It’s That Season

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Written Thursday, May 27 2016

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I always laugh when I see sleep schedules or stay-at-home mom schedules on Pinterest when I look up things about babies and parenting. I can’t wrap my mind around a schedule with the lifestyle we live. I’m not going to lie, there are definitely times when I wish we lived a “normal” life and could put Eden on a schedule. Sometimes I wish when Chad gets home from work at 5:30, he could simply eat dinner with us, veg in front of the tv all evening, and then we’d go to bed as a family (Yes, I know that probably isn’t what most families do and it would get boring over time, but it would be nice to have that option sometimes). But that’s not the life we live. I try to have dinner ready at 5:30 so when Chad gets home we can eat and get outside to do the chores and then do whatever is first priority on the list, which is normally picking or planting.

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Family Transplanting Selfie!

I probably sound like I’m complaining and unhappy. And maybe I am complaining a bit, but I am happy. Though the farm life is hard at times (especially this time of year), I am so thankful Eden will grow up with this life, out here on this beautiful piece of land surrounded by nothing but fields and all of God’s creation, knowing what it means to work hard. A couple evenings ago as we were driving back to the farm from town I told Chad how thankful I am to live so far from city lights and noises and to literally be surrounded by nothing but nature.

I think I’m having such a hard time right now with this lifestyle because it is the busy time of year, Chad works full-time and comes home and farms so I hardly see him, and this is our first Spring trying to farm with a baby. Let me tell ya, it’s hard to get things done with a baby. I also think I’m still trying to recover from our crazy busy weekend.

On Friday, I picked everything for farmer’s market so when Chad got home all he had to do was wash everything (plus do the regular chores and get the market trailer ready). Even with me picking everything he still didn’t come in until after 10pm. Thankfully, Chad’s dad watched Eden so I could pick. She’s not a fan of sitting in her stroller just staring at me in the field. She’s almost 10 months old and Friday was the longest she’s ever been watched by anyone else since she was born (around 4 hours) and I still fed her and changed her during that time. Though I was picking in the field, the alone time was very much needed.

On Saturday, we got up at 4:30am to get ready for market like we do every week. After market we ran a couple errands, was home by 4pm, did chores, and went into town to have dinner at Chad’s parents house.

On Sunday, we got up and Chad did his morning chores while I took care of Eden. We went to church where I taught Sunday School. After church we went to Bristow to get some mineral that goes in our chicken feed. We didn’t get home until almost dinnertime, so while I cooked dinner Chad wore Eden in the ergo while he hilled potatoes on the tractor.

On Monday, Chad took the day off so we could go on our “Road Trip of Central Oklahoma Tour,” as I’m calling it. We went to Edmond to pick out our high tunnel. After 3 years of trying we finally got approved for a grant to get one! Woo hoo! We are so excited! Then we went to Edmond to pick up our lavender plants.   We will be growing lavender for the first time! We received a discount on the plants since we agreed to be a part of a trial. We just have to keep detailed records of the plants! Soap making, here I come! Then, we went to Shawnee to deliver eggs to our dear friends who farm there and have a grocery store, and to pick up our sweet potato starts from them. We got home just before dark so we could do the chicken chores and get them moved to fresh grass!

Needless to say, it was an exhausting few days! The last three days I’ve been catching up on laundry, housework, and diaper washing. And since tomorrow is Friday we will be running around like chickens with our heads cut off again! But hopefully not quite as cut off as last weekend!

When I start to feel overwhelmed and want to cry because there is more to do than we have time for I just remember Ecclesiastes 3. There is a time for everything under the sun. Right now, it is hard. It’s hard because I hardly see my husband and I take care of Eden almost all by myself. It’s hard because I see how exhausted Chad is and I want so bad to help him more, but we have a beautiful baby girl that needs me now. I know this season in our life is making us stronger. I know it will pay off. One day when Chad doesn’t have to work off the farm and we are able to eat dinner without rushing through it to get things done we will smile on these days of exhaustion and craziness.

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Chad hilling potatoes!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

 

Where Does the Time Go?!

