My husband and I are young. We got married young, have a young baby, and young animals. We are still learning and still growing. Some of our wedding vows sum it up best:
"you are not who you were yesterday, and you are not who you are going to be tomorrow"
On that note, we committed to being there for each other as we grow, and helping each other to reach our full potential. We wanted to grow together, and figure things out as a team.
We keep feeling this gravitational pull toward living more simply, more intentionally, and more wholesomely. Living our best life, if you will. Sometimes, we will lay awake in bed at night, and ponder about why we are doing this and how much extra work it adds to our days but the conversation always goes back to how this feels right. It feels necessary and good. And, most importantly, it is what we want (even if there is some surrounding guilt in admitting that).
We have received some flack here and there, for taking on "too much" or, we have been warned of how this will affect our lives, apparently, in a somehow negative way... Most of these comments come from a well-intended place, with concern for our well-being. To that I just want to say, thank you, and we understand. We get it. We also have done our research. We are conciously aware of the choices we are making and what they entail. Although things seem possibly rash, there's been a lot of discussion, planning, calculating and consideration that have gone into each of our decisions on the Homestead.
We are well aware that practicing husbandry means being home more often than most. It means potentially fewer vacations. This does not bother us one bit. We have worked incredibly hard over the last year and a half, to rebuild our home into one that we enjoy being at. We have thoughtfully planned our homestead in such a way that we have a life we don't want a vacation from (at least, not often).
At home, we are privy to our pond, a porch that would make any bed & breakfast proud, a home gym, man cave, wine cellar, hammock hang out, a large kitchen for entertaining, a cozy great room and wet bar.... did I mention the countless number of chandeliers that make me feel as though we have a little of Newport's mansions right at home?
Let me be clear, I am not saying any of this to brag.
All of these things have come with frustrations and work and a lot of time and money. Things aren't perfect either - I have a laundry list of projects that still need to be completed, and sometimes the whole place irritates me. That being said, when I stop and think about all that we do have - all of these spaces and amenities - you'll be hard pressed to get me to want to leave them. I find that at times, people put a lot of effort into their homes, and then don't appreciate them. They don't make the time to sit on that porch they spent hours staining and seasonally decorating, or lay in that hammock they hang up every summer.
When you do stop and take inventory for a minute though, I find that it is a lot easier to ask myself, "do I really need to go?". We have more than what we need to be comfortable - we are blessed to have so much more than most. When we have dinner in the wine cellar, we feel like we have gone out for a night on the town, but we never had to leave home! It didn't cost us a night out, we didn't need a sitter, the dogs didn't have to be crated, and it was still super romantic. What adds to it the most though, is that every time we shut the lights off for the night, we are so grateful we made the time to use that space, and put it together in the first place. It makes us proud. So, if we don't go away on the weekends or for nights out, we're okay. We are content and we are not missing out.
We are also not complete shut-in, hermits either. We do like to get out and get a break like anyone else every now and again. There are such services as "Barn Nannies" and house sitters. Often times, for quick weekend getaways, some livestock are even okay with some extra food and water around, as long as the weather is reasonable. Sure, a nanny might cost a little more to use, but even families with dogs at home might have to utilize a kennel for a trip. It really isn't all that different.
The nice part about livestock, is that in the end it is a relatively low-risk investment. There are many farms and other homesteaders around you (yes, there are - you just have to look for them - we are usually quitely planting something somewhere...) that would be happy to buy off or take off your hands, any number of farm animals. If we decided at some point, against this routine, or got in over our heads, we could always fill our freezers (these are agricultural animals in the end), or pass them along to a more capable farmer who might be thrilled at the opportunity (especially when you tend to keep rare breeds - I cannot help my expensive taste even in livestock). I do not see this becoming necessary for us, but it never hurt anyone to have a plan B.
This way of life, is not for everyone. There is nothing wrong with doing life differently, either. If you feel like dabbling in a bit of the homestead magic though, we hope that reading our narritives will be both encouraging and confidence instilling. We will make mistakes, and we will learn from them. Sometimes, we will bite off more than we can chew, and occasionally we will end up spitting it out. Failure is not something we are afraid of for the most part - failure is something to be embraced, as we learn from those experiences, and they push us closer to where we were always meant to be. As far as I can tell though, running our homestead is not just a lifestyle choice for us, but instead, it is becoming our way of life. Every day spent pulling weeds, harvesting produce, and collecting eggs, has brought me more joy and appreciation, for all that life has to offer. Our hearts have never been more full.
Photography by: Kate Michaud Photography (Paris, ME)