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The call to farm life

So why a goat farm? We were drawn to the idea of starting a farm because, I believe, it’s in our blood. Both of our maternal grandfathers were farmers; Nick’s was right down the road from our own land in Brooks County, GA, and mine farmed in Madison, FL. We grew up playing in pastures, jumping on hay bales, and generally running wild on Southern farmland. We both love animals and would basically have a zoo if we could afford it. Goats are adorable, personable, and known for their resistance to industrialized dairy practices and their delicious, nutritious milk. We liked their rebellious nature coupled with their sweet demeanors. And hey, we both love goat cheese!

Also, our family works best when we are outdoors. I can’t explain it, but it’s true. Inside our home, my children seem to view me as their entertainer, playmate, and maid wrapped into one Mom-sized package. No matter how much room we have, they are bound to be right under my feet, usually demanding food. Outside, they transform into independent, pleasant little humans. Once, in Colorado on vacation, we decided to take a family hike to a waterfall. In our spacious rental apartment, they complained, cried, and grumbled as we prepared to leave. As soon as we stepped onto the hiking trail, wonder and excitement filled my daughter’s eyes and my son promptly fell asleep in his carrier. We hiked seven miles that day and heard not a peep of objection from either one of them. We’d found the holy grail of parenting: keep them outdoors.

We had visions of our children playing outside while we milked the goats and of us all doing family chores together. (Little did we know how much we were idealizing farm life, but that’s a topic for another day.) The idea of having a hobby farm had always appealed to Nick, and we’d discussed starting one when he retired. It wasn’t until our restlessness grew into gnawing dissatisfaction that we started to entertain the idea as a possibility for the present.

I admit I was less than thrilled with the idea of farming at first. I’d lived most of my life in South Georgia, and as much as I loved it, I would have jumped at the chance to move across the world while we were considering where and how to restart our lives. But God had other plans. During this time of discernment, I went on a weekend retreat to a tiny farm in the middle of rural Georgia. It was a glorious weekend of silence, nature, and prayer, and I came home feeling spiritually strengthened.

I didn’t receive any thunderbolt messages from God about which direction to go, but as I jumped back into our busy schedule that week, I found myself daydreaming about the peace I’d left behind in the woods that weekend. I missed the quiet nights, the days spent outside, and eating around a table in the cluttered country kitchen that so reminded me of my grandmother’s. I longed for the simplicity of it, and I wanted to figure out a way to get my family in that picture. Farm life was calling me, whether or not it was part of my plan. It had already been calling Nick for a while, so as soon as I shared my change of heart with him, we made the decision to take a leap of faith.

Then we jumped.

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