When Rodents Abound
If you live in the country, you already know about the joy of rodents. When we lived in Oregon, we had huge rats that could bloody our 80-pound Weimaraner dogs ... our Jack Russell was more skilled, but took a lot longer. They were ugly with beady eyes too close together and a weirdly long crookedy snout. They were easy to hate ... they destroyed everything and are suspected to be the source of the spark that started the fire that burned out house down.
Now that we're here in northern Idaho, we've found all sorts of cuteness. We loved the shrews in Oregon, which live here, too, but they aren't rodents though they are entirely awesome little creatures. There are so many cute mice here and I'd love them except they get in everything. This little squirmy baby is gray on the back with a white belly, huge eyes, and a funny little tail. Mom was a little chibi (cute anime creature) mouse that could be a model for stuffed animals and children's toys. There are also little brown ones, ground squirrels, rats, and all sorts. This is where they are meant to live - in the country - so how do we strike a balance?
Our first two lambs of the year were to my top producer Pansy - a healthy boy and girl. She is a pro at mothering, but didn't seem to know how to cope with the livestock guardian dog (LGD) who had kidnapped her two babies. The LGD LOVED them so much and felt protective ... must protect these little things from the big sheep. The guardians have to learn that babies and adults are on the same time and are the same creature. She didn't pick up on that last year.
I consider one of the major drawbacks to homesteading to be losing the ability to take vacations, attend weddings, and other fun things away from the farm. I know people who burn out on homesteading because of this or never take the plunge into this lifestyle because they aren't willing to give them up. I am unwilling to give them up. You can homestead and still get vacations, though it is more work and you're likely not going to be able to take spontaneous trips. We take at least one family 10-day trip a year. Here is how we make it happen.
Realities of Living "the Dream"
I understand wanting, craving to live in the country surrounded by the part of the world you "create." I get loving animals and like having them around you. The thought of walking in from the garden and chicken coops with produce still warm from the sun and eggs that make store-bought taste like flavorless imitations. I really get it. I also know many people go make a go at it and are surprised - in a bad way - by the amount of work this life demands. It gives real meaning to the need to work smart, not just hard. Here are some of my thoughts of making the change and the good and bad to anticipate. Keep in mind, it's not the same for everyone.
Country Living Q&A
We've lived in crowded cities (Bay Area, New York City), semi-rural, and completely rural areas. There are definitely differences. I remember visiting country relatives and things were quite different and I didn't know why. Here is my attempt at answering some of those sorts of questions ... hopefully I answer right, but other people may have different answers.
Do you really want a dairy animal?
I have had many people ask me about getting a dairy animal - cow, sheep, or goats - for family use or homesteading. I have homesteaded some with dairy animals and think it is definitely a viable consideration on a small scale. From my experience, you need to consider time demands for milking and animal care, annual breeding, feeding, shelter, and handling soiled bedding and manure. This is just a basic introduction - things I usually try to share in the first conversation with those seriously asking.
A Day in My Life by the Season ...
Homesteading and living on a farm is a busy job. Usually, you know which big tasks are coming up and you can anticipate them. (Then there are the dozens of things you don't anticipate or can't schedule the keep you on your toes!) What I am busy doing changes by the season. Weather and seasons mean a lot more when you homestead or farm than knowing what outfit to wear or if you should bring a jacket or umbrella. We also realize that the weather forecasters are often wrong, but for some reason it's hard to get over being disappointed each time they mislead us. I find they are often in the ballpark with regards to rain versus sun ... usually.
Wife to Brandon, mother to Tess and Liam, farmer, entrepreneur, cook & baker, nurse, and accountant who loves to try new things, travel, and work toward greater self-reliance.