Sometimes during the hustle and bustle of our chaotic homestead life, I catch myself silently watching Prairie Girl.
Amidst the zipping up of tiny coats, bracing against the wind, feeding hay, and filling water buckets, I remember…
I remember a small girl who would have loved nothing more than to have horses outside her bedroom window. And a wheelbarrow full of manure to push. And eggs to collect.
That girl was me.
I don’t know of many little girls whose primary dreams in life involved barns and land instead of Barbie houses and tiaras, but mine did.
I didn’t grow up on a farm. I grew up in a little neighborhood on a tiny lot. And even as a very young child, I was keenly aware we “lived in town.” And I didn’t love it. Ever since I can remember, there’s been something deep inside of me that craved the country. As a kid I would push the family wheelbarrow around our small yard and pretend I was mucking out stalls with it. I know… pretty desperate, huh?
My childhood wishes eventually grew to an all-consuming passion. A passion which caused me to leave home at the tender age of 18 and move 1200 miles away to the wide open spaces of Wyoming. I had a goal to ride horses. And that I did.
My love for horsemanship and the rural way of life gradually blossomed into this homesteading lifestyle after we purchased our land in 2008. I cannot tell you the immense satisfaction that floated over me when I realized we were finally the owners of LAND. 67 glorious acres, to be exact. I walked on air for years after we signed on the dotted line, and if I’m being completely honest, there are still days I pinch myself.
Was moving so far away from home and parents at that young of an age to jumpstart this grand journey scary? Absolutely. But it set a precedence for adventure in my life that I wouldn’t trade for the wold. Not to mention it has felt deliciously right since day one.
My thoughts drift back to Prairie Girl as I watch her move fluidly around the barnyard with a confidence I couldn’t fathom at that age…
I’ve had people ask me, with raised eyebrows, “What are you going to do if your kids hate country life and want to move to the city as soon as they turn 18?”
What IF her dreams do take her far from our simple life to the land of asphalt, high-rises, and noisy streets?
I’ve thought long and hard about this question. I would never want to discourage my children’s passions, especially since I personally have experienced the satisfaction of having a dream fulfilled. I will encourage her in whatever goals she chooses to pursue, even if they are vastly different from my own.
I don’t know where Prairie Girl’s desires will take her. But I know that regardless of where she ends up, she will always carry the skills she has learned from growing up on our little farm.
She’ll be strong— both inside and out– from fixing fence, stacking hay bales, and shoveling manure.
She’ll be confident and assertive from handling livestock, riding horses, and milking the cow.
She’ll be capable from learning to create butter from fresh cream, shoot a gun, make yeast bread rise, and drive a tractor.
She’ll be conscious of the natural rhythms of life from planting seeds, watching baby calves being born, and helping to butcher meat animals.
And she’ll be brave from having experienced rattlesnakes and blizzards and powerful prairie thunderstorms.
So even if she leaves the farm someday and finds herself as a successful career woman wearing high heels and business suits instead of muck boots and Carhartts like her mama, the life skills and lessons she’s learned from the homestead will be something she can carry with her for her entire life.
But then my thoughts transport me back to the present and I mention we still need to let the chickens out to complete the morning’s chores. I watch as she bounces her way into the chicken coop, tells the rather intimidating turkey get out of her way, and determinedly shoves the door until it pulls free and allows morning sunlight to filter in the coop.
“What’s next, Mama?” she says as she wipes the dust from her hands.
And at that moment, I have a sneaking suspicion this country life might just be her heart’s desire, too.
Just like that other little girl… Not so long ago.
(This post was originally published in 2013. I recently revised and refreshed it so it could come out of the archives.)
You aren’t the only one who dreamed of barns and horses and cows and pigs and chickens. 🙂 I grew up in the middle of suburbia, where having a garden patch in the backyard was considered gauche. LOL! I grew up with parents whose main consideration in house purchasing was to make sure that a lawn mower could fit between their house and the next one.
During all my young life I dreamed… I lived vicariously through the Little House books. In fact, I recently (like, last week? *GRIN*) was called on basing some of my morals and daily duties on the Little House books. I grew up in an atheist household, so my understanding of proper religious behavior was discovered in books. Little House and Laura and Ma and Pa helped formulate my morals and ethics, and my basic beliefs. I yearned and longed to live the life they did.
So much so that when I moved far away and took up my own life, joined a church, became an interfaith minister… I started doing Little House type things. I invited our minister to dinner. No one else in my family had EVER heard of doing that. I thought it was “what people did” because Ma and Pa did it in the books. As it turns out, our minister became an excellent friend because of that dinner, and was pleased to know she was living out my dreams of a farmstead existence. 🙂
Lillian Davenport says
Oh how I love the little house books.. I’ve been meaning to read the series over again, as an adult. Do you think it would hold the same magic for me as it did when I was ten? (I’m 32 now!)
