like to not spend several days a week cutting grass, and not really be able to tell. But you remember, you aren't normal, and you don't want to be normal just because it is easier. No, you have a vision and it burns inside you to try harder. To not give up!
There is good reason you won't find pictures about all that negative stuff. Because it is just a small part, and the good out ways the bad. I feel absolutely blessed every time I turn that faucet on...and water comes out! I am thankful for the fact that even though I don't know what I am doing half the time, I still have had a pretty good crop of food this year. There is something so great about knowing that you are warm or fed, because the Lord blessed you with so much earlier on in the year. I wouldn't trade this farm life for anything.
Pictures also don't tell of just how grand this lifestyle is! How rewarding and enjoyable it can be. They don't tell how much better and softer you bed will feel at the end of a full productive day! They don't tell of how you can really feel closer to God, as you hike through the woods, looking for escaped horses/goats/chickens. :-)