Lately, all we dream about is going off the grid, tending an edible garden and dragging our fingers through fields of gold. To city girls like us, life on the farm feels idyllic and free, a life full of beauty that we can, in fact, eat. Imagine multiplying the thrill we get from our rosemary windowsill garden by a thousand. That’s what it’s like to live on a farm. Right?
Lauren Malloy is one of three founders of Women’s Heritage, an inspiring group that teaches modern homestead skills and lives our rural farm life dreams. Read our piece with the ladies here. We asked Lauren to share insights and debunk a few myths about life on a farm and this is what she had to say…
Q: On independence + freedom: Does life on a farm make you feel more independent? Or does it make you feel more dependent on community than before?
A: I would say life on our little hobby farm means both being independent yet more dependent on our community. In one sense, we have our own eggs, meat, milk and veggies, so we do buy a lot less from the store. But we do ask for a lot of help and advice from our community, whether it’s asking for help looking after our animals when we are gone or asking neighbors to help with some physical aspect like moving hay. Maybe a way to look at it would be we feel more independent from the commercial world yet more connected to our community.
Q: True or false: Life on a farm means a lot of responsibility and you never get to turn off.
A: We are not making a living from our hobby farm, so we don’t have any deadlines to meet. Unlike a farmer producing products, we have set it up so it is reasonable for our family and our lifestyle. There are a lot of chores to do and mouths to feed daily. However, we have layers of chores, so if it is a busy day in town, we can just feed our animals; if it is a day at home, we can go deeper into chores like shoveling manure.
For example, we have a milk cow, but I keep the calf on her so we don’t have to milk daily if we don’t need or want to. We also try to set up each animal with convenient systems, like automatic waterers (which I highly recommend, even if it’s for your dog or cat). But with as many animals as we have, there is always more to do — like an injured animal that needs special care or maybe an animal is due soon and we need to get preparations in order. We do travel, and that is a matter of finding people willing to house sit and feed a lot of mouths twice a day!
Q: We know we romanticize farm living in our heads, but it actually requires a lot of tough decision making…
A: There is a steep learning curve living this way, and it can go from having a beautiful experience to very devastating one. We recently had a pig who gave birth to the most adorable piglets. We were thrilled, and then she began rejecting and attacking them, which was heartbreaking. After bottle feeding the five piglets and trying our hardest to get her to feed her babies, we ended up putting them with a surrogate mama pig, but we lost two piglets in the process. I know I tried my hardest in helping these little ones survive, and sometimes that’s all you can do… I think having our little farm is all about learning, each animal and situation is vastly different, and we will never stop learning!
Q: True or false: Being close to the earth makes you healthier, prettier and more relaxed.
A: Haha, trying to live off the land is definitely a healthy choice, but I would say it doesn’t make you prettier or more relaxed! You are dirty most of the time, and it can be so rewarding but stressful. I would say do it because you want the experience, because you love getting dirty, because you want to know where your food comes from, because you love learning. Don’t be afraid to ask for all sorts of help, support and advice!
Learn more about Women’s Heritage and how to bring some
of that farm life home here.