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(Written on Wed. April 6)

Today I am frustrated and overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point that it’s 10:30am and other than getting up for 30 minutes to help Chad move chickens I just got out of bed. (It was nice and very much needed to snuggle with Eden all morning!) The dishes are overflowing and the laundry has been in the dryer for 3 days with more falling out of the full  dirty laundry basket. I have 2 egg baskets full of eggs waiting to be washed, packed, and labeled.  Ahhhh!!!

I thought I was finally figuring out how to get everything done with a baby in the house: keeping the house clean, cooking a good healthy dinner every night, washing diapers, making Eden’s baby food, washing eggs daily, plus all the random things that come up, and helping Chad around the farm whenever needed. For a couple months I even felt like super mom.  Eden and I were up and ready by 8 everyday and I felt like energizer bunny getting everything accomplished. Chad was sick from work last Wednesday, so he was able to see everything I do in a day from his spot on the couch. I asked him at the end of the day what things I do that aren’t necessary because often at the end of the day I feel like I need way more time to get things done or like I haven’t accomplished much, and that’s without sitting down other than to feed Eden or myself.  He said he couldn’t think of anything I did that didn’t need done and he knows I do a lot around here. Folks, I didn’t even sweep the floor that day, and I normally sweep the floor a couple times a day! I keep asking myself what am I doing that I can cut out so I have more time for more important things. Or what can I rearrange in my daily routine so I have more time. My in-laws think all I do is clean my house all day. I wish I had the time to clean it like I would like because I can’t tell you the last time it’s been dusted. Yes, I am border-line ocd, but my house is not immaculate. I just like things picked up and because we live on a farm (and have a cat that sheds and gets litter everywhere) and everyone is in and out all the time there is a bit more upkeep. Now I can tell you that yesterday was the first time my floor got swept in 4 days and I should have taken a picture of the nasty pile!

It’s ironic that I feel this way because several times this week there have been articles on my Facebook news-feed about “to-do lists” or “what it really important in life” and that it’s okay to neglect things sometimes and spend time with your children.   I told Chad before Eden was born that I did not want to be that mom that was too busy for her children. If they need me I want to be able to stop what I’m doing and snuggle, read a book, or just listen. They are only little once and the dishes can wait.

I think my exhaustion and overwhelmed feelings are a blessing in disguise because my lack of motivation this week is causing me to spend more time playing and snuggling with Eden. (I’m going to blame getting up at 4:30am on Saturday for our new farmer’s market schedule for my exhaustion too! )

So mom’s out there I’m starting to get you. Moms working outside the home and inside the home are all superwomen, even when we don’t get it done or have it all figured out. It’s okay to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. And it’s definitely okay to neglect your house and laundry to read a book to your child. I don’t know where the time goes nor do I have it all figured out yet. But I know it goes too fast, so I want to make the most of every second.  I wouldn’t trade this life for anything in the world.  Even on the overwhelming and redundant days I would rather wash eggs and diapers a million times if that means I get to do those things with my little Eden girl.

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Making Chicken Stock

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Making Chicken Stock

 

I started making our own chicken stock a few years ago when we started raising our own pastured chickens.  Sadly, making your own stock or broth has become a lost art, especially in the younger generations such as mine. I’m a prime example of someone who had no earthly idea how to do it. I just picked up a can of broth at the grocery store when I needed it and did not think any more about it. I didn’t think about the factory it was made in, the workers who worked in that factory, what ingredients were in the broth, or the treatment and origin of the animal used to make the broth.  It’s insane to see the difference between store bought broth and homemade.  It’s darker and thicker, and not watery like grocery store broth.  My brother-in-law (who is not a health nut AT ALL swears by this broth when he’s not feeling well!)

A friend of mine recommended the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook a few years ago, which challenges the American diet full of processed and additive-filled food. It explains the many benefits of adding homemade broth to your diet. It is known for aiding the digestive system, used to heal and prevent the flu and cold, and protection from a variety of health problems. Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions, states, “Properly prepared meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into broth.” It’s not only extremely healthy, but perfect to eat plain or add to soups and casseroles. It’s the perfect example of food being medicine!  Some even say it works better than Tylenol!

