[ podcast: Homesteading with Children part 1 here. ]
I promise that just because we have had a baby that I won’t become another mom-blogger and forget all other things exist. (Although I totally see how easy it is to forget other things exist.)
When we started talking about babies, I perused the internet over to find blog articles about having babies on the farm/homestead written by real farmers or homesteaders. I found quite a few about raising children on the farm. They all confirmed my suspicions of the glorious, chaotic fun that that will be, but I didn’t find many that talked about the baby chapter. Our little is 6 months old now (& and yes, we ask each other daily how that happened so fast!), so we have made it out of the infant woods.
Here’s what I learned during that time.
1. Divide & Conquer.
You’re up every two hours with the new, sweet babe who’s tiny stomach needs filling and diaper needs changing, so when morning feed time comes around… it can feel like a burden. This is especially true if you have four dogs that all of a sudden want to remind you that they need breakfast by whining/barking, and they wake up the baby… This is where you divide and conquer. One of you (usually mom if breastfeeding) handles the needs of the babe while Dad handles the farm’s morning needs. Did we get everyone fed at the exact same time that they are used to during this stage? Nope. Did we feel bad about it? Absolutely, especially when you can see the horses staring a hole into your soul through the window. Did everyone get fed & survive? Besides some grumbling, our little zoo thrived despite flexible feed times. There were some mornings where Husband would bundle the babe up, strap her into her car seat and place her on top of the feed bags while he fed so that I could get some sleep. I know I know. I’m very lucky. 😉
2. Swallow your pride & ask for help when you need it.
We chose this life for ourselves. We built our priorities around our animals. We knew that having a baby would compound on our daily chores and work, so we are not quick to ask or accept help. We don’t expect other people to want to help in the ways we need it, like scooping horse poop or crawling around the duck coop looking for eggs. Swallowing our pride and asking for help was hard. I had a c-section so I physically could not do the majority of our daily chores for 8ish weeks. It was humbling and really frustrating. When someone would remind me not to pick up something or not to hurt myself, I’d say, “I’m stubborn but not stupid.” Recovery forced me to ask for help from Husband and sometimes the few people in our lives who don’t mind helping with farm chores. I was grateful. We were grateful.
3. Wear your baby, but know that there are some limitations.
I wrote a blog sometime last year about what I imagined life would be life with a baby/child on the farm. I proudly said I’d still do everything I was doing because I’d be wearing baby. That is true, to a point. When she was big enough for a wrap but still so tiny, there are certain things that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do. I couldn’t lean over and weed the garden. I couldn’t pick the horse paddock or dump the mule bed. I wouldn’t take her out in the wrap if it was too hot because the wrap made her even hotter. I wouldn’t take her out when the mosquitoes were out or when it hadn’t rained and it was super dusty. Basically, you have to use common sense when it’s okay to take them out in the wrap. There were a lot of evenings when Husband would stay inside with the babe, and I would go feed & pick and vice versa. There’s no need to put them in a bad situation if you don’t have to.
4. Yes, you’ll still love your animals as much as you did before.
It used to drive me crazy when people said that my animals would become an afterthought to a baby. We literally built our lives around our animals. I couldn’t fathom it and would vehemently disagree with them, and I was right. We still love our animals just as much as we did. The love we have for our baby is a different love. It’s not more or less. It’s just a different kind. Obviously she’s a human and they are animals, but just because we have her does not mean that their care and lives have to be less important than hers. Watching her meet and discover each of them has been the most amazing thing to witness.
5. Some things fall through the cracks, and that’s okay.
It’s honestly unavoidable￼. You do your best to keep everything in perfect order and condition, but you have a newborn baby. You’re not getting as much sleep as you need. You’re worried about her needs 150% of the day. The important thing to remember is this is just a chapter. We repeated this to ourselves probably 1 million times over the first few months of her life. It’s not the easiest chapter you’ll ever be, but you know that going in so you’re as ready as you can be. The main goal for us at least was to keep everyone with a beating heart that relies on us healthy and content. With that, I will tell you that the horses broke their fence three months ago, and we haven’t gotten around to fixing it yet. ￼ The dogs dug a hole next to the duck’s water hose, and they broke the float on the duck water. ￼ We handle that by turning the hose off and on when we need to fill up the duck “pond.” The front garden is a complete disaster and utterly out of control, giant thorny vines included. These things are not the end of the world. They normally would have been fixed or handled right away. They still aren’t fixed, and it’s okay. The horses are healthy and still contained by the perimeter fence. The ducks are healthy and have ample water. Everyone is okay. We’ll get around to fixing what needs to be fixed and maintaining what needs to be maintained. What mattered most was handled and maintained.
6. Teamwork & being a selfless partner make all the difference.
I don’t know what I would’ve done during this chapter without my husband. He doesn’t know what he would’ve done in this chapter without me. Thankfully, we have each other to lean on completely. We’ve always been this way in our relationship. We’ve always seen each other as the ultimate life partner, but as anyone can attest, having a newborn is leveling up in regards to teamwork.￼ Having each other with a new baby on the homestead made all the difference in the world in how we were able to keep everything going and all the animals happy and healthy. ￼Sure there were times where we were grumpy and we could’ve kept tabs on who fed the horses last and what else needed to be done that the other hadn’t handled, but what good would of that have done us. It takes grace and selflessness to truly be what you both need in this chapter. I am thankful for him every single day. Having a baby just intensified my gratitude.
So, there you have it. That’s all I can think of right now. Having an infant on the homestead came with its own set of challenges, but it also had its joys. The first time our horses smelled and nuzzled her. Our dogs comforting her when she cried. The first time she mimicked the chickens and watching her fascination with the cats and ducks. The chapter flew by. We’re already at 6 months and its new challenges like, “Don’t grab the donkey’s ears so hard, Baby! We have to be soft & gentle.” 😆