Well, I re-read them at least once a year or so. 🙂 I still find magic in them, every single time. I ply it for recipes (I did Ma’s oyster soup for Christmas this year), organization ideas, and I read it to our kids. Do read them again… they’re worth every moment!
They will! I read them to my girls over and over, although, my kids have a hard time with sitting still for “The Long Winter” they get bored with the endless blizzards.
Oh yes they will. You will be amazed even more having a better understanding now than asa child…Read Away… 🙂
Love this! And I love the Little House books too- can’t wait to start reading them with Prairie Girl.
I’ve just read the whole series to my 7 year old son, he loved them (I had to read them all twice!) and I enjoyed them just as much as I did as a young girl – found myself reading ahead after he’d gone to bed!
Also inter- library loan the series on cd is also a great way to enjoy Little House books
Mrs. B says
What a wonderful testimony. I grew up in an excessively dysfunctional family and the “Little House” books also contributed to my values, morals, hospitality, etc. I encourage you to re-read the books – I’m much older than you and I still enjoy them as much as I did when I was a girl.
This article is so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. I love that you followed your dreams, obviously put inside you from God, and that you and your family are living a life you love. Your daughter is beautiful, you’re right that no matter what path she chooses when she grows up, what she learns right now she’ll carry with her forever. God bless you guys!
Thanks so much Cheri- blessings to you as well. 🙂
Beautiful! Thanks for sharing 🙂
We long to get off the grid. I am not sure it will happen but I dream…….
Melissa P says
This put a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, and joy in my heart. While I have yet to live out my dream and am stuck in suburbia, I could’ve written this post myself. Well no I couldn’t, I have always felt this deep yearning and need, but never been able to put it into words. You did it! I pray for the days I feel the whole-ness and completeness of fulfilling this dream. (I am 29 with baby #5 on the way… It’s about time I make It happen huh? )
Don’t give up on those yearnings Melissa– you never know what is around the corner. 🙂
Mrs. B says
I agree with Jill. I was “stuck” in suburbia until 5 years ago. At 45 I moved to the Montana prairie and now own and operate a goat farm. However, while in the “city” I did work at developing as many homesteading skills as possible such as, home canning, herb and vegetable gardening (edible landscaping), raising meat rabbits &, laying hens (roosters not allowed), etc. Keep dreaming, planning and preparing – you’ll get there.
I’m expecting my first baby and dreaming all kinds of dreams of what baby will be.
Your post today was such a beautiful reminder to “give them roots….and then give them wings”. Beautiful!
Congrats on your upcoming addition– aren’t those dreams fun? 🙂
Charlotte Moore says
I am currently trying to live my dream of owning my very own homestead and after buying this piece of land and home it is possible. I hope that I can teach my kids the lessons and values you are teaching Prairie Girl regardless of where my children’s lives lead them. It scares the crap out of me to think they would end up moving 1200 miles away but hopefully I will have the comfort of knowing I was the best parent possible in teaching them the things they need to know to live a happy life. God Bless you for this post!! I needed this this morning.
You are very welcome Travis– yes, I didn’t realize at the time how hard it was on my own Mom when I moved that 1200 miles away. But I am so thankful she encouraged me to follow my dreams anyway. I’m thinking your kids are pretty lucky to have a parent who is aware of this aspect of life. 🙂
You speak to my soul. 🙂 Beautifully written.
Thank you so much Hanna.
Teresa Jovanovic says
My sentiments exactly
Cathleen Savage says
What a beautiful post! Honestly, one of the best I have ever read on a blog. Please keep writing about all of the things you love.
Thank you so much Cathleen– that means a lot. 🙂
Our boys were teens and preteens when we left the city and built our farm but the farm lifestyle has drawn them in and captured their hearts. Our oldest is now in college and studying livestock animal reproduction to work in the cattle industry possibly as a vet. I don’t know what life will hold for any of our boys but I suspect they will always be comfortable in a pair of boots. A farm has a way of changing you for good, I think.
“A farm has a way of changing you for good” — indeed it does Kim. 🙂 Love that.
Such a sweet little girl. I have a feeling she will follow her mama’s way of thinking. It’s funny how we usually want what we don’t have. I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and then moved to the city in California when I was in 9th grade. I had such a hard time adjusting, but found my niche when a friend suggested we take an animal science class and the awesome teacher talked me into changing schools, joining FFA, and competing as a dairy cattle judge. I came into my own. 🙂 Now I’m married with 4 kids and trying to live as close to the land as possible and to teach my own kids a good work ethic and that less is more. Thanks for sharing your wonderful blog!
