Ever wonder why farmers, ranchers, homesteaders, & the like take little to no vacations? When this way of life is chosen to live, it is a full time commitment for most. It becomes a huge responsibility. Forecasts are watched to work ground, dairy goats & cows are milked, livestock is fed, eggs are gathered, sheep are sheared, pregnant mommas are watched, fences are checked, money is earned to be spent, etc.
To get away for a few days, a family may split vacation times so that a few members can enjoy a break while the others tend to the work at home. Some families are fortunate to take vacations together as they have already had hired hands who know the daily routine. To ask family, friends, or neighbors to pitch in when you want time away requires a lot of trust. The entire vacation is spent worrying whether you taught them everything they need to know to do a good job. Will they even reference the list of how chores are to be done? Are the animals getting along okay? How severely did that hailstorm you saw on the news damage your crops? Did you remember to tell them how to rescue a goat stuck in the fence?
The first & last family vacation Scott & I took was back to South Dakota 9 1/2 years ago when Kaycee was a flower girl in my best friend's daughter's wedding. Back then, we only had 2 horses, about 20 chickens, 1 dog, & a number of cats. I don't even think we had goats yet. We felt bad asking Scott's folks to tend to our homestead because we didn't want to burden them. We knew the critters were in experienced, capable, & willing hands. No crises ensued. Everyone/thing was safe & sound upon our return. Heck, in that slower pace of life (which I thought was busy at the time), I was even comfortable enough to tend the homestead myself if Scott went out of town for work trainings.
As you may have noticed in previous blogs, the number of critters & different species have grown exponentially the past couple of years. However, Kaycee & I have since been able to sneak away to Michigan several times to spend long weekends with friends. I have gone out of town myself a couple of times. Not once did Scott endure any problems without having the extra set of hands.
Scott & I were able to steal an overnight trip to Iowa a couple years ago. We felt awful guilty asking his folks to do our chores that evening & the next morning. You see, Dad has chores of his own at his place with goats & horses as well. Dad & Mom hardly ever go anywhere, so it isn't often that we have the opportunity to reciprocate their kindness. It's just what family does for each other.
For us, to take summer vacations is difficult. With hayfields, we have to watch for a 5 day window of good weather. Conditions must be just right. Scott won't cut hay if there is more than a 40% chance of rain & the temperature has to be in the mid to high 80s or hotter. We can't be out galavanting around having fun because we might miss that window to harvest. You never know, the rest of the season could be cold, rainy, & that was the only window.
This week, Scott had a work trip taking him the first time east beyond our Indiana border to Niagara Falls. I had no idea there was even a Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base. Kaycee & I tried to convince him that we should come along for a family vacation. We quickly remembered our homestead obligations. Before Scott left, he made sure the fences were good, hay bales were put in the feeders & stacked in the barn, extra hog feed was delivered, & any potential doggy escape routes were blocked. The only thing we didn't get accomplished was reducing some of the goat herd by going to the sale barn. It's just too much for us girls to handle on our own. Scott assured us we would get along just fine.
He was wrong. In the first 12 hours after his departure, I had freed a goat stuck between 2 trees. Yay, me! The next morning, she was dead. That evening, we had to begin bottle feeding a baby goat. Kaycee did a great job the next day feeding him every 2-3 hours while I was at work. When I got home in the afternoon, the baby was doing well. Then he seemed weak again when we did chores that evening. The next morning, he was dead. Grrrr... I had managed to kill 2 goats in the first 48 hours of Scott's absence. Scott wasn't due back for another 48 hours! I dreaded what might possibly happen the next 2 days. You know what? Nothing happened. It was smooth sailing from there on out. Thank goodness he came back home!
I'm sure our grandparents didn't take family vacations. Well, except for maybe a seed or feed corporate sponsored convention. It's hard to imagine not being able to pick up the phone to let them know of tragedy. What if a tornado took out their barn with all their livestock in it? What if a lightning strike started a fire obliterating your parched cornfield? I can't imagine the heartbreak of coming up the lane in a horsedrawn wagon to find your life's work had been destroyed in your absence.
Scott & I chose this life. Kaycee didn't get to choose it, she was born into it. She understands that this is a journey we take as a family. But like her mother, Kaycee has bad days too. She blames us when she can't always do what she wants, go where she wants, or be with who she wants whenever it is convenient for her. She has responsibilities here on the homestead too. Livestock have learned to rely on her just as much as they rely on me or Scott. When she becomes an adult, we have accepted that she has freewill to stay or to go. Our greatest hope is the day she tells us she loves it here & will continue the Jackson legacy. Our greatest fear is the day she tells us she wants to experience the rest of the world first hand. Either way, we will cry happy tears & wonder if we made all the right decisions.
I read a Facebook post a couple weeks ago that was befitting of Kaycee's life. It also gave me the faith that we are raising her right. It's called "A Farmer's Daughter" (see below).
'Til next time folks!