When you grow your own peas, carrots, spinach, and beets, you naturally add more fresh vegetables to your diet. Even picky eaters can get enthused by hand picking sugar peas they helped to plant.
The eggs laid by our hens are superior to those we used to buy at the grocery store, both in taste and nutrition; it’s icing on the cake to know our chickens have been free of medicated feed or antibiotics from day one.
The great outdoors is the classroom when it comes to observing toads, spiders, birds, and all kinds of wildlife in their habitats. Learning what kinds of animals are potential predators to our domestic ones comes in handy, too!
Composting, understanding soil acidity, pest control, and growing and maintaining a healthy orchard are an ongoing learning curve. There’s much more of an awareness of weather patterns and their affect on the growing season and soil erosion, which in turn makes us appreciate farmers/food producers all the more!
“There are some jobs you do because you’re part of the family,” we tell the kids. “Other chores done well are a chance to earn some cash.”
Because of the care my children give the animals (feeding and watering, but also the cuddles and attention which make them calm and happy) they’re allotted a share of any proceeds that come in via the sale of eggs and produce.
Tedious tasks, such as picking up pine cones or gathering fallen apples, are energized by incentives such as a nickel for every one picked up. Each time there’s a trip to the bank, it’s an opportunity to talk about saving, giving, interest, and investments. While my children are still young, they’re already understanding how quickly a little bit adds up, versus how quickly the same amount when spending can disappear (along with the satisfaction!)
Anticipating all winter what we’ll plant in the spring is a ton of fun. Easing off on the back-breaking demands of flower beds and vegetable gardens to enjoy a dip in the pool makes summer extra welcome. Cooler temperatures, spicy smells in the air, and canning give fall a joy of its own. And even winter’s freezing temperatures and blanket of snow are welcome, because with them comes sledding and woodfires and a little more time to focus on house projects and reading.
Because I ran and biked several miles each week, I figured I was in great shape. One day spent tilling the garden and I realized how wrong I was!
The muscles involved in shoveling, hoeing, planting, weeding, and pushing and emptying a wheelbarrow were ones I didn’t even know I had. The day I dug holes for, planted, and then watered six fruit trees was the day I understood what it meant to be “too tired to sleep!”
Prior to moving to the country, we lived in a lovely Queen Anne Victorian right smack in the middle of a busy downtown. While I loved entertaining in my “Painted Lady” with its priceless woodwork and array of antiques, it wasn’t the most conducive space for large gatherings or for children. In fact, I wouldn’t let my own children go outside without keeping a constant eye on them out of concern for traffic and stranger danger.
Now that we have some acreage, it’s a lot easier to invite people over and not worry about space. And noise generally isn’t an issue when your nearest neighbor is a quarter of a mile away!
This might be the single best thing about living in the country. We don’t spend nearly as much time watching television, ogling our phones, or playing video and computer games; there are so many more interesting things to do!
When there are berries to pick, barns to explore, pens to muck, kittens to play with, trees to climb, and eggs to gather, the hours available in a day for electronics diminish.
The fresh air and peacefulness compel us outdoors year ‘round. Our family loves to stroll in the pasture or race bikes down the lane. Gazing at a glorious sunset or a velvety sky crusted with cold stars is more compelling than television; getting up on a dewy summer morning to water the zinnias is a joy. And in winter, you can’t beat the open fields for sledding and snowmobiling.