I really enjoyed this one! So reminds me of me when I was growing up! Oh how I wanted a horse and to live in the open! I guess my dreams took a different route because my horse is a Dodge Ram and my open range is living in my 5th wheel–traveling. I like this life too, but often wonder what it would have been like to own my very own horse and ride free…
Patti B. says
Such a tender and heart-warming story! Some of your dreams were also some of mine – but I more or less went down the road that was expected of me. I have been blessed, and slowly but surely I am doing more and more “urban farming” things that satisfy unmet longings while also being practical in today’s world. For 2013, my goal is to get 2 hens!
Thanks so much!
Great goal Patti! And urban farming is a great way to have the best of both worlds. 🙂
Marie at Rural Living Today says
Jill, this post is precious! You are a wise woman to recognize early in your daughter’s life that someday she may choose another way of life, but she’ll do it well-equipped for anything. As adults, all our children have lived hundreds of miles away from us but always kept the basics of their early lives close to their hearts. In our case, their growing-up years took us everywhere from inner city to suburbs to the country, but now most of us are ending up in a rural area with gardens and livestock. Now we’re watching our grandkids develop that same love for this life, and like Prairie Girl, they light up at the chance to go collect eggs or check on the animals. It’s a wonderful life!
I love that it has come full circle for your family Marie– what a blessing!
Eileen Anglin says
That was lovely.
That was wonderful.
I was raised on a farm. When my husband and I married, I had NO desire to live in town. We’ve lived in the country our entire married life (34 years) and have a huge garden and a few cows. We have six children. They range in age from 32 to 12. The older three (32, 24 & 22) are on their own. Those three are in the military (two in the Air Force, the other a Marine) and live far away. They live on base and love to come home. They love the open feeling. In summer, they love eating from the garden. They love to go fishing in the pond. They love to go to sleep at night with the windows open while being serenaded by the bullfrogs down by the pond. In the winter, they love the food that I canned and froze. They love to go sledding across the road. I don’t know if they’ll ever live in the country again, but they sure love coming home and that’s a GREAT feeling! Our fourth is in college and ready to try city life when he graduates. Our fifth is into music and wants to move to Nashville. Our sixth loves the country life. She loves being in the garden with me. She loves helping me can and freeze food. She loves to sew, knit and be outside. Whatever direction my children go, I support them. It gives me peace of mind to know they have life skills that will keep them fed, warm and clothed. Advanced education is a great thing, but just as important are knowing life skills. No matter where my kids go or what job they have, they will carry that knowledge with them along with their love of country life.
Yes, Annie, Yes! “Advanced education is a great thing, but just as important are knowing life skills.” <----- this is so True!
Love this! I too dreamed of horses and space, and now have horses & chickens. I love all the “chores” that come with caring for all of them 🙂
It's Just Laura says
This is such a beautiful post, Jill. It brought tears to my eyes…
I am from a metropolitan area on the east cost and now live in the middle of nowhere on the prairie, too. I didn’t have my ‘farm dreams’ until college and it took me another seven years after college to get myself together enough to move out here. I now have four babies myself.
My relatives that are on the east coast have still not forgiven me for moving. They haven’t visited me yet, and it’s been close to five years already. It breaks my heart all the time. I want to share so much with them. I want my mommy to be proud of me. Not only will she not come to visit, but she tunes me out when I tell her about this and that farm-wise.
My question to you is have you dealt with anything similar with your relatives? Do they still live in that ‘little neighborhood with tiny lots’? How have they dealt with your move 1200 miles away to the middle of no where? Have they visited? Are they proud?
The most ironic part of it is is before I even dreamed of moving to this state, I had a friend in college who came here to visit and loved it so much that she dropped out of school and moved out here. She wanted me to come with her. “Come to [this state] with me,” she said. “You’ll love it.” Of course I replied “[That State]?! I’ll never move there. You’re crazy!.”
And here I am…
Oh Laura, I am so sorry that your family doesn’t support your move. That is so very hard. 🙁
Fortunately, my parents supported me from day one, although I didn’t realize at the time how hard it must have been on my mom for me to move so far away. They come visit about once a year and love being on the homestead.
However, they still live in the little neighborhood that I grew up in, and as much as I long for them to move closer to me and the grandkids, I doubt it will ever happen… That part breaks my heart.
I do have “other” relatives, however, that pretty much think we are “hicks” for pursuing this lifestyle. They make faces over the wind, and dirt, and animals… So I know what family rejection feels like, and it’s very tough. I pray that you family will come to respect your lifestyle choices some day and come to visit you and appreciate what you are doing!
