farmer’s wife

I remember reading a blog post a while back by a farming mama of several kids (I searched and searched and her blog is gone!) who was navigating her role in their home. It takes a lot of work to care for the stead and its inhabitants and a lot of work to farm so a division of work emerged: she kept wanting to farm, trying to work the fields, feeling badly that she wasn’t keeping up until she shifted her focus from being a farmer to being the farmer’s wife.

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I get this right now: I so want to work on the house but with Andy working on the house, I am needed in homemaking. He rewires outlets and I make meals. He drywalls the bathroom and I take a hike with the kids. He installs smoke detectors and I do chicken chores.

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Ruby plants thyme

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Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. Make it. 

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Homemade “paint”: flour, water and food coloring

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LOTS of last-minute pizza making. This one: leftover squash soup, pan fried carrots, tofu, garlic, broccoli topped with feta.


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And this one, Margot’s invention: olive oil, asparagus, toasted pine nuts, apricots and goat cheese. 

Right now, my role isn’t as glamorous or exciting, accomplishments aren’t as magnificent and gasp-worthy. But I have to say, as much as I sometimes crave uninterrupted groovy time with my home-remodeling self, I have no problem cozying up to the world of domesticity. I like it a lot, caring for my herd. My husband and I are working together, toward a goal and then back toward slower, shared participation in our every day.

I often think about homesteading women, like my ancestors from northwestern Montana. How the men would be gone for days, weeks or months hunting or working while the women kept the entire house full of people and animals fed, warm, educated and entertained. I think about how hard that would be as I run warm water in a bathtub, toss laundry in a machine, drive my car to the market to fetch half and half, call someone to fix my leaky spigot, write by myself while my husband makes dinner and gets the kids in bed.

No matter what it looks like, or what century or country we live in, women are good at holding shit together on the homefront.  

And sometimes, in the hours after my daughters have been fed and washed and tucked or before our home awakens, I get my home reno on.

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OUR BEDROOM

Behold the carpet that is glued to carpet padding that is glued to the floor:

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that’s the door to the sunroom

The steps for removal:

  1. Yank up carpet. Holy smokes I was blown away by the gnarly gunk hiding in and under the carpet.
  2. Scrape up padding. At first I used a 2″ scraper and then I borrowed the orange iron behemoth you see above. Oh how the right tools make a difference!
  3. Glue removal. All the products I found to remove the glue from the floors were toxic and we didn’t want to bring them into our home. So, I tried using our favorite cleaning product, Solumel (a concentrated tea tree oil product that is completely nontoxic). And, it WORKED. Still a ton of work but with the Solumel (diluted with water about 10:1) poured over the working area and allowed to sit for five minutes, and a helping, strong spouse, it was amazing. 
  4. More glue scraping.
  5. Mop and dance.

GIRLS’ BEDROOM

We still have work to do in there (hanging art, unpacking art supplies, games and toys, on the hunt for the perfect rug and lampshade for the lamp my grandma made me etc) but it is mostly in place. My first official before and after photos!

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Some of my favorite details in Margot and Ruby’s room: paint color: Yolo Dream .01; red metal shelf by top bunk for Margot’s prized possessions (mostly, to her mama’s glee, two lined notebooks containing her “writings”); art and reading nook is cozy and makes for easy fort construction; all the furniture and details are thrifted or handmade (remember? Andy made the bunk beds).

So there’s a full rhythm to our days right now (always?) where we balance needs, wants and wishes. Thing is, we could fix up this house and property all day every day. But, we won’t because it’s home and we are busy living in it. And, these two make me want to slow right down.

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49 Responses to farmer’s wife

  1. The story about farmer’s wife and women homesteaders? Thank you, just what I really needed to hear today. We ARE great at holding things together!

    Love the before/afters. You have already done so much work! Paint color rocks.

  2. Mama Mel says:

    YES mama, slow down. :)

  3. Sarah says:

    Great job Nici!! Living amongst chaos could be hard and full of pessimism, bu you’re choosing optimism and positivity, and it’s beautiful! :) Just like you and your girls!!

  4. Katie says:

    I love how the windows push out. The girls’ room is adorable. Perhaps Andy can make my boys bunkbeds. ;)
    I will never understand the desire to cover up such beautiful hardwood with carpet.
    Love this homesteading you’re writing about – all of it.

  5. I always smile when you say shit or bitch. Makes me feel like i’m 15and muffling my giggles during class ;) Your words “We could fix up this house and property all day everyday. But we won’t because it’s home and we are busy living in it”…yeah, I want to hang that on my front door as a disclaimer to all who enter. My house isn’t perfect, but I don’t want to interupt my kids’ lives to do major demo and remodeling. We’re just fine with the way it is, we shouldn’t have to feel bad for that. Loving your new space, thanks for sharing!

  6. You know, I never really thought about it that way–but in the family somebody needs to be the “farmer’s wife” and what an important role to have. We’ve done A LOT of reno to our current home (which we are putting on the market soon, so we can move forward with building our forever dream home SQUEE!) and there were so many times where it was my job to keep the kids busy, fed, cared for while my husband did the “work”. How badly I wanted to contribute too. But I guess I was all along :) Love your positive vibe!

