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.)