Just a quick thanks to Rural Revolution for posting the entry I submited for the Safecastle Freedom Award. I submited an esay titled Baby Steps. I'll post it here if you want to read it.
Rural Revolution has been a great blog to read this last year since I started my quest for the perfect blog. She is a good writer and has much good information and I happen to agree with her most of the time.
I wrote about my baby steps on my blog last year and got a “silly face” from my girl friend who I grew up with but now lives in Chicago. She teased me that my baby steps were pretty gigantic, but now in retrospect, I realize that we have different goals so mine seem gigantic to someone not aiming for the life that I am.
When I married my husband I was totally un-educated. What I mean by that is I didn’t know a thing about critical thinking or a world beyond the TV and public schools. In order to marry him he asked me to agree to 3 things. Number one, to be willing to be a pastors wife…eeek really? Um ok.(disclaimer, he’s not a pastor but has always had the desire to be one) Number two, to NOT have a career and stay home with any children that we had …eeek, am I dreaming?! yes please! Number three, to Homeschool our children…what the what?? I had NEVER considered this before. I KNEW I had hated public school. I KNEW I did not learn much at all and it sucked the life out of me. “Ok.” I said.
After a few years of marriage I learned some other things. We don’t take public assistance, no matter what. I had a hard time with this, but my husband held fast even through very trying and poor times. It was his job to provide for his family and that he did. We didn’t (and still don’t) take the many programs that are practically pushed down your throat. Public health care for pregnant women and children. Public food assistance for them as well. Public funding for homeschool with just a few (a lot) of strings attached. And those are just the ones that I personally was very tempted with. I won’t go into all the reasons why he said no, most who read this will understand already and those that don’t might never.
We will own guns. I had a hard time with this too. I didn’t understand the need. My father never seemed to care if he had one or not (he did) and never taught us kids to use it. The statement “Slaves don’t own guns, Free people do.” rings so clear to me today. Though I loved my childhood and the innocence that my parents let me have, we were slaves. We have that freedom and we NEED to exercise it for many different reasons. I am now, finally, at the place where I feel comfortable, not weird and now almost naked with out my side arm.
We will let God decide how many children we have. This was always something I desired too. I could not imagine what number would be perfect. So far at 6, it’s great, but the kids really want a baby for Christmas, hehe.
I never really liked gardening. In fact I was actually mad when 2 people got us plants for our wedding gifts. My mother never had a garden and the thought never crossed my mind…that’s what the produce section is for, right? My husband and I lived above a garage in a cute little apartment for four years. My mentor (the woman of the house) gave me a garden spot to grow my produce and flowers. Her husband would fertilize it for me even, with their rabbit manure (how gross I thought). She wouldn’t really take no for an answer and gave me all my starts and I enjoyed my teensy garden and keeping her company that first summer. I was hooked.
More children leads to more things needed for them all to do occupy themselves with. I knew I didn’t want my children playing lots of video games. I was blessed with a space-cadet animal lover for a first daughter. She still asks us for new animals every week. In reality it was Martha Stewart’s beautiful eggs her hens produced. The green eggs stuck me and I had to have them. So I needed a coop and some chickens because you just can’t buy green eggs at the store, so we got them. (we don’t even watch TV anymore, but thanks Martha)
Now my chicken coop is in between two fenced in runs, the chickens get one side one year and the garden the other, and then they trade. This way I don’t have to collect and then spread the rich manure, they do it for me.
My daughter has wanted a horse since she could talk, been obsessed. I, of course, wanted to fulfill her dream because it’s the one animal I had also always wanted. Well, my mom promising that when I grew up I could get my own horse wasn’t such a great idea because she forgot to ask my husband. We have the space, but who has the money to buy all that hay? (Especially in Alaska, ouch!) My daughter also discovered she liked goats and has been nagging about horses and goats for quite a while, so I’d started collecting 6’ high dog run fence panels off Craigslist because I’d heard they make good goat fencing. Last year I was picking up my third load of free goat manure and I finally asked the lady how it was to keep goats. She told me how simple their housing was even in the cold and what they ate and gave me a phone number of a local reputable breeder. 2 months later we had 2 newly freshened Nubian does giving us 2 gallons of milk a day being milked by my animal crazed daughter who loves (almost) every minute.
Now that goats were off my mind, my mind wandered to food storage. I realized that I would love to have a “mini store” in my garage so that I didn’t have to run to the grocery store if I ran out of spaghetti sauce…so I bought 3 cases and thus began my food storing. In about 8 months I have a years worth of many of the dry goods. I’m not finished but happy with the start.
All of these baby steps might be huge for someone with 1.2 children living in the city. But for me it’s just the beginning to the life that I want us and my children to lead. I know that I’m naturally lazy (day to day sort) and all of these things from homeschooling to goats to fence building gets me off my butt. I love the feeling of accomplishment after a long day. I also never realized how much my kids, er children, would actually enjoy their hard work until one night we were having a little feast in the kitchen. My son pointed out, “look, all of the food we’re eating we made ourselves.” He was right. It was smoked salmon, goat cheese, hard boiled eggs, caribou jerky, goat milk and ptarmigan nuggets. The best feeling came over me when my husband beamed at his family.
Whether or not my children decide to live this way, we know we have done right by them to teach them these basic things that nobody knows how to do any longer. We are always learning and taking new steps. At this moment we have eggs chirping ready to hatch, a goat ready to kid and bees in their way to us. What more excitement could you ask for?
Our baby steps have led us not to an easy life, but a very rewarding and happy one.
Country Jane, learning to walk