It’s easy, isn’t it, to feel like you’re not enough? This time of year, particularly, I can begin to feel this emotions creep in. Because I’m the Mom who thinks about fun costumes four and a half seconds before we have to be somewhere that requires a fun costume and then I’m all like, “Hey kids! Throw on your flannels and straw hats! If anyone asks, you’re a farmer!”. I also don’t buy my kids candy, literally ever, so that kicks me even further into the awesome category.
Note: These photos were taking from a recent boating trip to Stehikin, WA during a short break from farm work. Yay for play.
I may not be planning out costumes, but that’s because we are working like dogs over here to keep up with all the farm work. This past week, Stu has harvested and butchered five sheep. I help with the process, but the bulk of the heavy lifting and always the actual killing, falls to him. That’s a big load to carry this time of year when there are so many animals to be harvested. We’ve thinned the flock of over fifteen old birds, butchered five lambs (one more to go), and next weekend we’re preparing to harvested three pigs that were born and raised right here on our farm. These are Ginny’s piglets from last winter – the very first litter I got the pleasure to deliver and be a part of raising. It’s going to be hard, really hard, to see them go. But it’s harvest time, baby. Let’s not even talk about the free-range bunnies that have taken over the barn. They have to go too. Everyone who isn’t bred, laying, or the herd sire has got to go, man!
This season is certainly a time of change, of release, of well, death. The garden is all but gone and what is left is quickly being nibbled to bits by the rabbits. Our ‘tree of life’ is now beginning to die back and it’s leaves are subdued shades of red and orange, putting on their very best dance before they release to feed the ground below. It’s as if the beauty of it all gets the most captivating right before it passes. What a show!
But, truthfully, I’m ready for the change. There are corners of my home that haven’t seen a dust rag or good polishing since… eek, ever? My children are wearing all manner of seasonally inappropriate clothes and at some point, I really should clean out their drawers and make sure everyone has socks. And underwear. Do they even have underwear? I honestly don’t know. My guess is no. In a half-hearted attempt to equip them, I drug the winter clothing out from the crawl space last week and opened it up in a free-for-all/hand-me-down extravaganza. Except after being in the crawl space, I cried, because it was so messy. Naturally, I messaged my Mom.
Shaye: “Mom, my crawl space is so bad. I have to devote some time to cleaning it out. It’s horrible!.”
Mom: “Honey, it’s fine. You’ll get to it. Don’t stress. Give yourself from grace!”
Shaye: “Mom, I don’t want grace. I want a clean crawl space, !$&*!#”
But, let’s be honest here, I’m not going to have a clean crawl space. Want to know why? Because I’m trying to homeschool my oldest two children and *yay*, also entertain the little two. Now, I know this may sound like it should be a cake-walk considering we’re a full-time family and my husband (a classically trained teacher) is here to do it alongside me. But here’s the wrench in that plan: they’re still our kids. We care not only about what they learn, but also about the people they become in the process. We spend more time in the “character development” part of our day than in school these days. The fact of it all is that homeschooling your children is messy, ruthless, amazing work. I’m so thankful that they’re able to be here beside us as we teach them not only mathematics, but also how to make homemade apple cider. When we butcher lambs, they butcher lambs with us. When it’s time to clean out the garden, guess who’s hauling waste to the compost? That wasn’t a tricky question. It’s the kids.
Really though, I’m born and bred in the Pacific Northwest. I’m acclimated to hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. Around here, fall is preparation for the long, dark winter ahead and part of that preparation is mental. I’m charging my brain up with plenty of projects and creative material for the months ahead. Some projects are created naturally from the seasonal flow of the farm, such as curing meats and making all manner of sausages from the pork, and some are specifically formulated to drive my darling husband downright mad.
Shaye: “Hey honey! So I was thinking….”
Shaye: “Oh stop it! It’ll be fun! I was thinking, if we just…”
Stu: “No. Because ‘we’ means ‘me’ and ‘me’ is already really busy.”
Shaye: “Please? I’ll love you forever and ever. I just saw this picture on Pinterest…”
*Stuart walks away, never to return.*
I kid. He wouldn’t ever leave. Because I make him fresh bread and if you know Stu, you know he can’t say no to fresh bread. It’s like putting a deposit in the bank before you ask for a withdrawal. Eventually, enough fresh-bread capital gets built up and I can present the idea of a home-renovation project and it’s met with smiles and sunshine.
I kid. He probably won’t ever be totally smiles and sunshine about a home-renovation project.
But still, it’s fall now. It’s time to make sure everyone has underwear and clean out crawl spaces. Let's do this!