After a two day trip to Minneapolis, we came home to find some of our chickens had a party while we were gone. Let me rephrase that. Our chickens had a party inside our home, while we were gone. Well, at least a few of them, anyway. They were not selfish guests, as they left me a couple blue eggs in my knitting basket...other gifts left to be found in the coming days, I am sure.
I am no stranger to sharing my space with the chickens (and other farm animals, for that matter). While we were building this house we live in now, we lived in the...eh...barn. We slept in the hay loft and put wooden pallets on the main floor to keep our couch and chairs off of the dirt floor. We cooked, bathed and ate outside for the entire summer of 2014. It was pure bliss (although you might get a completely different answer if you ask my 14 year old). We bathed in the creek, used lanterns at night to play board games by, and made our meals over a campfire. We hiked, had picnics and swam everyday. Everyday. We went to the library once a week for internet and new reading material, drank raw milk from our cow and ate hand picked veggies from our garden.
And each morning, despite our best efforts, we would find fresh eggs in my er...couch cushions. Oh, did I forget to mention the chickens wanted their barn back?
In some ways, life last summer was much easier than it ever has been and there were moments that I considered scraping the house plans for permanent outdoor living in the barn (I am not sure the chickens would have appreciated that one, though). We had no computer, no traditional toys, a few outfits for each of us, zero refrigeration (although our neighbors, a quarter mile down the road, let us use their fridge) and zero conveniences. We connected, as a family, better than we ever had and I owe that to simplicity. Simplicity of slowing down to truly be present with those that I love...my kids.
So, maybe barn living isn't for everyone...ok...maybe it isn't for anyone. But I have learned some valuable lessons from the summer of 2014 that have taken up permanent residence in my heart. But most importantly, so have my kids.
1. It was hard to not be grateful more often when we were constantly outside breathing in country fresh air. Gratitude is a powerful thing.
2. The less 'stuff' we had, the better we felt. My children did just fine (hey, even awesome) with just sticks and mud to play with.. And after awhile, their attachement to 'their 'stuff' minimized, as well...(ok...except the boy and his legos)
3. Since we did not have refrigeration, the food we ate was more simple, and often times, it was what we were growing. We all felt better when we were putting less complex foods in our bodies.
4. Since we all had a few outfits each, we dressed for pure comfort and practicality. Less emphasis on how we looked and more emphasis on how we felt.
5. Stress is relative and will pass. Although, we dealt with a muddy barn floor when it rained and no electricity, these are more 'luxury' stresses. We were not struggling to survive. We were not hungry. And more important, we were not alone. A little perspective went a long way.
6. Beauty is all around us. Instead of ending the night with a movie, we watched the stars come out. Instead of waking up to a radio, we listened to the birds. We watched the fog roll in, the Sandhill cranes stop in our marsh, the eagles build their nest, the coyotes call for one another. Life was full and our entertainment was simple.
all because of the summer we lived in a barn.