A Farm Wife’s Tale: how I get shit done

By Mrs. Brother Nature.

Here on brother nature farm I am the magical fairy that finds keys, trains dogs, turns vicious roosters into nourishing soup, tabulates them taxes, answers the never silent calls of motherhood, and whatever else needs to be done. I get asked how I get it all done, especially that mothering thing on top of the full time farming, so I will tell you. I come from an unbroken line of farm women so Grandma shares her fount of wisdom with me but; she declares that things are harder than back in her heyday so what she can’t tell me, I must figure out just like every woman else.

The first thing is always planning; for instance plan to have your children be born in the late fall to midwinter time. There are so many benefits to birthing a winter babe; you’ll be conceiving in the spring so there will be a increasing variety of seasonal things to eat which is important because food never tastes so good as when you are pregnant. And hey, if you get morning sick you’ll be outside and the air will be sweet with lilacs and jonquils and there are plenty to bushes to make those impromptu deposits behind. In your second trimester when you are starting to get big the farm work levels off as spring planting is giving way to fall harvests.  When you are in your 3rd trimester and are big and overheated you will for once, not feel the winter cold because of your wiggly internal portable furnace. Plan to breastfeed, wear your baby in a sling, cloth diaper and at least part-time infant potty train. If that all sounds complicated and different and like a lot of work, yes it is, welcome to motherhood! I have done all these things myself and it made my life more autonomous because I didn’t have to go and buy formula, bottles, or boxes of diapers. Especially with your first baby you feel the weight of motherhood strongly. You are 100% responsible for the health and well being of this new person and you have so much to learn but, you’d be surprised how a little thing like being able to wash a load of diapers gives you a reassuring boost. Being able to take care to baby’s basic needs will be a comfort despite those times when you’ll need to call in reinforcements for minor medical problems or sleep deprivation etc.

Anyway, there are helpful blogs and vlogs out there and I will list the ones I found most helpful at the end. The timing works out for baby too; at three months they can hold their head up which means its officially time to swivel that carrier around to your back, just on schedule with the busy planting time. All throughout the growing season when not on your back they can crawl around on a blanket amongst the rows, in the fall they can cruise around those fresh strawbales, and sometime around their 1st birthday you’ll all be cozy in the house watching for those 1st independent footsteps.  By spring your 1 year old will have more teeth and be taking food more seriously again, on schedule with the increasing food supply on the farm and s(he) should be able to toilet their self better.

The amount of work you are used to getting done is not gonna happen. You and your significant other need to realize that, for the sake of your financial bottom line and sanity.farm wife

If you have a very productive today expect to have an sluggish tomorrow…. motherhood is exhausting. One of the most helpful things you can do is get a babysitter or even just a momma’s helper to keep an eye jr for a few hours at the most productive time of day, probably morning. This is crucial after jr has become mobile and until s(he) can entertain their self for longer than 30 seconds. Its not that jr is gonna wander off but s(he) is definitely going to innocently stand directly on the crop you are trying to weed or toss your harvest around, dump your seeds out, and eat dirt. You are not foisting your responsibilities off on someone else by having a sitter; you are ensuring the survival of your business and therefore your family because no one is going to work as efficiently as you. Of course you can hire someone to help around the farm but you are the best worker you are ever going to have.  And its not too early to set boundaries with jr. just tell her/him firmly what they can’t do and then re-direct them to what can do.

I never met a kid that liked play pins but a jogging stroller might do the trick for hauling baby and their toys (distractions), snacks and beverages (nursing stalling devices), diapers and clothes (sun wind, rain, mosquito, and protection), as well as your tools and other gear. And if you haven’t gotten too plump you can sit in it to nurse. A jogging stroller is a must, but a wagon is too, rather than turn into a bag lady you can put all jrs things in the stroller and all the farm things in a heavy duty wagon. $200 is not too much to pay for this invaluable tool, simultaneously push the stroller and pull the wagon. A red cape will complete your superwoman ensemble as well as a trusty farm dog, cat, or hen trotting along by your side who doubles as an excellent baby entertainer.

As for the housework, brace yourself, try to get the household to snuggle up together while you wake up before daylight and get as many chores done while everyone else sleeps as possible. Hell, you are used to waking up all hours of the night anyway, so just go ahead and get up at 5:30. Feed and check on the animals, wash dishes, put dinner in the crockpot and cook breakfast, sweep, mop and by the time you get done with all that it’ll be time a nursing, noisier jobs like washing clothes or vacuuming and planning today’s tasks. If you have timed things right and have a cooperative mate you will even get a chance to sit down and have some quiet ‘me time’ before the baby needs you. Also, if you ever want to talk with your mom or best friend ever again, get a hands free head set for your phone.

My husband is an advocate for ‘switching it up on the baby’ in other words passing her/him back and forth between you 2 during the day, depending on whatever job you’re doing at the time. Its more interesting for the baby, you both get to spend time with her/him, and you both get a break. Make it a point to take breaks from work to give your baby your undivided attention; if you promise that in 10 seconds you are going to stop working and play peek-a-boo, count to 10 and then drop the stirrup hoe or clothes pins because if you don’t keep your word, baby will never be patient with you.  In general, having some type of schedule will take a long time to create but be worth the effort for the predictability it adds to your life. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Grandma says that in her day there were many more childcare options; more relatives and other farm wives, as well as more willing and able farm workers and less bills. It is easier to farm when everyone around you does too, but having a child should not make you give up on your dream but rather make you even more determined to achieve it for yourself and future generations.

To summarize plan as much as you can but accept that things are going to be different from birth onwards, try to have your babies at the least productive time of year, outfit yourself with tools that make life easier (baby carriers of different styles, cloth diapers, jogging stroller, sturdy wagon, crockpot, and a hands-free set),  call in reinforcements at critical times (paid help or otherwise), spend quality time with baby, expect worry wrinkles, gray hairs, and mood swings. The baby is always developing and changing, that applies to the farm too, if things that used to work don’t anymore, maybe they will again in the future.

Useful links:

Breastfeeding

kellymom.com

Cloth diapers

obbsandlala cloth diaper vlog on youtube

diaperjunction.com

General info

askdr.sears.com

Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker

cdc.gov has info about lead and vaccinations

 

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