Right now, my teenagers are not using smart phones, tablets, computers or TV. They are bundled up against the icy Maine wind, stacking the last of the firewood we will use to heat our house. The landscape behind them is shades of brown and green, sculptural branches interrupt my view of the coral and lilac-colored clouds behind them. It’s almost 4 in the afternoon, and in this part of the country, it will be dark in 45 minutes. My teenagers pause to kick a soccer ball on the paddock and laugh. They don’t know I’m watching them, smiling.
Being here in this farmhouse setting has changed our whole lives, really. We didn’t just move to a new house. We made a conscious decision (well the adults in the house, anyway), that this would be a move to a new lifestyle. More space. More fresh air. More old fashioned chores, like wood splitting and stacking. And although part of the lifestyle change I did not anticipate was my using a chainsaw, that has happened as well! (My husband got a picture of it, which you can see on my Facebook page.)
My mornings start at 5:30 like before, but instead of starting the day with an hour of solo coffee refills and reading, I start the day lugging grain and water and hay through the inky-dark early morning to my chattery goats and tossing scratch over the collection of leaves we’ve hauled into the chicken run, so the girls can entertain themselves. Then my husband and I sit in the dimly lit window area that overlooks the back yard, and we sip coffee and talk together.
Right now, there are 15 baby chicks fluttering around a brooder that is just behind the antique yellow sofa. They are having weird “hair days” this week. The new “big girl feathers” are starting to come in, and their fuzzy baby-down is letting go. They’re trying out their wings and seem thrilled to fly a few inches. Our Maltese mix watches them in total fascination all day long. So do I.
Wood smoke billows out of the boiler that is off to the side of the barn, bringing the cozy fragrance of winter to me. I love heating only with wood, mostly because I love that smell. When my husband was gone on business for a week, I tossed log after log into the open boiler in the dark, bright orange coals glowing and flames flickering. I felt a tad bit Laura Ingalls Wilder, if I do say so myself.
Yesterday, my friend came over to teach me how to trim my goats’ hooves. This both excited and totally terrified me. I watched You Tube tutorials that morning while baking her some thank-you ginger snaps. When she came over, we took turns holding a goat while the other trimmed the tiny hooves. During my 15-plus years spent doing nails on human ladies, never did I once think I would be pedicuring goats.
Right now, peppermint tea is steaming from a vintage diner mug on a little metal table beside me, and outside on the back deck, a bright crimson cardinal is hopping, pausing here and there to pick up dropped bird seed that spilled from the feeder on the deck railing. The sun is setting even as I’m typing. I’ll have to go feed the goats and tuck the chickens into bed before coming back inside to start dinner.
The best part of being here at the farmhouse is that every moment captures me. We live in this right now space better here.
We are connecting to nature more, and it is pulling us away from the tv and the laptops and out toward wood piles and duck ponds and chicken coops. But you don’t have to live on a farmhouse or raise goats in a chicken barn decorated with folk paintings to get this soul-quieting, peaceful farmhouse heart. You can live in the city and raise a kitchen herb garden, or at your subdivision home keep a stocked-up bird feeder outside your window this winter and enjoy the colors and entertainment they provide, or you can find one of the rustic, no-knead bread recipes and fill your home with the fragrance of bread baking…
I hope you will make a right-now, farmhouse moment for your heart today, friend. If you have a favorite way to quiet your soul, or if you have something you want to try to do to get a little farmhouse in your life, please leave me a comment, and I will enjoy catching up with you when I get back from the chicken coop.