As far as how to get "here" from "there" (you know who you are, corporate monkeys!)... the best advice I can give is "start where you are, use what you got, do whatcha can." Or you can always do what I did and give "The System" the finger and get all farmy in one fell swoop - but that's some serious business and not for the faint hearted.
As an introduction, you can learn a little about how and why we are taking a whack at this life here. And how we got here. In short we have this life because we wanted to. Purists may be disappointed but, we're not trying to make a statement or change the world - we're just doing it because we can. I did The Big Life for 20 years and it really didn't work out for me. It didn't feed my soul, and frankly, it didn't do my health any good either. When I lost both of my parents by the time I was 34 I figured I'd better get serious about living the life I wanted to instead of just going along with the flow or meeting someone else's expectations. So I did.
I get a lot of weird looks and questions about my life. And I get a lot of "Gosh I want to do that!" Um.. are you sure?? Its hard to explain how much work this life is, not that its a bad thing. Just different than what you'd expect. Some of my city friends think my life is like this:
Morning: Get up at my leisure, go out to wagging dog tails and happy cats, eat breakfast on the deck while my well behaved flocks happily run around in the barnyard.
Mid-Day: Read some magazines while sitting in my chair, watch baby ducklings play in the kiddie pool, nap. Maybe make a pie.
Evening: Enjoy a dinner on the grill, watch the sun go down, read some farm related material, go to bed well after midnight.
HA! Come along, Future Farmer... pull on your farm boots and lets bust the lid off this easy, "slow" life ideal and show you what its really like.
Wednesday Oct 27th - A Day in the Slow Life
2:30 AM. I'm not kidding that's when my day started. 2:30 in the morning. AM. O-dark thirty. Dog #1 was barking in a weird way so I got up. He and I went out and stood on the back deck. Then we heard it. The roosters were screaming their heads off. You are kidding me.
So the dog and I double timed it out to the hen house (yes, in my underpants) to see what was going on. I opened the hen house door and...nothing. So I yelled in, "HEY! What is the problem?" Nothing. Just roosters screaming. Sheesh. Since I was up anyway I took the puppy out for a quick pee (she, not me) and went back to bed.
6-something AM. Round one of the Insane Cat Posse's "Hey get up!" routine starts. Peep arrives on the scene first. During the summer I'd already be out there working at 6 in the AM. But it was still dark out so I hid under the covers which foiled Peep's plot. Then Nicholas showed up 10 minutes later and started digging for me. I hid deeper. So Little Mo joined the excavation. This went on for a while.
7-something AM. Still not light yet but the cats are relentless. So I gave up, got up, and pulled on some barn clothes. Fell over a couple of cats on the way out to the kitchen to see dogs pawing all around, and I got a cute puppy bark. I gathered up the pup and we all went outside. I checked on the Meats, Meeps, and turkeys. The Meats got a small scoop of food as they were churning like piranhas. They swarmed me - like piranhas - as I tried to walk into their coop. Meeps happily honk all around as the dogs and I headed back inside. Its still too dark to let the masses out so I took the pup back to bed and hoped for a few minutes of snuggling. But she was all wiggly and needed a snack. She eats like I do - on a hobbit schedule (First breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, elenvenies, tea, supper, dinner.)
8:00 on the dot. A pal who is driving into work calls. Shhh. I don't answer. But I abandon all hopes of puppy snuggles and get up for good. I left the pup with my hubby and took the big dogs out to hen house. On the way I shout abuse at pigs. I threatened the ill-behaved roosters with The Frying Pan and let the ducks out, let other ducks out, let the rest of the ducks out. This sounds like a lot of ducks but really its not as bad as it sounds. I know someone who had 53 ducks this summer. You know who you are. I also let the goats out. They immediately tried to kill each other. I see its gonna be one of those days.
