I’ve had the pleasure of a peeking into the lifestyle of a few small farm families recently.
I enjoy being inspired by stories online – but nothing compares to real life inspiration. Or in my case, a real life reality check.
I'll continue to work once we move to our little farm. Thankfully one of my jobs is a work from home position, which means I can live in a rural area and continue working in a position I enjoy. But it does mean 'the farm chores' will need to fit into the few hours before 8.30am and after 4pm.
Visiting other small farm families and farm sitting has helped me appreciate just how much work having a small farm can be.
Farm sitting Purple Pear Organic Farm
Farm sitting Purple Pear Organic Farm for five days provided the reality check I needed.
Little Eco and I had a ball and she thrived in the farm environment (the above two photos were taken by her. I love her perspective). But it was hard work. Daddy Eco was off to work before light and home after dark so I had to deal with all the chores myself.
After the milking there were chickens, ducks and geese to be let out; seedlings to be uncovered and watered; and chickens to be fed and watered. And I was only doing a fraction of the chores Kate and Mark would usually do. In the evening the same routine would happen again - this time covering up and putting away.
If I'm going to have the energy to work after chores I'm unfortunately going to have to have far fewer animals.
There's one type of animal I'm certain we'll have on our little farm - something to milk. I haven't yet decided between a couple of Dexter Cows or a few milking goats.
I like the idea of a cow because I prefer the taste of cows milk and I like the idea of getting butter and cream which you can't get from goats milk. I'm keen on Dexters in particular because they are small and dual purpose (i.e. good for milk and meat).
On the other hand, I like the idea of goats because of their cheeky character and because they are easier to handle and transport. Jane (who I introduce below) told me a story about putting Honey (who I also introduce below) in the back seat of her sedan. Sure beats having to hire or own a trailer.
Visiting Kim and her milking goat
To help me decide between goats or cows I visitited Kim at her Little Black Cow Farmstay to try milking a goat.
Honey her goat was very easy to handle and I was far more comfortable with her size in comparison to milking a cow.
I fell in love with the crazy character of goats and the milk actually tasted delicious. It strangely reminded me of liquid white chocolate.
So for now I'm leaning more towards goats.
Jane and her small farm paradise
I then had the pleasure of visiting Jane and her small farm paradise.
Jane lives the life many of us dream of. They live in a quaint stone cottage overlooking rolling hills and a river. There's huge orchards of numerous types of fruit, a veggie garden, chooks, her young daughters have their own horses, and they raise enough lamb for their family and friends. Jane cooks most of their food from scratch and whipped up a batch of bread rolls while talking to me and served them with greens straight from the garden.
But this lifestyle is a full-time job for Jane.
Not being able to get away
There's one thing all three families have in common - going away for a night or more is complicated. They need to find someone to mind the farm.
I travel for work regularly. For example I'm currently organising workshops in Scone, Deniliquin, Moree and Sydney. Plus there's trips to Perth and Canberra. All before the end of the year. So I need the farm chores to be simple enough for Daddy Eco to do before 7am and after 6pm. We also like to travel - so the farm chores need to be simple enough that we can tempt city friends to mind the farm.
Do any of you live on a small productive farm and still find time to work? Or time to escape? Or am I dreaming?
I'm also over at Childhood 101 today: Literacy Learning Through Creating Books of Their Own.