Thursday, October 28, 2010

a problem

Cold Antler makes visiting my family, just five hours south of me, so hard. Going home for the holidays might be impossible this year, depending on the weather and the farm's needs. What do you do when the lifestyle that makes you so ridiculously happy and fulfilled is hurting the people you love?

83 Comments:

Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

you hope that your family whose lifestyle makes it easier for them to come to you, will actually come to you! It is hard for family to understand your lifestyle unless they are living it themselves.

If they chose not to, then you can mail presents

October 28, 2010 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger pamwares said...

be happy. the holidays don't have the done at the holidays. Make a date to get together in spring when the weather is better and maybe a bit more time. make a new holiday.

October 28, 2010 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I have to remind my family every year that the road goes both ways. You have a new home, a wonderful farm, and plenty of entertainment happening where YOU are. Can they not visit you for one or the other? Don't let guilt trips get the better of you.

October 28, 2010 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Elise said...

Invite them to you.

October 28, 2010 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger laura said...

Everybody has changes in their life that make traveling difficult. They may be health problems, money difficulties, career pressures, new children, etc. The whole point of family is that they should understand that you are having your own life, but that it doesn't mean you don't want them in it. If that means they have to come to you, so be it. Sometimes family passes this test well, sometimes it doesn't. A good compromise might be to hire a house/farm sitter when you need to go away; maybe a 4H teen or a FFA person.

October 28, 2010 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

You need to cultivate a friendship with someone who really likes the farm thing, who you can train to do the work right, recognize a problem and take the right course of action. Those people do exist but you will be hard pressed to get someone on board by Thanksgiving. You could ask around at the stable and grain store for names of reliable people. If your family is only 5 hours away, you could be gone 2 days and one night. Every time I travel to your area to see my Dad, I have to arrange things so that caring for my livestock is as simple as I can make it for the fellow who takes over.

October 28, 2010 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

A house/farm sitter sounds like a cool deal. Is there such a thing? Is there someone you could pay to stop by to do the chores etc?
Maybe someone else with a small farm has other ideas.
I agree that home is home but sometimes we all like to get away. Do farmers NEVER take vacations? Even short ones?

October 28, 2010 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Moose Nugget said...

Ideas:
1- invite them to the farm for a special treat of a holiday
2- get up extra early and stay up extra late. Go visit and keep your visit short
3- post an ad at the feed store or co-op to find a farm sitter
4- make a one time exception. I don't know how sheep fare out but I know with our chickens, I have from time to time had to put an extra waterer and feeder, fill to the brim, add a Flock Block (compressed seed block) and be willing to lose a day's eggs. Instead of letting them out to range, we gave the light while we had to be gone and left them in the coop. We've had to leave goats before for a day and we made sure they had a good spot to forage, could get in their shelter, and had some extra feed and hay. Most of the
animals are smart enough to turn themselves in for the night.


We live thousands of miles from family. We've had two of our kids, expecting another, have the farm to worry about, and the cost of flying our young family as well as the stress of a 30 hour itinerary is really prohibitive.
Jenna, it SUCKS, but our life IS so happy that we've told family, "You have to come here". Any parent, sibling, or family member should be thrilled that you have made your peace with the universe and found your "what I wanna be when I grow up".
Do what you can to make a trip home to happen. If you can't, you can't.

As a side note, do you know that once Laura Ingalls left home to farm with her husband, she didn't get back home but one time- not even for her mother or her sister Mary's funerals. She and Almanzo went on a road trip and the poor girl worried about her chickens in her journal until she finally got back home.

October 28, 2010 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Jenny Glen said...

I've been there - still am. When I moved 2 hours away from my parents onto a little acreage, it was hard enough but now I live 2 days drive from them and can't get away at the holidays because of the farm duties. You call. You observe the holidays anyway. Do it for yourself.

October 28, 2010 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger m said...

We don't live on a farm, but once we had children, we stopped going to our parents' for the holidays. We don't own a car, so we'd have to rent and then drive on winter roads. There is an open invitation for them to join us for Christmas, but they only did once, our eldest's first.

Invite them, or, as others have suggested put out ads or call in favours. It's hard but it's okay.

October 28, 2010 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Perhaps your family is in a better position to make the trip than you are at this stage? Or "reschedule" for a better time?

When my then-husband and I moved away from family, we would travel back and forth, toting along 3 young boys, and missed many a holiday.
Now that my boys are men out on their own, I have moved back to care for my mother. So, no matter where I have lived for the past 30 years, part of my heart is broken for missing close family. I can understand your readers above, who would have extensive trips to visit family. Or anyone who lives/serves overseas. We do what we can.

Best wishes!

October 28, 2010 at 10:55 PM  
OpenID urbanadaptation said...

That's a tough one, I think. On one hand, I agree with others that it might be a good time to talk honestly with family and see if they'd considering coming to you, especially if making the trek works better with their lifestyle. That said, I know it can be a hard thing to ask (well, for me, anyway), especially if there's an expectation or tradition or whatever that you go home, or even that holidays are done in a certain way.