It's Just Laura says
Thanks for your support, Jill. I struggle with this a lot. I’m sorry that you have had difficulties with your ‘other’ relatives. Blessings to you…
What a beautiful story and legacy you are leaving for your daughter. I too dream of a more simple life outside of NYC. I am a country girl deep down although I never grew up in the country or had the opportunity to live in the country…Until NOW. I am making a move an hour and a half north to farmland with my son and mom to begin a whole new life. Who says life ends at 40? It is just beginning for me.
Many blessings and thanks for sharing your story..
You bet it can “begin again” at 40- way to go!
Mrs. B says
I moved from the congested Texas gulf coast to the Montana Prairie at 45. It was the BEST move I’ve ever made and can’t imagine ever going back.
Shirley Corwin says
This was a wonderful, heart stirring post. I grew up in suburbia too and was a horse-crazy little girl. I got to take some riding lessons one summer but that was it. Soon, my interests changed and I went off to college to be a nurse. Life happens. Marriage, 2 children and all that goes with that. I do regret that I didn’t teach my children more practical things in life. Now I live almost in the country. I have a square acre, a garden 2 dogs, and a couple barn (garage) cats I rescued from a farm that went under. I also finally got my horses at age 59!!!!!!! However I have to board them as there’s not enough room here. This past spring I got five chicks and they are all laying beautiful eggs now. They are so much fun! I had the chance to buy a little farm a few years ago but my husband had died and I was afraid to take it on myself. You were so brave to go find your dream. My hats off to you. I know your children will appreciate all the knowledge they are gaining. Great job.
Thank you Shirley. 🙂 And a huge kudos to you for getting those horses– I love it!
It was always my dream too, and after the past 7 years on a teeny hobby farm, with suburbia before that, this upcoming spring will be our first on a ‘real’ farm. It’s still a small farm, a hobby farm, to folks around here, but to us, 87 acres is our everything. Our kids have worked alongside us to fulfill this dream though, it’s taken us 22 years to get here and the eldest is now 21. She hasn’t decided if country is truly HER heart yet, but we’ll see what the next few years bring. Her four siblings all say it is and we’re all excited to begin some ‘real’ farming this year!
Carmie Jones says
Joel Salatin has written an AWESOME book titled Family Friendly Farming, A Multigenerational Home-Based Business Enterprise. It includes a section called 10 Commandments For Making the Kids Love the Farm. Another section is called Romancing the Next Generation. Plus several more great sections. By your article, its obvious you are already doing several of the things he suggests. 🙂
Oooh, definitely gonna check those books out! Thanks for the heads up– I adore Joel Salatin.
I’m so lucky to live close to Joel Salatin in Virginia (about 1.5 hrs.)! He certainly has been a pioneer in the natural grown food world……his eggs are great, especially! I live in a town outside of DC in Virginia — every chance I get I drive out to the “country” just to re-focus and calm my spirits! I own horses and rent 2 barns fairly close to me but my dream is to move out a bit more to my own place where I can raise some chickens, goats, etc. and to make my homesteading dreams a reality!
Seeing your first picture with the goat following Prairie Girl brings back heart-warming memories of our wonderful pet goat, Billie. Our neighbor offered him to us since their grandson had lost interest in the 4-H “project”. Our little ones had done a good job caring for their first pet, Clifford the dog and we felt they “earned” another pet experience. And what an experience it was! The sides of our van even developed a continuously changing, mysteriously cool artistic design that first winter, too. Seems his tongue found the road salt an iresistable treat. 😛
Anyway, on one beautiful, bright Spring day, my wife took the four children and Clifford for a walk down our quiet, country dirt road. I was doing something out back with Billie by my side when all of a sudden, Clifford started barking wildly. He had chased something up a tree and was raising quite a commotion. Billie’s head shot up, huffing and puffing as he headed towards the noise. He started jumping back and forth frantically when a fence blocked his way.
I ran over and showed him a way down the driveway to the road when the crazy goat was about to crash through or maybe even try to jump the fence. Trotting or galloping or whatever you call what a goat does when they are in a hurry 😛 , he shot down the drive leaving a cloud of dust.
Billie took charge when he got there. He looked up in the tree; “told” Clifford to settle down; checked that everybody was alright; and looked up the tree again. He went back and forth between his “kids” several times, checking each one if they were alright. Only after all that did he begin to calm down. Billie took a long deep breath, let out a huge sigh and began happily munching the new greens on the side of the road.
The rest of the group resumed their walk unnoticed while Billie kept munching. All of a sudden, his head shot up and he “raced” to join them again. Ever since then, he never let “his” kids leave the yard without him. The kiddoes absolutely loved “walking” their goat and Billie seemed to absolutely love walking (and protecting) his “kids”. I slept soundly every night after that knowing we now had a guard goat on duty!
