Jan 21, 2010

A New Chapter

This March marks the start of our third year here on the Farm. It's a milestone of serious accomplishment. When we first moved here we were city folks, greenhorns that knew nothing of how to live off the land but what we read in books. Reflecting on all that we have learned in the past two years I can't help but feel proud and humbled by all we've done. We've learned to garden, and to preserve our harvest by means of drying, canning, jerking, and pickling. We learned the fine art of storing vegetables over winter in a root cellar, how to care for chickens year round, how to gather eggs without being attacked by the rooster. How to build our own outbuilding and cut our own wood. How to heat a house in -50 degree weather using only a wood stove located in the basement. How to sew my own cloth diapers, and crochet a queen size coverlet, how to thrash grain and sun dry laundry.

No matter how please I am over what we've learned in skills I can't help but be elated in what we've learned that is so much more. The simple things that seem to get lost in the city living that thrive way out here. We've learned to enjoy having neighbors, and whether it's sharing tomatoes from the garden or eggs from the chickens how good it feels to enjoy a simple cup of coffee with friends. We've learned to slow down long enough during harvest to enjoy the sounds of the birds in the fall when the skies are thick with flocks heading south before the winter. We've learned to appreciate dandelions as flowers instead of weeds when they cover every square inch of our lawn in the spring giving us the most spectacular burst of color after months of mounds of snow. We've learned that we have a deeper connection to God than we've ever imagined and that living a simpler way of life away from the unnecessary complications that we create for ourselves we can feel that connection so much more. We've learned that there is nothing more precious in life then the smiles of our children as they play with simple sticks and pine cones in the mud. We've learned that everything around us has a rhythm to it's life, and we've learned to seek the beauty in it.

Even with all this there is always more to learn. We've acquired our building permit to construct our forever dream home in the back field of our property. When we first moved here our intentions were to build a big, beautiful, modern farmhouse with all the conveniences. We would run a farm and provide for ourselves but we would do it in style. Today our building permit is for a 1500sqft 3br. 2bth Saltbox. The plans include a spring house instead of a refrigerator and a wood cook stove in the kitchen. The home will be run by a modest solar powered system that can run high efficiency lighting, a computer, a radio, the well pump, and 2 composting toilet fans daily, and that's it. The home will not be wired for phone but we will instead use cell phones and use solar powered battery pads to charge the phones and several of the children's small electronic devises. We will no longer have a tv, dishwasher, washing machine, or electric stove. I know as I write this many of you out there are mind boggled by this sort of simplistic lifestyle, but honestly this has been discussed at length by our family, and everyone is on board for the change, even the children. Their biggest concern was for family movie night on Saturday's which I assured them that even without a tv the laptop can play DVD's so family movie night was safe and sound in our traditions.

Some of this change can be thanked in part to our Amish/ Mennonite neighbors we have who have done a wonderful job showing us what is truly important to life and what is merely unnecessary. I've strived now for the past year to be a model woman of Proverbs 31 partly because I've always felt that this is what a woman should be, and partly in my attempt to be closer to God and his will. I've always been fascinated with Amish lifestyle and form of dress, so I questioned my neighbor Sarah one day how they could live without a tv, radio, anything that tells them what is going on outside our town. She replied by asking me why I moved up here to the remote section of Northern Maine. In that one question I understood. We\ moved our family to get away from the craziness of the city...not just to homestead, we could have done that in CT on the 30 acres of land we owned there. No, we moved because of the drugs, crime, violence, petty competitions, and lack of morals that we were surrounded by where we were. So if we moved to remove ourselves from this culture than why do we invite it back into our living room every night in the form of the evening news? Why do we allow our children to watch the petty series and sitcoms with the immoral values we are trying to save them from? Sarah explained to me that she dresses the way she does not just because God commands it but because by dressing this way it reminds her everyday that she is different from the rest of the world, but a part of her community, a place where people share her thoughts, morals, and devotions. Sarah is a very smart woman.

While I am not ready to shun society as a whole I can understand what Sarah was trying to say and I agree with her. We've been hanging on to the last of what our former life was and the last of our old ways, and it is now time to shed them. We no longer need a large gaudy house to show off to friends, family, and neighbors. We need a house that is serviceable and able to work just like us. We no longer need a tv to spend hours mindlessly watching, and since I will no longer be watching tv I have time to wash my clothes and dishes by hand. More time to play with my kids, more time to read to them and teach them the morals and values I want them to carry into their own lives in their own homes.

So as we enter 2010 there is still a lot for us to learn. I need to except each day as it is. What I can accomplish in a day is what I can accomplish, there is always tomorrow to continue. I have to strive to make keeping my home a litany to God instead of a chore that must be done. I have to set aside more time for my kids to teach me things....because in spending time with them they often do. I need to turn off the tv, and to turn the page to the next chapter of my life with my family on our little homestead, and there are no regrets, no what ifs, nowhere we would rather be.

God Bless.