21 Mar Sharing Our Home and Our Lives – Come and Stay!
From time to time, life takes on turns that shake you up, that mix up your plan, that keep you on your toes. This is our new blog to accompany a new life.
In April, we’d like to begin sharing our home and farm with guests — so others can see what it’s like to sleep under our millions of stars, to wake to one of our cockerel’s beckoning, to a cacophony of birds chirping outside the window. Magical sounds of the natural world, sounds you don’t often hear in cities. Sounds that, before moving to our farm in Spain, I never really paid much attention to, and now they surround me. I try to identify the birds, but I’ve never been a bird watcher, don’t know the various species, except perhaps some of the United States’ city birds, like pigeons, black crows, cardinals, sparrows, red-winged blackbirds. Rooster crowings — didn’t have much of that in Chicago or New York City or Stockholm. Maybe in San Francisco, but I never heard any myself. Bees and wasps buzzing — to be honest, a buzzing bee, wasp or bumblebee anywhere near me used to completely freak me out… Now we happily invite them to our farm with our bug hotel, vegetable and flower gardens and our small ponds.
Bees need water and we live in quite an arid region of Spain, up in the mountains with occasional dry gusts blowing in and around the warm spring climate. The blasts of wind can be quite intense here, blowing up to 50km/hour —sudden bursts that have knocked over flower pots from terraces, slyly creeping, then blasting, down the chimneys to smoke up our house, and yet, it’s one of the intense weather patterns that makes us enjoy living here. You never quite know what a season might bring. Summers here can see hailstorms that dent cars, heavy winter skies can dump a weekend’s snowfall that rivals some Chicago pile-ups, autumn might bring torrential rainfalls that needs ditches dug up in a hurry so as to not flood a garden, and early spring keeps you on your toes with occasional robust winds and days that reach over 24 degrees and sing summer into your ears.
Life on the farm took a bit to get used to, and we’re here now and living a life that, when I was 10 or 20 or 30 years old, I never, ever thought I would be living. Farm life is incredible. Full of daily chores, that although distinct from ordinary household routines like taking out the trash, life on the farm is a whole other world than what I knew as a child. The chickens, turkeys and rabbits need daily care, replenishing their food and water, collecting eggs, shovelling out manure, inspecting the recently born baby bunnies.
Every day is something different. This morning, for instance, I found a dead baby rabbit — not sure of the cause, but we’ve learned that rabbits aren’t as hardy as we had thought.
We’re gardening like crazy: Growing as much food as we can, learning how to feed our family, taking care to raise our three children with fresh, home-grown, nutritious, love-grown fruit and vegetables. Nourishing our children with all our might to combat all that processed food that one day they’ll surely consume. Sharing the gardening with our children, showing them firsthand how food is actually grown, helping them learn to take care of their bodies, their health, their well-being. Somehow all this farm living feels like, as parents, we can more readily and directly influence not only the paths of our children but that of ours as well.
We also think that other people can get so much out of visiting this part of Spain, of taking a different sort of holiday, at witnessing how a family farm works. We want to share our home, our land, our lives with others.
Up until now, we’ve had a flow of volunteers from all over the world, coming to stay with us, lending a hand on our farm in exchange for food and lodging. We feel so blessed — all our volunteers have shared some of their lives with us, around our lunch table, filled in the summers with true farm-to-table food: freshly picked and sliced bright red tomatoes and crispy red onion salads; sharp-cracking bright green haricots verts tossed with toasted almonds; zucchini, aubergine, onion and carrots stewed with tomatoes and rosemary. Goats milk cheese from nearby friends. Our own red wine, albeit amateur wine, as we’re still learning. At times, our lunch spread is all local, all organic, and all the vegetables from our own garden. Come and have a look at what we’re doing. Share your thoughts and experiences, explore the area, or keep to yourself and just rest in nature. We’re remote, secluded, far from
Come and have a look at what we’re doing. Share your thoughts and experiences, explore the area, or keep to yourself and just rest in nature. We’re remote, secluded, far from neighbours — we love the tranquility and the peace that nature provides.
So here we are. Trying our hand at something completely different, and yet, it seems to be the trend these days. Getting out of the cities, moving back to the land, backyard chickens, growing one’s own food, solar panels, off the grid, slow living, revolution against big agriculture, big pharma and those monopolies of food suppliers.
We still carry our city folk identities, but now we’re cut with an edge of homesteading, self-sufficient farmers. I haven’t completely given in, however. Sometimes I garden to the sounds of the buzzing masonry bees and fluttering wings from the busy birds, and other times, I rock my headphones, pumping out everything from the sweet harmonies and clucking banjo of Appalachian mountain tunes to old-school Prince. I’m a bit nuts, and I dance while watering in that spectacular setting afternoon Spanish sun, and I belt out tunes like no one’s watching, and most of the time, no one is.
Gardening, cutting wood for the wood-burning heaters, tending the animals — it’s not always harmonious and easy, but we’re pretty well settled into our new life, and we enjoy all the work with our hands, outside, creating, and most importantly, giving back to Mother Earth.
Life is good.