Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Four Years Ago

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about what all we do here on the farm. She tried to have a little flock of layers about a year ago and gave up when the hawks got them all. So her little chicken coop that she built herself stands empty. She made the statement that she always makes when we talk, "I could never do everything that you do." I hear this statement a lot when people find out what all I do. I fully understand where they are coming from. But most don't realize that I didn't start off doing "all" that I do now. In fact, if someone had told me a little over 4 years ago that I would be milking goats, grinding my own wheat and baking my own bread, along with the various other things that I do around here I would have said they must be out of their mind. I could barely keep up with the housework and homeschooling. Then I had a feeling and that feeling grew and grew that I needed to do more. In fact those feelings came in the form of dreams that haunted me each and every night for more than 6 months. The funny thing about those dreams is that they were very specific about what I needed to do. In those dreams I envisioned cooking more from scratch than I did at the time, growing and putting away a large garden, raising livestock. While I have always loved farm life and wanted to have a farm, it wasn't something that I envisioned for myself. Many days I struggled just to get the laundry and the cooking done. Having chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia sometimes made just getting out of bed a struggle. It still does. Pain has been my middle name since I was 8. But I can only say that because of the specific nature of those dreams that they were a calling from God. God wanted me to do this and after all those nights and all those months I simply could not deny it. I didn't see how we would do it. My husband worked a lot just trying to make ends meet. Even on his days off he often took side jobs which meant he could barely get the yard mowed much less anything else. Our fences were (some still are) in poor shape and often barely kept the horses in. The pastures were poor and the barns were pitiful. We had no good place for the garden as all of the soil had long ago been overly processed with chemicals, and in some places badly eroded. I had already tried 2 flocks of chickens and that turned out miserably when both flocks were wiped out by the neighbor's pit bulls despite the fencing that I struggled to put up. I had also tried rabbits and lost them to heat stroke despite frozen water bottles. I did not see how I could do what He was calling me to do. But I finally broke down and decided that if God wanted me to do this then He would make it possible. Where I was weak He would make me strong. I followed the path of the dreams. The instructions from God. Whenever I needed to know how to do something the answers were right there even though many times I didn't know what I was looking for. He was opening the doors and leading the way. I just had to follow and learn. However, I am not going to say that things were easy. They weren't. My first garden here was 5 ft.x10ft. Just enough to attempt to grow a few tomatoes and cucumbers. I called it my salad garden. It failed miserably. I planted the lettuce too late and as spring turned into summer within a week it died rapidly. The tomatoes burned up later in the summer as I harvested a measly two of them off 3 plants. The cucumbers grew and grew and then were attacked by cucumber beetles. The next year I amended the soil and tried again. That year I couldn't keep the pony out of the garden. My daughter accidentally left the gate open and once he got a taste he wiped it clean. He even broke through the fence to get in. I built a chicken coop, newer and stronger out of recycled wood. I bought a few hens. 1 drowned in the horse water trough, another was killed by a possum that dug under the coop. I think we only have 2 of the original 5 left. One and on it went, each time we added something or tried something it brought new problems and I was still working out the old problems. But I was learning and despite the issues and setbacks each season brought more knowledge. I gleaned the knowledge that I had gained from my grandparents as it started to come back after many years of being shoved to the back of my mind. Now 4 years later I am content with what God has allowed us to do. We are still learning and each year we learn more and address new and different issues. God has always provided the means for us to do this and to follow this path. When we thought there was no money he either showed us how to do it free or cheap and when we couldn't do that somehow the money was available. The more we did for ourselves the less it cost us in living expenses. Our grocery bill now for 4 is cheaper than what it used to be for 2 due to the knowledge and skills that we have obtained over the past 4 years. During those 4 years, I felt such an urgency to learn and do more. I no longer feel that urgency because I know that now finally we are in a good place. Whatever we learn and do from here on out is a "bonus", but the urgency is gone. We have a well stocked pantry, we have several food sources, we have skills that we never dreamed of having. We look at our land and our life in a much different light than we did 4 years ago. I still have pain and I still struggle with bone deep fatigue, but God gives me the strength and the fortitude to keep going. Because I followed His plan and guidance we eat better which has eased the pain. So yeah, I can understand my friend's statement. I made the same one myself years ago. But because I had faith that God knew me better than I knew myself I am in a whole different place. I have a peace in my life that I never knew before. So sometimes, we have to take that leap of faith that God will give us the strength and courage to do what we must do to follow the path that He wants us to follow. Blessings from the farm, Kat


Marmee's Pantry said...

Excellently said! More ppl need to see this, Kat. So many who want to simplify, live off-grid, or simply have a 'salad garden' need to hear from someone, like you, who has DONE it...but also shares the trials & triumphs. Well said. Thanks for sharing, many will be blessed & encouraged by you.

To God be the glory!

Blessings from Ohio...Kim<><

Kelle said...

Amen Sister, the further I read in your post the more it was if you were writing our story, only without the chronic fatique and not as much pain. We consider ourselves still learning, but... that urgency, as you said, is gone. We still have our trials, failure,disappointments and hurts, but....even more so, we have our victories( be it small ones or large), blessings and the loving drive from God. :o)

Thanks for sharing, it is so encouraging to hear others feel as we do :o)

teekaroo said...

I know that urgency too.

Kat said...

Thanks ladies. I try to give encouragement where I can along with the reality of what this life is really like. This life is all about baby steps, not big leaps and bounds. Blessings, Kat

Kate said...

Urgency is a good word for it. It's the same urgency I felt that led me to home educate my children years ago. I enjoyed your post as well as the comments from these other women. I have felt an urgency to change our lifestyle for quite sometime now, and finally, we have taken our first steps. Some of our family members think we are a little insane, but I think we are headed towards true self sufficiency, which in my heart equals freedom. Self reliance is hard to find among my city neighbors and I worry about them and their lack of a "can do" spirit. This weather has helped shed light on how vulnerable my city neighbors really are and the desperate need they have for others to help them out of a rough situation. Don't misunderstand, I love helping folks, but that's not what I'm talking about. They just seem to lack the ability to do for themselves in a way that should come naturally. I dont mean to be so negetive because they are very sweet people with hearts of gold. Anyway, I'm excited to learn all the things you have learned over the past few years for my own family's health and security in the beautiful surroundings of our newly purchased farm!

Kat said...

Kate, don't worry about being insane. One of the reasons I started this blog was that all of my family thought I had gone crazy. I was even asked if I need to see a psychiatrist because it seemed as if I was becoming a little radical and obsessive. Then another family member asked if I was planning on becoming Amish. So I started this blog in hopes that there were other crazy folks somewhere out there like me. And guess what....there are a whole bunch of us. But in all seriousness, yes self reliance is freedom and each step will bring you closer to that freedom and also lift a tremendous amount of worry and fear from your heart and mind. And well, your neighbors are just very typical of mainstream America that has been brought up in the age of having the government take care of all the worrying and the doing. I pray that your journey into this life is a good one. It isn't easy, but it is never boring! That I will promise you. Blessings from the farm, Kat

Chris Riello said...

Wow Kat! That was so inspirational. I have dreamed for years of having a farm or farmette. Growing my own veggies, having chickens, and basically being a self sustained family. I need to pray hard about following this desire and seeing if my husband will come along for the ride with me. Thanks so much for sharing.

Kat said...

Thanks Chris. Yes, pray and if it is God's will for your family then He will make the way and bring your husband along for the ride. Your hubby might be more receptive than you think. Mine thought me a bit nutty at first but quickly jumped on board. Blessings from the farm, Kat