When God, in his infinite wisdom, filled my house with five active boys, He thankfully looked after a few extra details that have come in handy. From the time I was young, I knew I’d live on a farm. I’m not sure how I knew, but I knew it. My mom was a teacher and my dad, a businessman; but on the side, we lived on and enjoyed the lifestyle of prairie grain farmers. It was a small operation that dad managed to fit in after his regular job. I loved the freedom that came with summers out in the fields, rides on tractors, playing in hay stack forts and lots of time with siblings. I certainly didn’t go on the hunt to find myself a farmer and when I fell for Steve, he could have been an undertaker for all I cared; I was love struck.
But Steve also valued a simple lifestyle. Living next door to the family farm and worked with animals all his life, his plan was to work in the agricultural industry even if farming wasn’t an option. We didn’t have two nickels to rub together when we met, so a farm, let alone property, was out of the question.
Mould: not my first choice
But since the moment we said, “I do”, Steve and I have been able to live in the country with plenty of space for little guys to run free.
For the first 8 years, we rented a run-down little farm house attached to a dairy farm. Steve had a full-time job but living on that farm allowed my husband who thrives on hard work and busyness to work off the rent by milking and to start up side ventures; buying, selling and hauling cattle and raising calves. It didn’t matter that we didn’t own it, it was the lifestyle both of us wanted for our growing family and we were grateful.
But there were a few adjustments that had to be made on my part. Coming from my idyllic little grain farm on the prairies where houses are built air tight or you freeze to death, the ramshackle, poorly built house I moved into was something else.
It was old. It was drafty.
And with no prairie sunshine to be had, but only the liquid variety, it was dark, wet and mouldy.
We regularly had unwanted visitors scurrying along the walls and leaving little droppings behind in my kitchen cupboards, much to my chagrin. I vividly remember the time I saw a strange little string hanging from my upper cupboard. I reached out to give it a tug and much to my horror, it disappeared from between my fingers tips as the mouse it belonged to hightailed it out of there. Or the time I found Caleb happily popping little white ‘bubbles’ on our coffee table only to discover they were maggots that had fallen out of the light fixture above.
I still get the willies when I think of it.
Shaking walls: not much better
An opportunity came to buy our own little place and soon we were the proud owners of 5 acres, a little barn where Steve could keep his inventory of bulls and a tiny house. Tiny indeed; as it had ceilings so low Steve couldn’t stand up straight in the bedrooms and I, at my modest 5 ft. 8 in. could palm the living room ceiling. We prayed nervously each afternoon as the train went by because the entire house would do the shimmy and shake, but it never fell down around our ears.
It was ours and we loved it. It was the simple life I always knew I was destined for.
But just as I was getting comfortable, in less than a year, my husband followed a lead that took us both out of our comfort zone. This grain farming girl and cow loving guy became the owners of a chicken farm. Boy, did that take some adjusting. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about a chicken. As the shock wore off, we both saw the opportunity and blessing of having our own farm. Our boys could burn off all that pent-up energy and they could learn some hard work and responsibility.
Third time: very “egg”citing
Chickens may be paying the mortgage, but Steve’s love of four legged animals meant our extra barns soon filled up with bulls, sheep, goats, llamas and calves; enough animals to keep Steve and the boys busy with chores from morning till night. Because Steve still has a full-time job outside of the farm, at times he has had to leave the chores to his wife and boys. As much as I knew I was going live on a farm, I don’t know that I fully thought through the whole ‘farmer’s wife’ thing. It all seemed better in theory than in practice. I hadn’t been accustomed to a farm that had anything more than a cat or a dog.
Aiden and I were left in charge one week when the bulls got out. He came running for my help but as I walked down the barn alley and saw those 4 big brutes staring me down, munching on their ill-gotten hay, I was more than a little nervous. All I could picture was Aiden and I in the matador ring and I was pretty sure we didn’t have the agility it takes to outrun a bull who is enjoying his taste of freedom. If I couldn’t outrun them, I needed to outwit and out-muscle them.
So, as my brave little 8-year-old marched right on past the bulls to open the gate, who in reality were behaving much more like Ferdinand as they placidly stood chewing their cud, I, being the coward that I am, jumped onto the tractor. From my safe perch, I began waving my arms and yelling above the noise of the tractor. I drove, weaving side to side down the alleyway like a drunk person, in the hopes that they wouldn’t scoot on past, all while being careful to avoid taking out the barn support posts with the tractor bucket.
I was pretty proud of myself as I sat on my perch, arms folded and watched as Aiden coaxed the last one through and locked the gate behind him.
All figured out?
23 years of farming later and I’m a much more accomplished farmer’s wife.
Steve, in his wisdom doesn’t put me in charge very often, but just last week Owen and Levi ran to tell me the bulls were out. We had them corralled and back in their pen in less than five minutes, all while using sign language to signal the boys my instructions and never missing a beat in my ongoing phone conversation with the youth pastor. Koenraad may have wondered why I was so winded during our conversation, but he was polite enough not to ask.
I may not be the stereotypical farmer’s wife but I’m okay with that. God provided the farmer, the farm and the five boys to run a muck on it and I’m more than okay with that.