If you are not able to purchase frames and feet from our farm, you can use a whole chicken.  Our chicken is sold in several locations around the state of Oklahoma so feel free to contact me on where to find them if you’re interested.

Because our processor packs our frames and feet in large packages I had to moderate the original recipe.

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1 pack of chicken frames-necks are included (5lbs.)

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1 pack of chicken feet (3lbs.)  The feet add extra gelatin to the broth, which adds even more nutrients.

Here’s what I use:

  • 1 pack of frames (ours are 5lbs.)
  • 1 pack of feet (ours are 3lbs.)
  • Cold filtered water (I fill the pot I’m using 3/4 full)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bundle of carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley

I use my big canning pot right now.  I’m hoping to invest in a stainless steel stock pot soon. IMG_1289

You place all the ingredients (except parsley) in the pot. Let it stand 30 minutes to an hour and then bring it to a boil. After an hour remove any scum that rises to the top. Then reduce the heat and simmer. I let mine cook for 24 hours. The recipe says 6-24, and the longer you cook it the richer it will be.  10 minutes before it’s finished you add the parsley.

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I let it cool for a few minutes when it’s finished and then use a large slotted spoon to get out the large pieces.  Because our pot is so huge I have Chad help me pour it into a large pot through a strainer to make sure I only have the liquid broth.  I give all the chicken and veggie parts to the barn cats! After it has cooled, I ladle it into jars I’ve recycled.  When freezing in jars you have to make sure to leave plenty of room at the top so the jars do not crack, since liquid expands in the freezer. One pint of broth is 1¾ cups if using it for a recipe.

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I love the nice rich dark color it produces!

There you have it! I was really overwhelmed the first time I made broth, but it’s actually really easy. I encourage you to try it if you haven’t already. You will feel so good about yourself for accomplishing such an old tradition and nourishing your household!

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Book Review: Radical Homemakers Part 1

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Since Eden was born over 7 months ago I have not made time to read anything. It’s been hard to find the time, honestly. But I am one of those people who think reading is crucial for keeping our minds sharp and continuing our education throughout our lifetime. I ordered three books based on things I’m currently passionate about: homesteading and homemaking and being a mommy.

Unlike my husband, I do not retain information well at all so I thought if I wrote about what I’m reading as I go along it might help me remember things better. Plus, you may want to go out and purchase the book too!

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The book I’m currently reading is “Radical Homemakers,” by Shannon Hayes. I’m only about a third of the way through it and my mindset has already radically changed. It’s not about the homemakers most of America tends to have in their head where the woman slaves in the house and kitchen all day (in her apron, of course) and her husband comes home from his job and sits in the recliner with his beer while she serves him the rest of the evening. It is not about that at all, but the book actually emphasizes the equality between men and women, and that men can be homemakers too.   Hayes states, “But as I spent time with happily married Radical Homemakers, egalitarianism was a resounding theme in their discussions of their domestic lives. In these households, men and women share both authority and responsibility.” Radical homemakers are helping to bridge the gap between men and women and create equality between men and women in our world.

The first half of the book is mainly history of how we as Americans ended up consumed with money: both attaining it and spending it. Basically, if we radically change our mindset and lifestyle we can quit our jobs and go back to the basics by living off the land, cooking our own food, trading with neighbors, and making our own medicine from herbs we grow. Yes, you will have way less by society’s standards, but you will have so much more: a life family focused and fulfilled instead of empty because all you do is work and buy things. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “Give us wealth, and the home shall exist. But that is a very imperfect and inglorious solution of the problem, and therefore no solution. Few have wealth, but all must have a home.” I’d rather my home not just exist, but thrive!

If you’re reading this you are probably thinking this is nuts and completely unrealistic. But people are doing it! The second half of the book is actual stories from families who are living this way. The author (who also lives radically on her family farm) traveled across the country interviewing people who are radical homemakers. Some are single, married, have no children, and some have lots of children. There are a few families where both partners work from home and some where one still works outside of the household. (I can’t wait to get to that part of the book!)

