Ok. I’ll be honest. ‘Wonderful’ may be a bit of an overstatement on some days. Days like today when the kids and I sound like slowly dying geese each time we try to clear our congested heads. Or last week when we had so much rain that our goats had to learn those ‘sudden’ ponds popping up in their pasture wouldn’t actually eat them. And then there’s the week before that when I went out to check our bees’ food supplies only to discover one of my precious colonies had died. Not so wonderful.
I say all of this for one reason—many of you have expressed an interest in coming to our little farm to see all the neat things we have going on here. As I write posts, magazine articles, or conduct my sustainable living workshops, I inadvertently paint a picture of this fairy tale land where everything is beautiful with baby goats and butterflies flitting about blissfully in green, luscious pastures while the ladybugs happily munch on all the pests in the lavish garden, which incidentally is somehow magically weed-free.
Welcome to the world of social media and fairy tale land.
The reality of Tender Hearts Homestead is this. We sold our beautiful, very spacious, custom built home and 50 nature filled acres six years ago to pursue our dream of homeschooling our kids, raising and growing our own food, and basically living a more simple and sustainable lifestyle on a single income. As I’ve mentioned before, for us, that meant buying a more reasonable eight acres of raw land. In place of my dream home that we’d sold, we now live in a rather cramped mobile home. Do I miss my house? Of course I do. Do I have days I wonder what we were thinking? Absolutely.
But as I type this, I am watching my six year old son throw his legos happily in the air as Iron Man and Spider-Man engage in mortal combat. My teenage daughter just walked in the door explaining her goat herd’s hierarchy and showing me how red her frozen fingers are—all with a smile on her face. My faithful husband has been out feeding the horses and other creatures while spaghetti (from a box!) simmers on the stove. My life is perfectly wonderful. We are all happy, despite not having some of the ‘things’ that we’d like to have. We’re happy despite the necessity of donning muck boots every single time we simply want a breath of fresh air. And we’re happy despite the fact that our checking account is a bit tinier than we’d like.
Life doesn’t have to have all the ‘things’ society says it needs in order to be a happy life. Whether you’re a single mom trying to make ends meet, a widow living alone in a camper, a struggling family facing bankruptcy, life is always what you make of it. Look past the mud, the disheartening circumstances, and the ‘wishes’ and look at what is right in front of you. Count your blessings each and every day, and you’ll find your heart is a little lighter and your laughter a little louder with each passing day.
Now, here’s a look at our homestead’s not so pretty side…
This disaster is what I see right now every time I look out my kitchen window. And every time I walk out the door. And every time I visit my yard. In other words, everything I do brings this travesty to my attention. Looks like a scene from a creepy, scary movie! I’m so embarrassed…
Even my well-cared for horses look rough right now with shaggy winter coats and mud coated topsides from all the rolling in the wet pasture that they do. And to make the picture look even worse, poor Reba appears to be hanging her head out of her very simple shelter and asking when we intend to not only finish her barn, but WHEN will Richard get the tractor out to clean up all this mud!? Answer: as soon as the rain stops…if that ever happens. And we hope to finish the barn sometime this year, but that’s been a desire for five years now. Maybe this time.
And, of course, we have even more nasty mud where the big girls eat breakfast and dinner. You can’t tell it here, but I promise they really do have grass in the pasture, just not at the gate and their shed. 🙁
Last, but not least, our very humble–and muddy–walkway to our door. I’m really tired of mud.
As you can see, we have a wonderful–but very messy life! We don’t have a fancy home or even a fancy barn or walkway. We live simply and within our means. In other words, in a sustainable manner. We wouldn’t have it any other way.