I guess you do the best you can. See if they can come to you. See if someone will watch the farm for you. If that doesn't work, be kind to yourself and make the best farm-based down home Christmas that you can with whoever you love that's close by or able to make the trip.

Maybe I'm wrong (I hope I'm wrong), but your question reads to me as possibly going deeper than just this upcoming holiday. If that's the case, then I simply hope that the people you love come to understand, if they haven't already, just how good this is for you, and how much you love it.

October 28, 2010 at 11:00 PM  
OpenID thatsthelife said...

Try not to let the guilt tear you up. It's hard for parents not to be disappointed when their kids can't make it home for the holidays, and they're allowed to feel how they feel.

And you're allowed to pursue the life that makes you happy. I think the best that can be done is talk honestly with your folks about how much you wish you could go to them, but this life that makes you so happy keeps you from them sometimes, and for that you're very sorry.

I had a conversation like this with my parents recently, since the end of September is usually when I go home to visit them, but after moving across the country, I can't afford to fly home. We talked about missing each other and they understand you do the best you can with what you've got.

You can send home made cookies in the mail you know. And moms love hand-written cards.

Such things make loved ones feel closer.

October 28, 2010 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger Tami said...

It seems like maybe there is something deeper than just an upcoming holiday? For me, the holidays just magnify/intensify problems that are ever present but lying just under the skin so to speak. I've gone through the same thing with my husband and friends during the summer. They want to camp, we have animals at home that need tending to. In the end, animals win. They are lives and they are lives that are dependent on me. I'm guessing that the biggest problem you'll have over Thanksgiving/winter would be frozen water? Do you have a neighbor that you trust that would be willing to check in on the animals 2-3x a day? You could in turn do something for them. Can you perhaps leave super early, stay for a few hours and then go home? Stay just over night? I always remind myself of days past. When families parted ways to "head west" often times they never saw each other again. They heard from each other via mail and that definitely was not very frequently. We are so incredibly blessed (and yet not so much)to live in the day and age that we live in. Phones, faster mail service, internet...

October 29, 2010 at 12:14 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Well, first I'd try bribing them with your beer, and then I'd try throwing in "if you'll come here, I'll do all the cooking (unless you want to help, of course)".

Or you get used to missing some of the holidays with your family. You usually have to, once you get married. I usually make it down to my mom's once every three or four years.

Or you could try getting someone to farm sit for you, like others have suggested. I hope it all works out, Jenna.

October 29, 2010 at 12:19 AM  
Blogger kristen said...

A farmsitter makes a big difference for me. Check out the local high school's ag program for promising kids.

October 29, 2010 at 12:36 AM  
Blogger Dropstone said...

Yeah, you:
- look for a farmsitter;
- do your holidays on other days, so your farmsitters can have their holidays on the scheduled days, then come to your place a couple days after;
- make the critters safe, warm, dry, and fed, and let them fend for themselves overnight;
- invite the family to you. (We decided when we started farming that we're not leaving for the harvest festival aka Thanksgiving -- here is where the food is; if you want to share, come here.)

October 29, 2010 at 12:44 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

You are a grown up now, and it's unrealistic for them to expect you to travel five hours south to return "home," because you have a home of your own now. There's a time when you can no longer expect your children to travel to you at Christmas -- once the kids have work commitments, are married, or have kids themselves, traditions have to change. And the farm IS a work commitment, no doubt about it. It's harder for some parents than others, so this may be a rough transition for them, but they will have to understand you have commitments now, and have to be home. It's part of honoring the life you've chosen.

October 29, 2010 at 12:55 AM  
Blogger Wandering Moose Farms said...

It is hard but you do find ways to make it work. For years we went to my fathers for his birthday (a few days before Christmas and my mothers for Christmas Day. Now that both my brother and I are married and I have moved over 350 miles from my mom, we have learned to make compromises. We alternate Christmas, one year there one year here (they don't always make it up here).

When we go away for the holidays or to other events off the farm, we hire a couple of kids who live on my road to watch my chickens, ducks and geese. I spend extra time making sure that the job is super easy (minus heavy lifting of water jugs), everything is labeled in pre-measured containers, the coop is clean before I leave, etc. They have been wonderful and are more than happy to help whenever we go away. Unfortunately they are growing up and headed away to school in the next years so I will be looking for either the next generation or in the local 4H group.

You have found your place and what makes you truly happy - they may grumble, but they WILL eventually understand.

October 29, 2010 at 3:03 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Barter with a neighbor to watch things at your farm for a weekend. That's what we do. They get the eggs and milk and small stipend, and we get to go away. Just an idea.

October 29, 2010 at 5:10 AM  
OpenID geckoontheroad said...

I am having the same problem! And my dad does *not* understand why I need to have animals that make traveling difficult. I guess some years we will make it to the family holidays and some years we won't. I think it will be worth it, but I hate missing the holidays and disappointing the family. I hope you can find a farm sitter for at least a day so you can see your parents for a few hours.