Hayes points out that everything starts in the home. She says, “It is time we come to think of our homes as living systems. Like a sour-dough starter, the home’s survival requires constant attention. A true home is inhabited by souls who live, breathe, eat, think, create, play, get sick, heal and get dirty. It will wither in an antiseptic condition. A true home pulses with nonhuman life—vegetable patches, yeast, backyard hens, blueberry bushes, culturing yogurt, fermenting wine and sauerkraut, brewing beer, milk goats, cats, dogs, houseplants, kids’ science projects, pet snakes and strawberry patches. A living system cannot respect the hours on a time clock and requires the involvement of all inhabitants in order to thrive. When we can see our home as a living system, when men and women both play a role in its care, even if one of them goes out to a job for part of the day, we have taken the first steps to restore the important partnerships our Neanderthal ancestors innately understood. We will have moved toward creating a true Earth Community.”  Being a homemaker creates social change in our world.   In Shannon Hayes’ words, “…The work to heal our ecological wounds, bring a balance of power into out economy and ensure social equality starts with our choices about what to eat, what to buy (or, more importantly, what not to buy), what to create, and how to use our time and money. Indeed the major work of society needs to happen inside our home, putting the homemaker at the vanguard of social change.”

There are dozens of quotes I would love to share with you, but then I would have to copy the whole book here for you! As you can see, it is a radical way to live, and Chad and I are in the process of doing so. We are so thankful we have a handful of friends who are on this path of radical homemaking with us. Having a support system is crucial because this lifestyle does cause you to have to rely on others for some things. Sharing canning recipes, trading vegetables, and sharing tools to name a few. My hope is that one day Chad and I will not have to rely on a grocery store to shop. Joel Salatin (a renowned chicken farmer) talks about his wife grocery shopping. She traveled all the way to her root cellar where she kept the food she had preserved! If they needed something they did not produce themselves they either did not eat it or traded items with another farmer to get what they needed. Chad and I have already made drastic changes in the food we’ve been purchasing and consuming.  I genuinely believe the food we put into our bodies, the chemicals we put on our skin, and what we use to clean our house have an effect on our bodies physically and emotionally.

When it comes to food, Americans have stopped cooking and rely on fast food and preserved food full of artificial ingredients. Families no longer share meals together. Moms and dads work insane hours and give little attention to their children. And we wonder why 66% of America is obese and depression and suicide continues to be a severe problem.  Cancer rates have also increased over the years.  “Psychologist Michael Yapko observes that when societies achieve America’s standard of living, their rates of depression increase.  He found that in those societies where depression is less prevalent, there is less emphasis on technology and consumerism and greater emphasis on family and community.”  I believe this to be 100% true.  We think we need to work, work, work, so we can buy, buy, buy.  We need the latest iphones, cars, fancy houses, fancy clothes, go to big concerts, eat out at fancy restaurants, etc.  Most people I know who work full-time are miserable and would do anything to work from home and take care of their household full-time.  (And I know there are circumstances that no matter how hard you tried you could not quit your job right now.)  But there are many people out there who are not willing to change their mindset and live on less in order to do so.

Shannon Hayes mainly focuses on those who work in large cooperation’s.  I hope I am not sounding judgmental in any way during this post.  Though I am a homemaker, we have been blessed in ways that have allowed me to do so more easily.  Not to say, it is not hard.  Chad and I live very frugal lives to allow me to stay at home (I hope to write about our lifestyle more often on here).  Hayes also encourages those who work in a setting that promotes social justice and contributes to the community.  I have been very convicted from reading this book so far and if you read it I’m sure you will be too (even if you already work from home).  We all need to have a mindset that is family focused and less about having the nicest stuff and the world will be a much happier place.  We need to change our lifestyles in ways that promotes social justice and hinders large cooperation’s and the industrialization of our food.

Basically, we need to go back to the basics.  And for those who desire to do so it can be done.  I believe it is a process of conscious choices, but choices that can be made if we’re creative enough.  I am so excited to continue reading this book, and I cannot wait to see where this journey of radical homemaking takes my family.

