Weathering the Storm
Obviously, I’ve been very absent from this blog all summer. To be honest, I’ve been very absent from life this summer. I’ve spent the better part of the last couple months in front of a computer, working like crazy. You see, I found out my job situation was–well, a bit up in the air– and my solution was to hustle-hustle-hustle freelance work. (I’m a web developer and freelance doing custom WordPress development and design.)
It’s scary being the main breadwinner of the family and having the future of your job suddenly uncertain. We finally have this little slide of heaven to call home, and my first thought was that we were going to lose it. But then, I was reminded that’s part of what homesteading is about: It’s not always being prepared for the extremes (e.g. the zombie apocalypse); many times, it’s just having a cushion for when hard times come. It might be job loss, illnesses, or any of the other countless things that happen to families across the country every day.
I was comforted by the fact that our pantry is very well stocked. We raised and put 24 chickens in our freezer, and bought a quarter beef earlier in the year. We have a constant supply of eggs and meat rabbits in our barn yard. Our older goat, Candy, is still giving milk. I have lots of canned tomatoes and tomato juice on the pantry shelves in our basement. I have things like four and sugar stored in bulk, so I can bake bread any time we need it.
I took comfort in knowing the very basics are covered.
Things are looking up for me job-wise now. What was a scary situation is playing out to be more of an opportunity. But the bigger lesson learned was a reminder of why this life is worth it. It’s not just that I enjoy the country-life. It’s not just the pride I feel watching my boys work and play on the farm. It’s the grit and the skills we’re learning every day as a family, and the security it will provide us in the years ahead when times get tough.
People who know me professionally frequently raise an eyebrow when I say something like, I have to get home to milk my goat. The juxtaposition of someone who works in the IT field but also raises farm animals seems jarring to some people. There’s room for both: I love technology and I’m very grateful for it, but I also have a deep reverence for “old fashioned” skills that our grandparents or great-grandparents would have just thought of as everyday life.
Sometimes I try to imagine what our boys will think when they are adults and they reflect back on their childhood. They’ll either think that their mother was crazy, or -hopefully- they’ll appreciate the experiences they had growing up. I hope they’ll go on to amazing academic achievements, but I also hope they stay grounded and remember what working with your hands feels like — cooking and baking from scratch, growing and raising your own food, preserving the harvest, building or repairing things with just the materials you can scrounge together, and so on.
I’m looking ahead now to autumn, and I’m trying to pull back from working quite so much. I’m ready to enjoy the season. The weather here has been unseasonably warm, but today we’re having our first cool day with highs in the 60s. The leaves beginning to turn on our sugar maples, and the animals are already starting to get shaggy with their winter coats. The last local fair of the season begins on Tuesday, and traditionally it always marks the real END of summer in my mind. I am more than ready for the next season to begin.
Amanda lives with her family on a little red farmstead in northwestern Pennsylvania. By day she's a web developer specializing in WordPress and in her off time she enjoys working with goats and other livestock on the farm, canning, knitting, and crocheting.
Hi Amanda! I love your blog. I too am in the IT field – I work full time for a major healthcare system in Illinois. And they laugh at me when I say I have to run home and help a ewe give birth – or having to bottle feed a lamb I have IN the house and IN a playpen IN my bedroom! But, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything else. We finally found our dream house in the country – 8 acres of pure bliss. It is hard at times – but totally worth it! I had some major health issues recently and my baby (who will be 18 in April) took over caring for my critters and the house. I think it makes an impact in their lives to care for something other than themselves at this age! God Bless!!