What a wonderful story Randy! Thanks for sharing. “Guard goat” hehe. 😉
I’ve never read anything quite so sweet. Thanks for making my day.
Thanks Miss Jean– you are very welcome. 🙂
Natalia @PrepUtilityVehicle says
This is so beautiful. I did grow up on farms and rural properties, and now live in town with my family, who would all love to live in the country, but probably wouldn’t actually like to farm by choice (work load). Looking back now, I would love to encourage young families who want to live in the country some time, to get out there somehow early on in your children’s lives. It’s discouraging having them all slowly (quickly actually) growing up and facing their leaving home never having lived in the country. Thankfully I have a wide spread of ages so there’s still hope for us with the younger ones…but not a whole lot.
By the way, I am trying to subscribe by Google reader, as that’s by far the best way for me to keep up here. However it says no feed can be found. Is this by your choice or a glitch? Any tips?
Natalia @PrepUtilityVehicle says
Yay, I figured out I had to click on a weird little special icon up top right. I subscribe to scores of blogs on my Google Reader and that’s the first time I ever had to do that! 🙂 Have a lovely weekend.
Hmmm– not sure why Google reader was giving you the “not found” message- I will definitely look into that! Thanks for subscribing, btw. 🙂
I grew up on a5 acre farm raising horses, cats and a dog and I loved it…..until I turned 16. Then I wanted out. I got my wish and my mom moved to the city. Now 11 years, 1 child (so far) and a1800 mile move to az, I would give anything to have 5 acres of land to grow on!! Maybe some day!! 🙂 I love anything about your site btw.
You never know Ashleigh– if it’s in your blood, I bet you find a way back someday. 🙂
What a beautiful post! I know others have said it, but it deserves repeating — beautiful writing. You made me cry — and that’s a good thing. Thanks for sharing from your heart. Your family hit the “Mommy/Wife” lotto when they got you. Blessings for a wonderful winter season.
Thanks so much Leslie. 🙂 Blessing to you and your family as well!
Kurtis Hall says
And here we are… Two of the boys you so faithfully babysat are in combat jobs in the US Army, and one is a confirmed city boy with plans for law enforcement and/or law school (albeit with weapons and a love of wild country). We cannot control where our children will be or what they will want to do. I am content to leave that with the Father, knowing that they will glorify Him as they scatter across the planet
Until about age 15, I grew up on my grandparents KY farm with my own pony then horse, cats, chickens, hogs and assorted other animals. My grandparents taught me to be self sufficient, kind to animals, living off the land with a great sense of family support. At 15, my parents took me & my brother to live in central FL for city living. I am grateful for my early upbringing and my time in the city. I feel well rounded and capable of living in either world but I prefer the country, rural life. I am a parent & grandma now, currently living & working in the city, I can see that not too far off in my future, my life will eventually come full circle and once again I will live back in the country with the animals, land & family. I hope your daughter also has the opportunity to experience many wonders that this world has to offer. Have no doubt that no matter where she travels she will always know where home really is. Thanks for the great posts and keep up the good work!
I love this. 🙂 I grew up in a subdivision in the middle of the country. When I was younger, I always thought it was the worst of both worlds- too close to others and not enough land to do anything, but too far from any excitement.
Then, I dreamed of the city lifestyle. And I got it. And I hated it. We’ve lived in several big cities and I was so miserable in each one. Once my husband and I learned we were expecting our first, we packed up and took the first job that came his way so we could move. (We ended up moving near his hometown.) Unfortunately, we were still working on the funds to afford a farm here, but we were able to get a little house in a tiny Amish town.
I still dream of having a farm, but this is good for now. I think about our daughters and know that they are so much better off than they would have been growing up in the city. I hope that they love this lifestyle as much as I do. I love watching my toddler’s face light up when she sees the horses and buggies clop down our street on the way to the weekly sale. I laugh every time I see her eat a strawberry straight from the plant, without even picking it first. Those are things she would never have experienced had we not moved. I think, even if they DO grow up and leave, there will always be a part of them that will remain ‘country!’
I love your story! It is so much like my mother’s story it made me cry. She passed away unexpectedly three years ago in the evening after putting her goaties to bed. She was completely drawn to rural life and although none of us 4 children currently have the privilege of living on acreage, we all consider ourselves farm kids and wouldn’t trade our childhood farm life for anything. It has definitely shaped us and now with my 5th child being born this last year, I would LOVE to fulfill my dream of living in the “country” again. I worry that my children won’t grow up correctly without the chance to explore, learn, challenge and succeed in an untamed environment. You are so blessed to be able to give that to your children! Thank you for sharing your story. It has given me renewed hope that I can make this life a reality for my children as well.