I know this is a long quote, but it sums up everything I’ve read so far.  I will leave you with this:

“We have lost the innate knowledge and tradition crafts essential to countless functions for our daily survival, with the end result being a disconnection from our communities and our natural world. So complete is this detachment that we are unaware of the ecological and social damage created by mass production for our daily needs. Screened from the production process, we buy chicken breasts without considering the workers in poultry factories who must breathe toxic fumes, or the loss of topsoil from irresponsible grain production. We purchase detergents and cleaners without considering the ingredients that might be poisoning our families and our water supply. We buy inexpensive clothing, never considering who must produce the fiber, weave the cloth and sew the garments for paltry wages, or what country must have its rivers polluted with dyes. No matter where we live, we expect fresh tomatoes in December and iceberg lettuce in January, regardless of the fact that it took more calories to grow and ship them than they deliver when we eat them.

This is not to say every homemaker should start weaving cloth and hand-washing their family’s clothes; with few exceptions, most of us will always rely on the broader industrial system for something. But for each daily need that we re-learn to provide within our homes and communities, we strengthen out independence from an extractive and parasitic economy. As we realize the impact of each choice we make, we discover ways to simplify our demands and rebuild our domestic culture.

When we regain connection with all that sustains us, we regain creative spirit.   We rediscover the joy that comes with using our hands and our minds in union to nourish, nurture and delight in our families; we tap the source of true creative satisfaction, the ecstasy that accompanies a home that lives in harmony with the earth’s systems, and the certitude of a life guided by principles of social justice and nonexploitation.”

 

 

Happenings at the Farm: The Whirlwind Weekend

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The last few days here at the farm have been insane (at least they have been to me.)  Chad was in OKC all day Friday and Saturday taking the last segment of his course on Farm Management.  Since he was gone I was in charge (with the help of Chad’s dad when I needed it!). Normally, this would be no big deal.  We have just over 200 hens that need food and water and their eggs gathered everyday.  We have some pet ducks and roosters that get food and water daily too.  That’s not too hard, right?!  I normally either wear Eden or put her in our stroller (we have one of those huge strollers with giant wheels to use around the farm!).

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Miss Eden all bundled up to help mommy feed chickens!

Well, timing worked against me this time because we got 300 2 day old broiler chickens on Friday morning right before Chad left.  They really aren’t hard to take care of.  You just make sure they always have fresh food and water and that the heat lamps are on so they’re warm enough.  It just happened to be 20 degrees the morning we got them and they love to play in the water.  We thought the 3 heat lamps in the brooder were enough.  We were sadly mistaken.  We lost 100 chicks in 2 days!  That’s a 30% loss!  I had to call Chad and tell him what was going on.  We were both sick!  But we know in farming (regardless of what it is) these things happen.  Plus, we are still learning how to raise that many at one time, since this is only our second time doing so.

Fortunately, Chad found a hatchery that could ship us 100 more chicks so we will be getting them tomorrow.  Fingers crossed that these do well!  We just have to adjust the butcher date, (we take them to Fort Smith around 8 weeks old to get butchered and packaged) and hopefully all will be well.

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Chicks in the brooder.  Aren’t they cute?!

Along with taking care of the hens, I wanted to help in the greenhouse as much as I could while he was away.  Before Eden was born the greenhouse was my responsibility.  I started all the seeds, up-potted plants, and made sure everything had a drink.  It is very difficult to do those things with a baby, so Chad has been trying to keep our planting on schedule (which is very hard to do since he works full-time and has a billion other things to do at the farm).  Thankfully, Chad’s dad watched Eden for about an hour on Friday so I could plant a few trays, and then Chad’s mom watched Eden on Saturday for a bit so I could plant a few more.  I forgot how much I loved starting seeds.  They’ve already started sprouting!  Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, and Lettuce..oh my! 🙂

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Our tiny little greenhouse…but we make it work…for now! 🙂

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Cabbage plants are almost ready to make a new home in the field!

Chad came home on Saturday evening and though we were all exhausted, we had a lovely dinner with some friends at our house.  No matter how busy you are it’s so important to take time out of your schedule to relax and spend time with those you love. 

