Tuesday, July 07, 2015

For The Love of Country Living

I was milking the cow this morning, watching the milk froth as the jets of creamy milk hit it. It suddenly struck me that until nine months ago I had no idea how to milk a cow. When Missy calved in October, I had to learn how to milk through trial and error. There were sore hands from the exercise they weren't used to, tears from spilled milk and proud reports of the amount of milk collected that day. Now milking has just become part of the daily ritual, it's no trouble and it still makes me smile.

And so I began thinking of all the things I've learnt over the past few years, since becoming the owner of animals, way back to when we rented a quarter of an acre in town and we become the proud owners of a trio of laying hens for the first time.
I didn't know a thing about chickens, what would happen if we let two clucky hens share a nest (in case you're wondering, you'll end up with chicks squashed or pecked to death by the hens fighting over them), what those noises were they made after laying or even what "that red thing on top of their head" was called.
Until a few years ago I'd never seen a cow give birth, halter broken a bunch of weaners or eaten home grown beef.

When I brought home a chunky little Border Collie puppy nearly three years ago I never thought it would lead me to being the owner of a flock of sheep, with plans of breeding them and hopes of eventually buying stud stock.
Not so long ago my disdain for all things "sour" flavoured had me screwing up nose at the words sourdough and lacto-fermented. Just the other day, however, I enjoyed a sandwich that was spread with cultured butter and had a few lacto-fermented cucumber pickles on it. My loaf of sourdough is cooling on the bench as I write.

How did all of this happen? How did so many ideas turn into reality and so many "no way, I'll never do that" exclamations get shoved aside? How did I turn into a sourdough baking, cheese making, clothes knitting farmer, hippy, self-sustainability-focused person?
In all honesty I don't know when it happened. It's happened slowly, over many years. From deciding to bake your own bread, grow a few veggies and keep some laying hens can lead so many exciting, daunting and crazy things.

The romance of country living has been brushed aside from me as I've been forced more often than not to face the harsh reality of mother nature. From mildly upsetting things such as your veggies being eaten to the shock of animals dying. People say that if you have livestock you'll have deadstock but I don't think you really take that on board until reality hits.
And then there's all the unromantic unappealing things in between. That smell of the cattle yards after too much rain, an egg exploding under a clucky chook so you have to snip it out of her feathers, the heart rendering experience of having a taipan slither over your bare feet...the list goes on and gets worse.

But at the same time the romance of it all has grown and proven to me that some of it really is like the books say.
There will be slices of thick bread spread with farmhouse butter; your cow will give you jugs of thick cream. There'll be chicken pies you raised yourself, a pantry full of homegrown potatoes and homemade preserves crammed on your pantry shelves.
There'll be beautiful dewy mornings, tiny seeds sprouting to life and the delight of finding a bunch of eggs in a nest. There'll be fluffy baby chicks, bouncing new lambs and cheeky sweet calves.
 There'll be foggy mornings and a whole enormous sky filled with sparkling stars.  And they'll be sunrises and sunsets like you can't get in town - glorious golden things that you can watch from start to finish.

 I never planned to go this way and in another year or two's time I'll probably be looking back again and saying "I never foresaw this!". But I'm so happy with all the things that are going on and I'm looking forward to the future of more unexpected things. Because I think life will always be like this, unplanned, unmapped out and truly unexpected. It's scary and it's exciting, and the only thing to do is embrace it and enjoy the ride.



  1. Wow, what an adventure you have been on and you have certainly learnt some things along the way! Thank you for sharing. Your pictures of the 'good life' are beautiful.

    1. Thank-you for your lovely comment Kate x

  2. Great post! Very dreamy...except the taipan part. Yikes!!!

  3. Country lief certainly has its good sides and the downsides. I thoroughly enjoyed growing up on a farm. Lovely set of photos again Sarah.

    1. Thanks Karen. I think growing up on a farm would be awesome x

  4. Gorgeous photos and words Sarah...I couldn't agree more x

  5. Sara I love this post so many things you have written are so like what we are starting to do right now .thank you for the inspiration hugs Beth

    1. Thank-you Beth & you are welcome! Enjoy setting up your patch x

  6. I live in the city, in the crazy hustle and bustle. I come here often to dream. Today you filled me up completely with your wonderful post. You showed me that dreams to come true. I just need to be brave enough to take the first step.

    1. Thank-you so much Grace, your comment made my day! The first step of anything is often the hardest x

  7. What a lovely journey you have had and are experiencing Sarah! You are an inspiration, and your writing is beautiful. Much love, Fleur xx


Hello! Please don't be shy - leave a comment, answer a question or tell your own story! I love the conversation and community - it's what blogging is all about x

You don't need an account to comment, simply use the Anonymous option or Name/URL

© Say Little Hen
Maira Gall