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A Homeschooler and Homesteader’s Ode to Spring Things

A Homeschooler and Homesteader’s Ode to Spring Things

Spring has arrived and, with it, all the spring activities of hobby farm life. There is so much to do that I have to work hard to pace myself!

April in particular is a very exciting month for homeschooling and homesteading. There is garden planning, flowers to be collected and made into jelly, and nature journal observations to note as the winter birds move out and the spring and summer birds return to nest. And don’t forget the rain. The kids keep hanging out on the front porch while it rains just to enjoy it.

One of the most exciting spring activities is birth. This year we had our first kidding of baby goats! Our doe, Bonnie, was bred in the early fall and, on March 1, gave birth to two beautiful, healthy bucklings we named Benjamin and Beckett. Bonnie is a natural at motherhood, attentive and nursing like a pro. The kids began standing almost immediately and within the week were trying to run and hop about. It’s absolutely adorable.

Meanwhile, one of our Bantam hens decided to go broody and hatched out two tiny chicks. She’s also being a good mother, leading the chicks around, scratching and pecking as they find food together. The Bantam rooster stands proudly nearby keeping watch.

My children and I are restless. Bookwork feels bothersome, so we’ve decided to take a spring break. Closets are getting cleaned out, cobwebs dusted, windows pushed creakily open to let in the fresh air.

This is the life! This is the life so many have left behind to chase something “better.” The pursuit of the mundane and domestic is looked down upon, and motherhood as a vocation is deemed an outdated waste of time and talents. As women moved out of the home and into the workplace in pursuit of careers, children were inevitably forced out of the home too. Children are either in school, at camp, or at day care, and the pace of life is frenzied for everyone.

Spring is a reminder that homemaking and motherhood are important and natural expressions of our existence on this planet. The chores of nest building, hatching, giving birth, washing dishes, doing laundry, and generally tending to the home are opportunities to be more mindful of our immediate surroundings and live life at a slower pace. There’s a very wholesome, deeply satisfying feeling to it.

My younger children seem to feel the change of season as well and are joining me in freshening up everything. My youngest, 8-year-old twins, are sweeping and mopping floors, dusting corners, and helping in any way they can with my spring cleaning efforts. My 11-year-old son has joined me in the garden, weeding and mulching. He says he wants to learn the difference between the weeds and the “fancy” plants. He works for an hour or more without complaining, and we get a lot done each time we work together.

My other children are also helping with the garden by starting seeds indoors. We fill the pots, plant our seeds, label them, water them, and then set them carefully in the kitchen bay window. Each day I’ll find one kid or another checking on the seeds, watering the newly sprouted baby plants, and generally experiencing joy over these little green miracles.

Another older child is learning how to help with the goats. These goats belong to his older sister, but when she works away from the farm, he steps in to do her chores. More than once I’ve heard him exclaiming as he stops to take in the sunset on his way to the goat shed, beckoning me to participate in his joy, “Look at the colors! It’s so beautiful!”

I value this time with my children so much. My father-in-law used to say that a relationship is made up of a continuity of shared experiences. The shared experiences of building and maintaining a home and garden and caring for our animals are, in my opinion, some of the best ways to do this.

I am acutely aware that I am modeling how to care for a home, a yard, and even myself and thus teaching my children how to care for a home, yard, and themselves. I have a tendency to want to speed up, take on too much, and forget to rest. I need reminding to slow down and just be. I’ve found that focusing on what’s right in front of me is often the best way to do this.

I’ll leave you with this poem from 19th-century English poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins because, as he wrote, “Nothing is so beautiful as Spring”:

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –

When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;

Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush

Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring

The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;

The glassy pear tree leaves and blooms, they brush

The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush

With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

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What is all this juice and all this joy?

A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning

In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,

Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,

Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,

Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

Image credit: Pexels

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Heather Carson
Heather Carson
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    Rosemary L Carlson
    May 7, 2024, 8:18 pm

    I love this essay! The joy in God’s beautiful creation of family and nature really shines through! Thank you!

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