Laura @ Stealthy Mom says
(What more can I say? Your little girl already understands more about nature, the land, and our relationship with them than most college students. If she runs off, cuts her hair funny and hangs out in the mall food court on Saturdays, she will still have the basic foundations of common sense in there under all that “teen.”)
I love your outlook and attitude about your daughter’s bright future. My parents were always like that when it came to me and my sibblings. They’ve always wanted us to be happy.
This might sound weird, but I love the smell of a “fresh” barn. When we’re at the fair, or happen to get a whiff from a nearby animal farm, I love smelling “active” animals. 🙂
Oh, me too! Growing up, my favorite part of the fair, or even visiting country friends was the smell of the barn, ha! And I still love it to this day. Especially the smell of horses– it’s like a drug to me, hehe.
Liesl Garner says
This is beautiful. My country boys are getting to experience all the beauty of living in the wild open world of long views and wide skies. I always thought I was a city girl. I didn’t even own tennis shoes, let alone muck boots when we moved here. I only had heels. Silly me. Now, I have muck boots and I know how to use them. We are loving the country life! We love your website and are learning lots from you as we get further and further into our sustainable life!
Great post! I too dreamt of living a Little House on the Prairie life, but I never thought it would actually happen! And then I married a cattle rancher and here we are! Sometimes I have to remind myself that I love this life and that this is what I want for me and my family, so thank you for putting it so beautifully here. I know this is a post from a few months ago, but I just found your blog and have really enjoyed it so far! I do have a question though. You mentioned that your Prairie Girl is brave and then brought up rattlesnakes. I have two boys, the oldest just turned two and with Spring I’ve encouraged him to spend a lot of time playing outside and as he gets more adventurous and explores further from the house, I worry about rattle snakes. I want to be able to let him play and discover the world we live in, it’s part of the reason I want to raise my children here, but do you have any tips about keeping the snakes away? Or what to do to prevent bites or even what to do if they are bitten? We also live more than 30 miles to town (and the hospital there). I’d love to hear your thoughts! Now off to read more of your blog and today I’m making yogurt!
Jill Winger says
Yes, snakes are something I think about all the time. I keep a much closer eye on her during snake season, and we’ve had conversations about what to do if she sees a snake. My biggest helps are my dogs– they are always running around and stay close to her and have flushed out snakes in the past. That gives me a little peace of mind. I also let my chickens free range, and I’ve heard that snakes hate birds like chickens/geese/guineas, so I’m hoping that helps a bit as well.
Happy yogurt making! 🙂
That was so beautiful. I grew up on 30 acres and moved when i was 10. it was so traumatic to move to the city. I have lived in the country for the last 10 yrs. but due to divorce won’t be a reality any more I love the apartment homesteading though I already have some of those things in place.
Jill Winger says
Thank you Martha! And kudos for homesteading in your apartment! 🙂
Whatever you do, do NOT let her be afraid of letting prospective employers know that she grew up in WY. What I have discovered is that big city employers know something very important about midwest kids . . . WORK ETHIC. They will hire kids from the country first because they know how to work. The rest is up to the “kid.” Be brave.
Jill Winger says
Very good point Cheryl– and I agree whole! 🙂
Thanks for sharing! I grew up on a farm and ended up having to move to a small city after college. My husband and I do our best — garden on whatever patches of dirt we have. Also, we “wrangle” three (albeit “sissy”) dogs… We can’t wait to get back to the country and quiet nights with only wonderful, swampy sounds coming through the open windows, like from frogs’ throats and happy insects!
I didn’t read all the comment but … I believe she will grow up to be the woman she is meant to become. I hope it’s on a farm somewhere but you never know, it might be on a roof top somewhere but …… she will ALWAYS remember her roots & will be able to grow something, no matter where she winds up!!
Jill Winger says
Yes- that is what I hope for her so much! 🙂
It makes me angry that people can’t jsut say “good for you!”, on our life choices. Why do they have to scrape for the fear or the negative? Yeah, I’m moving my DD to a farm, and yeah, I’m worried that as she ages, she’ll want to run away from it, and yeah, I’m worried she may decide to be a vegetarian rather than eat the humanely raised animals on our small farm…these thoughts and worries go through my head every day! Why on Earth do folks think they need to bring it to my attention? Sheesh. And yet, those same folks get that wistful look when I say “Nah, she’ll be happy, because she’ll have her own horses and rabbits” and say, “Wish I had that!”
Humans are funny creatures.
