Learning to Walk

Its funny, but sometimes both Andre and I look around this farm, at the pigs, the goats, and the chickens, and we feel the awkwardness of not being raised on a farm like a missing limb as we wade through the work of the day. The truth is that we often think if it weren’t for the children and our own need to do work that we feel is important and necessary, we would be just as likely to be growing vegetables for ourselves with a few chickens for eggs on a good sized lot in town, bicycling here and there and just as happy. True, we would miss the view, the sunsets, the wildlife, the space. We love our farm, our little piece of land. It is just that we feel this in ourselves sometimes, the people we used to be–a southern California city boy musician and a book worm collegiate heading towards a masters and envisioning a life at the university. Even though I was raised amongst farmers in the heart of the midwest, my parents, probably in a spirit similar to my own, only tried briefly for the country life, and to the best of my memory, they didn’t give me any farm jobs during that time. We simply don’t have some of these skills ingrained in our muscles and bones yet. Not the growing of vegetables, we feel very secure in our feet amidst the rows and hills of food in the field. The animals, though, are a different story. Trimming goat hooves, measuring pig weights, butchering chickens….it can range from hilarious comedy to somber tragedy to watch us in these tasks. As much as having animals is a great joy, the same joy that comes from having pets..the joy of sharing intimately in animal behavior, so cute and funny and species unique; as much as this does bring Andre and I joy, it equally brings us many moments of frustration and aggravation. And all of these feelings really stem from our inexperience, from the sheer amount of things to learn in the realm of farm animal husbandry. In the end, we always decide to keep learning, to keep working towards that vast wealth of homesteading knowledge, because when we look at our children, completely comfortable with all these farm animals already, having the time of their lives, we know it is worth it. And when we think of that life we might be living in town, we think about how we would have to buy all our meat instead of raising it ourselves and we know that taking on this task for ourselves is good for our former vegetarian selves, as hard as it is to look your food in the face. And because as much as it is to work towards a life that has not been in our lineage for a couple generations is somewhat akin to learning to walk in that we know we will learn these skills and that they will becomes second nature to us, but only after much wobbling and many falls.

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