(A) New Life on the Ranch

Do you ever get the feeling that life is going to move on ahead, with or without you?

Our mama pig had her babies just a few days ago. It was very exciting and also resulted in a lost school day for AJ (dad was supposed to take him, but had to help deliver the babies!). She farrowed at least a week earlier than we expected, so when Matt walked down to do chores that morning, there were already three babies doing their thing, nursing on their HUGE mama. She had several more and everyone is doing just fine. Turns out, nature was going to do its thing with or without letting us in on the secret. And the miracle.

For us, adjusting to life on the ranch as a family has been a very similar experience. We just can’t quite get it together, in terms of planning or coordinating, but the animals and the kids and the ranch just keep on going. At this point, Matt, and our two youngest kids are out at the ranch nearly 100% of the time and AJ and I come out when we can and commute to Laramie on the weekdays. Or, because we've also built this beautiful life and community (not to mention my job and AJ's school!) here in Laramie, I gather all the kids together and have them in town with me. All in all, it means that we spend the night all together as a family no more than 3 nights each week. I'm not sure why I wasn't planning on that part, but I really didn't see it coming.

Granted, this is the height of the season for planning and infrastructure and well, actually launching this brand-new venture. And as I sit in town and miss my other two babies, or wish Matt and I could have some face-to-face time instead of hour-long phone calls after the kids are in bed, part of me thinks we are barely getting by. That this is a struggle and a hard life and nothing we would ever choose for ourselves. But another part of me can’t BELIEVE that Lucy is so lucky to spend all day, the last of her days before kindergarten next year, helping Matt with chores or picking up cows and pigs that she will help raise on the ranch. Or that Jude gets to show off his ranch and his animals to the bus full of students from Beitel Elementary that came out last week for a farm tour. A two year-old tour guide!

It’s all true, isn’t it? Life is messy and kind of hard and certainly we can make easier choices (and often do!). When we say that Black Market Farm is about a lifestyle, this is what we are talking about. And while we get to take on 100% of the growing pains, we also get to take advantage of the amazing return on our investment. For every missed school day and failed perfect parenting attempt, there are filthy, dirty kids who were outside ALL DAY. For every hour of hauling straw, putting sunscreen on the pigs' backs or worrying about the new piglets, there is an hour of no emails, no reports and no one to answer to, but our family and our animals.

Sustainability is something we think about every day. For our animals, for our relationships and for our family. Life is full of trade offs: consistency for freedom, predictability for flexibility, convenience for simplicity. We all make a thousand decisions a day where something makes the cut and something else falls away. This is our new life. And we are grateful to be sharing it with you.