Jill Winger says
Yes- I agree- I just don’t understand humans either sometimes! Maybe that’s why I prefer to spend my days in the barnyard. 😉
Wendy P says
I used to dream of having a farm when I was young. I didn’t get it. I’m very glad you did.
Jill Winger says
Me too. But I have to give God all the credit on that one. 🙂
i always wanted to have either a farm or be a circus artist 😉 best both in one! i think that living close to nature and growing your own food gives you a satisfaction that is very hard to get from anything else. it might be that your little girl will go out into the world for some years, but i am quite sure that she will miss it and find her own little place, wherever that might be.
I grew up in Oklahoma and spent every summer in the Rockies with the National Forest as my backyard. You could sorta see another cabin from our land but I always wanted to be where the sky was open and the people were few. For the past 17 years we have lived in suburbia with our four boys but 2.5 years ago we stumbled on 7+ acres outside the city on a dead end road with a huge creek and a barn. After 1.5 years of sorting through red tape and family trusts we broke ground and our farmhouse will be completed in a few weeks.
Many people are surprised that we didn’t build a giant McMansion (the county is very wealthy but that is NOT our reason for being here…we are here for the land!) but that type of house holds no appeal for me. No formal rooms, mud room and big, deep porches made for rocking. We are so excited to raise our sons here and have planned the garden and ordered the seeds although we have missed this growing season.
Now the problem is that my husband has said no to any farm animals except chickens, guineas and dogs. I was promised beef cows within two years but we are going to speed that up a bit. The back pasture looks a little empty. *wink*
I came across your site by accident. I think through pinterest or something…lol I grew up in Charlotte, NC and until I was an adult I never lived anywhere that wasn’t “city life” I have never liked it. Even growing up I spent time in the creeks of my neighborhood and anywhere else that got my outside. I went to visit with some of my stepmother’s family in rural Maryland when I was about 10 and fell in love with the country. The animals( They had a dairy farm) Being able to go out to the garden and pick what you were going to have to eat. My first taste of what I like to call “real” milk and farm fresh eggs….ohhhh the taste is like none other. As an adult I learned to hunt and fish and most of my co-workers are amazed that I can feed myself and my kids(total of 5 here) on just my income, always saying how they couldn’t live without this or that. I love a good thrift store and yard sales are like a treasure hunt. I will be 39 next week and my next life goal is to save up enough enough money to put a sizeable downpayment on a homestead somewher in Montana. I am familiar with growing a garden in colder climates from my time spent living in Iowa, so I feel good about being able to make that work. My oldest and I have green thumbs 🙂 IHope to be able to do this by the time I am 45. By then I should be done with my schooling and will be able to put more time into learning all that goes into homesteading. I have learned much from reading your posts and look forward to learning more.
Jill Winger says
I’m so glad you found me Jennifer! thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. 🙂
Mrs. B says
Don’t give up Jennifer. I moved from the congested gulf coast to a goat farm on the rolling prairie of Montana at 45. You are never to old to grasp your dreams. Keep dreaming, learning and working toward your goals. You’ll get there.
While I know I must be a bit older than you, our stories are much the same. I grew up in the affluent (aka snobby) suburbs of Chicago, and dreamed of knocking out the basement stairs and putting in a ramp…so we could keep a pony in the basement and it could graze in our back yard. Boy, I had it ALL worked out! I graduated high school early (when I barely 17), and went to Iowa to get an equine management degree. I ended up in Cheyenne right before my 21st birthday and have been here ever since. I am blessed to now have 10 acres (blessed may be a stretch, it is treeless, brown, weedy and full of rams heads), 2 houses and 2 barns about 20 min east of Cheyenne, right off of I80. We have hens, horses, 2 Nubian does, a Boer doe, meat rabbits, dogs, cats and due to my recent marriage, two of the most wonderful “step-munchkins” EVER. I want to thank you so much for the wonderful website and blog. If you are ever near Cheyenne, let me know, I would love to take you out to lunch. 🙂
Jill Winger says
Oh my goodness, hello fellow Wyoming-ite! Wow, our stories are VERY similar– right now to the equine degree and the Cheyenne part too. 😉 So cool!
Judi Ringle says
Hi Jill-I just came across this blog post and smiled as I read it. As with others I can relate. Suburban girl, suburban wife and mother, change of circumstances and now I have a very happy life with my daughters and my new husband on 5 acres. I homestead as much as I can while teaching. Summers find me on my porch in the morning watching the critters wake up. I do hope my girls take away from me that it is important to work hard, respect life, and be independent. Thank you for writing this post. It hit home for me and again made me smile.
Shepherd's Handmaiden says
What a beautiful little girl! She is absolutely stunning.
