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I Envy Your Lifestyle!

Well, let me tell you this about that!

By Kimberly J EganPublished about a month ago 6 min read
Henny Henny and Red Hen in the potato vines, one early morning.

I know I've said it before, but I lead a blessed life. That doesn't mean that it's the perfect life, but I am truly blessed. I'm not wealthy, but I don't want for much. I don't eat out a lot, but I have all the eggs, milk, and vegetables that I want and need. I work hard during deer season, but I am able to put up some of the finest meat around, so that the dogs and I can have it year-round. And, while I do sometimes hear sirens or the chicken plant trucks going by and planes going overhead, most of the time it's just like this: my rooster crowing at his hens, Buckyboo calling to his mom, and the birds singing in the trees. For all these reasons, and more, I am blessed.

But, when I hear, "I envy your lifestyle," I always want to use one of Dan's favorite phrases: "well, let me tell you this about that." Whenever I hear Dan utter that phrase, I know that there's a cautionary tale to follow.

One of Patience's kittens stalking me from the weeds.

People have romanticized homesteading. It's a tremendous life, if you're up to leading it, but there's this image of a bucolic existence surrounded by happily grazing and frolicking livestock, playful kittens, and sitting on the porch whittling or shucking corn or peas. I have my share of all of the above--except the whole whittling thing, as I like the fact I have 10 fingers--but that part of it is nowhere near the entire part.

I tend to wake up early. Keep in mind: I'm a night owl. Previous to homesteading, I used to joke that I only saw sunrise if I stayed up long enough to do so. Ha. Ha. Ha. Now, however, on six days every week, my alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m. On Sunday, I choose not to set an alarm, but my body has its wakeup call somewhere around 6:30, anyway. Once I'm awake, I stumble out to the kitchen, put the coffee on, and then to the bathroom. I typically check my blood sugar and look at my emails and social media for about 30 to 45 minutes until my spirit returns to my body. Once I've got at least one cup of coffee in me, I can manage to consume my morning yogurt, which primes my stomach for breakfast, later.

By 6:30, I almost feel ready to get dressed and face the day. (Nota bene: getting dressed is NOT a prerequisite for facing the day. I have done my morning chores, including milking and transplanting whatever, in my jammies before now and will do again.) Off I go, into the morning air, to feed the kittens, weed the garden, transplant or pick vegetables, lay eyes on the bucks, feed and milk the does, fix fences as needed, work on agility equipment and train dogs. I usually have everything done by 8:30, at which time I go inside and eat an egg sandwich or something equally as quick and unskilled so as not to burn down the cottage.

Some of the veggies that I harvested this morning. I'm not self-sufficient, nor will I ever be on the property that I have and with my energy level. However, As time goes on, I will have a lot more food security than the average person my age and income level.

At 9:00, I turn in my homesteader's hat and become a blogger. I spend a minimum of an hour working on Vocal posts, after which I turn into a novelist. I work until I find a good "jumping off" point, usually another hour or two. After that, the day is largely my own, during which I often stream a movie while I clean house, pay bills, or something equally as stultifying. Sometimes, I will go outside with the dogs for a bit of playtime (if it's not too hot), run errands, go into town to do laundry, or take another short writing session. Occasionally, I will nap, gloriously, if I have nothing else to do. At 5:00 p.m. it's up to Dan's for evening chores at his place, supper, and a visit. Then, usually around 8:00 or so, I'm back at home to feed the goats, milk the does, and after enjoying the fireflies, the stars, and the moon as long as the mosquitoes will let me, I call it quits for the night. Usually, I hit the hay thinking about the people I was supposed to call or the thing I left on top of the water tank or some other pressing thing that gets me out of bed again. Finally, I lie down, turn on my sound machine, and fall asleep the best I can.

