Friday's Featured Farmer~Stephanie Appleton

We are a homeschooling family of six. We live on a property in West Virginia that is about 100 acres consisting almost entirely of forest and steep hills. We share this property with other family members. Together we raise gardens of vegetables. We gather the wild blackberries that can be found anywhere the sun reaches the ground through the trees. We raise a variety of animals. Name a farm animal. Odds are we have it here.

We work together. We sometimes find time to play together. We cry together, and together we share the blessings that come from living life on the farm.

Today, out of nowhere, my twelve year old said to me, "Funny how people think that way we live is crazy. We really are the luckiest people ever." I certainly did not have that kind of wisdom at twelve.

We lived on my grandparents farm through my elementary years. I enjoyed my years there, but really did not appreciate them fully until much later. After the family farm was sold and we moved, I didn't give much thought to farm life again for a very long time. I had big plans, and they didn't include any chickens or cows. I wanted to travel the world. I was going to be a big executive with a big salary to match. Little did I know how deeply rooted the love of the land and of animals was in me. Nor did I have any concept of the things in life that were truly meaningful to me.

The love of the land wouldn't stay hidden despite my big plans. It seeped out whenever possible. It started in college, and continued in our early years of marriage. Anywhere we lived that had a piece of dirt I could putter in was filled with flowers and sometimes vegetables. If there was no place to plant outside, I got my dirt fix in pots with indoor plants.

It was motherhood that brought those hidden loves of dirt and animals gurgling to the surface again. As my oldest child approached his elementary years, I longed for him and his siblings to have the same experiences and freedom that I had enjoyed as a child. I also realized that it wasn't just about the kids either. I longed for the quieter, simpler life of raising animals and gardens. My parents were also longing for a similar lifestyle.

We moved to this property five years ago with my parents. Since then we have jumped in, and probably tried to do way too much way to fast. I've found that the quieter and simpler life doesn't not mean a restful and easy life. I've learned that the freedom of farm life remembered from childhood does not exist with the adult responsibilities of farm life. Farm life is a lot of work. Sometimes, even after all the hard work, there is disappointment. There is failure. There is frustration.

But there is satisfaction. There is joy, and many rewards.

There is nothing more satisfying than serving a meal to my family that consists entirely of food we've grown ourselves. I love that the kids can go out and run, play and learn in the woods for hours on end. I like the strength of body and mind that we all have earned through our labors. The lessons learned from our experiences here could never be taught in a classroom or through a book. I wouldn't trade this lifestyle for anything. We really are the luckiest people ever.


Thank  you, Stephanie, for your delightful guest post!

You can follow Stephanie and her farming adventures on her facebook page, Mil-Ton Farms.

You will also enjoy the farm's blog site at Adventures in the 100 Acre Woods.


Lucky Lizard Ranch said...

Beautiful post Stephanie!

Anonymous said...

I love your 12 year old's comment. Loving your work and your way of life is a real treasure in this life. I told your mom she was a wealthy woman, and she understood what I meant. So does your family. Blessings on you all.
Aunt N.