The other night Matthew got home from working a 12 hour shift in the ER. It was midnight. I was still awake, nursing Banzai, running through all the things we needed to do that week, in my head. Instead of crawling into bed beside me, he jumped in the shower while I got Banzai back to sleep. And then we headed into the make room. You see, we had a batch of chevre in the vat that needed to start hanging. Immediately. Once hung, we crawled into bed around 1 a.m. Matthew set his alarm for 4 a.m. to go check on the cheese and pull it out of drain bags so that it could start cooling. It wasn't ready at 4 a.m. though so I volunteered to do the 5 a.m. check.
When the time came to slink my tired body out of bed at 5 a.m. I felt like I had been put through the ringer. I turned back to the bed to make sure Banzai wasn't going to stir and happily saw him fast asleep on one end, with the majority of the space. He nurses all night long so it's easier for me to have him sleep with us. There was a tiny little sliver of space where I had slid out of bed. Next to that, our gigantic three year old was sprawled about, her sweet little hand woven into Matthew's hair. We don't start out with her in our bed but inevitably she ends up there. And then there was Matthew, sleepily teetering on the tiniest lifeboat of a mattress, with a very big brown tabby cat lounging on top of his head. Smiling to myself, I quietly put my clothes back on and headed down to the make room to find our cheese, perfectly ripened and ready to pull down out of the drain bags.
Walking into the dairy and finding beautiful cheese waiting for you is one of those pleasures I wasn't aware existed until I started a goat dairy. But now, I know, it's akin to experiencing magic. Especially when you are equally familiar with the feeling of walking into the dairy and finding cheese that has broken at some point in the process. That feeling, also one I wasn't aware existed until delving into the world of cheese, is more like wanting to curl up in the fetal position and question every life decision you've ever made, starting with, why did I start a dairy?
A few days ago Matthew shared with me that he would like to go on a date. I laughed. He was sitting on the floor playing duplos with Giz while I was breastfeeding Banzai. He was just getting ready to head out and start evening milking. After milking we would come back inside, make dinner, eat dinner, shower, and do bedtime routine for Giz.
"We're in the weeds my friend," I said, half joking but mostly serious. "There's no time for dating in the weeds."
With two children under the age of 3, two off-farm jobs, a goat dairy and small business, a date just seems like something I don't think we'll see for years.
And you know what, I'm okay with that.
We have a garden. I've talked about it a lot. Mainly because I'm so proud of of the fact that it feeds our whole family. Most people are pretty impressed that we have time for a garden. What they don't know is that our garden is over-run with weeds.
Like, they are taller than Giz.
What used to be crap soil has now, after five years of pig rooting, goat grazing and compost adding, turned into the best soil you've ever seen. Everything grows like it's on steroids.
We don't really have time for a garden. We had time to plant everything at the beginning of the season, we set the water on a timer, and now we just wander in every night before dinner and fight back the weeds to harvest something edible.
But you know what? There's something really beautiful about being in the weeds.
I love (LOVE LOVE) having a family bed. I know we won't have one forever. Eventually Banzai will move out of our bed and into a room with Giz. The children will, even though it breaks my heart, no longer feel the need to run to bed when they wake up in the middle of the night. Honestly, I dread that day. Yes, I love cuddling with my husband (I mean, have you seen him?) and we are getting really good at stealing moments to ourselves but I know that our time as a couple, without children only grows every day. I can regularly be found, body contorted in a way that allows me to have one arm curled around Giz, the other curled around Banzai while he nurses, and my legs wrapped around Matthew's. It's these times when I feel most whole.
I don't necessarily love making so many small (costly) mistakes as we fine tune what it means to run a professional goat dairy, but there is something exhilarating about trying, failing, and learning. It's these times when I feel alive.
I love being a farmer. I love living off of this land and being able to provide such high quality food to our community. I love filling the void of fresh goat cheese for our neighbors. I love watching someone from Turkey, or Cyprus, or Greece, stop by our booth and try our halloumi and share with us that it's the first time they have tasted something from home in a really long time. It's these times when I feel proud.
I like to think that, because of learning about our story, people are getting more educated about food options in their own local communities. It's these times when I feel like my actions can actually change small bits of the world.
I love doing this thing called life, with this man who loves it just as much as I do and these children who are more at home on a farm than in a mall and who can tell you exactly what animal or plant made their meal. With these people who are so supportive of this ridiculous endeavor (I mean, seriously, who starts a goat dairy with an infant, a two year old and a new marriage?)
Every single day I wake up, a baby asleep on my boob, a tiny human cuddled into my crook, and Matthew clinging to his stake of the mattress I am reminded just how lucky I am. And just how beautiful the weeds can be.
Every day I am thankful for the chance to fail and the strength to keep going.
So if you see us kissing at a Farmer's Market, as we put up our booth or take it down, or in a lull between customers, just ignore us. It's the closest thing we have to a date :)
Recently The Olympian and The Tacoma News Tribune did a feature story on Matthew and I, and what we are doing here at The Farmstead. It was incredibly fulfilling to see our farm through someone else's eyes. Feel free to check it out!