There's nothing quite like watching the man you love and call your husband become a father. It's little things, like the way he takes the time each night to sing to the boys as they fall asleep. Or the way he patiently explains the project he's working on or takes one of them with when he goes to town for supplies or has work to do on horseback or on the four wheeler. And the boys? They come back from such trips with big smiles and all sorts of stories to tell. One reason we knew from the beginning that we wanted to farm/ranch/homestead was so that our boys would have plenty of time to spend with their dad. Looking at our three boys, someone recently asked us, "how many boys is it going to take to run your farm?" For now, three. If more boys bless our home in the future, I'm sure there will always be work and play enough for all.
Our desire for our boys to have time with their Papi was one of the big motivations behind our decision to move from Idaho to Utah. And I'll also add, I was missing my husband. Cattle ranchers are hard workers. They work from before sun up to after sun down and even in between, should the need arise. It's work that William enjoyed and I love that we could sometimes join him in his work, but it asks an awful lot of a man and his family. It was a constant struggle between loving it and wanting to leave it.
Anyhow, back in Antimony. A week or so after we'd moved I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with unpacking and getting settled, wondering about our future and how all of our dreams could ever come true. How was it ever going to all work out like the pretty picture I have in my head? I was washing dishes and the boys began fighting over a toy pocket-knife. Rather than try to force some sort of sharing, I chose the "distract and separate method" this time and sent Jared outside to "check on" Papi who was out building quail pens. He came back a half-hour or so later, tears dried, a big smile on his face, and a newly carved wooden pocket-knife in his hand. My heart filled with a certain kind of contentment. I may still feel uncertain about any number of things, but I know God is watching over us and I love that when one of our sons was sad, he could tell his Papi all about it and Papi could take the time to listen and make it all better. It's for moments like this that we left our first home and steady income and good friends and moved in with my in-laws to start our own business, buy our own land and build our own home. I know it's going to take some time, but I believe we'll make it if we stick together. We need each other and today I am reminded of how much a boy needs his father. Stay tuned for a review on a book that talked a lot about a father's involvement in raising boys. It was an excellent read, so check back next week!
As I have found myself caught up in the beginnings of a homestead and dreaming about it's future, I find myself intrigued by it's definition. How do YOU define homestead? I picture a quaint, farmstead home with green grass and lilac bushes, rocking chairs on the porch. Chickens and horses close by. A flowering orchard and a big garden. The children willingly and happily work alongside Mom and Dad to care for the family farm and there is time for climbing trees and digging in the dirt, afterwhich they curl up in a favorite nook with a book. The farm is largely self-sufficient and the family gathers each evening, kneeling in family prayer to thank a loving Heavenly Father for their bounteous blessings. Picture Little House on the Prairie in the year 2016, replace their three girls with three boys and call it the Porter Family Farm.
To me, the word "homestead" captures that vision for me. I was sure it would have a lovely, romantic definition that I could share here with you. But guess what? It doesn't. My go-to dictionary, Webster's Dictionary 1828 doesn't even list it. Mother Earth News does have an article about the history of the word "What Exactly does the Term "Homesteading" Mean"
if you are curious. In summary, it came in to the English language with the Homesteading Act in the 1800's, but came to mean "back to the land" for people leaving the cities and getting back to their roots. Today it's grown to largely mean self-sustainable living, wherever you are.
Dictionary.com simply defines it as "any dwelling with its land and buildings where a family makes its home." That leaves plenty of room for your own vision, needs and interpretations to fill in the gaps as to what your own personal homestead might be. So dream a little. What does your homestead look like?
*This isn't my personal homestead, but it would work in a pinch, wouldn't it? :)
"Throw Back Thursday" is a thing, right? So why not jump on board here at the Porter Family Farm? Here goes.
It was hunting season in Idaho. William had gone out for a few hours to try his luck. When he came back in the house, empty-handed, I didn't say much. If he hadn't been able to shoot his deer on his first morning out, I wasn't going to rub it in. But then he smiled big and asked if we wanted to join him. We all grabbed our jackets and followed him out. We jumped on the four-wheelers and just a few minutes from the house we found the white-tail buck he had shot. The boys got quite an education that morning on hunting and safety and deer anatomy. They still talk about gutting the deer each time we pull out a piece from the freezer and cook it up for dinner. It's moments like these that I love being a mother and watching my boys with their Papi. And I am grateful to be the one cooking up the final product and snapping the pictures instead of doing the shooting or skinning. I'll leave that to my men.
I've mentioned this before, but I'm pretty new to raising ducks and quail and guinea hens and pigeons. Especially with the frigid temperatures we've had lately it has been pretty easy to just let William head outside every morning and evening to take care of the animals while I take care of kids and dinner and a hundred other things (right, fellow Mama's?). But early this morning William left with a delivery of duck eggs and will stay in the Salt Lake area for a few days to attend the Small Farm and Urban Conference put on by Utah State University. It should provide some great ideas as well as help and know-how and networking when it comes to starting up in the small-farm business in Utah. And that leaves us home with some 150 little critters to care for.
I'm sure I could have left the kids for a few minutes in the house while I ran out, but one of our dreams is to have this be a family business, something we do together. So first thing this morning we all bundled up, T took out the compost bucket, J carried the egg basket, I filled a bucket of water, and S carried the lid to the compost bucket. The lid didn't need to go out with us, but he's a very helpful 1 year old and needed a job. You know. We fed the right feed to the right birds, filled their water, gathered eggs, emptied the compost, and fed the dogs on the way back in. It doesn't sound like much here on "paper", but it sure felt like an accomplishment as we walked back in the house! It was fun enough, but William, if you're reading this, know that you are missed!
As we perused craigslist we found a man who hatches out quail and tada! We are quail owners! We kept them indoors for the first night they were here and my boys decided that they are pretty fun to watch. If you've seen other chicks, these are just the same, but tiny! We bought one hundred of them and will plan on fifty of them being hens that will lay beautiful, spotted, miniature eggs. Quail eggs also have lots of health benefits- more on that later as they start to lay. For now we'll keep stocking up on bags and bags of feed and watching the little guys grow!
Most of us are most familiar with chicken eggs. Eating other bird's eggs may sound strange or at least uncommon, but here's the thing- there are multiple health benefits and it's fun to change things up a bit sometimes! The two things I've noticed the most about duck eggs is first, obviously their size. They are larger than your usual large or even extra large chicken eggs. We even tried to use old extra-large egg cartons and the lids won't close. The second thing, the yolks are huge! The yolk to white ratio is larger and I think that's one of the reasons you may have heard that duck eggs are often preferred for baking cakes and the like. Here is a post on the difference between duck eggs and chicken eggs
from The Free Range Life, if you'd like to know more!