October 29, 2010 at 5:37 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

There have been a lot of really good suggestions to you such as farmsitter and having family come to you. If it turns out that neither of these options will work, you might be able to have a Thanksgiving celebration with others just like you who can't be with family. It won't be the same but it can be a lot of fun.
Another point in all of this is what your experiencing is all part of the evolution of life. The traditions we all grew up with get remolded over time. I used to have my parents, brother and sister in law and my 4 boys. Then there were grandkids. Then life happened and Mom died and two boys moved to AZ and Russia. This year I'll have 1 son and his fiance'.

October 29, 2010 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger sheepkelpie said...

You make the trip. Many of us are very busy. Your parents will not be around forever. Make plans. Rule of thumb is generally, the single gals/guys travel. Get a good farm sitter, and enjoy your family.

October 29, 2010 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger karen said...

You will always miss one another on the holiday but you do adjust to it. My daughter lives out west and we live on the east coast so I do understand. For the last 5 years we have been going to visit her and the grandchildren the first week of December. The rates are low as Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas holiday is 3 weeks away. We have a lovely visit and now that is our tradition in place of the actual holidays. We do not open presents at that time, we just enjoy each other and try to do some special outings with the children. On the actual holiday you can call your family and have them pass the phone around so you can still be a part of the day. Karen from CT

October 29, 2010 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I have a friend who farms and is Australian, living and farming in PA. She travels back home to see her elderly parents about every 18 months. She uses help from neighboring farmers at times. But she also has slaughtered animals just before her trip so that the animal-sitting is minimal. Only the cats and dogs are sacrosanct. The ewes, does, and other livestock are managed around her need/desire to travel. One time though she used a WWOOFer volunteer to keep the farm going during one of her trips. Have you looked into WWOOF? It's a great way to get extra labor without spending any money. I've hosted a few volunteers myself, and it's been a very positive experience.

October 29, 2010 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Mud Mama said...

you host!...and you find yourself some wanna be homesteaders who will farm sit (thats how we figured out we wanted to, we did it for two weeks in the winter and two weeks in the spring to get a feel for it on a small farm.

October 29, 2010 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Sweet Tarragon said...

We're in a very similar situation - while we're on the other end of NYS (Buffalo) and headed a bit farther south in PA than you (Allentown), there may be circumstances when we can't make it home. Our families are upset, for certain, but I have (very close-not distant) relatives who live up and down the eastern seaboard that never come home for the holidays...so we've built a tradition where the phone gets passed around, and we all get to share a bit of holiday cheer with those far and near.

We do what we can, and enjoy the moments we have together. (That, and my mom and I bake "Christmas cookies" in the spring, which is an awesome tradition we started long before I moved away. :) )

October 29, 2010 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Westfarm Goat Mom said...

Have you checked your area for pet sitters? I put an ad in the local paper and online. It is a way to meet like-minded people and have someone you can hire to help when you need to be gone. I found a couple people who were even willing to learn to milk the goats.

October 29, 2010 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hire a farm sitter (a friend, or someone you trust). We've even got 4 people (5 when I move out there in January) living full time at the farm and still had to hire extra help for the holidays because of course everyone wants to go home. So worth it though.

October 29, 2010 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Butts said...

I understand how you feel. We live 4 hours away from family and don't get to visit very often with work schedules and now school schedules.

October 29, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

All great suggestions here. And I agree with Goat Mom. If you have pet sitters in your area, don't rule them out. I have yet to take advantage of it, but I met one that was willing to farm sit, including milking. My problem is finding someone, ANYONE that I trust to do the job as well as I do. :)

I live about an hour away from family, and my husband's family is across the country in Minnesota. It's almost easier when they're farther away. My family is close enough that they know I technically *can* go visit, even if it causes me huge inconvenience. And even though it's only an hour, they won't come here either. They'll travel all over hell and gone, but they won't come to my place because it's too far. ??

October 29, 2010 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Tobi said...

Start a new tradition:
1. Use Thanksgiving as the launch of your family holiday season. We sometimes use the day after Thanksgiving to make gingerbread houses together to celebrate.
2. Invite your family to join you for a Country Farm Christmas, and then create your vision of what that means.
3. Hire a farm sitter.

October 29, 2010 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I wish it was as simple as getting a sitter to feed the animals. But it is more involved. The car needs work and needs to get resistered. If the weather is bad, I need to be here to make sure the animals are okay: cause a storm could stop sitters from being able to make it. There's also the issue of three dogs, a full-time job without any more vacation time left, and writing work. My life is here and not there - and that's the issue.

October 29, 2010 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Your last sentence sums it up, Jenna.
Your life is where you are, and it needs to be lived thoroughly.
Even without a farm, or other commitments, there comes a day when some of us have to make the decision to step in to our real lives even if that also means we step out of the daily life of our families. It doesn't mean we don't love our families, and sooner or later that is accepted and acknowledged by them because they love us too and want our happiness. In the meantime we can begin to make the new rituals that keep us connected ... and that can be a lot of fun!

