Photo by Kristy Ziegler
There’s a nip in the air, and as a soft breeze makes its way across the fields, it carries the low moos of the cattle settling in for the night. The trees are a canvas of color this time of year, and I watch in awe as nature’s magnum opus continues to unfold before winter’s finale takes center stage. I can hear the kids laughing inside as they play board games, and it appears my husband has started a fire, as the aroma of smoke and pine is tickling my nose. The dishes are done, the livestock have been fed, and the hens are frantically searching for one last bug before they submit to the evening and return to their coop.
Life is simple. Life is beautiful. But then again this isn’t real life. This life is the product of an active imagination.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Reality and I homestead a small piece of property a few hundred miles south of Fantasy Land. In my neck of the woods, "quiet cows” don’t exist; the trees are gorgeous for about a day and a half before turning various shades of gray and brown. We own board games, we just don’t own all the pieces to the games. And if you smell smoke around here, please call 9-1-1. Chances are one of the kids wanted to see if green army men will explode in the microwave and have therefore started a small electrical fire. Dishes here are never done; they simply range from "soaking” to "Shoot, we’re out of forks!”
Life is beautiful here, rarely dull, but never simple!
This real life did start as a fairy tale when a young girl met her prince charming. After a two-year courtship, the prince married the young girl and attempted to whisk her away to his castle in the country. Fearful, the young girl declares "Are you crazy? There are snakes in the country!” So, they bought a brick house in the city instead!
It took almost 15 years, but the prince finally got our girl out of the city. Reading anything they could get their hands on regarding country living and farm life, the couple, now a family of six, was ready to embark on this new adventure to lead a "simpler life.” They knew what they wanted and how they were going to get it, thanks to an air-tight five-year plan, Excel spread sheets, and a beautiful piece of property a mere 45 minutes from family and friends. So, armed with their knowledge, and a new pair of "snake-bite boots,” their homesteading life began. Silly little couple!
Everyone knows life has a way of smacking the rose-colored glasses off from time to time, and homesteading life is no different. I had envisioned "Little House on the Prairie;” I’m living "Green Acres.” Instead of the jack-of-all-trades "Charles” capable of fixing everything from a broken wheel spoke to a burned down barn, I’m married to poor Oliver, the highly intelligent businessman frantically trying to avoid one mishap after the next.
My husband didn’t fare so well either. He pictured a soft-spoken housewife that continuously cooked and cleaned and was known for her hospitality and homemade pie—poor naïve man. I wonder if he thinks about his "Caroline” as he stands at the kitchen sink rinsing a mason jar to pour his drink in.
However, in spite of our ineptness, we possess the basic knowledge required to start and grow a family homestead. I’ve made a homemade pie—and could do it again if I were so inclined.
But that’s not why you’re here now is it? No my dear friends, you didn’t come here to read about my lack of homemaking skills. You’ve seen the movie, read the book, lived it yourself. You didn’t come in search of baking tips or chicken tractor plans. You already built a beautiful chicken tractor yourself. You’re here because you want to know how to get the chickens in the tractor and the toddler out! You have already armed yourself with the knowledge of how to build it, how to bake it and how to grow it. Now you want to know how to keep it intact when you have "helpers” seemingly intent on breaking it, tearing it down or setting it on fire.
Every week you will get to know my farm hands and the many obstacles they continue to hurl our direction. Whether you’re just looking for a laugh, searching for toddler-friendly farming chores or simply wanting reassurance that you are not alone, you’re in the right place. My ducks love fruit loops, my pens are always being left open, and my fresh eggs rarely make it to the house unscathed. This is REAL life! This is our journey of raising children and chickens side by side from our castle in the country: a double-wide!
A self-admitted former city girl, Kristy Rammel was "promoted" from AVP of Operations in a Fortune 200 company to VP of Homestead Operations and team leader of her family's Animal and Child Disaster Response Unit. While many people work desperately to avoid the monotony of daily life, she prays for it. Come back each week to follow her wild, crazy, but never boring homesteading adventures with four boys.
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