Sunday we went to church and then came home to finish our onion planting.  We plant around 8,000 onion plants.  We got 1/4 of them in last Monday, spent Sunday afternoon planting, and then finished up the last few on Monday after Chad came home from work.  I’m so thankful for our new transplanter!  This is only our third year of farming, but I will never forget planting all those onions on our hands and knees our first year.  And I’m so thankful for in-laws who watch your child and help you plant when you need the help!  And for the little bit of rain we received Monday night…God is always faithful!

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Aprox. 8,000 Onion Plants!

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Chad just cleaned off the transplanter so it’s ready for it’s next job!

Well, there you have it!  It was a crazy busy few days at the farm.  Maybe this one will be a bit calmer, but I’m not going to count on it, ha ha!  Now I have to go catch up on housework, laundry, and baby food making since that has been severely neglected!

Until Next Time,

Bethany

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I’m a Home Economist!

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Last Saturday on our way home from Stillwater Farmer’s Market (where we sell our products), I was telling Chad how much I hate it when people ask me what I do.  I normally go into detail about how I stay at home and take care of our 6 month old and I help around the farm as much as I can.  I just don’t  like saying I am a “stay-at-home mom.”  Unfortunately, it has such a negative connotation these days, which it shouldn’t!  Sadly, some people think stay-at-home moms sit around in their jammies all day watching tv.  Plus, I do a lot of things on top of taking care of Eden! Her pediatrician gave me a huge lecture one time because I said I “just” stay at home and take care of the baby.  She understood there is so much more to it than that!

During mine and Chad’s conversation about this dilemma I’m in, he came up with a new title for me.  He is a pretty brilliant man.  I am now the Ward Family Farm’s Home Economist.  I laughed real hard when he gave me this title.  He was so proud of himself and said he is going to tell people that’s what I do when they ask him.  But the more I got to thinking about it the more it made sense.  Webster says “home economics” is the theory and practice of homemaking.  And according to Webster a “homemaker” is one who manages a household especially as a wife and mother.  I feel like that is the perfect title for me based on these definitions. (I laugh inside though because in my super feminist woman power days I would have been offended if someone called me a homemaker!)

All of this is so silly.  Who cares what my title is and what anyone thinks!  But it matters to me.  I think it’s a pride thing (which I need to work on).  I went to a prestigious college and earned my degree.  And sadly our society judges you based on your career.  Well let me tell you I am very proud of the job that I have as a stay-at-home mom, homemaker, home economist, or whatever you want to call it!  I work extremely hard taking care of our child and our household.  I am going to be talking about some of the things I do here on the blog over the next few months, and I am really excited about it!

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Miss Eden helped me wash eggs today! (Egg washing is one of the many jobs I have.)

Meal planning, household budgeting, cooking, canning, broth making, cloth diapering, baby food making, cleaning and organizing, crafting, and lots more are topics I will be writing about.  I’ve been so blessed with a husband who understands the value of me staying at home to take care of our child and to keep our household nourished and in order.  I do not ever want to make a mother who works outside of the home feel like she has made the wrong decision by doing so because we all have different callings and circumstances.  This is just where I am called to be and what works best for our family right now.  I am excited to really start sharing this journey through motherhood, homemaking, homesteading, and farming with you!

Blessings,

Ward Family Farm’s Home Economist (ha ha!)

What is the Farm Like?

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One of my best friends from college, who sadly I have not talked to since graduation in 2011 messaged me a couple of days ago.  As she asked me about my life, she asked what the farm was like.  I haven’t responded because that is such a big question to me.  As of Christmas Eve, Chad and I have lived here for 2 years now.  It has been a roller coaster ride the past two years that’s for sure!  We started our own business growing vegetables, raising pastured poultry and hens, and we had a baby!  We have seen our business triple in sales just in the second year, all while Chad was working full-time.  We’ve had our moments of great joy and then moments of sadness and hopelessness (I feel like farming is a bit bipolar no matter what you farm).  But if there’s a will there’s a way!

