Reclaiming our ground

For most of you, this will be the first you hear of our big news. After four and a half years, we are moving permanently back to the ranch, effective immediately. Not visiting or staying for a long vacation--all the plants and the cats and the fish have officially moved in. The kids are starting school in Centennial, a two-room school with six other students, a week from Monday. We are reclaiming the ground where we started 12 years ago and choosing to raise our children with a connection to this beautiful Wyoming land, raising their food and learning about self-sufficiency, simplicity and sustainability by directly experiencing it. A romantic ideal? The reality is a bit of shit show.

A week ago today, I pulled into the ranch straight from a party with my tribe of girlfriends in town. I knew I would be seeing the dome house (yes, it's a geodesic dome and it even has a sparkling, popcorn ceiling inside, to boot) with fresh eyes--it would be the first time we would be staying here with the intention of moving back to the ranch. Matt and I had lived out here for six years when we first met and then bought a house in town, since Laramie was always part of the equation for my work as a therapist. But suddenly, my work was changing and Laramie didn't have to be the center of our picture anymore. In fact, our spiritual, emotional and physical "work" as a family HAD to be done at the ranch. And after long, soul-searching conversations, we decided it was time to move back home to the ranch to raise our kids.

It was an easy decision and difficult all in one breath. It meant we could reclaim and build a really intentional life while raising natural, pastured meat for Black Market Farm. But we had built a life for ourselves in Laramie--we had a great community and the kids were in our favorite school and I had been blessed with the most amazing girlfriends, none of which are easy in a super rural state. 

So, there I was, pulling into the driveway last Thursday after sharing our news with my girls, through hugs and laughing and heavy sighs. I noticed that the lights were out in the house and, sure enough, we had no electricity because Matt was replacing the main panel in the house. It was 8:00 at night. We also had no hot water because our pipes were frozen. Jude, our youngest, had a fever over 101 and we had no acetaminophen to alternate with the ibuprofen every three hours so the poor guy can sleep. In fact, it's over an hour and half round trip to get to a store that has acetaminophen (he actually had Roseola and fevered for five days before breaking out into a rash and braking the fever. We did end up going to town for that acetaminophen, as you might have guessed. I've never typed that word so many times in my whole life). Welcome home.

The past week has been a beautiful mess, in the most honest way. The kids oscillate between tears of grief and blurting to everyone we see their excitement about moving to the ranch. We've talked a lot about how it's both and we get to feel it at the same time. I introduced them to the term "bittersweet." We are feeling it. And, of course, I worry about them. What if they don't like living out here? (more about my shame story of growing up on a farm in later posts.) Are we doing the right thing by pulling them out of a school they love? What if we are lonely and isolated and miserable? No one is sleeping in their own beds (we are still setting up everyone's bedrooms) and while it's amazing to in this all snuggled together, I worry. Will our lives ever be normal again, let alone intentional and wonderful?? And what does normal even look like in the middle of nowhere with three kids and these lofty intentions? I've never even seen that.

Here's how I know we are going to be okay. I found the word LOVE made out of clay on the shower door last night. And there's more evidence.

More days than not, the kids and I are outside. I pull them in the sled behind the four wheeler, making sure to hit the jumps that come from the drifts on the sagebrush, at their request.

I made a loaf of bread and it rose better than I've had it rise in a looooong time. AJ says "that means Lakshmi is here" (the goddess of abundance). I made most of our food from scratch, usually because I don't have the pre-made ingredients (like salad dressing!) on hand and I'm improvising food (and everything else) as we go. But we had one of our turkeys we raised and it was incredible. 

  AJ named all the turkeys we raised "Fred," so every time we eat turkey, AJ says, "It's Fred! We're eating Fred!" I can't tell if its outrage or humor, but he out-eats all of us at the table.

AJ named all the turkeys we raised "Fred," so every time we eat turkey, AJ says, "It's Fred! We're eating Fred!" I can't tell if its outrage or humor, but he out-eats all of us at the table.

Matt taught the kids how to start a fire in the wood stove. Right now, AJ is experimenting with water evaporation on the stove. Jude and I made three batches of cookies and if he sees me in the kitchen, he's learned to pull out the drawers like a step ladder and get on the counter to help me cook. He's better than most adults I've seen at cracking eggs. He's three.

And my brave little Lucy is teaching her brothers to test their limits. She came to me and said, "Mom, I want to try something but I need to know if I'm being safe." If she could do that for the rest of her life, we're doing something right. She set up pillows at the bottom of the stairs and she made an indoor sled. Here is the result and no one was hurt. This time. I know they are taking chances and I'm okay with that. Calculated risks are part of this experience. 

My intention is to document as accurately as possible and then try to create meaning out of this crazy-ass journey (isn't that true of all of us?). By connecting and sharing our story, we might find a common thread here; we also have a unique opportunity for a life that friends and family are genuinely curious about. I don't sugar coat, but I don't catastrophize either--it's all happening somewhere in the middle. If my writing is half as entertaining as the actual adventure, I'm doing my job and creating our family story to share for generations. I suck at baby books.

*I don't have an editor and most times am lucky to get this posted, let alone fine-tune the writing. If you see something, say something! Grammatical or spelling errors are like having something stuck in my teeth. I'm doing the best I can--send a message and help a girl out! TIA :)