Many people do not understand (and I am writing this in part for family) why we are doing what we are doing. Why we would leave a life, an almost 4000 square foot house in a small suburban city, to live in a barn in the woods? This was a value driven decision. This was a spiritual decision. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to forsake a lifestyle that we did not see as worthwhile and pursue a life that is. We have gone from partaking in a society and a culture that values material possessions, entertainment, and ritualized work cycles that leave people in an endless cycle of servitude through debt, to striving to live without material things in favor of what is natural. In addition, the food in the mainstream grocery stores are full of chemicals, additives, toxins, and GMO ingredients that actually pass into the nucleus of the cells in your stomach. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my stomach to produce pesticides and herbicides for the rest of my life. I want to eat real food.
There is something profound and beautiful about the sounds of the woods. Real sounds. Quiet sounds. (Except that flying monkey beast that flew by in the middle of the night one night. He was very loud.) There is something amazing about discovering how many different kinds of bugs there are; about watching a rooster call his hens over for a tasty treat; about seeing the sweet eyes of a young dog when she meets her charges–two pesky goats–for the first time; the way she lifts her paw at them, as if waving hello with a big grin on her face. Every day I watch the sunset below the trees, with ribbons of colors dancing behind the leaves. Many nights the coyotes sing…back and forth…echoing through the forest.
How can a person compare the satisfaction of gathering one’s own food: from the garden, from nests in a coop, fresh milk from a goat? Sitting down for a meal produced solely by the sweat and work of one’s own hands?
And, don’t get me wrong. It is work. WORK. But good work. Honest work. I have never worked so hard in my life. I am in great shape too, by the way. Slinging 50 pound sacks of feed down slippery hills. Not bad for an almost 47 year old woman. In the past year…make that six months…I have put a roof on a barn, helped build the rest of the barn, dug swales, put up fencing, run electrical lines, moved, set up animals, planted trees, learned to milk goats….oh, and so much more to do. There really aren’t enough hours in the day, but the best part is there are more tomorrow.
So, I live in a barn that is only half way insulated to date, with a woodstove (that we put in), two hot plates, and a tub/shower that I have to climb a step ladder to get into. (It works great!) My washing machine is my arms, a metal plunger and a ringer on a mop bucket. My dryer is a clothes line (inside and out). As we work to get more and more off grid, I am learning skills almost lost to history, often thinking of my Grandma Alma and her life. Soon, we will build our home in the woods. Off grid. Awesome!
I welcome you to our homestead. I will share what we learn. How we grow. The trials. The successes. The failures. Please feel free to comment, and share your homesteady advice and experiences!
This is a place, here at Ophidian Farms, where a person can have the time and the quiet to get to know Nature again. A place where a person can get to know themselves. A place to discover how and maybe even why we, as humans, fit into it all. There is a spark of spirit in all of us, if only we can find the quiet and the time to feel it. There is no greater place to start then with the Earth under our feet. There is no greater teacher then Nature herself.
We do not have a television. We do not have a driveway (that seems to bother a lot of people for some reason. I can walk up the hill. Really, I can.) Things are a bit of a mess right now while we get up and running. You learn to take it in stride. No, I can’t get it all done today. Or tomorrow. But I can remember to stop what I am doing and listen to the wind in the trees. I can remember to chat with the goats a bit–Avie wants ALL the grain, but he’s a boy and can’t have it–and he’s getting a bit of a pudge, so has to go without right now.
I have learned what makes dogs laugh. I have learned that I don’t want a jury of my peers if my peers are Guinea Fowl. I have learned that turkeys make sounds like spaceships, and that they stalk you like undead undertakers. I have learned that making cheese is not that hard, that deer meat is good, and that fermented foods are fantastic. I have learned that you can’t herd ducks. I have learned that Geese can.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings!