June 16, 2009

Wonderful World

Well hello world, today I feel wonderful.

I have been living in self-imposed isolation for so long I was beginning to go mad. My little farm, my childhood dream, my Shangri-La, my sanctuary had become my prison, my torture, my depravity, Everyday for ten years now, day after day, the chores of farm life never cease. The labour of living is more than a urban person could imagine, everyday I make all the coffee, make all the snacks and meals, wash all the dishes. This time of year, I water my garden, feed my animals, collect my eggs, harvest what we will eat, put what we don't away for winter.

Where we live, we only get one or maybe two chances a year to harvest food plants. If I don't start my tomatoes in March, I won't have any in December. Every vegetable and herb has its own special time table, I become their servant taking care of their needs until they take care of mine. I spend hours picking, preparing and processing food for later. It is great to have all your food stored for the winter, but can you imagine coming up with ways to make meals nutritious and interesting with the same ingredients over and over for months.

Why don't I just go to the grocery store? Because I have had enough of being force fed plastic wrapped chemical laden food that is grown from the sweat of the poor in other countries, but don't get me started I am a little opinionated here. It is just that, enough is enough, well enough of that back to me, lol.

We eat meat. I need it to be healthy. I wish I didn't. We raise our own chickens and turkeys. Last year I did a wonderful job of hatching, brooding and raising over 100 chickens. They were mostly roosters. They crowed for hours in the morning. The last batch of chicks was born outside the pen to our best chicken Little Mama. They were so cute. But in the end they were wild and brave and we couldn't catch them. We really wouldn't have wanted to put them in with all the other birds anyway. Even though they have a very, very, very large free-range pasture, the chaos of having so many males wrecked the sweet nature of the flock. So many birds to kill. All winter we couldn't get our minds around killing all those critters we had cared for since they were eggs. The males ate the eggs the hens laid. We lost some chickens in a freak blizzard, a weasel, and a raccoon. The roosters outside the pen took shelter in my husband's workshop (it only has a roof and 2 sides), pooping on and digging through everything while they sat out the winter. Yes they are all in the freezer now. We even gave away half our flock. Today the yards are full of cute little chicks and all I can think is the killing ahead. I have never killed more than mosquitoes, I even let some spiders live the winter in my house, so when I tell you raising animals for food is hard on my heart you must believe me.

We lost parts off 3 roofs this winter. So things were damaged and all need repair. It got colder than ever before -18 and broke some water pipes. So we have to dig out the pipes for the garden and find the leak. The weird freezing and thawing created some much creosote that it is now dripping down on the outside of my chimney in the house. I don't want to ever use it again, to be it looks like a fire waiting to happen. So now we are saving for a outside furnace before the snow flies. The ice also came in through my kitchen window, no one was hurt, but little shards of glass everywhere, still need a new window and new screen.

Since we bought the place we have been upgrading it. Plumbing is all done and i have a great shower. We have a spa tub we paid 5 grand for sitting waiting 3 years now, until we can find someone to put it in. New addition, kitchen all almost done. Now we are working on reinforcing the floors room by room. Bit by bit we upgrade our electricity. Now we need our septic cleaned that will be $500 because of travel time.

Our water comes from a little box in a stream. Every week we go up the mountain side, literally I kind of crawl down, to clean out the filter so the water keeps running. This is a b##h in the winter. We also feed the fire 3 or 4 times a day in winter, shovel off roofs and paths and clean our own driveway. There is another filter in the basement of the house and usually it gets cleaned out 3 times a day especially when it rains.

All my garden beds need new soil added, but we couldn't afford the insurance for the truck in time. This means the soil level in the raised beds is low and some young plants won't get enough light, and others like tomatoes won't get enough nutrients from the soil. It doesn't mean they won't grow, it just means there will probably be a decrease in production.

I only leave the farm once per month for groceries. We have lunch in town when we go. I can't eat wheat, the only thing I can eat out in this little town is breakfast and fries and my eggs are better. I sell jewellery I make from a little bus in front of our farm by the highway and someone keeps stealing my signs, 3 times now, and we painted them ourselves. It is a small community with less then 300 people in a 50 miles radius, but still I have only had 6 local people come to my store in 3 years. Yes I am complaining but I want to paint the picture here I wanted to throw in the towel.

My husband found another little farm, it was all done he said. It was closer to a city and more people and we were going to move. I stopped planting and weeding, we sold some birds, we didn't mow the grass. We stopped fretting over what had to be done. It was like a holiday. We were peaceful, we had fun. We imagined how our new life would be, how we could start fresh. We would take everything we wanted from here there and leave what we didn't want behind.

I could do there exactly what I did here. I had my lists, what I would take. The plants that were coming, my hydrangea, the tree from my now dead sister, my gingko - but after that there were tears - but what about all these berry bushes I started as seedlings long ago that produce so much good fruit and are so easy to pick and take care of, my 40 year old grapevines and walnut trees, my cherry trees, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus not too mention the 50 or so herbs that I grow here. You can't just uproot an acre of plants. You can't move a waterfall or a stream of glacier water. You can't replace the pleasure of silence and solitude enveloped in nature. This place sustains us, we have nurtured it like an indentured servant and it does the same for us.

It took turning away to make me realize my life was only a pressure cooker because that is how I perceived it. I had everything I wanted now and what had to be done was just a process of living. I have to do something in a day and I would rather it be raising birds and growing food and nurturing my family. My personal sacrifice is also my personal success.

My husband came back from a trip yesterday. He had been at "the new house" early in the morning to take pictures. "You wouldn't believe the mosquitoes", was all he said. I knew there would be no "new house" and I couldn't be happier.


  1. Wow Ruth, I had no idea. Your comments are always full of such peace and contentment. I am so glad you have found a bit of the peace you are always giving others! Kris

  2. Life can be funny...sometimes we really don't see what we have, right there in front of us until we lose it. Thank God you saw it before you lost it. Your home and your life sound wonderful- you are truly blessed.

  3. Thanks ladies, so glad to get a warm reception from both of you for my rant. Looks like I should proof read it, eh? Life is such a mystery to me. Peace for all

  4. Hey Ruth
    So glad you discovered the perfect place was where you are now. Sometimes things seem overwhelming....we need to just step back a bit. Your life has always sounded wonderful..I'm glad you see it too!
    Have a great week......

  5. I love that you show what it is really like to live the homestead life - too many people romanticize it and are not prepared for the realities that crop up and the fact that the chores are never ending! I am glad you are so fulfilled by it. Many thought-provoking posts as well, and loved your ladybug post!

  6. Awww, thanks ladies, I appreciate the encouragement for such like minded people! peace for all

  7. ...me thinks that this blog entry was a long time coming!
    I understand all what you say....

    well written and moving

  8. thanks John - you know it was your honesty which inspired me so to write it - peace