When the simple life isn’t simple–it never is.

Note the ants set on destroying my peonies that I've waited years for to bloom.
Note the ants set on destroying my peonies that I’ve waited years for to bloom.

Debt free! Sustainable! Vegan! Sinless! It’s what the eco-friendly people say about rural living. It’s what utopian idealists have always said and on a pretty late spring evening when the goat kids are murmuring secret things in their pen and the chickens are perched outside their coop preening themselves one last time before sundown I almost believe it.

But then there’s reality. You’ve all seen the deep wrinkles in the leathery faces of the farmers pictured in Ford commercials–they’re not just from smoking.

The ducks are easy keepers and we get to have a cute little house for them (not quite finished).
The ducks are easy keepers and we get to have a cute little house for them (not quite finished).

Debt-free: Always buy used cars and trucks and things that go. Sounds great until the truck’s brakes give out on the highway, the minivan’s wheel bearings go all crazy and the Jetta’s timing belt, windows, brakes and air conditioning all threaten to go on the fritz.

Sustainably independent and self-sufficient: Hmm, what about shoes? We have clay soil so maybe I should check to see if hemp grows in these parts but I think it’s illegal. I don’t want to kill the deer that leave the dear ticks that kill the goats but not before a painful death . . . Okay, maybe I can make shoes out of tree bark. But you know, I really like writing and when will I ever have time for it if I’m felling trees and making shoes and underwear (after raising sheep and spinning wool and weaving cloth). I’m allergic to wool.

So maybe I’ll just be a vegan–low carbon footprint and all that. Again–clay soil. We need to truck in tons of manure since six goats hardly change the soil composition.  What grows in clay? Buckwheat maybe if you can turn over the soil. Did you know buckwheat is a protein?

Well, maybe it’s just best not to think of it all. Maybe it’s just fun having cute little animals . . . and milk. Milking is therapeutic, right? Until mastitis hits and you feel like the scum of the earth for missing some cleanliness issue. Now you bring buckets of bleach water for each goat, you wash up over and over, you massage udders–every few hours . . .  and then the next doe goes into labor. It goes on a bit long and you worry, wait and wonder if at 3 am you should get the vet over. Things turn critical fast when you see two kid heads bursting out and one is terribly stuck.You glance out at the mountains and the way the moon is lit for romance, before slipping your hand and then your arm deep inside the very upset mother goat. You feel a tiny chest with a tiny heartbeat and for a moment think, “This kid has no front legs!” Then you feel some more and realize the front legs are in the wrong position. You find a tiny armpit and just like that the kid slips out onto the floor.

While I love my life I find that it’s not so simple. But it can be cute. Here’s the two little darlings who made life a bit crazy this week:

Phoebe Kate
Phoebe Kate
Unsinkable Molly (she was the stuck one)
Unsinkable Molly (she was the stuck one)
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16 thoughts on “When the simple life isn’t simple–it never is.

    1. Ducks are the new addition and so much easier than everything else. Chickens are the BEST. They’re pretty easy and you can train them to be really friendly. I love them. Goats are great but they have personality–a lot of personality. They can be finicky, loud, pushy and bratty–but they are adorable–like dogs in a way.

      It took me a while but now I’m living the dream. Best of luck. Do you like any particular breed of goats? That was hard for us–deciding what sort to get–but it was fun, too.

      1. I know nothing about different goat breeds honestly! I’m a fair way off living the dream so haven’t looked that far into things yet. What breed are yours?

    1. A goat loving Crazy Mom would know. LOL. If veterinary school wasn’t so expensive I might look into it–just for goats. There’s so much to learn and so many different aand opposing views on worming etc–it boggles the mind sometimes.

  1. This is so great, I see so many people move to the country all gung-ho about doing everything themselves then BOOM in 2 years they are ready to run screaming back to town! Everything in moderation…..BY the way, those goats are adorable!

    1. There are definitely days when I think back longingly to the freedom of just sitting around in a cafe for hours, or spontaneous road trips . . . but then I’m absolutely never bored here and I can dress as I like.

      I knew what to expect because I worked for farmers before–I think that’s a really good thing to do and like you said do things in moderation–if you can. My husband and I tend not to do that. We got chickens, bees and goats in our first year–it was blissfully uneventful–then came year two! Colony collapse, worms in goats and a fox killing off the chickens until we got the big white dog 🙂 New chaos. We’re suckers, I tell you! Thanks for stopping by.

      Adrienne

  2. Oh how I love this. It is a messy, frantic life that I adore… Until the week that the hubs gets pancreatitis, our buckling dies, then the Pyrenees thought they would “play” with the baby drakes. Once the storm calms it is all beautiful and wonderful again. I do love it.

  3. Love that duck house!!! Did you guys make it yourself?! Very impressed! And you are *so* right about the hard work involved with growing stuff. I think about it a lot. Doesn’t stop me but there *are* days…! Had to chuckle at your “allergic to wool” story. Life just never works out the way we plan it, does it?! 🙂

    1. My husband built it. He’s great! I found a birdhouse at an antiques place–a really nice one for only $20 dollars and we designed the duck house to match–basically I said, “I like the way that looks,” and he said, “Done.” I’ll put an updated version up when we get it painted–the wood will look bad if we don’t–I realized that with the barns we built. 🙂

      Two days ago when I was exhausted I was dreaming of city life–but it’s always short-lived. I love being where we are. Yesterday one of our goat kids almost died from something I can’t spell right before our kid’s band concert (and I actualy enjoy high school band concerts), but today she’s fine–that’s life!

      Our ducks now love going in the house right before bed for some feed. They wait impatiently at the gate–which makes them that much more endearing!

      Hope yours are happy and well–you too!

      A

      1. They are very smart birds, ya know! Not surprised they figured out the benefits of secure housing. And what a handy guy you’ve got!!! Hang in there with the ups & downs. I’m with you on the it’s worth it no matter how hard part. 🙂

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