|That wheelbarrow has toted a lot of kids…and manure. 😉😬🤣|
In the stage our family is in, it seems like life is going at a nonstop sprint. The kids are busy, Jack’s job is demanding, I feel like I’m a chicken running around with her head cut off just trying to keep on top of laundry and lunches. Sometimes, all the work and endless to-do lists makes me feel like I might be crushed under the weight of it all but when I stop and think about my life, it’s everything I ever wanted, and then some.
|We helped more than one turtle and tortoise cross the road during the spring migration.|
I grew up in the city, though in my heart, I knew I was a country girl. I lived for the once-a-year visit to my kindergarten teacher’s farm, where we’d ride her old broodmares, chase down the chickens, find the newborn kittens, and get soaking wet trying to catch the goldfish that lived in their water trough. It took a few decades for the dream to become a reality but Jack–a country boy himself–has been just as determined as I am to raise our family on our own little slice of paradise.
|The turkeys left us a little surprise–Rosie started her own little clutch under the kids’ playground slide.|
It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears–A LOT–to get to where we are today but it was worth the price. It still costs us a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to maintain this lifestyle, but the rewards of farm life far surpass the potential ease and comfort we could have had if we’d taken a different path.
|Overflowing with eggs!|
I love that we’re surrounded by life in all its stages. Death sometimes catches us off guard, but a lot of times, it’s after an animal has lived a long, meaningful, happy life with us. Of course, our favorite part is seeing the beginning of life. Woody was our first calf born on our property, and we’ve had a few lambs, and chicks brought into this world while under our care, along with six little ones of our own. And that’s not even scratching the surface of the newborn wildlife we spot around the barn, from newly hatched dragonflies to fox cubs and raccoon kits.
|My friend the fledgling barn swallow. 💕|
|Kate picking the black raspberries that volunteered at the back of our house.|
Jack has had a longstanding interest in foraging and has hunted for everything from wild asparagus to mulberries to mushrooms and the kids seem to be gleaning a lot of what he’s shared with them. They’ll pluck the wild chives growing through the grass and eat them then and there or will pile up the black walnuts for shelling in the fall. It gives real meaning to the sentiment of eating seasonally. So much of the delicious food we enjoy from foraging is fleeting but it really makes that particular time seem so exciting. I’ve found myself referring to times of the year by what’s edible, like maple syrup season.
|Picking elderberries isn’t for the faint of heart.|
Foraging is a different beast than gardening where plants produce foods that are easily accessible and weeds are (supposedly 😉) kept at bay. When we’re out scouring for food, there are ticks, poison ivy, wild roses, mosquitoes and mud. Good thing we don’t mind getting dirty.
|We take a lot of showers. Or at the very least, hose them off outside or make them rinse off in the sink.|
The abundance of food isn’t just for us, either. I’m always surprised how inexpensive it is to keep horses and cows if you’ve got the space for them. They literally eat our lawn. Instead of mowing, I get to enjoy watching them enjoy having the space to roam and graze.
What’s also pretty neat about stacking hay is how much fun we have doing it together. It can be hot, exhausting work but we load everyone in the car, let them ride on the trailer, and everyone helps with a specific part of the process, the work goes quickly and everyone has a smile on their face.
|So much cooler in the evening.|
I don’t just love country living because of where I live, though that’s a big part of it. Every time I get in my car, I’m grateful I’m braking for turtles instead of traffic lights. I constantly have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road instead of surveying fields and wondering how their harvest is going to turn out. Indiana is incredibly diverse as far as commercial farming, too. There are the typical corn and soybeans, but we’ve also seen plenty of wheat, pumpkins, barley, and turnips on our travels.
|The pumpkin vines just starting to flower.|
Even the weeds are beautiful. My favorite are all the morning glories that start creeping up the corn in late summer. They come in vibrant purples, pinks, blues, and snowy white. I slow down and point it out to the kids every time we pass it.
We’ve noticed just how many flowers grow in abundance around our house and often stop to pick ourselves a bouquet from a backroads ditch. There are plenty of daylilies, black-eyed Susans, bachelor buttons, and roses.
Even the fields pre-planting that are full of butterweed as far as the eye can see are absolutely stunning.
Another fun thing about leaving our house and driving to the grocery store or to school or the hardware store is that my author brain cannot not think of stories for the interesting things we see along the way. If there’s an abandoned house or creepy, hollowed-out oak tree, chances are, I’ve wondered how I can work it into a book.
|Such a cool house in its day.|
Sometimes our traveling doesn’t even take us away from the house, though. I love that our backyard can be its own adventure. We wander through the forest and stroll through the pastures between dinner and bedtime. No biggie.
|Raven’s always willing to go out for a walk.|
As a morning person, my very favorite part of the day–at home or abroad–is the sunrise. It’s a little harder to see surrounded by the pockets of forest that pop up everywhere in Indiana but when I catch that time when the sun is warming the horizon without trees blocking it, I know it’s going to be a good day.
|Ahhh…my kind of morning sunrise. 🌞|
|Good thing I played tuba in high school and college marching band. I’ve got a strong back because of it!|
Children doing chores seem to be a sort of dying art, too. The neat thing about living in this day and age is that kids don’t have to do work–they get the benefit of a life of luxury in our part of the world. I think that is sometimes unfortunate and deprives them of experiences that’ll help them out later in life. We work hard to ensure our kids know the value and satisfaction of hard work, while also balancing their life with play. Sometimes I excuse them from weeding the garden or doing the dishes so they can go swim or swing but I’m always pleasantly surprised when I invite them to work alongside me, how willing they are.
Like any way people choose to live, there are downsides. In the country, we’re the last to have snow cleared off the road and if they bother doing it at all, they usually only scrape out one lane. We have more potholes than the whole of townships in more populated areas, people go through a lot of trouble to drag their used mattresses out here to dump them in a ditch so they don’t have to pay to take it to the dump, and we have the slowest-yet-most-expensive internet on the planet and guess what? There is only one, maybe two options. But those are all petty annoyances when compared to the joys that country living bring. I wouldn’t trade our slice of paradise for city living if I can ever help it. There’s definitely too much of the quiet, sometimes quirky, demanding, rewarding life in the country that we’d miss. We know just how blessed we are and thank the Lord for it every day. 💕
|Zoey taking a break while loading hay.|