Grit Blogs > Johnston Backyard Farm

A Peaceful Place

Candance JohnstonMy peaceful moments are pretty rare. Not that I have a miserable life or I’m completely unhappy. Like forty zillion other people, I get up four days a week, commute an hour to a high stress job where I start working the minute I sit down at my desk and usually don’t stop until I finally get up to leave, trying to meet what oftentimes feels like completely impossible deadlines. Then I get back in my car and commute an hour/hour and a half home. By the time I reach my house, I have just enough energy to feed the animals, warm up a bowl of whatever leftovers are in the fridge and collapse into bed around 8:30.

For the last few months, my Friday work-from-home days are really all that have kept me going because that commute is exhausting. I'm not complaining, though (even though it really sounds like it). It's all part of adulting and, as most adults know, adulting isn’t the most fun. But, my bills are paid and I am employed, which is more than a lot of people have right now. So, even though it’s not the greatest situation, I’m thankful. And super excited because now I have one more thing to look forward to at the end of the week.

Spring is springing in Texas.  The days are warm and longer, and that means through September my weekends will be spent in my peaceful place: my little backyard "farm.”

I don’t think I realized how much I missed being outdoors and really spending a lot of time with my plants and animals until we had our first beautiful weekend a few weeks ago.  I spent almost 12 hours outside getting my garden beds ready and tilling up a large section of the yard so we can expand our garden and have the "farm" we've wanted for a couple of years. I’ve never tilled anything in my life and that is seriously hard work! It hurt to close my hands for like three days and my blisters were pretty darn impressive — but so was my handy work with the tiller! 

My first time tilling.

I turned the soil in all my raised beds and tore down the chicken wire that did nothing to keep my chickens out of the beds. My husband, Nathan, and I replaced it with a real chicken proof design, complete with a door so I can actually get into the bed to pick my produce and weed. We were even able to plant our produce that has an early spring harvest:

One (hopefully) chicken proofed raised bed.

Our girls were determined to "help” us with our projects and ran themselves ragged getting treats out of the garden beds and tilled section of the yard. Garden prep time is always their favorite time of year because it's a bug and worm free for all.

Our backyard chickens having a treat.

We also decided it was probably time to add to our flock since we seem to have a handle on this chicken raising thing, so a trip to the feed store for one thing resulted in bringing home three new little ladies. I’m sure introducing them to our older girls will be quite an adventure, but it’s a challenge I (sort of) look forward to.

Our baby chicks getting used to their new brooder.

I worked harder that first day out than I ever have getting our yard spring ready. My Fitbit said I got almost 16,000 steps, climbed something like 14 floors and walked over six miles. By the time I got in the shower, I was so exhausted, I really wondered if I was going to be able to stay awake long enough to get all the dirt and manure out of my hair.

But you know what? I wasn't stressed. I wasn't beat down. I didn't feel like I'd worked all day and hadn’t done anything that will improve the world. I was outside doing things that will reduce my carbon footprint, allow me to raise healthy, chemical free food for my family and I worked with my husband to build something we can be proud of.

For me, that’s the biggest reward of the work we did that first weekend: I'm proud of what I accomplished — of what my husband and I accomplished together.

I was finally back in my element and I felt the peace that I’d been missing for so long.

That sense of peace makes all the other, hard stuff a little easier to bear.