Grit Blogs > Backyard Baers

A Rural Lifestyle in an Urban Setting

Benjamin BaerMy family and I fairly recently made the decision to embrace rural living, and it hasn’t taken long to learn that the so-called, “Simple Life,” is far from simple. It is endless amounts of work; you literally finish one project, and are working on the next before you know it. It’s more complicated than you’d probably think. Not complicated like calculus or physics, but complicated like which ingredients are great for a compost, and which are absolutely devastating to a compost; or why is this color poo from my chicks totally normal, but just a slight shade lighter is a sign problems are coming. It’s also a way of life that looks odd to a lot of other people; backyard farming and striving to become more self-sufficient aren’t exactly normal lifestyles in this day and age. A lot of people think, “Why put yourself through all this extra work and stress? Just go to the grocery store.” My response to that is simple: While it didn’t take long to learn of the difficulties in the rural life, it also hasn’t taken long to learn that the rural life provides various forms of enjoyment, constant adventure and a sense of accomplishment that keeps the drive to self-sufficiency continuously growing.

I love being outside. All the time and any time. Particularly, in the morning when it’s still cool, feeling the sun creep up above the horizon and the fog start to slowly burn off, or right after a rare, and always needed, rain shower. First thing in the morning when I get up, let the dogs outside and make sure the chickens look okay, I’m in and out once I get home from work doing all kinds of various projects, and right before I go to bed, I’m outside feeding the chickens a little yogurt and making sure they are ready for the night. It’s all a part of a life that I love. Building the chicken coop was quite the project, and is really a blog entry for another day, but even after the temp hit 110 degrees, and after I had to scratch my plan halfway through and start over, and even after I dropped a brick on my big toe, I was still having fun building it. Those are experiences and lessons that I wouldn’t trade for anything….though I could definitely do without the injury to my big toe.

My favorite part of rural living is hands down the sense of adventure that comes with the way of life. Raising the chicks has been very interesting, from hatching them to moving them into the coop, there have been many obstacles, and so far I’ve managed to overcome, or at least deal with, all of them. Tomorrow there will probably be another wrench thrown into my plan of home grown chickens, but I’ll develop some alternative, and deal with it. In the end, everything will probably be okay, and I’ll probably have an entertaining story out of it. No matter what though, I will have definitely learned something……even if it is something as simple as learning there is a huge difference in heat between a 100 watt bulb and a 60 watt bulb. At the beginning of hatching our chicks, I remember thinking, “Eh, a light bulb is a light bulb, they’re all hot.” Wrong. Well, yes, they are all hot, but some are much hotter than others and in some cases, you really need that extra heat, because you don’t want the heating lamp three inches from the chicks’ heads. That’s not going to work.

This way of life also provides a great sense of accomplishment in virtually everything you do. Even the small things, like moving the chicks into the coop was a big deal, and allowed me the pride in knowing that I’ve at least made it this far. And now, every day that goes by where a predator doesn’t get into the coop or a chick doesn’t go mysteriously missing is a day where I think, “So far, so good, on to the next day!” Not only raising life, such as chickens, but putting food on the table that you and your family grew/raised and you can say with 100% certainty is free of chemicals and growth hormones, and wasn’t sitting in a hot truck on I-35 waiting to get to a grocery store is a huge accomplishment, and something to take pride in.

Look, I’ll be the first to tell you, I have a lot to learn….probably more like a ton to learn. That’s okay, and I look forward to it, because it’s fun. It’s a ride that keeps me guessing all the time, and at the end of the day, when I’m eating an omelet made from my eggs with my own homemade salsa, my family and I will feel good knowing those are our products that we grew.