Our dream hobby farm wasn’t a fixer-upper per se, but it did need fixing up. The interior needed new flooring, fresh paint and a facelift on all three levels. The five acres outside required even more serious work. Most of the property was overgrown, breaking down and neglected after nearly two years of non-use.
For the first several weeks, we spent our days clearing brush, fixing or replacing broken parts, mowing, raking and running to the store. Every night, we’d collapsed on the wrap-around porch and gaze out at everything that was still broken. There seemed to be no end to things that needed our attention, our time and our money to address.
After just a few weeks, we admitted to each other that this move felt like a vacation gone wrong. We just wanted to go home.
We longed for our quarter acre yard in the suburbs with the affordable mortgage and proximity to everything. We missed being able to pop over to see a friend or grab the odd grocery item from the store. The kids missed biking to the park, the library and Starbucks. We missed sending the kids to the park, the library and Starbucks.
What started out as an adventure had turned into a back-breaking, monumental time and money suck. Convenience and rest were no longer part of our lives. There was absolutely nothing relaxing or quiet about country living. We were lonely, tired and burning out.
I lamented to my mother that this hobby farm wasn’t what we thought it would be and the workload was killing us.
My mom grew up on a legit working farm and had transformed her current home into a gorgeous little hobby farm. So she knew a thing or two about managing acreage. She told me something that not only stuck with me, but carried me through from that day forward:
“Tammie, you have to plan to stop working just as much as you plan to work. Set limits and make time to enjoy your beautiful property. Because on a farm, there will always be more work to do.”
From that point on, we hand picked our projects and slowed way down. We kept our nightly ritual of sitting on the porch together, but we stopped feeling like we were drowning and started appreciating the gorgeous setting we now lived in. And slowly, our farm started to feel like home.
I think about my mom’s farm advice often when life creeps in. Because the truth is, it doesn’t matter if you are parenting, working, volunteering – or all of the above – as so many of us do. There is always one more email to send. One more detail to attend to. One more errand. One more thing on the to-do list. One more dish to wash. One more room to tidy. One more. One more. One more.
It can be overwhelming, discouraging and cause us to by blinded by what’s left undone.
If you feel that familiar sense of drowning in unfinished work, remember my mom’s advice. You have to plan to stop working just as much as you plan to work. There will always be more to do. So finish the tasks you can finish and leave the rest until next time. Slow down, take breaks and be sure to enjoy your beautiful life.
Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 4:6