March 26, 2011

The Pregnant Farmer Turns Into The Mama Farmer

When J was first offered his fantastic job, we'd just come off of our first season farming and had somehow managed to survive on my modest and then quite sporadic pay. It was harrowing, to say the very least, to figure out how to live on so very little and with so few guarantees that -- small or not -- the next check would come at all, or ever again.

We were trying to get pregnant at the time -- for like the 14th month -- and I started to convince myself that baby wasn't coming because somehow the universe knew we didn't have the capacity to handle a baby, either financially or otherwise.

And, I wasn't sure how I could be a Mom and work the way I was working. I'd almost always been the breadwinner in the family and that pressure was immense when I considered that on top of caring for a wee one.

So, at the word "benefits" we jumped at J's job offer, and fast.

But, what about the farm? At the time, I told him that if he was working full time, I would go part time with my off-farm job and become the primary farmer the next season.

Then, I got pregnant.

Fooled him, didn't I?

I was some help on the farm last year and even spent the day before I went into labor on my hands and knees weeding the parsley, but largely (ha!) I couldn't cut it.

There was so much that went undone, so many opportunities we may have lost, so many ventures tossed aside -- all because we were short handed and of the hands we did have, one set was swollen from all the water retention.

So, as I look at pictures of the farm from last fall, weeds overgrown and turnips and carrots left in the beds to rot, I'm terrified that we'll do it all over again, or maybe even fall shorter.

See those large masses to the right of the high tunnel? Yeah. Those are supposedly beds of carrots.

I'm trying to imagine how we're going to manage a full-time off-farm job for J, a part-time one for me and my more than full-time Mama role and so far, I'm coming up blank.

But for now, the seeds need to be started to I'm learning to work around nap schedules. I take the baby monitor into the greenhouse and start seeding, as fast as I can, hoping that she'll sleep long enough to get a few flats going. Other times, I strap her into the front carrier, hook her onto "life support" as my friend Steph calls it, and away we go.

So, far, we're all keeping up, but the ground will thaw soon and then we'll see just how feasible a family and a farm can be.


  1. You have 4 sets of hands in us. Two strong, two mildly disabled, and 4 wondering small ones. Looking forward to earning my dinner :)

  2. The farm will be what it will be, but I know what you mean. I always struggle with the balance between nuturing the farm and nurturing the family too. . .I'm always sure I'm not getting it quite right. . .and we have so many weeds all the time! And crops fail. And things stack so high on the farm to-do list that we start just skipping around it randomly since we know we'll never get it all done, and I feel guilty about taking the kids to the pool once every three weeks.

    But then I see the kids gorging themselves on sweet peas right out there in the row, or watch them play, completely delighted, with the pigs and chicks, and sometimes I think that the parts of the farm that we do get right make up for the parts of parenting we get wrong for them. That might not make sense, now that I re-read it, but I guess I feel like the farm is an inseparable part of the family now. And most days I think that's a good thing. I'm sure you guys will find the right mix of farm and family eventually (and when you do, let me know what it is, okay?)



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