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When I was young my dad made snow for me so I could make the molasses candy from my new Little House Christmas book. He had to make the snow because we lived in Yucca Valley, CA. A small town just West of Joshua Tree and an hour North of Palm Springs. We were surrounded by dirt and cactus year round and saw snow twice during the 14 years I lived there. It was never enough to fill a cast iron pan so a little girl could drip molasses in it while pretending to be in the big woods, or on the prairie, or anywhere but a desert neighborhood. I escaped the desert briefly when I was in 4th grade and learned how to skin and butcher a deer in Belt, MT, which was my first introduction to processing your own food. I was also surrounded by mounds of snow and loved every minute of it.
That little girl that longed to live a life full of open land and farm animals (and seasons?) crafted to fill her need to work with her hands. I remember burning my fingers with hot glue as I designed my 50th Barbie outfit out of ribbons and scrap fabric. The outfits were never big, and a bit risqué, but I had made them. I also learned to crochet simple stitches so my dolls would have pillows and blankets. As an early adolescent I sat in front of the TV with my favorite show paused (I recorded each episode on VHS every morning at 7am before school) drawing one of the scenes or characters. I wish I still had one of those drawings. I remember them being pretty good, but we'll never know. My drawing skills are currently lacking a bit. Sometime in my teens I was under the impression making wasn't "cool", and I wouldn't pick it up again until my late 20's when I was pregnant with my 2nd child and crochet photo props were super "in".
Picking up crochet again reminded me of how much I enjoyed working with my hands. Early in our relationship Jared and I fished in the urban lakes of Phoenix and froze what we couldn't use right away, and tinkered with batch processing sweet corn "for the winter". We began picking fresh fruit and learned to can, then built a small garden. As I improved at crochet I did some simple designing, then learned to spin yarn, which led to dyeing wool, and then processing raw alpaca fleece fresh off the animal. Wow that sounds like quite the slippery slope! Don't let your kids learn to crochet or you may find them with a raw alpaca fleece! I did some painting and drawing in there for good measure. I've never possessed enough focus to stick to one thing.
I share all of this so you have a bit of insight into where I'm coming from.
I'm just a woman, that was once a little girl, that wanted to live off the land and make all the things.
We all can't share the same dream, so I understand fully when people look at me like I have three heads when I tell them we are moving from Phoenix to rural Ohio. I feel like we have been working toward this the last few years, even if inadvertently. We slowly improved upon some of our more homestead like hobbies and ended up both working from home. The last few years we have been escaping the blistering heat in the summer as long as we possibly could. Some maniac decided school should start in August in AZ, so we were never able to be gone long enough.
When I tell you I'm about to live my dream and run a small farm in Ohio I'm being genuine, and there is no romanticizing in my head of what our life is going to be like in the near future.
There will be early mornings to let out the chickens and milk the goats. Evening social events missed because the chickens have to be put in at night and the goats need to be milked again.
There will be garden beds eaten by deer and chickens eaten by predators.
We will make mistakes which will result in things broken or maybe even the frantic chasing of an animal through the woods.
The sorrow (but gratefulness) that will accompany the first butchering.
A lot of poop to shovel. More animals = more poop. It's math folks.
Possibly some snow to shovel. Southern Ohio doesn't get a ton of snow, but it will be cold.
There will be sunrises on the porch, coffee in hand, with views of hills and trees as far as the eye can see.
Seasons. Oh how my soul has longed for seasons.
That first bite of a fresh strawberry picked when ripe.
Meals made exclusively with food we've grown and produced ourselves.
The joy of baby animals frolicking and kids holding them for the first time.
The pride that will come from teaching our kids to appreciate the land and how to care for the animals we raise.
This (not so) simple life is for me. I've been imagining it for as long as I can remember.