School of Rocks

We knew it was going to be challenging to start a farm from the ground up while raising two, soon to be three, small children at the same time but it is more challenging then we could have ever imagined. In exchange for 14 hour days full of household chores, animal chores, and larger projects like fencing and irrigation we get the luxury of time. When we lived in the city we juggled two different work schedules and tried to work opposite schedules so we could afford childcare.  We didn’t have many days off together and we definitely didn’t share all of our meals as a family. We haven’t gotten to the point where we can get much done as a group on the farm but we have found a couple of things that work.  Out of necessity we decided to move the chicken tractors together.  We had been grazing the chickens on the grass in the front yard but once the sheep had cleared out some taller grass in the paddocks we just fenced we decided to move the chickens out there and move the sheep onto new pasture. This involved using the tractor because moving the chicken tractors by hand more than several yards is a back breaking experience. So with one child on Matthew’s lap while he drove the tractor and one child with me keeping the chickens moving forward we slowly made our way at .7 miles per hour. Then we hit a bump in the road. We were almost to our destination when we hit a large rocky area that was  impossible to get the chicken tractor over. We got out our digging bar and small shovels and got to work. Who knew that two little boys would think digging rocks out of the dirt was just about the best thing they could be doing? They would have done it all day if it didn’t start to get hot but there is plenty of more rocks to move and we even have a need for them because there is a long section fence that doesn’t meet the ground where the land slopes so they also helped me move the small ones and alternate them on either side of the fence to keep our animals in and the coyotes out.

With one chicken tractor move under our belts we decided to try it again but this time we were moving the chicks. I would like to say it went smoother but the chicks were much more challenging.  They seemed determined to get squashed underneath the tractor. Harlow, our 4 year old, was a huge help moving a box of turkey pullets along and keeping them from tipping over while I used a broom to keep the the chicks moving along and we managed to keep them all alive and unharmed.  We have a long way to go before we can actually spend a significant amount of time doing work together but we’re slowly getting there at about .7 mile per hour.

At the end of the day when all the animals and boys have been put to bed we collapse in our chairs outside to enjoy the cool air and lately we have been watching as thunderstorms move across the valley. The last one was so tall (35,000 feet) that they could see it on the other side of the Cascade Mountains in Seattle. Here is one of our pictures of that storm.

Cliff Mass has some great photos and things to say about the mammatus clouds on his blog.

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5 thoughts on “School of Rocks

  1. One of the things I like about what you’re doing is raising your kids with the awareness of physical activity. So many children are inactive. I think your boys will grow up healthier and happier as a result.

    • That is the hope. If they become interested in farming isn’t as important. I hope it does give them an appreciation of nature and building a life for yourself that you want. Right now they still prefer spending their time drawing,playing with trucks, and running threw sprinklers over farm chores.

  2. You are where we started about 13 years ago, though we are just hobby farmers and do not have crops. Just take one day at a time is the best advice. We failed at many, many things but we couldn’t let that discourage us. As your kids get older it is much, much easier. I am also grateful for the impact living the way we do has had on our kids. Many people mention this to me and it makes it all worth it when you hear such wonderful comments about your children.

    • Those are some encouraging words to hear. I see little glimmers of hope with my four year old who really wants to help out, but sometimes he just doesn’t always have the skills or attention span to do what he wants to do. What we really need to figure out is how to make it a productive farm where we are producing enough to sell without having to hire people. We would eventually like to have an intern program but we want to get a couple seasons of experience before we do that. We don’t have any family in the area to help out with childcare so we split up the work with my husband doing most of the outdoor work and I am inside with the kids doing paperwork and writing the blog. By next season I would like to take on some more of the outdoor work, maybe being in charge of the chickens and the garden.

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