The thing is, trying to sum up a very eventful six months is difficult. I mostly covered April in the last post, though of course I also tried to give people an idea of how we were living. It is just slightly different than most families of five.
We moved to Red Earth because we had finally gotten to the point in our lives where we actually knew what we wanted to be when we grew up. Isn’t that funny? I really don’t think people should make this decision before 30. At some point in April, we realized that the land we were camping on was not exactly what we wanted. We looked over at some of the other unleased land and saw something that we thought was really cool. Let’s just say that this started a big mess that lasted until mid September. It was not fun. Not at all. There were six residents at Red Earth this past summer and two members who had not leased land yet. So moving around was bound to cause issues. We didn’t realize that though when we first mentioned it. Since what we mostly wanted to do was camp and see if it was the place we were wanting it was kinda frustrating to not be able to do that.
We actually started wondering if maybe Red Earth was not the place for us. We were going down to Springfield to visit and pick up some of the stuff we had left at the farm. We looked at properties. There were quite a few that were within our price range and were possible. The funny thing here. We would look at something be like, oh yeah, can totally see us living here. Then we would look at two others and by the time we went back to the real estate agents office, she would find out that someone had put in an offer and it had been accepted. Seriously. Some of these places had been on the market for over six months.
The last property we looked at though well, we saw it as a sign. It wasn’t perfect, but it was actually the closest to perfect that we had seen. We were excited. We really thought this was it. The same thing happened. So we realized that maybe that was not where we were supposed to be.
We were down in Springfield for just like 5 days. Then we went back to Red Earth. It was funny. I am not sure if I can explain it well. There were times I was so down about everything, then we would go to a potluck or something and it was like this reassurance that yep, this is it. No questions.
I would love to blog about our gardens, but to be honest, I am just the assistant gardener. In fact, I think my girls have more say on what goes on in the garden than I do 🙂 I did have a very important job in the gardens though and that was to harvest. Every morning I went out there as the sun was coming up and looked at all the plants. I thinned greens, picked cucumbers, we really had cucumbers coming out of our ears. It was amazing, cuz well, I love cucumbers. It was an insanely hot summer thought. Our okra did really well. Our tomatoes did also. What was absolutely amazing though was our sweet potatoes. Oh they could have been better, but we didn’t till or really prepare the earth at all. Just put them into our heavy clay soil and sat back and watched. When we finally harvested them, we had 60 pounds. Pretty amazing, eh? We also got a pretty good harvest of winter squashes.
I get a head of myself though. We didn’t go all out on our gardens, we were still hopeful that we wouldn’t be on that land come next year. We didn’t plant any winter crops either. It frustrated Jack. After interning he really wanted to have his own gardens. He had insane plans for rotations and succession plantings. He was excited and eager to get going. It just didn’t get to happen this year. Our gardens still produced enough to supplement our food quite a bit though.
Our days were pretty slow though. When laundry needed to be done I woke up with the sun, did I mention it was really hot? I hauled water, scrubbed clothes and hung them to dry. Amazingly, they were almost always dry before lunch. We homeschooled, cooked, washed dishes. The girls would go out and play. Collecting plants and wild edibles. A good portion of our day was actually spent in the water. I can’t remember if I mentioned that the pond where we were camping was only 3 feet deep? Well, that doesn’t make for good swimming. I was comfortable with the girls going out in it as long as Natalie was out there with them. Gwendy could walk across most of the pond, but still. I wasn’t okay with her going out there by herself. Her being Gwendy though did not understand that. It only happened once. She learned though after she realized that she was banned from the pond for the rest of the day. Our pond also got very hot as summer progressed. Being only three feet deep, well, there was no cool bottom. So we actually spent most of the summer in Gooseberry’s pond. It was really nice.
We lived in a tent. Really, all of us adjusted pretty well, pretty fast. All except for one of us. I mention this because this family member showed amazing growth over the 6 months we were camping. Oreo, yes I am going to speak about our cat. If any of you know Oreo you know that he is so shy and awkward. Most people have never seen Oreo. He did in fact stay in the girls sleeping bag until about June. Considering we had zero degree sleeping bags and we had some pretty warm days, well, it says something for his inability to venture outdoors. That was a good part of it. Oreo has always been agoraphobic. The one time he ventured outside, we have had him since he was a kitten and yes he only ventured outside once. He looked up at the sky, cowered and yowled to be let back in. I was really worried about him for awhile. being inside a zero degree sleeping bag on an 80 degree day? Well, even if you are a cat it doesn’t sound like fun. But one day he ventured out. He still freaked out when the tent flapped, but he found a place to hide, not in a sleeping bag and stayed. I would say it was probably around mid June when he started freely going around the tent. Then he started to go outside the tent. Yes. He did. Then he started bringing in dead mice. Yep. He went from cowering in a sleeping bag to hunting. He was pretty good with it also. Almost everyday we found a mouse on the floor waiting for us. Yes, it did freak me out a little bit. They were almost always on my path to outside and I frequently get up in the middle of the night to pee. Full moon nights it was alright, there was enough light to see that I wasn’t stepping on dead gushy mice, but the others? Yeah. Anyway, that I know of I didn’t step on any.
It amazes me sometimes how much we have grown and adapted. My kids have been moved around a decent amount, they always take it in stride. Sometimes I think they are more put together than I am. Okay, strike that, I am pretty damn sure they are. I know that Jack and I probably had a hand in that and I am glad that they are growing up more secure and put together than I was at their age and am now. I think that says something for what kind of adults they are going to be.
Really, when I think about it, life was slow. I won’t say boring, though sometimes it was. It was helpful in some ways. The girls and I got more into schooling. I decided to try Oak Meadow, it seemed like it would go with our life a whole lot. It really has. It is pretty amazing to have it mesh into our life so much. So I am happy for that.
So that was a good thing that came out of residency. Really so was the experience. It could have been a very smooth residency. It could have gone the way we wanted it from the beginning. But then we wouldn’t have been able to see what community was really like. Of course I am writing this in hindsight. If you had asked me while it was going on, well I would have told you it was tearing me up and apart. It was tough. It forced us to really ask ourselves, is this REALLY what we want? Because I am not going to go through this if it isn’t. But like I said previously, potlucks, hanging out at the pond, talking to members and solving problems. It showed me that, no, things aren’t always going to be butterflies and rainbows. Life isn’t like that. Community is life. Hard shit happens. The interesting part is that when hard shit happens you deal with it, together. You don’t run away. You don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Maybe one day I will do another post about residency, but for now I am going to call this done. I didn’t really sum up what it was like, but you get the idea. It was wonderful. It was scary. It caused me to look inside myself and see what I really wanted to do. It made all of us grow. It made me step outside of my safe boundaries. It was boring, it was exciting.
It was life.