Season of Challenges & Changes:
One constant remained no matter we lived, we were a family of four - my mom, dad & older brother. While there's been many times in recent years our parents went on vacation or day-trips, they always returned. Often, all 4 of us adults went in different directions during the day, but everyday Mom, Dad & I would sit down for supper together, and my brother Joel would join us whenever his work/sleep schedule made it possible.
From a little girl, I've been a "Mommy's helper" - in the kitchen, garden, occasionally cleaning the house together. After I graduated and started raising chickens, I spent most of my time outside taking care of the animals or garden. Mom maintained the household & did most of the cooking, except for Saturdays, which were my "official" day to cook supper. Some days I enjoyed doing "domestics", but I preferred being outside. Of course, there were days when Mom & I would work together in the kitchen, either canning, making meals, etc. This past fall 2016, I decided I should make it a goal to make more of the meals, but I often let my outdoor preference or other "projects" take priority.
That is, until May 5, 2017 when Mom & Dad moved to a senior community apartment. The next 2 weeks or so, I was busy setting up our "new" household, trying to establish a new routine, now that I was responsible for not only the hobby farm, but also maintaining the household. I quickly learned that even though I knew Mom did a lot around the house & sometimes hours preparing food, it was more than I had anticipated. It doesn't help that my brother has a HUGE appetite, so it's like preparing food for 3-4 people, not 2. After the dust had settled, reality hit. I became overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done. Especially since it was the busiest time of the year, planting the garden, hatching chicks, raising meat chickens, etc. On top of all that, I got a new puppy one week after my parents moved out! I know, crazy, right? But, he's awful cute!
I've asked myself many times, "How do people do this? I don't even work full-time outside the home! Yet, somehow, people manage a farm, kids, the household & working full-time. Yet, somehow, what I have on my plate seems to be huge mountain that I can't climb." I asked family & friends to pray for me, which greatly helped. Mom, Dad & a family friend have come over several times to help me plant the garden (though it's far from finished), prepare food, clean the house, and various other ways to help. It's been greatly appreciated as I learn how to juggle all these "new" things. It didn't help that I've been used to having someone around most of the time to talk to. Now, I might have a hour or two a day that I get with my brother in between work, sleep & projects he's working on. But, most of the time, it's less than that and of course, he wants to share about his day, projects, etc.
Another aspect is driving - for shopping, chicken-meet-ups, back and forth to work. I'm so glad now that I have my driver's license, and even though I dragged my feet for a long time due to having to learn on standard, I'm glad that's now behind me. I've even tackled driving my brother's F-150 truck, which feels like driving a tank to little shrimp-boat me. While I still prefer his little car, I've gotten that truck through some pretty tight & tricky areas that were not easy. It's actually been something that keeps me encouraged when I feel like I'm facing an impossible circumstance. If I could conquer driving a F-150 standard-shift truck that requires two pillows to drive it, I think the other life challenges are do-able also. Mom has asked me, "Do you like driving now?" I'm not quite sure I'd say I "like it", but I'm more confident and have begun venturing out beyond my normal travel routes.
As far as the hobby farm goes, in short, it's doing ok. But far from what I'd like it to be. Many things I've not had time to do. I've had incubator challenges, causing many eggs to fail hatching. I let the chickens free-range for their food, as some days, I didn't have time to refill their grain bucket. They did fine, but then some starting molting, which caused a huge egg shortage. Others have been laying under their coop, where I can't access them. Others decided to eat their eggs. Broody hens, broody ducks & turkeys abound - so when their eggs didn't all hatch, I ordered pullet chicks & meat chickens from a hatchery, so at least they'd have something to raise.
On the bright side, our neighbors have graciously allow us to use their pasture in the apple orchard again this year, so the meat chickens, pullet & cockerel grow-outs, and a few breeding groups are enjoying their pasture pens. But, that does add more work, carrying water & feed buckets, moving the pens everyday (most of the time). I have not had time this year to make fermented feed, although it would probably help reduce the amount of feed I'm using. Grass paddocks have become "hay fields" - but there's been no time to weed-wack or mow them. So, I've been letting the chickens trample it down, hoping it will regrow & eventually be cut. Some days I wonder, "Is this worth it?" Maybe, maybe not. All I can do is take one moment at a time, one day at a time, and pray for direction each step of the way.
I won't deny this time of changes, challenges and adjusting to this "new life" without Mom & Dad, has also been a test of faith. It's not how I imagined my life would, but I'm sure nearly everyone else can relate to that. It's brought to the surface habits, attitudes & thoughts that have needed to be adjusted and/or I'm still working on changing. While it certainly is not easy going through trials and tribulations, I believe "God causes ALL things to work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) "For momentary, light affliction is producing in us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison." (2 Corinthians 4:17) Therefore, while I've had "good days" and "bad days" these past 6 weeks, I know the "best days" have been when I've kept my "eyes on Jesus, that author and perfecter of faith". (Heb 12:2) When we can see from His perspective, things are totally different than when we have our focus on ourselves and our "woes". It also helps to be open, honest and not keep all this "junk" to ourselves, but I've found, writing is a great stress relief. As I write, I'm able to release these things into the hand of God & not carry the burden anymore. Then, I'm able to focus on the task at hand. For example, I was in the midst of chopping butternut squash, beets, carrots, onions, turnips for a "no-tomato sauce" and roasted vegetables. But, I needed to write these things down before I could finish the rest of my chopping.
To any of you who've read this, thank you for taking the time out of your busy day. If you have any comments or ways you juggle your household, please feel free to share! I'm going to attempt to not go 2-3 months without writing here, but perhaps just shorter little posts that are "lighter" content.