So, maybe farming isn’t all fun and games. It has been a long week of working full time as a bookkeeper and then coming home to yet another full time job of taking care of our animals. To exacerbate the situation my beloved and I are working different hours and I miss the guy. All of this individually could be manageable but we also have a sick kid. There is little more exhausting than coming home to a sick kid. All week our little one has had severe diarrhea to the point that we were worried about her hydration. We immediately stopped feeding her any food that might be too rich and started force feeding electrolytes. She was still relatively active, but her medicine tasted so bad that we had to time it just right to coincide with her feedings or she wouldn’t eat. It has been exhausting.
As if this wasn’t enough, Friday night I came home to find that Folly, our 12 week old puppy, had somehow gotten out of his kennel and destroyed the house. Shoes, clothes, and accidents riddled the new hardwood floor. I couldn’t handle it. Trying to comfort the crying baby as I got her bottle ready, I chose not to look at the floor and simply walked outside to feed her. The doctor had suggested collecting a stool sample to bring in to his office for testing. If I could do this, I wouldn’t have to wait four days for an appointment, so there I sat feeding her a bottle and rubbing her belly hoping to produce something, armed with my Tupperware ready to catch.
It’s a good thing they are so cute.
While I sat outside with this little one, my mom called and it all came out. Suddenly the weight of the week was just too heavy and all of the worry, all of the exhaustion, the endless work and loneliness came out in one fell swoop. I told her about how sick the baby had been, but that I hoped she was improving. Her stools were starting to firm up some, and although still not solid, had changed from yellow to a healthier looking brown. Not only that, but her appetite was improving. As if on cue, she finished a whole six ounces in one sitting for the first time that week. This was a significant improvement over her usual two-four.
Just then I looked down and had a realization, I’m 24. It is a Friday night. This kid is actually a goat kid, a baby who is still being bottle-fed. The doctor, a veterinarian. The diarrhea, scours. As I scanned the horizon, I saw our 2.5 acre mini-farm: our goats, dogs, pigs, chickens, and house. I had chosen all of this stress and I was starting to wonder if I was in over my head. My mom chuckled at my concerns and worries and comforted me, assuring that everything was going to be ok. As we talked out on the porch Dory fell asleep in my lap, snuggled and warm, and started gently snoring. I was then reminded of why I had chosen this “stress.” It is a beautiful feeling of accomplishment to raise an animal from the ground up. Yes, initially this dream required a backbreaking amount of work, but the payoff would be bountiful. We would have goat’s milk from goats that were friendly and socialized. In March we would be eating pork chops and bacon from animals that we knew lived healthy and happy lives, and just this week three of our chickens had started laying.
The moments that make it all worth it.
I was becoming more connected with my animals, more respectful of the real cost of the food I consumed, more understanding of the work that goes into what I had previously taken for granted. I was learning patience from the wait for our harvest, diligence by being one of the sole providers for our farm, and humility from the constant bumps in the road that reminded me to never boast my knowledge or experience. Although I know many of my peers wouldn’t willingly take on an additional 18 mouths to feed, I was beginning to feel a change in myself. A deepening confidence had taken root as we moved forward with our homesteading plans and as I looked down at the little goat in my lap I knew everything was going to better than ok, it was going to be great.
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution