My Not So Simple Confession

Some Facts:

I am an enthusiastic, all-in, 100% kind of person.

I have not posted on here in a while.

I have been neglecting my garden. On purpose.

I have been having a lot of fun lately, and am okay with both of the above facts.

My story:

Background:

I was in love with the idea of homesteading.  I still am.  But given that I am such an “all-in” kind of person, the second we moved to our mini-homestead, I got to work.  Within weeks of moving in, I had a large garden planned, I had chickens ordered, and my dreams were going BIG.

In fact, I’m staring at a paper where I posted my goals as a homesteader.  One of my goals was to supply 50% of our food needs.  I don’t think I got really close, but most of our meals contained at least one ingredient (and sometimes most of its ingredients) from our land.  While this gave ( and gives) me a great sense of pride and fulfillment, I felt like I was lacking something in my life.

My life was filled with working a full-time, high-stakes, high-stress job, and still is.  And then when I got off of work, I had a constant to-do list.  I had to pull the weeds, I had to plant the seeds, I had to harvest, then I had to be sure to process the harvest so it wouldn’t go to waste.  I always felt behind and I always felt like I was failing. Failing as a homesteader, Failing as a mom, Failing as a wife.

My garden began to feel like I was never done.  Never good enough.  It felt heavy.  It felt like a burden.  But it also felt good to eat from my garden.  My pride was swelling.  My ego was full.  From gardening? From eating off your land?  Yes, it was almost 100% ego driven.

The breaking point(s):

This happened in stages.  I started to feel weighed down.  Even if I wasn’t working on the chickens or working on the garden.  and when I wasn’t doing that, I was feeling guilty.

Stress of Meat Chickens:

We had a fox in the area.  This is a very similar story to the hawk from last year.  The fox would get through our electric fence, God knows how, and attack a chicken.  The fox must not have been big enough to actually pull the chicken, just big enough to hurt them.  So the fox would attack.  I would hear the awful  noise of a chicken in pain in the early morning hours.

This noise is almost indescribable, but it’s clear that the animal is in pain.  This first time this happened was at 5 am.  I had to butcher the chicken.  It was just about time to butcher it anyway.  but I was not prepared.  I was late to work and emotionally exhausted.

I had butchered a chicken before, but it was with the help of my dad, and I was a little more prepared for this. The actual taking of the chickens’ life was peaceful, and I know the chicken was not in pain.  On the other side of the coin, when I had to butcher the chicken that was attacked by the fox, it was clear the chicken was in pain.  It was so sad to hear, and my heart wept.  I cried when I was finished.  The images haunted me throughout the day.

I had no choice but to butcher the chicken.

Then, the fox struck again, but must have been able to drag the chicken off.  This was easier to deal with.

I stopped sleeping well.  I was always on alert for that fox.  Many times, I would hear an odd sound outside, and wake up in the middle of the night to run outside to try and scare a fox away.

To set the stage:  My husband and kid went on a weekend trip away, so  I had planned to butcher chickens.  Not something I was looking forward to, but something that had to be done. If you’re going to raise them, butchering them is part of it.

A week after the last strike, it was a blue  moon.  My husband and child were gone for the weekend, and I was home alone.  It was Saturday, around 2 am, and I was planning on butchering on Saturday, by myself.  I was sad that I would be butchering the next day and I wasn’t sleeping very well. I woke up to that awful sound. I hoped I was wrong.  But when I checked two chickens were injured and one was dead, but still warm to the touch.

My butchering had to start right then and there.  I started with the most injured chicken, did the next most injured.  When they were done, I processed the dead one.  It was sad and exhausting.  When I was done, I had no emotional energy left.  AND I had five more chickens that needed to be butchered.

I waited a week and butchered them.

At that point, I was so emotionally exhausted, I ordered a turkey from Ledamete Farm and named the two we were raising for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We now have two turkey pets: Priscilla and Turkey Lurky.  They entertain us and help provide a richer soundtrack of country living with their gobbling.

Lack of Adventure:

Before we moved to the country, we were rock climbing, and whitewater kayaking. I was running and biking and had a fulfilling yoga practice.  Moving here, I cast those activities off, and focused on homesteading.  While I enjoy(ed) it, I felt so one dimensional.  I felt like I was missing a part of me.

So I made a decision:

Something’s got to give. I can’t have it ALL.  My job, being a good mom, my homestead, my blog, my adventure.  I had to determine what made me me.  What made me tick.  What lit me up, made me feel alive.

What can I talk about all night?

What makes my heart happy?

What am I doing when I feel drunk off life?

And I came to a conclusion.  I have a few loves in my life: I love my family.  They are a source of deep joy.  I love adventure, activity and the outdoors.  I feel whole and like my truest self in that arena.  I love to express myself through written word.  Even if no one EVER reads it.

I have some likes: Gardening, cooking, homesteading.

And I have some needs: My job.

And I have to give something up.  I need to do what makes me happiest.  That way I can be the best mom, wife and person I can be. My best shot at living out my mission statement is to be as genuine as I know how.  And right now, I genuinely need a break from homesteading seriously.

Now what?

I’m going to keep on keeping on.  I’m going to continue to blog it up.  Although my topics may be a bit less focused on homesteading.  I’m going to continue to have my adventures: running, climbing, kayaking.

and I’m going to continue to be my most honest self, leave myself open to coming back to homesteading, and I’m going continue to share my journey with you, if you are so interested.

Thank you for coming along!

5 thoughts on “My Not So Simple Confession

  1. Joan Strong

    Balance is always so tricky. I like sticking with the plants in the garden; it’s a little less pressure than birds & animals. The cabbage worms didn’t have any cabbages to devour, so they decimated the kale and brussels sprouts instead. They struck right at a time when I couldn’t spend time in the garden getting rid of them. The chard is untouched and I have more peppers this year than I ever had before. And the experiment with purple beans in large pots was a delicious success. It’s always satisfying to go out and pick parsley or chives to flavor what I am cooking. My sister gave me a nice bag of her lovely kale. I re-discovered this year just how much I enjoy this level of low-pressure vegetable gardening. I figure the next best thing, is buying local. There is pleasure in that as well. I admire your all-out efforts and your insightful honesty.

    Reply
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  3. Jill

    I presume everyone goes through this. I’ve recently realized that I need to focus on what I love when I can. After I made that decision I hiked a lot more this fall. Then, i started too many craft projects and realized I needed one or two things I wanted to do well, not try to learn every craft project. I’m still the same person, jumping into something the moment I see it, so I’m sure I’ll go through this again and again. Do now that you are getting more into Rick climbing and adventure again, let us know if you want to get together for a weekend in West Virginia! Sorry I missed this when it was posted.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Thank you for taking the time to read – no matter when.

      I will surely be in contact. I’m not sure what our summer plans hold, but I’m hoping for a lot more travel, camping and adventures this year.

      Reply

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