October 29, 2010 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Such a hard call Jenna. You are the one that has to be comfortable all around with whatever decision you make. You have a responsibility to your animals that live outside your home. It's easy to just take the dogs and go ... but not so with farm animals. I'm sure your Mom and Dad understand that. Weather is unpredictable. It would be great if they could come to you. You won't make all happy no matter what the decision. There is always SKYPE! Make the decision that you will be most comfortable with ... bottom line ... you would never forgive yourself if something happened you could have prevented which you work so hard to have.

October 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I may be oversimplifying this, because family members have their own commitments and may not be able to travel there, but I think it would be a great "1st Christmas on the new Cold Antler Farm celebration" and they might really make the effort to travel there for this occasion. I can't imagine a nicer place or person to share the holiday with. I know a lot is on your shoulders and you're doing all this alone. But, not all alone, you have Jazz, Annie, Gibson and the rest of your Cold Antler family and you are the center of their world. Mimi

October 29, 2010 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I did invite them. I was told it was out of the question.

October 29, 2010 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

i would think there are dozens of people (especially in this economy) willing and perfectly capable to care for chickens and a few sheep for a couple days.

pack up the dogs and hit the road.

chat with horse owners in your area. use their farm help. your animals are 100% less work than horses are and shouldn't take much time at all to check on twice a day.

i bet if you offered eggs and $25 a day you'd have people knocking down your door to spend 30 minutes twice a day (or less) to tend to your livestock.

this is assuming you'll take the dogs, if you leave one or more thats when services get pricey (i have 4 and its rarely worth the effort/$ to go on long trips).

it would be a good idea to have a farm sitter on hand anyways, not only for vacations/trips/holidays but for unplanned emergencies.

October 29, 2010 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I've worked with the military for years and often families invite other people who can't get home for the holidays or have no family nearby or have no family, period, to share Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's just an idea, but it's a great feeling to give someone an opportunity to share the day and a meal. Maybe you could invite a older person who is alone. It means a lot to them and the host feels good, too. But, if you just have the immediate Cold Antler Family, you will be in excellent company. Animals love you unconditionally. And, don't forget, your blog family is here thinking of you!

October 29, 2010 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

just read your other comment. perhaps this year you need to sit one out? you used your vacation time and money on other priorities in your life. next year plan ahead and budget time and money in advance for family gatherings and holidays.

my brother lives out west and the rest of the family is on the east coast. some years he doesn't come home, not because he can't but because he chose to spend his time and money on his hobbies or his home. some years when holidays roll around he simply doesn't have the money for a plane ticket. that doesn't make us the bad guys for not visiting him nor does it make him a bad guy for fulfilling his own interests. all a part of growing up, leaving the nest, and starting a life on your own.

October 29, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger ~ Janis said...

I hire a good farmsitter.

They are priceless.

Email me for details.

October 29, 2010 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger google@westvon.com said...

Well, that's life. Sometimes it's not so simple and you just have to do what you have to do. If you have several pressing situations, then it's pretty much something that they'll have to deal with this year and so will you. I don't have much family at all, and can't get together with them at the holidays for many reasons. But you can stay in touch with a phone call during the peak of the activities back home and then make plans for next year.

When you lived in Idaho, did you make it home every holiday? Have you made it home every holiday? Just wondering. If it were only one thing, like ah, no one to watch the critters, that would be easy to solve with a sitter, but with multiple things going on, it might be just easier to sit this one out like folks have suggested. It will make the next gathering even more special!

October 29, 2010 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I've never gotten used to not being with my mom for Christmas. She's 10 hours away and it still sucks, every year.

I think there are a lot of good suggestions here, maybe make a super short trip there for thanksgiving and have someone come check in on the farm a few times over two days, and then invite your parents (and your sister I assume?) to your place to christen the house with a holiday. I bet you can get a really beautiful tree in Washington county!

Then maybe work next year towards getting one or two dedicated house sitters trained? I would have jumped at the chance to do that for you in high school- actually, I'd jump at it now if I wasn't in Ohio!

October 29, 2010 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger djp said...

Invite your family over!

October 29, 2010 at 10:55 AM  
OpenID gileadgoats said...

Travelling in general is hard, once you have livestock on your farm. For the holidays, if your family can come to you, that's idea. But, it's a great idea to find someonw who can farm sit, or at least come by and do morning and evening chores for you.

I'm fortunate to have a few farmers on my road, who also have trouble finding help if they need to go away. So, we've taken turns learning each other's ways, so that we can cover for one another when any one of us needs to be away.

Another thought, the dairy farmer's teenage sons, who live at the end of our road, will often take on chores around the farm for a little extra $$, and they are very reliable and will do things exactly as you tell them.

So, ask around, offer to learn a neighboring farms routine so you can cover for each other, and invite your family to come when they can. You can make it work.