I dreamed, and still am dreaming, of living a simpler life in the country. Maybe the Lord will grant that to me someday. I pray that my children will have that experience.
Jill Winger says
Thanks. 🙂 I hope your own dream comes true someday too!
Jill, what a lovely story! You know what, I was that little girl 25 years ago. And even though there were many times when I wished I didn’t have to pick rocks, weed ANOTHER row in the garden or haul water in the winter, I have overwhelmingly positive memories of planting my “very own” garden, galloping my horse bareback through the snow, and being entrusted to check the cows due to calve in the middle of the night. I loved it, and I still do. I think growing up on a farm gave me some confidence. And now I try to do the same for my kids on our little farm. You’re right that no matter what she chooses, her young life will shape her forever.
Jill Winger says
Well said, Erin. 🙂
My little girl moved away from our homestead at 19. She wanted a city life free from physical labour, manure, and dirt. She found drugs and a group of lost friends who grew up without the life lessons one learns on the farm.
While four years later she is back, living on her own little homestead with a lovely young man and a dozen chickens, a trio of ducks, and some meat rabbits from my place. She has a garden plotted out for next spring and has started building the pen for her goats.
She is becoming healthy and vital again. She happily admits that homesteading is in her blood and in order to be happy she needs this life. She doesn’t have the money her original career path would have provided, but with critters and plants from our homestead she will have what she needs to build her own healthy fulfilled life..
A very nice story. My own little Prairie Girl picked up and moved off to California (from NYS) with her then-boyfriend after HS graduation, much to my dismay 🙁
About 6 months later, over the phone, she revealed to me she was pregnant. Well, actually I asked because something was telling me so. She moved back and had the baby here in NY, he just turned 4 years old on December 4 and I am now expecting my second grandson this coming March :). She came back and settled down, just moved to a larger house and will have her first feathered flock this spring, so she’s coming back to the rural life in her own right. Most important she and my grand babies are back on the same coast as me!
Jill Winger says
I love that she returned to her roots! xoxo
Jill Winger says
I’m so glad she came back, Wendy– and is happy and healthy again!
Loved this post. As a mother to my own little country girl, I often wonder where her life will take her. I just hope she will always remember the cold mountain mornings, the warm fire, and the 4 walls full of love that we have tried to provide for her.
Bonnie McColpinn says
Merry Christmas to you and family. You have made the right choice!
After reading your story and the comments I am reminded of “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov.22:6)
Your story reminds me of mine…growing up in town and feeling you were born to the wrong family –my dreams were much different than all of my siblings and friends. By the grace of God, I have lived the ranch life for 25 years, and raised my children here. They were absolutely more confident and experienced than I ever was as a child. Our last one just finished his first semester of college. He was homesick before he ever left. Our oldest still gets homesick, and she’s 25. To “fill” my time, I have 2 milk cows and raise bottle calves. I have always loved having chores to do! Of course, I do all of this around teaching full time :). Following the Little House on the Prairie discussion…I loved those books as a child. We have 2 sets, one from my husband’s childhood, and one from mine. I love to read the first book aloud in my third grade classroom.
Thank you for your news. I read it every chance I get. I made pumpkin pie from your recipe with the honey and whole cream. It was the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever made. Thank you for your passion and excitement for rural life. I share that with you!
Jill Winger says
Love that your dreams came true, Kathy. 🙂 And thrilled you loved the pie, too!
This was an fantastic post. Took me 40 years to get my “country dream” on the edge of suburbia. I always wanted to run away to Wyoming, I just settle on vacationing there with my youngest daughter, who would have been an awesome Prairie Girl.
Jill Winger says
I’m glad you finally got your dream, Cindy! xoxo
This was beautiful Jill! I too had dreams of being on a homestead and even though life has dealt me a much different hand, I still hold on to those dreams. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, your family and your life with us!
Jill Winger says
Thanks Becca. 🙂 xoxo
Kaye Suzuki says
Oh Jill this brings tears to my eyes. It so describes my daughter. I grew up on a working ranch my husband outside a a nsjor city and now live in a small town in SW Montana. Both of our careers were spent in the out of doors. We wanted both of our kids, son and daughter to experience as much of the outdoor ranch life as possible in town. 4-H was a big part of our life, chickens, market lambs, shooting sports,dogs and of course gardening, canning and of course horses.
Our son lives in a large Montana town and is a teacher and our daughter who couldn’t wait to move to the BIG city now is in Nashville in grad school. She has discovered that her hearts content lies not in the big city lights, but in the bright stars in the dark skies of Montana. She will find her way back here and will pass on to her children the same ideals and passions, and they too will follow where their hearts content leads them.