Shannon

I am wife to Stewart, mama of four, homeschooler, homebirther, home cook, fermenter, head dish-washer and chief fire-puter-outer. I also work in recipe development and freelance writing for a few small businesses. I try to be in the garden and write a little something every day. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
731 articles written by Shannon

Yesterday was somehow both full and relaxed, the way that homegrown living can be. Work feels like life, less a job and more a flow of pressing and non-pressing tasks that help us to build a homestead and sleep hard at night.

Sundays are especially full as we begin the week anew and catch up from a Sabbath that didn’t see any dish-washing or garden work. It is our Monday and after a full day of rest I feel up to the task of trying to tame that beast of disorder. It feels good somehow to wake up to chaos on the counter and, at one point in the day at least, see fewer dishes and more flat surfaces.

But these days are still a little hot so we take them slow as we prepare for winter despite the confusion of seasons. Insulation and walls are going up. Wood stoves need moving and polishing. Firewood needs to be piled, stacked, split.

Morning and evening are the heavier work times during the summer. Breakfast, dishes, lunch, more dishes, chasing and kissing on these little ones in between. All the while Annie is following Daddy around as he moves from putting up insulation and walls to spreading hay and manure for the coming fall garden. Those little bare feet walking in her daddy’s footprints is about all I need to remind me of how grateful I am for this at-home life we all share.

I know that this life is not possible for everyone right at this very moment and that it’s a blessing not to be taken for granted. I’ve been there, wanting to do something but having to wait until the time was right. That time was full of angst and things to learn and possibilities, though, and it was all just part of the bigger journey. It was right for us to take the plunge when we’d paid off our student loans and could buy two acres without debt. Not everyone’s right will look like that, though.

Looking back we could have stayed where we were a bit longer, held onto the job that would have given us more of a cushion, kept living in those 900 square feet until we felt like we had “enough” to get started more comfortably. But it didn’t seem right.

When Elijah was born in 2006 we were already deeply desirous of the country life.We knew we wanted to homestead. We knew how we wanted to raise our children. But there was that debt, a complete lack of knowledge or skill, and never a location that made it right. From the time Elijah was born we hoped and prayed that we could make the jump by the time he was five.

The path was made for us, to me that is clear. Now that I’m watching barefooted children become invested in this life, this land, and this community, I’m so glad we didn’t wait any longer than we did.

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In the Spring of 2011 we paid off those student loans. By October we had everything we owned in a van and trailer and we hauled these little boys, my pregnant belly, and us two neophyte homesteaders down south.

Elijah had turned five just two weeks earlier.

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Lately I have been feeling a bit of a general time crunch that has coincided with a conviction that I need to be more deliberate in ordering my days. I’m very type B and have no natural proclivity for organization, scheduling, or deadlines.

So, homeschooling and caring for four young children with weekly freelance deadlines comes totally natural to me… as does making stuff up. The truth, is I leave a trail of chaos wherever I go and my natural tendencies make it even more necessary for me to plan things out and try to pull. it. together.

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I’m still working my way through the 2014 edition.

One thing that has helped immensely is relying on something other than my own brain to keep track of stuff. This Homemaker’s Daily Planner has saved my hide on more than one occasion. After years of trying other planners and homemaking print-outs, I’ve found this one little book to be exactly what I needed. It’s got a monthly calendar and a weekly calendar to write in all of your tasks as well as a menu for the day. In the back it houses a “Tasks” section, a “Projects” section, a list of contacts, and a perforated shopping list.

This allows me to keep all of my school, homesteading, blogging, and freelance lists in one space. It is my brain, if my brain were well organized and decorated with pretty flowers and nice typography.

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Anyway, I’ve been trying to squeeze everything in and recorded a recent day that worked fairly well. Some days are very different in that I spend way more time on the garden or computer than school and chores. But this reflects a more common, balanced day in the life. Also, all times are approximate (see note above about being type B).

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3:30 a.m. Ruth wakes up every night at this time and I’ve given up on trying to change it with shorter naps/more day-time feedings. So I get up, feed her, put her back down, and head back to bed.

5:45 a.m. Up with Ruth. Feed her and have our solo time for the day while I do a little reading.

7:00 Annie and the boys are up. Make and eat breakfast.

8:00 Start soaking laundry and filling up the sink/putting away dishes. Direct boys with school and chores (this is pretty much ongoing all day).

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9:30 Ruthie takes her nap while I wash dishes/garden/work in the kitchen/do computer work (whatever is most pressing)

10:30 Ruthie’s up so I head over to the new cabin with a helper or two to feed her, make beds, clean up, and sweep.

11:00 Finish up kitchen stuff and start lunch.

12:30 – 1:30 eat lunch and then put the girls down for afternoon naps. Do a reading lesson with Abram, answer Elijah’s school questions and supervise their stuff. Work on computer stuff.

3:30 Girls are up. Feed Ruth, get Annie a snack, wash a load of laundry.

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5:00 Start supper, pop into the garden, keep Ruth happy through fussy hours, finish supervising school.

6-7 eat dinner, get Abram started on dishes, have Elijah finish up chores/school, feed Ruth.

8-9 family time, put down Ruth, get them ready for bed, read for a bit.

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9:30 Hopefully I have shut off the solar flash light and zonked with the book laying next to me. Sometimes the book didn’t even get cracked and I am already drooling snoozing by the time the children are asleep.

Stumble out of bed at the sound of the Ruthie alarm. Full and wonderful days, these are.