But you ask what the farm is like…

Well, we live 30 minutes from the closest gas station, store, food establishment, etc.  There are about 4-5 miles of gravel/dirt road before you hit blacktop (if you call it blacktop). There is absolutely nothing around.  I say nothing, but there is everything here.  When I get lonely and resent Chad for bringing me here I step outside and take a deep breath.  It is so beautiful out here.  I can see the Arkansas River right out my window.  There are fields and pasture as far as the eye can see.  And the stars at night are as clear as they get.  God romances me everyday by his beautiful creation.  I am so thankful my children will grow up here because of that.  They will have the biggest playground roaming around out here on the farm.

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As far as the actually farming goes it is really hard work.  Our first year we did all the vegetables by hand and we had around an acre.  This past year we invested in some equipment and we were able to plant 3 acres of produce.  We currently have around 250 hens.  And when we have our meat chickens we now have 300 at a time.  Thankfully, we don’t have to butcher those by hand anymore (I’m not going to lie…that was not fun for me!).  I could go into a lot more detail about what we do, but you get the gist.  It’s a lot of work, especially since Chad works full-time, but we know one day we will be able to farm full-time and sustain our family.

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I’ve grown to love what we do.  It’s still a process though.  You get dirty and sweaty and your body hurts after picking green bean after green bean.  And this year will be interesting figuring out how to do everything with Eden running around!

When I really think about where I am in life I have to laugh!  I never would have pictured me living out here on a farm and staying at home with my baby using cloth diapers and making my own baby food!  I love it though.  It’s right where Chad and I and our family are meant to be.

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Cherish Today

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I cannot even believe it’s been a year ago today that I found out I was going to be a mommy.  And tomorrow my little Eden Grace will already be 4 months old!  Time is a crazy thing.  It goes by way too fast.  I’ve already been pregnant, had a baby, and now have a 4 month old!  12 months ago I couldn’t even begin to imagine what the next year would look like.

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Eden girl sleeping on my chest.  She is my life.

I can tell you it has been so perfect.  As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, being a mom has been the one thing I have always wanted in life.  Being pregnant was a whirlwind and even during extreme nausea I cherished every moment.  And  now even when Eden is screaming her head off I am so thankful for her.  People ask me all the time how I like being a mom and I can honestly and genuinely say it’s perfect.  I don’t have much to compare her to, but I think she is a pretty good baby.  She gets in a mood in the evenings but during the day we just hang out around the house. During the day we straighten the house, fold laundry, wash eggs, watch soap operas and talk shows, and we take naps on the couch together sometimes.  It is simple but perfect.

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Eden playing with Cooper kitty. 🙂

I am so ridiculously spoiled.  I often ask God what I ever did to deserve such a a perfect life. I often think about people overseas who are in such turmoil in poverty and war-torn areas.  Why am I here in this nice warm house in Oklahoma with a wonderful, loving husband and a beautiful baby girl???  My husband goes to work everyday while I stay home.  I just don’t understand.  In the midst of my questions about fate, I must be thankful for my life right now.  For my ridiculously simple life. And I am so very thankful. I am so thankful for my husband and for my Eden girl.

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Precious sleeping angel.

Life is such a weird thing.  And it’s so fast.  I’m learning that more and more everyday having a baby around.  I have to cherish every single moment because tomorrow today will be gone.  I encourage you to do the same.

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Eden wearing Papa Dan’s hat! 🙂

Refreshing Time with Friends

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I always have good intentions to keep posting on here, but I tend to get overwhelmed by my overthinking.  I wonder if anybody even reads my mumbo jumbo anyway.  I was encouraged last week by a woman who had read one of my posts and just loved it!  I was so thankful she let me know, because it has motivated me to be more proactive on posting. It’s not like I live a boring life!

In light of all the tragedy happening around the world I have been trying really hard to focus on the positive things in life.  I cannot even look at facebook right now without feeling like someone is sitting on my chest suffocating me. Everyone seems to be bickering and so lost about what is really  important in life.  It makes me so very sad.

