This post was born out of many conversations my husband and I have had over the years. I have always dreamed of a full fledged “farm girl” life, but we’ve found that our reality has turned out to look a little different.
In south-central Pennsylvania, not far from my grandmother’s house, there’s a sprawling valley filled with Amish and Mennonite farms. They spread out across the land like squares on a patchwork quilt. One home dotted with colorful annuals follows another, many of them with large, well-kempt barns and fields. Even the smaller properties in town have tidy backyard gardens filled with fresh produce.
Ever since I was a small girl riding in the backseat of my grandparents’ car, I watched longingly as we passed the horse-drawn buggies and long lines of color-coded laundry. I wanted a home like this one day: a big, beautiful farmhouse, carefully cared for, surrounded by animals and filled with the smell of fresh baking.
Though I didn’t grow up on a farm, I still feel it’s part of my heritage. The memories of stroking a feisty cat in the yard of my great-aunt’s farm, the time spent lurking in the barn at my old friend Grace’s house, the stories of my great-grandmother making their own way with their backyard homestead, and even our own kitchen garden at my parents house… it all runs in my blood.
We’ve pursued so many of the skills that I saw in my own family: gardening, canning, drying herbs, tapping syrup, raising or catching animals for meat, keeping a handful of laying chickens… Over the years there has been an ebb and flow to things. Some years we are bursting with homestead projects and responsibilities; some years we struggle with burnout and accomplish very little.
My reality isn’t filled with onions hung up to dry and bushels of potatoes stored for winter. My canning cupboard is rarely full. Our garden rows couldn’t be described as straight and long, and perhaps some of them were never planted at all. We’ve gave up our primary meat source last summer because it didn’t fit with our lifestyle. Our goat became a pet after a year of milking, and for now I buy my milk at the store.
Perhaps when I envisioned myself on a farm, I imagined it would be a much more monastic lifestyle. One in which I could sit and garden and sew and cook in peace, without the multitude of distractions and outside obligations.
To some, this may sound like an oppressed woman’s reality. To me, however, it speaks of the fullness of a rich and hardworking life. It doesn’t seem confining; rather, it is amazingly freeing. Imagine- the chance to live life as it really works. To be close to your food, to manage your home, to know what kind of work and love goes into every part of your daily needs and wants.
Our modern lives are distracted, fractured, and disconnected from how we eat, wash, and find shelter. Our basic needs are met with paper bills given to us by working a job that’s part of the system, rather than by the work of our own two hands. This is what is so appealing to the idea of homesteading to me: the thought that we really could connect to how we live.
And yet, in my real life, I work at three different places outside of the home. I’m a music teacher and singer. When I’m not out, I’m homeschooling my kids or trying to recover the house from it’s daily explosions. In the cracks, I spend much less time in the dirt than I would like to.
My life isn’t monastic. It’s full of people to see, places to be, and things to be done. It may seem from the outside that I am a down-home, all natural, farmy type of girl- and yes, I do love these types of things. However, in my real life I am also a busy mom who begrudgingly drives a Town and Country and stops at Wendy’s when she’s in a pinch.
Part of me mourns this current reality. I want to live quietly and happily with the weather in my face and earth on my dress. I want to be home more. I don’t want to be running from place to place.
But, as my husband reminded me, the life that we have isn’t bad. It’s just different. My days are good. Our “farmish” adventures are far from full-fledged, but I’m learning to take joy in the adventures we can have right now.
Things don’t have to be all or nothing.
Am I a farm girl? No, not really. But do I have to be? No!
In fact, I often have to remind myself that one of the secrets of happiness is to be content right where you are.
This post from the archives is meant to encourage us ALL to find free ways to organize our stuff. It’s something I am still working on, and I have the feeling I’ll constantly be working on it throughout my life- especially my life with young kids! If you are anything like me, read on. Perhaps we can help each other.
The stuff monster lives at my house.
The stuff monster likes to scatter itself all over my living room floor and pile itself behind cabinets. It likes to stack up high on top of desks and counter tops. It has a sweet way of convincing me that no, I don’t need to put it in its proper place right now. It can always wait til tomorrow… or the next day… or the next…
Honestly, I don’t CARE all that much about having a perfect house. However, what bothers me is how much stress the clutter creates and how much time I devote to dealing with it. I have animals & kids to feed, homeschool to accomplish, and music to practice. Ain’t nobody got time to wade through piles of junk all day long.
