Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Not Quite Walden - but not so bad, either

Oh man, the dog days of summer are here and summer has just begun! Our fields are turning crunchy. Our tractor is currently in the shop and hopefully it will be back in time to start hauling hay to the cattle. Last summer was so unusual and we were spoiled....

But I am so much enjoying the slower pace summer has brought! Joel asked me yesterday if we had to go anywhere and I answered, "NO!" and it felt sooooo good. I picked up an inflatable water slide for the little ones and it was thrilling for about 5 minutes. Inflatable things, in general, do not do well with us. So we'll see.....
Today was a little more hectic. We had tae kwon do early in the morning, then off to a Girl Scout party at a mini-putt and arcade place, and then topped it off with a snow cone stop. Since we live out in the middle of nowhere, no trip is "little". I feel badly about the amount of gas we use.

My schedule last year was just insane. Truly. On Mondays we had Reader's Theater in the morning and Odyssey of the Mind in the Afternoon. On Tuesdays we had piano/guitar and library in San Antonio, then home for dance class and reflexology for Jules. Wednesdays were Girl Scouts. Thursdays, co-op. Fridays were piano and Odyssey. Plus all of the other things that life entails - shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and gardening.
Yesterday I took Ellie to her "job". She is being paid to bond and make friends with an adorable 2-year-old so that she can be there to keep him comfortable and secure when his mother gives birth (at home) to a new baby. She really enjoys his company. Anyway, I was able to write my column while she spent an hour with her little friend. Got that out of the way.
So next week's column is about blogging and how impressionable I am. I was looking at some blogs on an alternative parenting ring and came across a group of people who have milk cows and blog about it. So I casually mentioned to Jeff that I would like a milk cow. OMG - you would have thought I had said something outlandish! I didn't ask for an entire herd, just ONE little milk cow so I can have fresh raw milk and milk products. He laughed so hard and then continued to laugh in his sleep. What is so funny about me and a milk cow? What????

I brought it up again the next morning. "You know," he said between girlish giggles, "you'd have to actually milk it. Like every day. You know, go out and milk a cow."
"So?" I said. "I can learn to milk a cow."

This caused him to double over. Again, what is so funny?
To make him appreciate the feasibility of the idea, I told him about how I could also make cheese, butter....

He laughed harder.
I could do it. All that stuff you read about at the beginning of the blog? I'd have to let some of that go....hmmmm......or get up at 3:00 am.......
On the one hand, I would love to be one of those self-sufficient families (the kind you read about in blogs) who grow everything they eat, and spend their days just living simply and doing what needs to be done to get through the day. I think in our culture we spend so much time doing and very little time being. A friend of mine says, "we are human beings - not human doings". So true! Yet, I also love being out in the world so much. I love interacting with other people, getting out and seeing new places. I love being entertained. Yet, I feel like I'm missing out on so much by not making more of an effort at intentional living. I read Walden as a teen and it impacted me greatly. I wanted to go out into the woods and live deliberately. Or at least stay home and live deliberately (with a milk cow).
But the truth is that my children are going to flutter off into the world someday. And I'd like for them to have an idea of what its like. I don't want to shelter and isolate them.
I think I've found somewhat of a happy balance. We do live in the country and they spend a lot of their time outdoors. They know where food comes from. They know what crickets sound like on warm summer nights, singing with background music provided by a chorus of frogs from the ponds, and the thrilling and lonely sound of coyotes piercing the night. They've slept outside and felt the fog rolling in from the river, leaving its mist across their faces and the blades of the grass. They've tracked the moon and stars. They've caught fish with bait they also caught, and they've been able to do it while hanging out at their own pond all by themselves. They know the safety and joy of walking down a country road to get to the neighboring farm of their aunt and uncle. They've played in the rain and splashed in the puddles and bathed in the mud. They've run outside to meet a windy, blustery front that they could see approaching across the fields....they've held their arms open wide to welcome it as it ripped through their hair, literally knocking the wind out of them as they tried to yell into it. They've found nests of baby rabbits, captured armadillos and opossums, jumped with the frogs and toads, and learned to treat snakes with respect. They've seen grasshoppers devour our garden and they've seen garden spiders devour grasshoppers. They've gathered eggs and herded goats. They've seen calves born in the pasture and they've seen them die. All in all, maybe it isn't a completely deliberate life I'm giving them, but it isn't an unconscious one, either.
Of course, everything would be perfect if we had a milk cow.
Stop laughing.
Sardine Mama


  1. What about the bats? What child doesn't need to know about bats?!?!

  2. Yes, well, the bat incident was just unpleasant all the way around. Thanks for reminding me. I truly truly truly sucks to have to stop at the hospital for rabies shots on your way to the beach. Ellie actually was reminiscing (sp?) about that just this morning. Good times.

  3. i can teach you how to make cheese - i make mine from my raw milk. totally easy & doable... tell jeff, please!! you can do it... and get the boys to milk the cows... why can't they do it?? :)

  4. Dear Sardine Mama,
    About that milk cow, I never had to actually milk the cows but of course thought the process was fascinating??? Unless the cow kicks, either you or the bucket of milk over. Every day means EVERY DAY (preferably at the same time every day). Remember to "strain" the milk through a cloth.....hay, used and unused seems to appear. The "milk cow" has to have special accommodations/diet (no weeds) or the milk will taste funky. On the upside, I loved making butter...nothing on the market tastes quite like it but it does leave you with "skim milk". Maybe just a summer project for the boys?, you seem way too busy during unschooling and now you will be writing that book.......You can buy raw milk.
    we love and miss you,(I check on you daily!)
    Susie and Family

  5. Susie -'ve given me a few things to think about. I still haven't entirely given up, though. The special diet has me concerned. Keeping cows where they're supposed to be is somewhat of a perpetual problem around here, as are weeds. Maybe I will just settle for getting chickens again. Our last bunch was abducted by aliens. That is ellie's theory. Chipper's theory is the chupapolla :).