I wrote this post two weeks ago; it just sat here and sat…I couldn’t decide if it was really appropriate for this space. It’s not about gardening or much of the homestead at all, though there’s a bit in here about how you should all seek out a farmstay (it’s like an Airbnb or bed and breakfast within the context of a farm). If you don’t want to read beyond that point, that’s ok. In the end I decided to include what reasoning went into this farmstay get-away because I want to be authentic. I’m not one for putting up filters or guards. I think we could all be a little more real and deep with each other. At the very least, though, follow the link to the farmstay and give them a visit sometime.
This past week we found ourselves staying sans kids in a hay loft that was converted to a pretty incredible two-bedroom unit. Beneath us lived four sheep, three rabbits and a few kittens. For some of us crazies, this is dreamy and far more appealing than any hotel or Airbnb city loft in the whole of the country.
This special stay is tucked in the rolling landscape of the outer edges of the Driftless region. The landscape is truly breathtaking. On my morning run I could see from hilltop to hilltop, decorated with Fall foliage, quaint farmhouses, herds of happy, grass-fed cows, gurgling creeks and curly-tailed pigs residing at the pork palace. (Yes, it’s called Paul’s Pork Palace!)
The countryside was truly inspiring and oh so enviable. If you aren’t a runner or a biker, just take a drive. The drives were really magical. As for the accommodation itself, the conversion of the hayloft is stunning. The use of barn wood on the walls and floor, plus a blacksmith artist’s touch in so many details made for a classy rustic feel. It’s spacious and well suited to bring your kids along. The kitchen is large and has nice appliances for spending time together cooking from scratch. There’s a patio for eating outside, which is always a perk for me. It was fantastic.
It was especially dreamy for us as we hadn’t yet recovered from that lead-clean-up project. Our tunnel vision to get that complete meant we did little else this Spring and Summer, for some time. I mean, there’s really not much left to a day anyway when you are caring for kids, right? Maybe you can get them involved in something long enough to work a solid hour, maybe. Even after almost seven years of being a mom, I am still shocked at how a whole day can go by and I feel like I have done absolutely nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true – I know I dished out at least six snacks, three meals and wiped up plenty of puddles of water, pee, or who knows what. I mean really! It’s hard to get in some substantial accomplishments in a day with kids. I love kids, I really do love them. I love my kids, I love my friends’ kids, but GEESH, their needs are many and that all takes time.
So I breathed this rare little break. This time to be only me. I soaked it. I really felt it deep in my being. I laid in the grass in the sun without a toddler kicking my face, poking my belly button and tantruming to nurse, again. I didn’t want to move from that sun-soaked patch. That quiet moment was enough to make all the packing and hours of driving worth it.
In recent years, I have been observing how not only does caring for kids full time take a ton of time, it takes brain space. My brain space. My once meditative, reflective, contemplative self has about dissolved into a pile of mush under the weight of incessant 6yo questions and obstinance, a house that looks like a tornado came through, and the constant yells, shrieks, growls and whines of an almost 2yo who is really frustrated that he can’t talk yet, nor always get what he wants. Add to that being up in the night at least three times… every night for the last year and half. In my experience, being home with kids causes me to completely lose my sense of self, and frankly, makes me feel really dumb. One too many times, I’ve been caught in an intelligent conversation that I would have thrived on in my college years. Now I just stare like a deer caught in headlights. Sorry, I’ve got a bad case of stay-at-home-mom brain!
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are so many beautiful parts of being home with kids, and this is the life we’ve sacrificed soooo much to have. At the same time, having no childcare is really hard. No break. No quiet in-between moments. No adulting. Before we knew it, summer was half over and we just kept the momentum from our lead clean-up going so we could finish a few things on our house before selling. At the same time, we put tons of time toward trying to find a farm to call home. Oh, we became so burnt out! We were in a pit of exhaustion. Enter in night-weaning the toddler and calling on grandma for a sanity break.
This isn’t something we do often at all because my oldest has had a lot of separation anxiety, and my babies are nurse-aholics. It didn’t go great. E gave grandma a rough two nights, honestly. It’s tempting as a mom, especially one who practices responsive nighttime parenting, to get loaded down with heavy feels from this news and never take a break again. BUT, that little bit of time I had to have my brainspace back, time with my husband, and just pure quiet for two whole days was extremely restorative. I came back a much better mom. I’m a much more patient, tuned-in mom. It’s the family dance of trying to meet everyone’s needs, I think. E was ok, even though it was hard for him to not have me in that moment. Now the hubs and I are stronger and more able to meet their needs (and finally find that farm to buy!).
Please post in the comments if you know of other farms renting out accommodations. They are surprisingly difficult to find!