2015 was not an easy year.
Notice I didn’t say bad year, as something being difficult doesn’t automatically make it “bad.” However, 2015 definitely gave us a run for our money, in more ways than one.
As the year draws to a close, I, like most people, can’t help but spend some time reflecting on the challenges our family has had as homesteaders, and well, just humans, these past 365 days…
The Things We Learned in 2015
Ever since my childhood, I’ve tended to look at my experiences (both good and bad) as opportunities for learning. And let me tell ya, this year was RIPE with learning experiences… Here are a few of the most notable ones:
It IS possible (although not always easy) to leave the homestead. I finally got in a semi-comfortable routine with making that happen. It may not sound like a lot of traveling to the globe trotters out there, but I’m proud of myself for getting outside of my comfort zone and traveling to Jamaica, California, Oklahoma (twice!), Idaho (twice!), and Salt Lake City (twice!) this year. And the homestead stayed (mostly) intact while I was gone.
Don’t say “I want another baby at some point, but NOT this year…” Because God will hear you and He has a funny sense of humor. You could have knocked me over with a feather when the pregnancy test came back positive in February.
Planning a major online essential oil educational event is a massive undertaking, and I wouldn’t recommend doing that while you are in the throes of morning sickness. Feburary, March, April, and May were rough months for this ol’ girl…
Hiding in the grass with your 5 year old daughter to watch the milk cow have her calf is one of the coolest experiences ever. And it’s even more cool when you go back outside an hour later to discover another wet calf laying next to the first one. TWINS!
Remodeling does NOT fit into a tight, neatly packed schedule. It just doesn’t. And sub-contractors aren’t always reliable. And after doing my laundry in the shop most of the year, I’m going to be exceedingly grateful once the washing machine finally moves back into the house.
It’s crazy-exciting to watch the house addition you’ve been dreaming about for 7+ years finally taking shape. The mere thought of having more room to live makes me giddy. I’m most excited about having a adult-sized pantry for the first time ever, and a designated office space… (Believe it or not, I’ve built this blog with 1,000,000+ monthly hits on my kitchen island, in the midst of splattering food and dirty dishes.)
Deep mulching is still my favorite. Especially since it allowed me to plant the garden without using the rototiller one bit this year. I had more weeds than last year, thanks to my ever-expanding belly and being away from home, but despite my neglect, the garden still yielded a bounty of food.
Sometimes I hate modern medicine, but I’m still thankful for it. We had a scare with Prairie Boy’s eye this year due to a freak infection, but thanks to the quick actions of the surgeons and a bunch of antibiotic eye drops, he’s on the road to recovery.
Homeschooling isn’t as scary as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a huge responsibility, but I’m finally at peace with the path we’ve chosen, as Prairie Girl started Kindergarten this year. It’s incredibly fulfilling to be there as your children explore and learn. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Apparently being 8+ months pregnant gives you get the urge to bring home a new puppy. Weird.
When your husband quits his traditional job to come home and help with the blog, essential oil business, and homestead, it’s exciting, yet scary, all at the same time. We’re still transitioning, but it’s been the best thing ever. We love having a family business, and he’s been able to spend more time with the Prairie Kids than ever before.
Having a newborn is approximately 170, 949, 327 times better than being pregnant. Prairie Baby #3 joined the crew on October 23rd, and she fits right in. I seem to get more and more laid-back with each kid I have. I like myself a lot better this way.
You have to be flexible. Good golly, I hate this lesson. I love being able to plan out my life on the calendar and have it never change. I have a hunch God was determined to teach me the lesson of flexibility this year. My initial response to that? A ginormous temper tantrum. But I finally gave in and have become much better at rolling with the punches. My homesteading plans didn’t happen like I wanted this year, my business plans didn’t happen like I wanted this year, and I bought more store-bought food than ever before .(Because sometimes perfect, from-scratch meals just can’t happen when you’re in survival mode.) But interestingly, the world hasn’t fallen off its axis, the sun still rises, we’re still alive, and life is good. Even though this year was certainly not what we had planned.
I suck at outside relationships when I’m in survival mode. Some of our local friends probably have wondered where the heck we were this year. Our lack of local “appearances” has certainly not been intentional, but were necessary as we navigated morning sickness, a new baby, remodeling chaos, traveling, eye surgeries, and homeschooling for the first time. When I go into survival mode, I turn into a bit of a hermit so I can focus on my family as my first priority. I’m looking forward to spending more time with friends and neighbors in the upcoming year.
While I’m hoping 2016 won’t be *quite* as exciting as 2015, we still have a full year in front of us, because frankly, we like it that way. A few of our goals (homesteading and otherwise) for the upcoming year:
The Prairie Homestead in 2016
- Finish the remodel. Um, yeah, this is definitely priority #1. We’re guessing it’ll be mostly done sometime in February. Hopefully. Maybe. Please Lord.
- Build 2-3 greenhouses. Hallelujah… finally! Prairie Husband has greenhouses on his project radar, and I can’t wait to be able to extend our short growing season a bit.
- Raise a boatload of meat chickens. Wanna know my deep, dark homesteading secret? We’ve never raised meat birds. My husband has had a severe poultry allergy since childhood, so we’ve never eaten enough chicken to justify it. However, thanks to the NAET technique, his allergy was CLEARED this summer. That’s a topic of a whole ‘nother post, but needless to say, my mouth is watering for some homegrown chicken.
- Do more of the deep mulch thang. Yes, I’m still a fan and can’t wait to roll into year #3 of hay in my garden.
- Refine our animal operation. We’ve pretty much tried our hand at all manner of homestead animals thus far, but have decided it’s time to get a bit more intentional with our herd. We plan to look into more heritage-style breeds, and focus on raising critters with high-quality genetics.
- Make the blog even BETTER. I can’t spill the beans quite yet, but there are plans in the works to bring you even better homesteading content here on the blog in 2016. More videos, more tutorials, and more recipes in a format that’s simple and effective. My goal is to make homesteading as simple as it can be for you, so you can meet your goals and get in your homesteading groove. Plus, Blogger Blueprint will be coming back in January or February. Stay tuned– it’s gonna be good.
All in all? 2015 wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t trade it. The lessons we learned were invaluable, and believe it or not, I think we bonded even more as a family throughout all the craziness. The opportunities were plentiful this year, and I’m thankful for every single one of them.
And you know what else I’m thankful for?
The community here on The Prairie Homestead has become even more special to me this year. Thank you for supporting our family and homestead by purchasing ebooks and essential oils, among other things. Thank you for the tips and tricks you share with me via email and comments. Thank you for the overwhelming amount of love, and prayers you showed when Prairie Boy had his scary eye ordeal. And thank you for the happy well wishes you wrote when Prairie Baby was born.
This wouldn’t be possible without you and we appreciate you all more than you know.
So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and all that good stuff. Here’s to a 2016 filled with lots of adventure, lessons to be learned, and mason jars, of course.