My father was born to a homesteader. A real one. Not one by choice. Not one who did so part time. He had no choice. He was born in 1923 in the blackness of the poverty found in Appalachia. . .where the Great Depression was just every day life. Where babies perished of the "Bloody Flux" often and were buried in the mountains and children ate by going out with sling shots and sacks on foot to find squirrels, rabbits, berries and roots.
You only ate if you worked for your food, made provisions, and you were thankful for the sacrifice of the animals that made that life possible. Weather and months had meaning beyond what I can even fathom now. Life and Death.
He came from a time where Apples and Oranges were a blessing, a Christmas gift he waited for each year
I came along in the 80's
Everything was fast, cheap and endlessly available then. We were never without. He worked hard, worked smart and made a life to support the children of his old age where we lacked for nothing.
Life had changed for everyone by then. . .but his mindset never did. Growing and rigging and animals and food. . .the way he raised me to feel and think and act was very unlike the upbringing most American children had in 1982.
And so I was different. I am different. I am the same as everyone else, as well.
I like modern convenient things, yet what his upbringing conveyed to me makes me conscious and thankful almost hourly. It also made me want to be a person willing to frame a life around a homestead, animals and knowing where everything comes from.
So here I am on 23 acres in West Virginia. Not enough to farm, really, but it is enough to give me endless work, endless learning.
As a creature of the night, I can't keep farmer's hours. I stay up
most of the night working on photos, blogs, posts, videos, answering emails, editing websites - my day ends at 3am. It rarely begins before 10am.
We have over 20 dairy goats, 1 dairy cow, 40 chickens, 15 meat rabbits, both rescue and personal horses, 2 donkeys, 5 dogs and a stray guinea fowl.
I milk at 11 and 11 or 12 and 12. The animals have learned to bear with me on this.
We pick up our round bales locally 3 times a week and our feed daily as storage is limited.
I hand milk the goat herd and take about 3 months off yearly for the does and cow to gestate and birth again. We have no tractor, so we deal with 1,200 lb round bales by hand. We carry water all over this land. The barn sits on a hillside way up behind the house, so a hundred pound of grains gets carried up on our backs daily, many days much much, and 30-40 pounds of milk gets carried in two or three pails back down twice a day in a precarious manner, especially in winter. Between 6-15 bottles are prepared 2-4 times a day and fed to the goat kids for 1/2 of the year by my house. Eggs are incubated and chicks raised in the kitchen about 4 months out of 12. Fences go down, animals get out, animals are born and die. . .
For us, it is not an income, though there are areas we break even and some areas we make a small profit if you pretend time is without value, but the reward is carving out a life where you feel very much alive every single day.
For that, there is no numerical value you can assign for it's worth.
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens
- Proverbs 27:23-27