  7. Melissa says:

    I second the slowing down, or the slow jam, if you will (:
    love the girls’ room, too!
    just keep grounding down into that homestead! xoxo

  8. ctb says:

    i so agree with ‘living in it’! my aunt has a sign on her front door that says…

    “if you have come to see me, come on in. if you have come to see my house, make an appointment”.

    and love love love that pic of alice mid shake :)

  9. twisterfish says:

    Oh I agree with the above poster, about hanging those wise words near my front door for all who enter to read.

  10. twisterfish says:

    Oh I agree with the above poster, about hanging those wise words near my front door for all who enter to read.

  11. KWQR says:

    No matter what it looks like, or what century or country we live in, women are good at holding shit together on the homefront.
    So very true!
    The first of the before & afters do not disappoint. Am in love with the color of the girls room & just might steal it for my boys new room. And I will never understand why anyone would cover up wood floors in the first place. Such hard work de-glueing, but so very worth it. Great job!
    xo
    Kate

  12. I guess we all have to embrace our roles! With me there’s so many gray areas. We both do everything..cooking, taking care of the kids…

    You are such an awesome decorator! I love the kids’ room!

    So, tell me….what the heck were people thinking to glue that carpet down and what on earth is all that black stuff? Glue?

  13. Aimee B says:

    Who the heck would GLUE the carpet and pad to the floor? It sure looks wonderful now!!!

  14. @ Little for a Little while: love that my swears make you giggle! Also, yeah, it’s a constant balance isn’t it? We are so eager to get a few things done so we can just live here without projects. *Soon* that’ll be the case.

  15. @kyndale_pease: Andy and I also share these roles which is why it’s been interesting riding this shift! We’ll be back to ‘normal’ soon enough. The black stuff is carpet padding (thankfully not toxic like mastic, which often contains asbestos). It was glued to the floor so the black on the floor is glue + carpet padding film.

  16. Staci says:

    i know exactly the blog of which you speak! it was sara/farmama down in CO and she was one of my faves! she decided to drop it last year (or so) and focus on the kids/farm. bummer for the rest of us, eh?
    that carpet, ugh! why people cover up hardwood i’ll never know. worth the effort to get it back though. hooray for progress!

  17. Dana says:

    My favorite post!! thank you for this.

  18. Emily says:

    ahhh i love your perspective on life. sooo much!! also i just want to eat your children up!! …in a non-creepy way :)

  19. Kim says:

    http://www.soulemama.com/soulemama
    This may not be the blog you were revering to, but it is a homesteading mama with quite a few littles trying to find balance.
    The girls room is so sweet. I still now find it so important that one of us takes on the supporting, ‘wife’ role in order for the other to complete diy or home improvements effectively and my family are young adults now! :D

  20. Love the home renovation, but oh the hard work – have been there in a previous house and know the effort it takes. Girl’s room looks great , bet you have to go look at it several times a day just for the feel good factor from doing it yourself.

  21. Ohhh, the lemon blueberry yoghurt loaf, it kills me. I’ve made it a few times and I really need to stop. It’s lovely.

    And a huge hoorah for the farmer’s wives! What we do may not always be measurable, but it is vital.

  22. The Popes says:

    I am LOVING the “woman hold shit together.” So so true. There are times I feel overwhelmed but by God, I get it done. I love supporting my husband. Pretty sure I was born in the wrong century. Although, I do love my coffee machine and iPhone so maybe not…

  23. Liane says:

    The girls room looks beautiful!
    I love your views on parenting and your optimism.. It is like a breath of fresh air to me and toally what I need to hear! xx

  24. I’m 27 and married, but I sure as hell wouldn’t mind trading my current master bedroom for the girls room. I’d make my husband sleep on the bottom bunk. Well…maybe we could trade every now and then. :)

    Happy homemaking!
    Holly

  25. lazytoadfarm says:

    I know exactly the blog you mentioned, Farmama. I love this post. I struggle with wanting to work on projects with my husband (we live in a house build in the 1800’s) and working in the garden and keeping up with 3 kids and finding time for fun family time.

  26. erin says:

    I am so excited to see the before and after pictures. Your last home was so beautiful and cozy; can’t wait to see how you decorate this blank slate.

  27. @Staci and @lazytoadfarm:

    Yes! It was farmama. I read her blog and remember when she stopped writing but she also took the whole blog down so I couldn’t even reference the post.

  28. @Kim:

    That isn’t the one I was referring to but I know and adore Amanda Soule’s blog! So true we take turns being the ‘wife’!

  29. gelka says:

    Last picture – breathtaking.

    Also, after doing a large carpet removal project in our last house I have determined that carpet, is in fact, the DEVIL.

  30. Kelly Cach says:

    Mmmm…just pinned Sweet Pea’s blueberry lemon loaf!

    ADORE the 1st photo of the girls & their butterfly net….ADORE!

    We had to scrape tar-like gunk off our 90 year old kitchen floor. We used a heat gun & the same orange iron behemoth you speak of :) Worked pretty good, but at 3 months pregnant the hot tar had a nauseating STINK!