October 29, 2010 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

That farm-sitting gig is such a neat idea...I remember SouleMama and the brood doing just that for a week last summer as part of a CSA, I think. The trick is finding like-minded folk who are willing...and live nearby...I'd be dragging my husband up there with me to help you, if money grew on trees...

This issue brings up a generation gap thing, I think...I was trying to remember how often my grandparents came to visit us. It was a silent understanding that the kids visit the parents, not the other way around. The 'rents we lived near, we drove down to see several times a year, not the other way around, and they didn't have farms or responsibilities keeping them there on the weekends. So you could be butting up against a silently held American culture. There isn't an easy answer probably...patience, communication, and understanding required on both sides as you navigate this new terrain. With you in spirit...

October 29, 2010 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Lelainia N. Lloyd said...

If you can't make it home and your family can't come to you, take in the strays-invite all the friends you know that don't have family to spend the holidays with. It will make a new tradition and be just as happy-making.

October 29, 2010 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Tobi said...

Jenna - it seems like there are multiple reasons for not travelling: no vacation time left, books to finish, animals to care for, vehicles to repair. As others have said, there comes a time when family traditions need to change. I know this first hand.

As the ones in our family with no children, it was always expected that we would be the ones to travel for holidays. In spite of the fact that we have jobs the provide for exactly 10 days of vacation time per year. For years, we spent our 10 days off in the car, travelling to see family in 4 states during the worst kinds of travel weather. We've spent Thanksgiving stranded in airport lounges during delays, diners during ice storms, and once, even parked in bumper to bumper traffic on I80 in PA. Seriously, no turkey that year.

Several years ago we said "enough." We now spend our holidays at home enjoying the quiet and our new family traditions (pancakes for dinner, christmas duets on our instruments, and reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and "The Best Christmas Pagent Ever" out loud in our jammies in front of the fire.) We see our families each year, and during summer months when the weather is more amenable to travel, and we can meet at mutually enjoyable destinations (like the shores of Lake Champlain.)

The first year was hard. But as we warmed to our own new traditions, and continued to see family on a regular basis, it got easier every year. Now, it's just what we do.

October 29, 2010 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Becca said...

Since they've ruled out coming to you, it's time to start making new traditions. It's hard, and I speak from personal experience. My parents live in Kentucky and I live in New Mexico. Try to not let your new life make the holiday season just like any other time. Do something for yourself that makes it special. Take a day trip, make a special meal, invite friends over or visit friends, etc. It doesn't have to be lonely. Best of luck, Jenna.

October 29, 2010 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Tami said...

Jenna,
When we lived in TN and my family was all in WA, we did our thing. I invited other people who had families far away. Some had no family to speak of. Hands down, it was the best Thanksgiving and Christmas I have ever had the priveledge of experiencing. To gather together with people knowing that we all were in the same(ish) boat and were now enjoying each others company was the best. Now that we are back in WA I still don't "do" Christmas with my family. They are on a different page than Jeff and I are. They are the "consumers" we try not to be. It's best for our kids (in our hearts and minds) to not be with them at Christmas. Life is life. Is there anyone local you can have over? Talk to some people at the feed store. Maybe they know of individuals in the same type of predicament as you.

October 29, 2010 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Tami said...

Jenna,
When we lived in TN and my family was all in WA, we did our thing. I invited other people who had families far away. Some had no family to speak of. Hands down, it was the best Thanksgiving and Christmas I have ever had the priveledge of experiencing. To gather together with people knowing that we all were in the same(ish) boat and were now enjoying each others company was the best. Now that we are back in WA I still don't "do" Christmas with my family. They are on a different page than Jeff and I are. They are the "consumers" we try not to be. It's best for our kids (in our hearts and minds) to not be with them at Christmas. Life is life. Is there anyone local you can have over? Talk to some people at the feed store. Maybe they know of individuals in the same type of predicament as you.

October 29, 2010 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Yes, I agree with Sweethearts Mom. I can't think of a more beautiful place than to celebrate the holidays than Cold Antler Farm!

Have you spoken with any neighbors that might be able to look in on the animals while you're away?

October 29, 2010 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Isn't the greatest gift a family can get, the happiness of their loved ones? Happiness goes both ways, logistics aside, meet 'em half way and alternate locations for the holidays.

October 29, 2010 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Tommy said...

You think it's hard now-----just wait until you add a spouse into it, and then if the spouse's parents are divorced, there's another family there as well. At some point, you say you can't please them all and you just do what is best for you and your family, and invite those who can attend. Enjoy!!!

October 29, 2010 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

This is a more long term idea, and I don't know if it's feasible--but if you hosted "Cold Antler Farmcations" a few times a year, with one or two guests who wanted to pay a little to spend a weekend seeing what farming is like? Then you could train them in how you do things, see how they are with the animals, and keep them on a "come for a free weekend farming while I'm away" list that you could email at times like this. We've done some farmstays at b&bs and loved them, and after a long weekend no one would be an expert, but would be a warm body to watch over things...

October 29, 2010 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Odd Ducks Farm said...

