When I was pregnant with Gabe, I booked a kid free trip to Chicago to visit my girlfriend Rebecca. When I got pregnant with sprout #3, I asked John if I could book a trip to NYC to visit my bestie Sean. John graciously agreed - bless him!
Thankfully we have a direct flight from Charlottesville to New York City. Flying time was supposed to be 90 minutes but we landed after only 60 minutes. Sean sent a car (FANCY FIRST!) to pick me up and it took 90 minutes to get from LaGuardia to Sean's apartment in Chelsea. Still, I was in Manhattan by 10am on Friday and didn't fly back until Sunday night. I had three full days to enjoy!
When I announced my new focus on the farm and this blog, a friend sent me a book called The Dirty Life. I thought this weekend was a perfect time to read it.
It was kinda funny diving into this beautifully written book about hard work and the gritty reality of farm life as I was indulging in a pampered and kid free weekend in New York.
And I was pampered. I got a mani pedi. I ate out at great restaurants. I went for long walks without a purse or diaper bag.
I saw a Broadway Show:
I got to do a 90 minute Iyengar yoga class ALL THREE DAYS #zen:
And Sean hosted a small watercoloring dinner party one evening complete with mini chocolate pecan pies:
(Thank you again Sean!!!)
It was a real treat to leisurely read an entire book in just three days. Without the kids around, it's like I could hear myself think?!
It made me realize how much of my brain power is eaten up by 1) when the boys' last ate and what I should feed them next, 2) when the boys' last bowel movement or pee was, and 3) how much time I had before one of them melts down due to exhaustion and needs a nap or bedtime. It was a good time to clear the mental decks and realize I probably need to take a break from my children's bodily functions a little more often.
Back to the book!
Author Kristin Kimball is living a version of the life I want to lead in about 10 years. The book is her memoir of her transition from NYC writer and teacher to organic farmer in upstate New York.
They are hardcore. They set out to create a full diet, organic CSA in just nine months. This meant acquiring and learning about a variety of livestock in addition to producing sugar, grains, and HAND MILKING all the milk.
While we are hand milking our goats right now, if we were ever to scale up our milk operation I would certainly invest in some equipment. Having lactated myself, I understand that hand expression is more gentle on the animal and there is less equipment to wash but as someone who loves efficiency and technology and my TIME, hand milking for 100 share holders makes no sense to me.
So yes, they are way more hardcore than I want to be. She gave up all creature comforts for the sake of her liberal environmentalist boyfriend who was so puritanical in his "return to nature" that he eschewed using NAILS and preferred using draft horses to a tractor (what the what!?). She seems to go along with the needless and extra effort involved with draft horses because of her childhood love of horses.
Thank God John is jonesing for a tractor.
Despite the luddite eccentricity, I loved the book and the romantic but realistic way Kristin portrayed farm life. Perhaps I should start describing myself as a semi-homesteader or semi-hippie a la Semi Homemade by Sandra Lee. I mean I do a lot of things hippie, earthy, granola people do like...
* natural childbirth/homebirth * cloth diaper * breastfeed * consume raw milk * beekeeping
That list alone makes me draw back and go "who have I become?!" So I related to Kristin's identity crisis in her transition from city to country but for different reasons. I feel like my evolution has been slower and more organic than hers. She seemed motivated by her love for Mark and her love of good, fresh food. That wouldn't be enough for me.
I've worked hard to define my values and priorities based on my faith and family and have made decisions (sometimes reluctantly) based on prayerfully considering my options based on those values.
Kristin also had the luxury of starting her venture before she had kids. I'd LOVE to read her take on raising kids on a farm and how she manages physically demanding farm work with physically demanding small children. One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog sooner rather than later was to record how John and I manage with small children to help others do the same. If you know of other homesteaders with small children who have blogged about their experiences, please let me know! So far, I know of just a couple.
Overall, I'd recommend the book especially to fellow aspiring homesteaders out there curious what farm life is like. Just know that the picture Kristin paints is just about the most labor-intensive version out there - it can and should be easier than that!