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Feathery Hope

It wasn’t too long ago that we hit a major slump. Okay, I did. My husband has been working a long-distance job for nearly 2 years. Somewhere at the year and half-mark, I started to slip. I had tried everything to be positive. I had wracked my brain about projects, to-do list items, anything that I could do to help. Being a stay at home mom with two in diapers, no vehicle and a homestead to look after meant a lot for me. But it didn’t to anyone else. Except for my husband. He, bless his heart, spent a lot of time encouraging me and validating my long workdays. You see, it is very (emphasis added) unpopular these days to be a stay at home mom. I’ve been a working mom and a stay at home mom. I know both sides. Never when I was working, however, did I receive such extreme negativity about what I was doing. People think stay at home mom means, she sits on her phone while the kids play. Uh, no. Not in this house.

If you read our previous post, Homesteading for Profit, you got a glimpse into some of the requirements here. I’m gonna bring you in a little further. Carefully. Because my home is precious to me and my family, I do this to help and educate. Not to expose ourselves.

Part of our monthly routine is that my husband comes home and we must immediately take care of all necessities to be gotten outside the home. Usually, by this time, I need groceries and diapers and wipes. My shopping list is extremely short for household products and long on food items. We cook every single meal. The other products I need are usually trash bags, dish soap, paper towels, and toilet paper. Every six months I get the laundry soap I use as a base for my detergent. It costs $2.36 at Walmart. We do not shop around, we go to only one location as often as possible. My husband is exhausted from driving and I had not had a license until a couple of weeks ago. It expired, I had no car, didn’t want to waste our money renewing it. I have become an expert at not spending money. This isn’t to brag, it was necessary and I want to find joy in it, so I find joy in how good I am at it.

Joy, the missing ingredient. You see, we’ve worked extremely hard to leave the rat race. My husband quit his old job, with great money, because it was killing him. He was poisoning himself every day for a paycheck. He was sick, having frequent signs of nerve damage and severe pain. Ok, if not for the grace of God, he would be dead. Nerve damage can become permanent and his pain was nearly constant. So, he quit. It was viewed by everyone around us as stupid and foolish. I have praised him and thanked him again and again for choosing himself over money.

It got very hard after that. When we reached the year and a half point, I began to lose my ability to see the positive. I lost my vision for the future. We couldn’t plan for two days, let alone a month. The job was hard, and my husband was driving back and forth weekly. He was away from us and we were all tired of being apart. He was exhausted in that, I was tired last year way. Making up for fatigue is impossible at that point. I was home with a new baby and my version of a girly Tarzan. The society echo chamber is constantly pressuring women to pop out babies and jump back into your job and earn that money. And those who see this as right and correct, don’t understand the alternative. They cannot conceive of it. Why? Send your kids to daycare, earn those bucks, what is wrong with you?

To that, I say, what is wrong with you? What is wrong with nursing your child? What is wrong with stepping back, slowing down and saying, my kids are important enough to have quality time with? If you don’t have anything nice to say, yep, you know the rest. I know, I’m gonna get yelled at, I’m beyond caring anymore. I see child after child, adult after adult living in these vacant empty bubbles of phones, games, and tv. People will fight you over their right to live their miserable lives. People will fight you over having a different opinion than theirs. When everyone’s opinion matters, no one’s opinion matters. There are just too many to count and everyone is offended. Stop, Breath.

I’m preaching to the choir folks, trust me.

Without a vision, the people die. Without hope for tomorrow, people become sick. Without a future to look forward to, people perish. Joyless and upset that we were against a wall. It was affecting my mood, my daily chores, my motivation. Until my husband surprised me one day. He had gone to the feed store and when he came back into the house, he acted casual as he stood there looking at me. He was silently watching me, his hands behind his back. I stared back at him… “Hey”. He grinned at me like a little boy with a secret. I continued to look at him like he was a two-headed moose in my living room. He grinned and tilted his head looking to the side, urging me to listen. I had been so out of it, so exhausted and forlorn I didn’t notice the tiny “peep” “peep”‘s coming from behind him. I jumped up, and said, “What?”. As though I had forgotten what made that sound like I hadn’t heard it in twenty years. I was stunned.

Months ago, we had been told by our realtor that we needed to sell all our chickens if we wanted to show the house. We were reluctant but did as he suggested. The house was never shown and the contract with that realtor ended after 6 months. I regretted selling my chickens every day after that. And here, in my kitchen, in my proximity, was hope. My husband pulled out a small box, the kind that looks like a barn with windows. and inside were 6 Lakenvelder chicks. I nearly cried right then and there. Here, was joy in a box. I know money doesn’t buy happiness, this was about a future. Those little birds began a new chapter for me. I don’t truly know what snapped, but suddenly I was awake again. I was dreaming and thinking and planning. These little feathery bundles of joy made my heart come alive.

I began focusing more on what we could do, meager as it might be. We bought seeds, a few packs at a time each week. Starting with the first to be planted, and so on up until after the frost and we could direct sow the rest. He brought home free pallets and some wooden boxes that we decided were grow boxes from now on. When he was home he would work the compost and burn any limbs and debris from the yard for wood ash. I began researching what plants to plant when, where and how. Why? Because this is the first year I have been the gardener. I’m great with animals, I can herd chickens like no one’s business. But I had never successfully grown a single plant. Ever. They all died… black thumbs R me, right here. But my husband had faith in me and I trusted his judgment.

A lakenvelder still getting feathered out. This breed is one of the oldest and most traveled. From the middle east in ancient times, to Germany in modern times.

We’ve been through a lot and done a phenomenal amount of work in a short time with no ability to buy anything extra. Our investments into this homestead have been time, work, sweat and lots of tears. I lost some of those baby birds, it happens, we couldn’t get them from a great breeder. But I’ve got three… and by chicken math standards, that’s pretty good.

The lakenvelders with their new siblings. A few production reds and golden comets. These girls survived the raccoon attack of 2019.

Since then we have increased our flock slowly, like gathering our seed. We have had three silkies gifted to us along with a powerhouse of a rooster. I’ve never seen a Red Cornish so large. He’s beautiful and will be the dad of many chickens. We have golden comets, and production red hens. We have been given 48 Japanese quail to hatch and my husband’s old incubator was resurrected. We have canned jams and jellies. We are making candles. Our facebook page is growing and of to good re-start. Now, we have a blog page. These are our hopes and dreams. One day we will be building quality coops and hutches for chickens, quail, and rabbit. Along with selling our healthy strong birds, hatched here on the homestead. Our greenhouse will be a reality and we will have flowers and plant starts. More candles too. We want our customers to leave as friends, with a free jar of jelly. We don’t want a business, we want real family, friends, and community.

We are doing this, and we will do it well. All because of a little box of feathery hope.

First year being the gardener, its rewarding and teaches us a lot. Try it, black thumb or not, keep trying!

For you my friends,
Love, Bluegrass Homestead

We invite you to follow us on facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!

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