Any life choice, whether it be to farm instead of work a "normal job" or just to go to school out of state, has its intrinsic drawbacks just as it has benefits. You have made your choice clear, and that choice requires more of you than your family would like. Plus, you live a goodly distance away, further separating you from them. However, you need to remember - you love them and they love you. Love has nothing to do with distance. Whether you live in New York or Timbuktu, they're still your family. If they are unwilling to make the journey to you this year, accept that as you would any other farming drawback.

The fox took your hens. You were sad for the hens and angry at the fox. But you got over it and life moved on. You should consider this the same way, I feel.

As the only son to move more than 100 miles from home in a big family, my wife and I feel this every day - especially around the holidays. It is part of the cost and part of the benefit of your life.

I am sorry your family cannot be more accomodating, but such is life. Hug a sheep. You'll feel better.

October 29, 2010 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

does your laptop have a camera? if so, you can spend the holidays with your family. we spend a few hours of christmas with my husbands family in Sri Lanka using Skipe vidio link. now, if your family does not have a computer with a camera on it, you can still "be there" by talking and singing over the skipe line. not the same as a phisical presence but....it may be worth looking into getting a skipe acount. and it is cheep

October 29, 2010 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Having a farm makes it very difficult to go on vacation or leave for a couple days, even on a small urban farm :) I've got a doe in milk, another doe, 2 baby goats, 5 chickens, a dwarf rabbit, a cat, and a dog. If I want to go ANYWHERE for longer than half a day, I have to get someone to take care of the critters. We've gone on several vacations and each time I get a farm sitter, where the person comes and stays in my home and takes care of stuff. So far it's worked great. I've been really lucky to have awesome friends who have been willing to do it for all the milk and eggs they can consume.

It sounds like you don't feel comfortable leaving and your parents can't come your way. This happens. I'm wondering if the quandary doesn't have more to do with where you are in your life. You're getting older, own a house, and have the responsibilities of a real grown up person. You can't just take off whenever you want like you did in college. Maybe your parents are still seeing the younger version of you. It's like that with parents. They get over it and eventually realize that you are no longer a kid, but a full fledged adult doing adult things. They will understand the choices you need to make. If not now, one day.

October 29, 2010 at 3:27 PM  
OpenID beckyinvt said...

You find a farm sitter! I have 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 22 chickens (no sheep yet) and for $15 a visit they all get taken care of. I have two actually, in case one is busy.

October 29, 2010 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

If your parents willing to travel some distance and you? Plus see how the weather is. One suggestion, you can meet your parents half way distance in a nice town or a restaurant. Do this between Thanksgiving and Christmas on a Saturday or a Sunday.

October 29, 2010 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Everyone has this problem, except for those lucky few who live close to extended family (and I bet they have their own set of family problems!)
What's in your heart? Do you want to visit them but can't figure out the logistics of farm care? Or do you want to spend your first Christmas at your new home? If the former, you've gotten enough great advice to proceed. If the latter, then this is your chance to take another step in the journey towards emotional independence and maturation -- saying no to the parents and finding a way to be okay with it. I *still* struggle with this and I only moved far away from my folks at the ripe old age of 43!
You can say no, and they will still be your parents. They will still talk to you. They may do everything they can to manipulate you emotionally over this, but that all happens, if it does, inside your head. How great an opportunity is this to be present with this dynamic, watch what they say, watch how you react emotionally to it, notice your thoughts, frightened, angry, resentful, and let it all just flow by as you simply observe it arising, strengthening, and then fading away. It's nothing personal. It's what many parents are conditioned to do. It's how many children are conditioned to respond. It's a little passion play of our species, and watching with tender, amused awareness both their part and yours in this play helps you hear and feel the best response to it in the moment.
And, if, in fact, you just couldn't figure out the farm sitting logistics, then nevermind!

October 29, 2010 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger sheepkelpie said...

I have worked every single holiday for, like, 25 years. So, that means, no lolly gagging at holiday get togethers, but I am always there. Here's my suggestion:
1) Get someone to stay at your farm when you are away, have them come a day early so they can watch you do all the chores. Give them ALL contact info, including any sheep/poultry gurus, and vets.
2) Leave Weds afternoon (if Thanksgiving) and stay over night, or two nights, and if two nights, leave EARLY Fri.
3)Bring your lap top so you can get some work done.

You will be home LATEST on Friday. That's only one full day and two half days away.
This will yield a happy family and not a big absence by you from the farm.

October 29, 2010 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

P.S. The lifestyle you love is not hurting your family. Their resistance to your new lifestyle is hurting them. Their resistance to change is making them unhappy. Their attempts to make you be different than you are is hurting them. Just don't let it hurt you too.

October 29, 2010 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Chicky said...