The little ones make a run for freedom and beyond!Next, I unleashed the chicks-with-mommas...oh what a hopping, popping, squawking, peeping, shrieking mess. They ran like rats from a ship. Got the ducks and little ones a scoop of feed. Headed back into phone range and called my commuter friend back. While we chatted I made coffee, tripped over cats on the way to turn on the laptop, and ate a pumpkin scone (made the previous day) for First Breakfast.
8:30am Friend arrived at work and signed off. So I ate a second scone while catching up on headlines and emails. Checked in with fellow farm nerds, sent greetings to friends, checked weather, shoved cats off my keyboard. Wondered if The Big Man would notice if I ate all of the scones... He brought the pup out before I could decide to do the right thing. Dang.
Then the morning really got started. Morning chores are kind of a hodgepodge of events. Technically there is a system but you'd never know it. Everyone needs to be let out, fed, and watered. But its not that simple. All the dominoes need to line up or its nothing but chaos. Before I headed back outside I started a load of laundry trying to conquer Mount Washmore.
Outside for chores, The Big Man takes the turkey, meats, Meeps, and pigs and I handle the chickens, ducks, and goats. I'm still milking Nibbles and trying to see if Debbie will milk for another month. So far Nibbles is giving about a pint+ a day and Debbie is just mad about everything. She just glared at me as the barn cats started saucing around.
Early morning peck aroundDog #2 and the pup were starting to play. We supervised them while getting the water buckets filled and the hay put out for the goats. The laying hens are the last to be let out. Shortly after, the guineas showed up and caused a ruckus. I shouted more insults at the pigs and then we headed inside.
10:30-ish Mid morning was about figuring out what we need to do, who needs what, and Second Breakfast. The previous night I made bread, biscuits, the scones, and cooked down a pumpkin. The kitchen was a disaster and there are flour cat footie paw prints all over. So we shoveled out the kitchen, did more laundry, and ate something (in my case more scones and more coffee - I should have had something with protein but dang those scones are good).
Since it rained the previous day I was going to have an inside day with a focus on canning. By this time all of the inside cats and dogs had been fed, and we'd taken care of the pup (fed and taken out again).
Hard day being a pup
11:30 AM I took the pumpkin that I cooked down last nite out of the fridge. Then scooped half the flesh into a colander to drain to be used immediately because.. well. Someone ate all the pumpkin scones. The other half of the pumpkin was scooped out, blended, and put into portions for the freezer. I also set the black beans to quick soak. And started weighing and chopping the tomatoes to make salsa. More laundry, more tripping over cats, more dishes, more kitchen shoveling, more taking the pup out. I did this inside dance for a while..then we remembered that we had to get a few things down at the feed store (turkey feed and bagged corn) and the library so off we went.
12:30pm: Since I'm the automatic gate opener I repelled down from the big truck and opened the gate when we got home. I grabbed the canines and went out to do the rounds. Needed to make sure none of the chicks had wandered off, that everyone had water, that the goats hadn't killed each other (yet). Sigh. This is why we need Vita. Meats needed another scoop of feed as they have easily doubled in size from that morning. Creepy meats. Hens are currently on strike and are not laying but I keep hoping
1: 16pm Oh look! Its the geese coming up from the pond! I watch the geese and silently despair the OD will never love me back.
1:18pm Something caught my eye and I realize its a cloud that looks like a big ice cream sundae. "Hey Honey! How about some lunch?" And I went to find The Big Man hoping he will grill some burgers while I keep working in the kitchen. I finally got to sit down for a few minutes while I ate my burger... and shoved cats off my keyboard.
The Big Man checking email - what its like at our house. Cats. Sheesh.
1:40pm Finally, its ice cream time. Double vanilla on top of home made, baked and canned applesauce. Seriously, what could be better?
A perfect snack
Afternoon was much like the morning: The beans were in the pressure canner - which I have to watch like a hawk, and I did even more laundry, checked email, took the puppy out, did the rounds outside. The big dogs were outside with my hubby as he was working on unloading the truck.
