Raising a family on a small farm is rewarding, yet has it’s own challenges. As much as I want to paint a pretty picture and share only our joys, I also don’t want you longing for something unrealistic and not appreciate what you already have. Farm life is hard work, involves a lot of loss, and is dirty. Farm life is also beautiful, fruitful and a bonding experience.
Our Furry Friends
We are military and move every 3-4 years. This dictates what kind of animals we are willing to invest money and time into. But we have found that having animals is very beneficial to our kids and worth the trouble. Currently we have one horse, a dog, two barn cats, eight ducks, and thirty to forty chickens.
We do participate in 4-H, but aren’t using any of the animals for that at this time. We found that showing animals is stressful on the animals, increases risk of bringing disease into our farm and is expensive. I’m not saying we will never show again, but it doesn’t fit our lifestyle currently.
Farm life requires a peace with being dirty. There is an ever moving film of dirt across my wooden floors. Eggs come in covered in undesirable material. Butchering of animals is messy. Little boys plus dirt equals dirty. We live in a state of rotating dirt.
Part of this farm life is sharing the responsibility to care for our critters. The littlest help collect eggs and feed the cats. The next ones are responsible for feeding and watering the chickens. The teen cares for the horse and her sidekick, Hank the Bulldog. My adult son and husband take care of butchering. It’s usually a group effort on most projects.
I’m all about taking care of everything inside the house. I’ll cook whatever they butcher, for the most part. I’ve turned away a cotton tail rabbit and wild boar. I’ve also never been one for gardening, but I love canning and preserving what they harvest. But all this works only if everyone has a part.
Inconvenience of Farm Life
Not trying to be a Debby Downer, but I am a bit of realist. Plus I’ll get to the good stuff soon enough. Farm life isn’t convenient. Well … it is convenient to go outside and grab eggs for breakfast ….
We chose not to milk goats this time around because it’s really hard to find someone to milk for you while you are out of town. You are tied to your animals at least once a day, twice a day if you are milking cows. Honestly it was a hard decision, because fresh, raw milk is priceless and worth the hassle.
Raising baby chicks requires constant care. And if they get “pasty butt”, you get to wipe them clean several times a day. Having the right equipment can be costly, but it makes raising them so much easier. Heat lamps are necessary but hazardous. Once they are moved outside with the big chickens, you have to deal with predators.
Horses are just expensive. It gives my daughter great joy and she has learned a lot, but it’s still expensive. The horse ate my dill. Me and the horse aren’t always on speaking terms. Plus these require a trailer for vet visits or really expensive on sight vets. But what girl doesn’t dream of owning a horse?
Living on a farm is a blessing. It offers our children a wonderful life, enough reality to keep them grounded and the importance of responsibility. It’s a great opportunity to teach teamwork and how to handle grief and disappointment.
I’m not a fan of the term “simple life” because it really isn’t simple, but it is peaceful and refreshing at times. It brings you closer to God’s creation and helps you be grateful for the little things, like where your food comes from. Farm life offers so much growth and stretching. It’s not only good for the kids, it’s good for me too. It far outweighs the struggles.