November marks the one-year anniversary of our family moving into our brand-new farmhouse! And what a year it’s been! Today I’m looking back and talking a little bit about what I like best and least about living in the country, and the things I’ve learned since becoming a homesteader and fledgling farm-woman.
We are settling into the rhythm of November here on the farmstead. More than that, we’re settling into the rhythm of our second November here! An entire year is under our belts now, and it’s time for a whole new trip around the sun!
It’s also time for a bit of reflection, which I think is important to do on all anniversaries.
If you’re a long-time reader, you might remember a bit of the journey we took to get here. It hasn’t been as extreme as some — we didn’t have to move across the country and we aren’t out in the far reaches of the wilderness — but there was a lot of uncertainty and back-and-forth and doubt. Lots of doubt.
Our Journey from House to Homestead
Do you want to go back and read about the building of our farmhouse? Here are the links, from beginning to end!
In the end, it all came out right. I really believe that moving out here was the best thing for our family and I would do it again in a heartbeat. That said, not everything out here in the sticks is all rainbows and sunshine. Here are the things I like best about living on the farmstead, what I like least, and some lessons I’ve learned since becoming a homesteader!
What I like Best About Being on the Farmstead
First things first, I LOVE our house! It’s cozy and warm and not too big or too small. It’s just right.
It’s incredible to think that not that long ago instead of our cozy little home, the building that sat here was a 125-year-old year old, 3,000-square-foot farmhouse that was one of the first houses built in the area. The wood to build it was old growth timber, and it was floated down the river to reach this hillside. That channel of the river isn’t even there anymore — it’s cow pasture now!
I hated burning down that farmhouse. Hated it. However, renovating it turned out to not be an option (based on the advice of three different contractors), and we couldn’t build anywhere else on the property with the original house still standing. We ended up deconstructing and salvaging a lot of the wood from the house before the burn down, and Jasper and I came to terms with the fact that it was the property we loved more than anything. So in the end, the decision has sat well with us.
Other things I love include:
NOT LIVING IN TOWN: I grew up in Astoria, which isn’t a big town by any means, but I still am so happy not to live in the thick of it anymore. Every time I go there, the traffic and noise and tourists just overwhelm. I love not paying overpriced water bills anymore, or city bonds, or hearing the constant whine of sirens or helicopters. I love that I can go there, I can do what I need to get done, and I can leave.
PEACE AND QUIET: When I’m outside, the only things I can hear are wild birds, cows, the Puddle Ducks, and the trickling of the stream down beyond the lower field. At night we listen to dozens of coyotes serenade each other. It’s more restive than you can believe.
NEIGHBORS I KNOW: When we lived in town, our house was one of 36 in the neighborhood. I knew four of my neighbors. Out here at the farmstead, I also know only four of my neighbors, but that’s all of them. And what’s more is that I like them all! I feel like part of a real community here.
WILDLIFE AND LIVESTOCK: I love animals — I think that’s a pretty well-known fact. And out here there are animals everywhere! From the hummingbirds to the mink to the neighbor dogs to the cows, I love seeing them all. Even spotting coyotes is exciting. And those cows! Sometimes they amble over to see me when I go down to get the mail, and it makes my heart happy.
MILK TRUCKS AT NIGHT: A few of the big dairy farms out here supply to the Tillamook Creamery, and the trucks to collect the milk always seem to come at night. We don’t see them often, but when we see do, they are all lit up like it’s a parade, and it delights us every time.
HAVING A WOOD STOVE: It keeps me warm. It crackles. It fills me with love and joy.
23 BIG WINDOWS: Our builder tried to talk us into cutting down the amount of windows in the house by half. I adamantly refused and insisted we keep all 23. Those many windows let the late winter sun pour through when it’s most desperately needed, and our house is light and bright even on dark and dismal days.
What I Like Least About Life in the Country
LONG COMMUTES TO TOWN: When I have to go to town — any town — it takes about 20 minutes to drive there. While I like not being in town, I don’t like having to drive so far when I do need to get there. I know. I am full of contradictions.
SLOW INTERNET: Sloooooooooooooooow satellite internet that costs an arm and a leg is just about the only thing available out here. We can’t even stream anything off Netflix anymore. We might be the only people left who use the DVD service (well, us and everybody else who lives way out in the country!).
NO CURBSIDE RECYCLING: Apparently we live too far away for the curbside recycling trucks to reach us, even though the garbage trucks seem to get to us just fine. So instead we have to horde all our recycling in the garage until we can make it to town to a drop-off site.
BIG FAST TRUCKS WITH BRIGHT LIGHTS: I know these guys are everywhere. But there seem to be an especial many of them out here, usually driving behind me on rainy evenings.
Things I’ve Learned in the Last Year
ANIMAL FIRST AID: I didn’t end up writing about it, but this summer the chickens turned on one of the baby chicks. They ended up scalping her, basically, right down to the bone. There was literally no flesh on the back of her head. And I’m sure you all remember Flower? Well, needless to say, I’ve had to learn basic animal first aid, and to have a good kit on hand, because emergencies happen and there are no vets nearby.
EATING DIRT AND BUGS: Listen — it’s not something I go out with the intention of doing. But eating vegetables fresh from the garden sometimes means eating a little dirt, or tiny bugs that have burrowed inside the fruit. And the truth is that it doesn’t really bother me anymore. Our dirt doesn’t have any pesticides in it, and bugs add just a little more protein. It’s good for us!
HARD WORK FEELS GOOD: Have you ever heard the saying “You reap what you sow?” I won’t deny that taking care of a large garden and more than a dozen animals is hard. But at the end of the day, all that hard work leaves us feeling worn out and good. Seriously, a hot shower after a day of mucking out chicken coops or weeding feels amazing! And even more importantly, the girls are learning a solid work ethic, priorities, and respect for the things that need to get done. Those are lessons that will never leave them, and serve them their whole lives.
COOKING: Back when I first started blogging, back eons ago when Home and Harrow was called Sprout & Sprig, I vehemently swore that I would not be writing a food blog. I swore it a few more times after that, and I MEANT it. I didn’t even like cooking! But here’s what I’ve discovered this year: if you grow food, odds are you’re going to end up eating it. And there’s really only so many ways to enjoy raw vegetables. So, I’m learning to cook, and what’s more, I’m learning to enjoy it! You will probably see a few recipes from time to time, here and there. Rest assured though, they will be simple recipes using homegrown ingredients, and shared in the hope that you will like them, too.
CONTENTMENT: We’re not rich people, and out here on the farmstead we never will be. But that’s okay. I don’t need or want riches. Out here I’m happy with what I have.
I’m so excited to be at the beginning of our second year here! The last year was amazing, and we have even more plans for the future. We have so much yet to learn and discover and experience. It’s a little bit scary, and a lot humbling, but mostly exciting. My heart is happy here. We’ve come to the place we belong.
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