I was about to start on the salsa when I suddenly realized that something smelled bad, it was the tomatoes and they were bad. Like really bad. Dang. I hate wasting things - especially food. I took the bad smelling tomatoes outside and went and got some big cabbages and began working on sauerkraut.
3:00pm My old lady cat came out and screamed that she wants something to eat. After 20 years she can have whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. We hobbled back to her room and got her some food.
3:15pm found me still slicing, still pounding, still shoving soon-to-be-rotted cabbage into Mason jars and a big ol' crock. Just kidding, Freemotion, I know its "fermented". But this still sounds like a crock and I'm totally unconvinced it will work. I'm flummoxed. But big cabbages provided hilarious photo opportunities and I amused myself.
No, these aren't the funny pix.. but I love that big green bowl.
Took the puppy out again. More shoveling out the kitchen, more dishes, more laundry, more tripping over cats. I took the fussy pup down to The Big Man for snuggles.
5:04pm I sent Bourbon Red an email stating I didn't believe that this sauerkraut thing would ever work and what kind of Teutonic nut job came up this idea? I kept working, unconvinced. Certain death was imminent. By cabbage of all things. Sheesh.
6:10pm It was late and the last of the cabbage was sliced, the lid was off the pressure canner, and we needed to head out and start putting the masses to bed. The later it gets, the faster the feathered ones start moseying into the correct coops. Except for the ducks. Malcontents. There was some chasing.
The goats were still trying to kill each other. It was so bad I brought Dog #1 into their yard so they had a common enemy. It worked. Debbie was being ridiculous and one of us may not survive her pregnancy. She and I squared off, but she looked away first and ambled away. Nibbles breathed a sigh of relief. I scooted in the last of the chicks, got the last water bucket filled, and told the pigz how much I hated them. G'night Bacon!
I hate you pigz! But love the bacon...
Dog #2 was playing with the pup but he tumbled her over. So I scooped her up and took her inside. She had big dog slobber all over her head so I cleaned her up and held her while watching the last few minutes of the evening news. My hubby came in so I handed him the sleepy pup and went to start dinner.
7:10pm Dinner was coming together - turkey and noodles. Home canned turkey and stock, store bought noodles, herbs fresh from the yard, and a handful of our corn and green beans from the freezer. Aside from the simmering its quick and easy, especially since I already had the fresh bread and biscuits.
7:50pm I actually sat down. A miracle.
8:00pm America's Next Top Model was on. Usually I like to watch it while eating a huge bowl of ice cream or a slab of cake - 'cuz I like the irony. But that nite it was chocolate from Trader Joes. I just love Tyra.
The pup was fussy so we were trying to keep her entertained. And fed. She eats like a horse. Last trip outside and I also went out to turn off the hen house light off. We've started keeping it on because the days are getting so short. I should have gone out earlier to turn it off, but someone asked me what a day in the slow life was like.
So that's what my day was like. I finally went to bed about 11 and it was that late only because the pup needed another snack, then another trip outside. Tomorrow when the morning light comes streaming in, I'll get up and do it again. Amen.
So whatcha think? Do you got what it takes to be all farmy? Grow your own food? Keep the flocks, till the soil, hate the pigz?
Let's pass this meme on and see what your Day in the Slow Life is like. Grandpa - you out there? I'd love to hear more about your Life on the Farm, the tilapia, and how your transitioned from your corporate life to your jungle life. Got any advice for those desiring to make the leap? How about Back to Basics? Dang, girl - you make me look like some kind of upstart. What do you have to show for your 'slow' life this week?
And here's a curveball for ya - Hey Drew!?! I know you know How To Cook Like Your Grandmother... but I just love the series you're doing on real food. You slayed me with the comment from your wife, about how she wanted something "good not quick." Whatcha got in The Slow Life for the suburbanites who want to eat better and live better?
That's what I got. Check back and I'll link to the folks I tagged here when they tell us about their Day in the Slow Life. Thanks again, Mr. H, this was a great exercise and I loved participating.