Tuesday, May 5, 2009


My eyes are bigger than my stomach. Bigger than my hands, bigger than my head, bigger than my whole being. I see an image of my family living a perfect agrarian lifestyle complete with chickens, goats, cows, garden, apple trees, clothesline, root cellar filled with vegetables, pantry filled with preserved goods, home baked bread and a vase with just-picked wildflowers in the center of the kitchen table.

In the winter against the cold, white landscape this image burns in my mind. I make my best laid plans. I order seeds and chicks. I plan the garden layout and buy mulch. I have our goat bred. I borrow my niece's incubator to hatch our own chicks. After winter comes spring -- time to till the garden, put eggs in the incubator, set up a brooder, prepare for the goat kids, mulch the garden, start seedlings in the basement and plant potatoes in the soil.

And that's when reality starts to seep into my agrarian picture. None of the incubator eggs hatched. My chickens are starting to eat their eggs again. My goat is two weeks past her due date. The goats have broken down their hay manager. Last week the goats broke into the main area of the barn and knocked over shelves, hay, and the bags containing their newly sheared mohair.

The only things growing in my garden so far are thick patches of thistle and dandelion, unhindered by the mulch. Every day I have off from my job to work in the garden, it rains. Except this week -- this week it didn't rain. Instead, my family and I came down with the stomach flu. My five-year-old had to miss his preschool graduation ceremony last night because he was busy throwing up into a bucket with a fever of 102.

Doubt has come rushing in. What the heck was I thinking? I can't keep up with all of this. I hear about fun, fantastic things that other people are doing, things that I would love to do. These other people are planting herb gardens, harvesting wild edibles, building a rain cistern, doing pottery, attending classes. Heck, I can't even find the time and energy to read a book or clean my house.

Today we found a dead bloated opossum in the barn behind the hay.

Sigh. I guess you could say I'm feeling a little down these days.


Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

Buck up Jo. Your mental construct is an ideal not an actual. That is OK though it give you strength when you tire and hope when you doubt. Also don't sweat what others are doing. Thanks to the internet you can now always find someone who has just completed that cool project you were working up to. They always seem to be so damn good at things as well. But the thing is that they did it not you and well you probably got into this so that you could do it and not just to have it done. So you have got to pick yourself up see what you have left to do. I didn't write about it but a hail storm destroyed my garden the day after they buried my father. The trees still have the scars but the garden grew back and so did I. So will you.

Anonymous said...

Ideals inspire us; reality likes to test our mettle. That dead possum will bring lots of laughter in the future.


Jo said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I am always at odds with myself, deciding whether to take on lots of projects knowing I will succeed at only a few of them, or take on only a few projects and risk losing out on that extra something that proves to be the coolest thing ever.

It might make things easier if I could actually learn from my mistakes ... usually I find myself making the same ones over and over again ...

Karen said...

At least you are realizing your dream. You have the means to the end. Here I am, stuck in the suburbs, dreaming of horses. The immediate future looks grim for my realizing that dream. You're living yours. Be thankful, dear sis.