Maybe that sounds like a relaxing series of days, but I assure you, my animals and my homestead itself seem to enjoy keeping my life full of excitement. Those are just the regular events, the touchstones of everyday life. Over the years, I have learned that:

  • Homesteading means starting seeds at the end of winter, transplanting the seedlings after the first frost, and coming outside to find that rabbits have eaten the tender green things down to the ground.
  • Homesteading means standing in the pathway during the early morning hours, awestruck over the way that the dew has turned the asparagus fronds into lace and diamonds.
  • Homesteading means hatching a clutch of eggs, putting the chicks in a tractor, raising them until they are almost old enough to lay eggs, and coming out to find all but three of the chickens gone and a rat snake, too fat to leave again, stuck inside.
  • Homesteading means knowing that the workday is almost over because the Whippoorwills have started calling.
  • Homesteading means pulling your doe through the night when she's bloated and suffering from pregnancy toxemia, because there's no emergency vet who will treat a goat.
  • Homesteading means eating a fresh salad out of your garden, topped with eggs from your own birds and cheese from your own goats.
  • Homesteading means your bucks going missing and finding them, in the woods, poisoned from wilted cherry leaves.

Most of all, homesteading means that I, as a single woman who has chosen this life for myself, I have to have faith that I can be repairman, gardener, nursemaid, and steward in every situation that this place can throw at me. I can't do it all yet. Maybe I never will be able to do so. Regardless, I know that I will wake up in the morning knowing I can give it the old college try and go to bed every night reviewing what I did and how I can do better.

I love every minute of my life. Once in a while, I tell myself that I could be back in Metairie in a two-story walkup apartment, with two dogs, a membership to a Mardi Gras krewe, and neighbors surrounding me on all sides. I ask Dan to "tell me again why I am doing this?" when things get difficult and the stillborn kids and crop failure from drought get to be too much. I could have been the next Morgana for the Krewe of Excalibur, but suddenly, I found myself driving a box truck three hours north to a property that would "get me out of the city," dragging my Dodge Caravan behind me on a car trailer. Life hasn't been the same since.

My next project is to get the fallow plot back into gear for the fall. The cans protect vulnerable summer crops--mostly eggplant and sweet bell peppers. They'll be replaced with a permanent space for green onions when they're done bearing. I'll be removing part of the pallet fence and will be replacing other parts with 2x4 welded wire. That's light enough for me to handle on my own, while at the same time providing a fair barrier to the goats. All the green stuff you see is weed (and some mint plants). After all the green stuff is out of the ground, I get to cultivate it (two or three times), fertilize it, and cover it with weed barrier until the fall-bearing plants are ready to go in. There's always a new plot or a fallow one when you're homesteading.

That really is a good thing. If I had known then what I know now, I would have invested the money that I spent on my house downpayment and stayed a few more years in Metairie. I would have been more prepared and would have found a property more suited to my needs. At that time, though, my sole idea was to get out of the city, to have a yard for my dogs, and a place where I could train my dogs in obedience and agility. At that time, it was enough.

The truth is, I could never go back to that apartment in Metairie. I'm not that person any longer. I don't really think that I'm sad about that. She was a very stressed person who was going through a very difficult time in her life. I miss my New Orleans Saints season tickets. I miss helping with Friday night bingo games to earn money for parade throws. I miss twice weekly dog training with the club and dinner and canine conversation till midnight afterwards. I don't miss the traffic and the city and the smell. So, if you think that you're ready to make the change to homesteading, my advice is to take another year, do more research, and actually go work with some farm animals or work in someone's garden. Oh, and stay away from whittling. You'll need all your digits for the challenges to come!

Caffe Fresca was one of my favorite places to eat when I lived in Metairie. It was an undistinguished neighborhood-type restaurant, but the food and the service were both excellent! When I was feeling particularly down, I would stop by and get a whole (massive!) muffuletta sandwich and some bread pudding, then bring half of each home for another day. If you've never had a muffuletta sandwich, add it to your bucket list. Caffe Fresca, sadly, is no longer with us, but they ignited a love for muffulettas that still burns today!

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About the Creator

Kimberly J Egan

Welcome to LoupGarou/Conri Terriers and Not 1040 Farm! I try to write about what I know best: my dogs and my homestead. I'm currently working on a series of articles introducing my readers to some of my animals, as well as to my daily life!

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Comments (1)

  • Lisa Priebe30 days ago

    "Let me tell you this about that." And in her usual sometimes whimsical, sometimes painfully honest, but always engaging way, Kimberly tells it like it is. I so admire her courage in leaving the life that wasn't working for her, and how she has kept faith with herself, her dreams, and her wonderful friend Dan.

Kimberly J EganWritten by Kimberly J Egan

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