    Love the girls’ wall color & YAY for still having the orange curtain!!! I still look for something similar every time I peruse fabric isles.

  31. elizabeth says:

    What pizza crust recipe do you use? I’m always looking for a better one.

  32. I love seeing the space so far, it’s just amazing how much you’ve done already. But more than what’s on the inside of your walls, I love seeing how the girls are changing. Ruby looks so much like you, same smile and vibrant look. Margot has such a awesome big-girl look in that last photo. And the lead of this post was so honest, so great. xoxo

  33. Minnesotagal says:

    Wow! You made some really quick work of it!! Six months of living under your dream home must have given you some time to come up with a game plan and GO!

    Can’t wait to see more but so glad to see you’re livin’ it up in the in-between time too!

  34. Ashley says:

    I am in love with your new place…seriously breathtaking…also I have been meaning to make that lemon-blueberry yogurt loaf…it is printed out by my computer…too funny.

  35. Dakota Nyght says:

    I had this amazing memory flash seeing that little red shelf up by Margot’s bunk. I had something very close to that shelf when I was little and it was perfect for putting dolls or miniature horses to bed in.

    It’s so fun to see your changes in progress! Also… I really loved ctb’s comment above about the woman who says come visit her… or make an appointment to see the house! (I feel that way sooo often.)

  36. Ellie says:

    The girls’ room–lovely.

  37. @elizabeth, Oh! We cheat. We used to make our own (recipe form Moosewood Cookbook) but then our local bakery starting making and selling dough, fresh daily. It’s cheap and better than anything I’ve made and freezes well. So that whole story is to say we buy it!

  38. Marty says:

    I remember reading a story with those exact characters. I also saw it as a child on a TV show about how the wife worked hard alongside her husband on the farm, but when she changed directions and took care of the home, the home came together and the banker who came out to the farm thought they were more prosperous than they really were and gave them the loan they needed.

  39. That Margot can have me over for pizza any old day.

  40. 1. My step-dad cleaned out the fridge by making stew. Me, I do pizza. Glad to see I’m not the only one! It always turns out awesome.

    2. That room! Those floors! Nice work. I know what it’s like to get the remo ball rolling and also, to want to stop and just LIVE. You have to draw the line and it sounds like you are. But holy cow, you’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time…is your husband still working full time during all this?

  41. Peeper says:

    I totally want to try Margot’s pizza. It sounds good, was it tasty?

    The supportive role doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Usually the person down-playing it most is the person IN the supportive role! When, really, how else could anything possibly get done? Women are good at holding it together on the homefront and pretty much everywhere else too!

  42. Hazel says:

    I love this. I sometimes feel guilty if I’m inside cooking or cleaning, and Rob’s outside. But he doesn’t mind as long as I’m doing something. That carpet glue crap looked like a freakin’ nightmare! Can’t believe something so simple worked so well. Good point about living in your home whilst you do renovations, Rob went pretty hard over the last year, setting up the gardens, the paving, etc, sometimes I think he pushed himself too much. But we’re starting to relax, and enjoy our hut. (The only way to stop Rob was for me to invite people over for lunch!)

  43. Amy says:

    I so needed to read this. because when we are both working working working on our house and I have to stop to do the rest of the everyday stuff, that obviously needs to be done, I (sometimes, often times) get pissed about it. I want to get the shit done so badly that I just wish I could let everything else go, so that I can. BUT, the two little people in this house don’t agree that a beer and bag of sunflower seeds = dinner, SO stop and look after the other stuff is what I will do. I would ask Brian to stop, but I’m not exactly great at the measuring twice, cutting once thing… so, best to let him do that part!
    Your transformation is looking amazing… love the girls room! Can’t wait to see the rest!

  44. Katie says:

    This is so true! Often our division of labor these days means my husband takes care of the horses while I take care of everything in the house. I’d rather be outside with my boots on but with a toddler, searing heat, and my pregnancy it makes more sense this way most nights. Thanks for the reminder that it’s all contributing in equal amounts. :)

  45. sweet, sweet post and sweet blog in general.
    farmama was the blog- and yes, I miss her too.
    XO

  46. I’m a big fan of the word “balance” -funny, because I was just thinking about it in the shower, thinking that it’s something that we will hopefully teach Alex over time. And then I read your post. You and Andy really sound like each other’s balance. It’s grounding. And getting back to the ritual of the homestead is GOOD.

    I have to laugh when I read the word Yolo – ok, so it’s a paint company, but Yolo also used to be our family ranch in Arizona. We still have branders and other mementos from the family, and yes, it was the word that made me smile.

    Can’t wait to see how your summer transforms, be that house projects rule or are pushed aside for greater moments.

    xo

  47. Tiffany says:

    I just wanted to agree with you on how awesome Solumel is…and the whole Melaleuca company. I use all their cleaning products and this stuff cleans so well!! I am so glad I found a company I can trust with my beloved family’s health…

  48. Chante says:

    One day will you post your recipe for pizza dough. You always make these pizza’s seem so quick and easy. There is nothing quick about my homemade pizza’s.

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