Your mother sent you outside to play after breakfast, and except for lunch, you were supposed to stay there until it got dark or dinnertime, whichever came first.
But then, you didn't really want to be indoors anyway. He'd roam nearby woods and fields with his little gang of friends, playing Robin Hood or cowboys and Indians, coming home so dirty his mom would have to hose him down. Later, as a young husband and father, John got his fresh air nurturing a small vegetable plot for his family. But it could be the outdoor activities so many of us love as adults, like camping, hiking, and gardening—and I hear vacations on working farms are getting popular!
To return to a simpler time, when most people lived on farms—or at least knew a farmer. A time when you spent far more of your life outside than in. Whatever it is, I never stopped loving the outdoors, and John never lost his longing for wide open spaces But there came a time when we both yearned for a deeper connection with the land Okay, that sounds pretty highfalutin'—all we thought we wanted was more room for a kitchen garden, and a little quiet in which to enjoy it.
Regardless of our goal, our journey to that life began the day we reached our tipping point with urban noise and traffic and crowds Little Farm in the Foothills is the tale of our fifty-something leap of faith, to seek out a slower, simpler, and more serene lifestyle on a rural acreage. And embrace a whole new way of living. Who'd have guessed how complicated simplicity could get. Or that serenity and reinventing your life was no match made in heaven.
Despite my woods-playing, I hadn't spent much time in the true boondocks. In elementary school, I'd been a Campfire Girl, but my group never went camping or sat around a campfire—much less lit one. I'd gone tent camping exactly once in my life, a post-high school girlfriend getaway memorable only for the fact that for the entire three days, we'd frozen our eighteen-year-old tushies off. In June! Anyhow, I'm all for city comforts. Call me picky I'm the first to admit I'm annoyingly germ-conscious , but I'd always been sort of revolted by the idea of an on-site septic system.
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There's all that stuff in a tank right next to your house, for Pete's sake. And I liked city water. The only well water I'd tasted was loaded with sulfurous compounds, and the rotten-egg smell wafting up from your glass would set off a gag reflex. I didn't want water from just anywhere —it could be unhygienic, okay? I have a B. I know about contaminated groundwater. I wanted my drinking water from nice clean municipal water treatment plants. But water was only a side issue. In my youth, I'd had the kind of country experience that would turn most people off permanently.
My brief fling with rural living was not, as Jane Austen would put it, felicitous. My first husband had been a farm boy, and had worked all through high school at a neighbor's operation, milking cows and making silage. After Terry graduated, though, he was done with farming—he planned a career in a technical field instead of a cornfield.
But the third year of our marriage, when he was languishing in college after a stint in the Navy, he had a change of heart. One November day, Terry decided that country life would be a great way to recharge his batteries, and took a job as a milker on a large dairy farm. As a young mom with a toddler, I suppose I was game for a new adventure. The night before the job started, we were invited to our new boss' home for cherry pie. I took in the Van H.
Van H. Then again, it could've been the yummy pie My smile lasted right up until I walked into our new home. Farm employees, you see, are often supplied with a place to live. Our on-site residence, near the milking parlor, was a beat-up single-wide trailer that should give you new sympathy for the housing plight of seasonal farm workers. The Van H.
This place was the filthiest dwelling I'd ever moved into. Grime and mouse droppings everywhere.
And you understand I was more germ-conscious than most people. Probably more germ-conscious than most bacteriologists. Farmer Van H. For a year, my sister had lived in The Netherlands, and told me how those tidy Dutch homemakers kept their homes spotless. They even swept and washed the front steps each day.
Clean was their middle name. Well, this guy was the exception to the rule. Although my days were full already with Carrie, our fifteen month-old baby, and doing a newspaper motor route I shared with hubby, I embarked on Project Mobile Muck-Out. Every fixture and appliance, every cupboard, windowsill and inch of floor had to be wiped down and sanitized. I was a whirling dervish, a younger, poorer Martha Stewart on a mission. Around midnight of the third day, I stripped off my well-worn rubber gloves, and gazed around with satisfaction.
With my house clean, the mice droppings only a memory, I felt like a whole new woman. Life was back on track. Here in Western Washington, the prevailing air mass off the Pacific Ocean means it never gets all that cold—mostly in the forties, even in the middle of winter. This being the case, apparently Farmer Van H. Like insulation. The mobile had no skirting beneath it, or other protection from the elements.
We had to keep the electric furnace going day and night, and the place was still frigid. Not surprisingly, our first electric bill exceeded a month's worth of groceries.
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Despite the trailer's inadequate underpinning, I figured that since I hadn't seen any mice in the house, there weren't any. My blissful ignorance didn't last long. One evening, alone with Carrie, I settled her into her highchair for dinner. I opened a cupboard to get out a package of pasta and out jumped a mouse. It landed on my thigh and scampered down my leg. Aacckk, I screamed, leaping back. Shuddering in revulsion, I screeched again, then glanced at the baby. She promptly burst into tears. I managed to pull myself together—despite the sensation of mouse feet lingering on my leg—comforted Carrie, then examined my food supplies.
The mouse had been munching on our lone loaf of bread, and the pasta package had holes in it. So, this loathsome species could actually eat through plastic bags. Out went the bread, and on my next trip to town, I had to spend some of our meager grocery money on two sturdy Rubbermaid bins for food storage. Strapping my rubber gloves back on, I resumed my search for mouse droppings. Not only did I have a freezing house next to a cow pen, I had to share it with mice.
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Now that I was unofficially a farmer's wife, I had to adjust to a different kind of lifestyle, which included a more cavalier attitude toward living things. One day, outside the milking parlor, I found a dead calf. Kerry has fallen in love all over again with her husband Stephen, and after their miscarriage, she longs to try for another baby. But will her lif Christmas is coming, and Seattle fifth-grader Morgan is the new girl at school--and she thinks winning a class photo competition is the only way she'll make new friends.
At home, all she wants is to have her own family's Christmas traditions, then li The Anniversary festivities are in full swing at this historic riverfront town, plus the boys have Kerry McCormack, a young Dublin wife and mother, dreams of trading her cubicle-bound job for a simpler life.
The beginning of summer means International Fairy Day is not long behind Sunday, June 24 is a great time to embrace your inner child and believe in the wonder and magic of fairies! I'm welcoming the official start of summer with the release of my new backyard farming book, Little Farm Homegrown Back to fairies