Happy due date to me! Seeing as there are only four hours left on this last day of February, chances are looking pretty slim that I’ll be delivering this baby early or on the due date. Ah, well…
I’ve been vacillating between feeling VERY impatient to get the baby out and be done with all this pregnancy stuff, and feeling at peace with whatever the timing is and just enjoying each day as it comes. The impatience is heightened a bit by the reality that I’m attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), and the practice where I’ve been going only allows me to go one week past my due date before going the repeat C-section route. Probably just as much of an impatience factor, if I’m honest, is that I really hate unknowns and surprises and like to be as much in control of what’s coming next as I can. Birth, it turns out, does not offer a whole lot to control-freaks.
Thankfully, today was one of the good, “I feel at peace with whatever” days. The sun was shining for the fourth day in a row, which is kind of a jaw-dropping reality during this particular winter. I was able to help Tim put in some spinach transplants this morning, and then had some good time to do miscellaneous tasks around the house this afternoon.
I realized when I uploaded pictures from today’s spinach planting that I had some nearly-identical pictures from last spring’s first spinach planting. Which had me thinking some about where we were at last year and where we are now as we head into the second season on our still-unfolding farm and homestead in Virginia.
In some ways, things have not progressed nearly as much as I may have once imagined. Our house still has a lot of unfinished projects, we don’t yet have an outdoor kitchen, we’re still doing laundry at my in-laws instead of in a bicycle-powered washing machine. And yet, at the same time, we’ve accomplished SO much in the past year: we not only successfully converted a barn to our living space, shifted to cooking over a wood stove, and made the transition to a composting toilet (I need to write a post about that one of these days); we also tilled up lots of new ground and did the intense work and building required to re-start a market garden business in a new location. It has not been a lazy year.
So much has been learned and so much perspective gained as we’ve moved through this first year. We will undoubtedly carry the lessons and new perspective with us into this new season, though I suppose it remains to be seen how exactly the lessons of last year will shape the year and years to come.
Two simultaneous lessons that I’ve learned is that this homesteading business is both so much more complicated and challenging than I could have imagined, and yet is also so much less daunting that I may have thought. The woodstove-cooking, as I’ve already mentioned, has become so much less of a thing and is almost feeling habitual at this point.
At the same time, I think about the money posts I wrote last year. I still completely stand behind those posts. But I’ve also realized how much more complicated it is to figure out this balance of homesteading and generating adequate income streams. Tim and I have had a lot of tug and pull on this front. I’ve been sort of muttering under my breath (okay, who am I kidding…most of it’s been completely audible) all year about how much energy the farm business/market garden side of things is taking, and how little energy we have left over for building and working on our homestead. Tim–rightly so!–keeps reminding me that we need to earn money, and that we will need to put greater energy here up front to develop our market garden business in order to enable our homesteading over the long haul.
I completely agree with Tim in theory, but my constant mutterings and occasional emotional outbursts in the field this past season started to make me wonder…am I burning out on the farming front? At some point when we were harvesting a large order of greens for our local co-op, I said rather abruptly: “I want to be a homesteader! Not a farmer!” When Tim paused in his measured and thoughtful way, I said: “Well!? How does that make you feel?”
We had a long conversation following that outburst (which did not necessarily help us get through that harvest any faster), and basically decided that perhaps I should take something of a sabbatical from the market garden side of things this season. Some of that would have been inevitable, what with the arrival of a new babe. But the “sabbatical” feels important for reasons beyond the adjustment to a newborn.
For one, it will be helpful to have one of us more attuned to the homestead. Cooking, preserving food, tending to the orchard, making sure we don’t get too behind in the composting toilet business…all of these tasks are important and take time and energy. It’s important for me to remember that they have value even if they’re not generating income.
In the future, we hope to share many more of the homesteading tasks. But as we headed into this season, it was clear that Tim has much more energy than I do for the business side of our farm. He, too, is excited about eventually dedicating more time to the homestead, but in my season of farm-burn-out, he is willing to hand over more of the homestead reins to me and to shoulder more of our market garden business.
I am hoping that the additional space for homesteading and child-rearing also offers some cracks for more creativity and writing (maybe more regular blog posts?). I am eager to do more dreaming and brainstorming about what it would look like to offer land-and-spirituality-focused retreats on our homestead, but I just haven’t had the mental energy for any of that with the intensity of building a house and farm.
So it’s not just a baby that’s being born as we transition into a new season. There are new patterns and rhythms coming into being, and with them just as many unknowns as a newborn child brings. Sometimes those unknowns feel overwhelming. But I also recognize what a privilege it is to have these options, to have a partner like Tim to discern with and work alongside, and certainly to have this plot of land and this homestead that we can call our own. On sunny days like today, I am filled with gratitude for all that this life offers to us and the goodness that is present in each of our days.