As a lifestyle homeschooling family of six, when we moved to the country in 1999, my husband and I had some pretty grand ideas. Buy an old farmhouse, fix it up, grow a big garden, can all our vegetables, and raise chickens. You know, be real farmers.
For a few years, we did just that. The first year we grew a garden, it was huge. HUGE. I never knew so much work went into gardening. My parents had one when I was young but I didn’t slave out there in the heat every day pulling weeds. My mom did. Now it was my husband and I, and three very
seldom enthusiastic children.
There is no doubt about it. It is hard work and not for the fainthearted. Or for those that hate the heat. Like I do. But it is rewarding. There’s an energy derived from knowing that your hands are tilling soil that generations before you tilled. When you’re planning the food your family will eat, figuring out what ways yield the greatest harvest, and which method for pest control is best (we’re non-pesticide growers), it’s an exciting time. We spent hours pouring over books on organic gardening, natural pesticide control, and learning everything we could about identifying good and bad bugs.
As the years went by, we sort of slowed down a bit on the outdoor gardening. Some of that is because of our age, but mostly we discovered that being surrounded by commercial farmers made it much more difficult to keep the bad bugs at bay, and they pretty much killed off the good bugs when they sprayed their nasty pesticides. The bad bugs came over to our garden, all lush and enticing, and at times decimated it. So, we built a greenhouse and named it Green Acre Growers. For a while we sold flowers direct to the public, but when we go back to gardening, we will only grow vegetables for our family. My husband wants to continue his experiment with hydroponic gardening and raised indoor beds.
We don’t have any diehard convictions about food, other than we don’t like all the pesticides that are used, and the GMO corn being fed to animals. Purchasing heirloom seeds is how we built up our seed supply. After each harvest, we save a certain amount for the next year. Right now, since we haven’t planted in a couple of years, our seeds are being kept in the freezer for later use.
Chickens are the one steady thing that we do keep. Nothing beats farm fresh eggs! At The Chick Inn, we have 21 layers made up from the breeds Red Star, Rhode Island Red, and Barred Rock. Our girls have a huge fenced run that gives them about 5 times the recommended space per bird. They have access to the run at all times, except when we close the coop at night against predators. Their feed is non-medicated and the only vaccines they have gotten are when they were first hatched. For treats, they get fresh veggies and fruit on a regular basis. They reward us with rich and delicious tasting eggs that we sell to family and close friends.
Trying to eat healthy homegrown vegetables and fresh eggs are just a couple of ways we try to stay healthy. We feel, in a small way, we are taking better care of our bodies that the Lord has given us. And our family enjoys the time we spend together gardening and chicken keeping. It truly is a family affair!
Anne Payne is a wife, mother, and grandmother who enjoys sharing her love of God’s creation and rural living through photography on her personal blog, Stuff & Nonsense.
Being an avid reader, she began reviewing Christian Fiction and non-fiction in 2011. Author interviews, book reviews and giveaways are posted on her blog, as well.
Community activities include serving in Women’s Ministry, Nursery and Children’s Sunday School, and three years as VBS director in a local church.
Having 20 years experience as a home educator, Anne and her husband, Jerry, graduated their youngest child in 2014. Since her oldest daughter’s death in 2012, she has been writing through her grief and shares some of her thoughts along the journey.