Most of you may not know the story of how our family got to where we are. That is what I am sharing with you today.
7 years ago, I was ill with a lot of stomach problems, and an autoimmune thyroid disorder. I had been asking God for months, to show me what was going on and how to fix the root cause. Suddenly the phrase “whole foods” kept coming up to me. This phrase led me on a months-long journey of reading books and articles, which eventually led me to the Weston A. Price Foundation and Nourishing Traditions.
Though we had both grown up on farms, we were living in town at the time. We found a source for raw milk and fresh eggs almost an hour away. We went and we LOVED it. We saw a positive change just from switching out those two things in our diet. As we ran out of other groceries, we replaced them with grassfed or pastured meats and more whole, traditionally prepared, foods.
Having grown up with parents who had been raised on the old fashioned family farms, we had the desire to return to those roots and homestead. We eventually moved to a 7 acre homestead with 23 chickens, a dog, and our 4 children. Our main barn was leaning dangerously, the remnant of confinement hog barns were falling in, there was little-to-no usable fencing, the pasture was mostly thistles, and the house was so awful that the 6 of us had to live in a camper for weeks. It was a lot of work, but I can look back fondly on those weeks and months now. We took a place that had been hard used and then almost forgotten, and gave it new life.
After we had moved there and done some work, we added a milk cow. When she had her first calf, we were drowning in milk (almost 5 gallons a day). I lamented on Facebook about it and another local homeschool mom asked if we would sell some. This was the start of a beautiful friendship for me, and a wild ride for our family. Other friends came for milk, and we added turkeys and meat chickens, lambs, pigs, and steers. We outgrew our 7 acres and when Matt got a job offer that would allow him to quit trucking and be home every evening, we jumped at the chance. We found a great 50-acre farmstead 10 miles from his job. It had a house that was the perfect size for our growing family of 7. It was our dream to be able to farm regeneratively, and everything came together in a way that made us think surely it was Divine Intervention.
Our plan was for Matt’s full-time-plus job to financially support the farm while we both put in the sweat equity, and to find new customers and grow as the need arose; eventually getting to where Matt would be able to go down to part time, and then to work solely from home. The problem, we found out, was that we monumentally underestimated the overhead and costs. We jumped into something we really didn’t know about. Looking back, some sort of marketing and accounting classes should have come first. It took us almost 18 months to find customers, and by then we had incurred debt that had not been a part of our plan.
Something else we monumentally underestimated was the work load that we were taking on. The blogs of people who had done this made it sound so simple and smooth - and it was not. We do not shy from work, and actually, we believe it is quite good for you. But for two people who are trying to homeschool and raise 6 children, and rejuvenate and build a farm from scratch (while one of them works 50+ hours most weeks) - well, it was foolish for us to think we could do all of it.
More and more, I see my family falling apart - and I know it is because of my foolishness in taking on too much. The 6-8 or more hours a day I spend on farm work, leaves very little (or no) time to do my most important job: raise my children. My time with them is so short - 18 years goes by in a flash - and they are the only thing on this Earth that can make it to Heaven someday with me.
I have focused for a long time on feeding our bodies, to the detriment of feeding our minds and our spirits.
So, what does this mean for the farm? I have a few inklings of ways that we can continue in some small way - with a more manageable workload (and help). Over the next week or so, I will be spending time fasting and Matt and I will be praying it out together. If you are a believer, we humbly ask for you to join us in asking the Lord to give us clear direction.
Thank you, Dear Friends.