Where we live, weather is almost guaranteed to be horrendous around the actual "holidays." We're somewhat spread out, so travelling the winter is time-consuming, nerve-wracking, & dangerous. My family has made a wonderful pact...as long as we all get together at least once per year, it doesn't matter what time of year. And lo & behold, it works better for EVERYONE to get together in the summer, when we (usually) don't have to worry about terrible weather interfering with travel plans. It's been wonderful. It's not always easy, as Christmas or Thanksgiving roll around & your used to spending it with your family, but create a "family" where you're at. We have many friends that have a similar set-up - visiting family in the summer - & we can get together with our wonderful friends for the holidays.

Also, my brother & sis-in-law & me & my hubby are still trying to get a foothold financially, so we don't typically have as much vacation time as my parents (especially my brother, a teacher, who has the entire summer) - or the career "strength" to take off whenever we'd like. So my parents, who are more secure & more able to pick up & travel whenever, know that if they want to see us more often, they have to make the trip to us!

Hopefully those you love know that your lifestyle gives you much fulfillment & happiness - so they're just happy to see you so happy. Sacrifices must be made & it just may be that they have to visit you more often than you visiting them.

October 29, 2010 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger Chicky said...

As others have mentioned...parents will not always be happy with your decision (especially if they still see you as the "child" that should follow what they do). My husband & I are newlyweds & we put our foot down this year - we are staying home for the holidays. Mostly due to the horrible weather & traveling, but also b/c we want to create OUR traditions. We want to be in OUR home & eat OUR food & sleep in OUR beds. His mom has taken it especially hard - even though we live 8 hours away, she still expects us at her house EVERY holiday & EVERY chance we can get. They can visit us, but we have our own lives & cannot continue to be at their beck-and-call to visit. We're adults now, even though it's not easy for them to understand. Your parents will always love you. Do what is best for YOU.

October 29, 2010 at 7:11 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

Jenna, you may cry through some holidays but I hope you don't go because it will help your family to understand the importance of a lifestyle...and that this is not a hoby. You are strong....you will be stronger after crying your way through a holiday because you know what? When you wake up on christmas....your sheep are going to be hungry and need hay...there are eggs being laid just like every other day....there is poop to scoop just like every other day....it is just another day on a farm...nostalgia spreads out to every day instead of concentrating on one or two days a year.

October 29, 2010 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I have read a lot of the comments that are written by adult children talking about not going home for a holiday. Some are unhappy with the parents understanding of their decision.
I am the filling of the sandwich.I have a 94 year old Dad near Jenna who wants me to be with him for Thanksgiving. I am the mother of 4 boys and grandmother of 5 who would like to have Dad, mine and theirs under my roof for Thanksgiving. It isn't going to happen. I'm staying in Maine with one son and fiance' and maybe some friends for dinner. Life evolves into a new status and you just have to go with it. In a couple of years, I will probably be visiting children and grandchildren for Thanksgiving. On Christmas they all always go to the spouse's family. It is what it is. Don't be upset with your parents for wanting you under their roof.That would give them enormous comfort. This whole parenting/grandparenting thing is extremely complicated with emotions running high. Do your best and in a few years expectations will change. Do I sound like an old person. God I hope I'm not but Medicare is in January.

October 29, 2010 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Well, after reading that your folks said they won't come to you, I think you should stay at your farm and make it a new tradition. At least a one year tradition. It sounds pretty nice actually....a nice quiet Christmas day by the fire. Get yourself some presents to put under the tree. You can even make or get presents for the dogs! You can spend the day cuddled on the couch with your lovely dogs and watch Christmas movies!

October 29, 2010 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger MIB said...

I know it's hard--my father is supportive of my choices, but he's always telling my mom that as long as I'm happy, they should be happy for me, even if it means I can't be with them. If you don't have an advocate in your immediate family, it's hard, because some people can take your lifestyle choices to mean you're choosing "some animals" over them. The thing I've had to remember is that I have to make my decisions for me, not for anybody else--nobody else is living my life for me. And I know it's hard for parents to make this transition, too. And I've had to repeatedly remind my mother that "home" is here for me now; "home" is no longer the house I grew up in. And it's not easy for anyone. But you have to keep reminding everyone (including yourself, sometimes) that even if you're still their daughter, you're also an autonomous adult, now. Just my thoughts, based on what I've been through myself.

October 29, 2010 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger R Dean said...

Here's some "fatherly" advice Jenna..Get to know some kids and their families around your area that are part of 4H, tell them what you need, how they can help you out...(may cost a few bucks or better yet..barter with them)..they will help you out...trust me...while you do something that is equally important...go spend time with your family...

October 30, 2010 at 12:03 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Get a stock trailer for your truck and bring your 'family' to your family!

October 30, 2010 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

Unfortunately that is part of growing up...you don't always get to go home. You make your own home the center for your holidays, and invite family or friends. You make new traditions and new friends to fill the void left by losses...

Hope you can work something out with the family. Next year will be harder, with more livestock, and the year after...

October 30, 2010 at 1:21 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

What you have discovered is the downside of farming. As a kid I used to get up with my Dad at 1:00 AM on Christmas morning so we could do 6 hours of chores before we opened presents.