I wrote this recipe for sourdough morning glory muffins years ago. While the recipe is old, the taste is balanced and delicious. Let me know how they come out for you!
I was going to make a smoothie, but then my food processor went kaputz. (We think maybe the motor is overheating?) So there I was with 2 cups of almost chopped up carrots. Not being one to waste food, I began rummaging through any recipes that used grated carrots.
Morning glory muffins came to mind rather quickly- I wanted them, but I didn’t want all the sugar. But you know me, I can’t leave well enough alone. I ended up adapting a regular morning glory muffin recipe to be made with sourdough and no refined sugar.
Two weeks ago, I heard a squabbling from the direction of the chicken coop as I took the garbage cans up the hill. The roosters must be having a fight, I thought. But the noise increased and a chicken scream carried out across the yard.
Into the house I ran, slippers off, muckboots on, and back out I scurried. Then I saw him.
A red fox was standing down behind the mud oven in the backyard. A hen’s neck and head were dangling from his mouth. We stared at one another for a moment.
“HEY!” I shouted. He dropped the head in the snow. “GET OUTTA HERE! THESE AREN’T YOUR CHICKENS!!!”
Have you ever wanted to make maple syrup but don’t know where to begin? We were in that same position several years ago. We knew syrup was pricey but we had maple trees on the property. While it seemed daunting at first, the process of making syrup is actually quite simple. It just takes time and a few supplies.
Today, I am hoping to give you a brief overview of how to make maple syrup, or, as it’s often called, “sugaring.” It takes a bit to fall into a rhythm that fits with the rest of your life schedule, but the sticky, sweet, delicious results are well worth the effort.
Lunch. You’ve got that hour in the day when some of you work and some of you are home. There’s not really time to cook it. It’s not ever really convenient. But, regardless, most of us get hungry for it. Plus, for some strange reason, even if you send your kids off to school, they still have to eat during the day. Here is the compelling financial reason why you should try packing lunch instead of buying it.
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Happy New Year, guys! It’s that time again: time to announce what readers have judged as the very best of They’re Not Our Goats for this year.
I say this without bragging or fanfare- I know very well that my blog is just a little speck somewhere in the dustbin of the internet world. However, it’s always interesting to me to see what readers liked best each year and helps me to determine what you would like to see more of in the following year.
So, without further ado:
And, drumroll please……
That’s it! Thanks so much for reading along with me this year, sharing my posts, supporting me and my crazy family, and putting up with my on again off again blog regularity. They’re Not Our Goats would be nothing without its readers.
So, to you my friends, cheers! And here’s to a happy 2018!
Have you heard of a no-spend month? Participants may have varying opinions of the ideal length and degree of financial restraint required, but the idea is basically the same across the board. A no-spend month is essentially a month in which you spend no more than absolutely necessary.
“No-spend month” is, perhaps, a misnomer, because there is really spending taking place. After all, your mortgage or rent can’t go unpaid. You’ve still got to eat. And what about the regular expenses of gas, heat, electric, etc?
It is for these reasons that I say a no-spend month is one in which you spend no more than absolutely necessary. You kick into penny-pinching mode, and you know you can do it because it’s only for a short time period.
Today, I was leaving the store with my three little kids. It had been particularly crowded with all the holiday shopping, but the kids had been miraculously well-behaved. We survived the trip, cashed out, and steered our cart toward the exit.
As we were leaving, we heard raised voices. An older man and middle aged woman were shouting at each other on the way out to the parking lot. When we walked outside, their voices became louder, and profanity after profanity started spewing from the man’s mouth.
My children gaped at this behavior. They silently stared as our cart approached.
I was feeling more and more offended that they weren’t thinking of my children as we walked past. My kids, who are seeing all the signs and cards that proclaim the season “Merry & Bright.” My beautiful children, to whom I am nearly always repeating myself about not screaming or hitting, being patient, using kind words.
This simple slow cooker pork and cabbage recipe is quick to throw together and delicious to come back to after a day at work. It’s appealing to a broad range of tastes, and perfectly warming and comfortable on a chilly autumn or fall evening.
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When I was a kid, I wanted nothing to do with cabbage. Even in my college years, I turned my nose at the stuff. I remember one occasion when a family who didn’t have many worldly possessions invited us over for cabbage soup. They were so excited to share their favorite meal. I am ashamed to say that I gagged down a bowl and didn’t accept a second helping. I just couldn’t bring myself to get over the fact that it was cabbage.