So I wanted to talk about something happy and joyful!  Chad and I had a wonderful time on Sunday afternoon/evening!  We invited several other couples over for a potluck Thanksgiving meal.  There is nothing better for the soul than being surrounded with great friends…and food!  Chad and I both needed that.

Chad works so hard at his full-time job and then he comes home and works on the farm.  He barely has time to breathe.  And I still do not really have any friends here.  It’s been almost 2 years since we moved out here to the farm, but it’s been difficult to make new friends, especially friends my age.  So there are times when it gets lonely, but it makes the times when we do meet up with old friends that much more special.  And Chad’s grandmother passed away the week before so we really needed some laughter and a good time.

And that’s what he got! We laughed, stuffed our faces, and mostly talked about agricultural related topics.  It’s almost like there is no such thing as another subject matter when the gang gets together!

As we were sitting around the table stuffing our faces my heart was smiling and so full of joy.  As my little girl was sitting there with us  I was so thankful for these people (and the friends that couldn’t make it).  I was so thankful she will grow up understanding how important friendships are and how important it is to share a meal together.  Even though most of us only get together a handful of times a year now that we live a couple of hours from each other, we know we love and care for one another.

Needless to say, it was a refreshing night for Chad and I.  We needed that.  And I’m pretty sure our friends needed that too.  I am so thankful for our friendships.

So in the wake of the sad things happening around the world, take time to be thankful for the little things in life.  For friends. For family.  For food.

And take time to do something to refresh your soul.  Take a moment to breathe and soak in quiet laughter with good people.

Thanksgiving is only a week away and it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the business of life and in negativity.  Be intentional.  Be positive. Give thanks.

 

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All the yummy food we shared!

 

Turkey Day

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Sunday was turkey day here at the farm. Not the fun Turkey day where you get to stuff your face with food. No, this is the turkey day where you kill all the turkeys your crazy husband decided to get a few weeks ago…as well as make you help him move their pins at 6:30am every morning of their lives. Luckily Eden loves me to wear her in our carrier so she gets to come too!

Though I hate the day we butcher chickens (and now turkeys) and getting up early to help take care of them, a huge part of me loves what we do (or loves what my husband has decided that we do). I love that we work hard to raise our own food. We are able to provide our family and our community with good chicken and turkey that was fed good non-medicated feed, moved to fresh bug-filled grass everyday, and treated with respect. As much as I hate killing animals (and all I think about when we feed them each day is that they are going to die soon) I know they are given a wonderful life and killed so much more humanely than the grocery store poultry that was pumped full of chemicals and forced to stand in their own poop everyday.

As most of you know, farming does not come naturally to me. I hate bugs, heat, and getting dirty, but I always do what I have to do. Until I was in my 2nd trimester of pregnancy I did everything Chad did here on the farm. I helped in the field, in the green house, and even helped butcher chickens. But to be honest, I am so very thankful my role has slightly changed. My priority is to be a mother to Eden and unfortunately for Chad I am not able to help him as much. Sometimes I feel very helpless and would love to help, but on Sunday I was so thankful I could do my inside chores and take care of Eden and not be forced to pull out the turkey feathers the plucker missed. I’m not “that girl” who can handle butchering and plucking poultry like several of the others who have helped us, and I’ve learned to accept that. I often try to be someone I am not out here on the farm and it’s been a process to find my place. And though it’s still a process, over the past 9 weeks as a mother I have felt more at home with myself than I have in years. And I am so thankful Chad respects and understand my role. I will gladly do all I can to help him on the farm and he knows that, but he understands that my job is Eden. On butcher days if all I do is provide breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, etc. for them while they butcher whatever animal we have at the time then that is perfectly fine with Chad. (I really do have the best, most supportive husband in the world!)

Turkey Day was a success, though it was long and challenging. Chad’s best friend from high school, Justin, helped him out and since it was their first time with turkeys it was a learning process. But in the end we had over 40 turkeys to sell to our community and a couple for us to eat at our own holiday festivities! Now I can’t wait until the real Turkey Day! Until then!

 

Our turkeys in their pens that are moved every morning to provide fresh grass for them

 

 

Chad getting turkey out of transport crate

 

 

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