Livestock are 24 hours a day 365 days a year. But in a way its worth it, I miss the old milkers some days, and hope to have a milker for my small homestead someday. Don't let it get the best of you. Its the life you chose, some parts are great, some not so much, but its all part of farming.

Just be glad Reagan isn't president, that was a really bad decade to grow up on a dairy.

October 30, 2010 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger chickinthekitchen said...

Jenna-Like others have said, you need to find a farm sitter. Other people in your area are sure to be in the same boat. Maybe you could trade off sitter chores with someone close to you. Maybe someone from your sheep trials?

October 30, 2010 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Tami SouthStreetShabby.blogspot.com said...

Jenna...sounds to me like you've already figured out what to do. It's not how to do it this year...you have no vac time left...you've already made that decision. Invite your family to visit you this year and plan your time for next year including a farm sitter if that's possible. That being said..we all make sacrifices and can't have it all. Sorry Jenna...I think your fate is decided for this year.

October 30, 2010 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger CallieK said...

I have that dilemma this year too. I have never missed a Christmas with my family who are 3 hours away but this year my husband has a contract to perform on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day and we don't drive so there's no way to get home and back in time. So I have to choose to miss Christmas with someone I love either way. Time to create some new traditions I guess!

October 30, 2010 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

My vacation time was mostly taken up by the house, really. I had to take off five days for the sale and moving, and I only get ten off a year. The rest whittled away to appts and weekend guests.

I think if I can get the Subaru road worthy by Thanksgiving, I can leave that morning and at least spend one night. Not much, but something.

October 30, 2010 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

If you can't spend the holiday's together, opt for a time of year when the weather's better and you have more vacation time. I have family in N.Y and Fl. and we're in Ky(soon to be Indiana!) I've only been up north once in the past 10.5yrs. and we go to see my parents and brother and sis in law once a year, sometimes every other, in the summer. Travel is better and there's no pressure to have to be there for a specific day. I know your situation is different because you're by yourself, but you have awesome friends, maybe you can spend time with them this year.

Blessings,
Debi

October 30, 2010 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Rachael said...

Jenna, I was reading back through some posts that I didn't yet read and saw this one. I have no advice, but just wanted to let you know that I know what this feels like. We are less than 3 hours from our NW PA family yet don't get to see them very often because we too have begun to homestead and going away takes a lot of planning and organization to make sure that some one can come take care of our animals too. Once we are able to have our alpacas on our farm, it will be even more difficult. It's makes me sad, but at the same time we really have dreams of doing what we're doing. Our hope is that one of these days we will be able to move back up there. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone in feeling this way. Thanks for sharing.

October 30, 2010 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger mikesgirl said...

We are at the other end of the spectrum - we are preparing to leave WA and move to MT to our homstead. We have been working on it for about 5 years, building whenever my dh is laid off from work. Now it's time to sell the house and retire there and the 2 daughters are objecting. Not only are they objecting, but friends and other relatives are saying "Oh, how can you leave, now that you finally have a granddaughter." and "You can't tell me you're going to move away from those grandkids - they need to get to know their grandparents." Our two sons are all for it, but neither have children. I feel guilty for leaving our grandchildren, but it has been our dream to homestead for a long time - and we're definately not getting any younger. It's a terrible feeling though - to up and leave when we have 3 young grandsons and a brand new baby granddaughter. I can't see the girls coming to visit us - we're really remote, but we will try to visit them often - and have the same issues you are having with needing a farm sitter. It's a dilema for sure, but I also feel we need to follow our dream before we're too old to. Anyone have thoughts on this?

October 31, 2010 at 1:59 AM  
OpenID ruralaspirations said...

When we decided to move to the country and start a homestead I can't tell you the number of naysayers who proclaimed we would "never go anywhere" because we'd be "tied to the farm".

Farm sitters are a growing business and I've found them in many communities. We have a lady here who runs such a business. We also found a local teenager from our homeschooling group who loves animals and is always happy to come feed ours and earn a bit of extra cash in the process.

Yes, it adds to the cost of travel, but we consider it part of the cost of having a farm. If your family is unable or unwilling to come to YOU for the holidays, then would they at least be willing to contribute to the cost of a farm sitter so you could get away?

October 31, 2010 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger South Brunswick Public Library Blog said...

INvite everyone to come to you!

November 1, 2010 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I have to say honestly that after spending 15 years attending 3 Thanksgivings in one day and driving back and forth across the county for Christmas - to the point that my daughter didn't have a chance to even open stocking and Santa gifts at her own home - and returning home to feed between 10 and mid-night I enjoy the semi-solitude of this time of year.

Now it's just the two of us and sometimes my sis. We linger in bed, go on hikes, work in the yard and eat a leisurely dinner followed by a fire and movies. We love it!

Breaking away from family can be hard but it can also bring you a new sense of independence and developing your own traditions that don't revolve around what other people think they should be.

And, aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are 363 other days to connect with family.

November 2, 2010 at 12:49 AM  

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