Life is all about routine, and it seems that the more often you do something, the more you (unintentionally) take it for granted.
Right now, my routine consists of making a home and the endless amount of chores that come with running a homestead. As a result, Prairie Baby spends a LOT of time outside with me.
Sure, I could wait to do all my chores until naptime, but I usually can’t fit them all into those precious few hours. And, truthfully? While other moms tell me they can’t wait for school to start, or for the babysitter to show up because they “can’t be with their kids that much”, I will freely admit that I enjoy my child’s company. Really.
So, my days turn into a whirlwind of putting on baby shoes, sunscreen, and play pants, going outside to accomplish a few things, then coming back in, washing her hands (and sometimes feet), having a snack or taking a nap (her, not me!), and repeating the process.
We go in and out sometimes dozens of times per day. Hanging laundry, harvesting from the garden, locking animals in, turning animals out, collecting eggs, watering, weeding, petting the cows, taking kitchen scraps to the goats and chickens, and the list goes on.
She squeals with delight each time I open the door and can hardly contain herself by the time we get to the barn. She starts “mooing” and “baaing”, stretching for whatever animal is close enough for a scratch. As I clean pens or water, she happily toddles around the barnyard picking up baby-sized handfuls of hay to “feed” to the cows, or chasing the “ki-ki” (cat) and begging for it’s attention.
Prairie Baby lives a unique life as compared to most “modern” 16 month olds whose days are filled with cartoons, child-safe play yards, and daycare centers.
Right now, her existence consists of the natural world: dirt, plants, the elements, and animals.
Yesterday, we spent part of our morning digging potatoes from the garden. She was fascinated by the plump, red spuds that I deposited one by one into our box as I dug them from the earth. She had a blast rummaging around in the box, picking out the teeny, tiny ones, then tossing them back for the biggest one she could find. When she grew tired of that game, she toddled around the garden, digging her fingers into the dirt, exploring all the plants (and weeds) until her tiny nails were packed with soil.
Then I stopped what I was doing for a moment, and took it all in.
I never want to take it for granted how fortunate we are to be able to raise our child(ren) in this setting, and I hope that if you are homesteading or living rurally, you won’t either.
Prairie Baby knows how dirt feels under her bare feet, the way the wind whips at her hair, that you can eat peas and beans right off the plant, how you must move softly and gently to coax a kitty to play, and how ticklish it is when a horse thinks your hand is a fly.
Though all of these things and more were an common part of our ancestor’s lives, do you realize how many adults and children in our modern times have NEVER experienced these things?
That thought makes me sad.
So many children and adults today never really get to experience nature. Their days consist of going to work or school in an industrial-type enviroment, then coming home to sit inside and watch TV. They hardly have a chance to get off asphalt.
Now, the purpose of this post is NOT to make you feel bad if you live in town or haven’t yet been able to fulfill your homesteading dreams. Quite the contrary, in fact. If you are a city-dweller, or unconventional homesteader, there is hope!
If you have kids or grandkids, make a concious effort to engage them in the natural world around them, even if you live in town. Grow something; whether it be in a pot or a small garden plot. Allow your excitement to inspire them, to pull them away from the Xbox. Visit neighboring farms or join a Community-Supported Agriculture program. Show them the importance of knowing where their food comes from. Let them get dirty. Take them to the park, roll around in the grass and get dirt between your toes.
And if you are homesteading or living a rural life with your children, please don’t take it for granted. Know that yours is an unique and special experience. Encourage your children to be an active part of your homestead. Inspire in them a love for the land, animals, and real food. A love for life.
As I watch Prairie Baby explore the natural world around her, I can’t help but think that this has to be how God intended us to live. After all, life did begin in a Garden.