Farmer Downtime

Reader Contribution by Becky And Andy
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It’s here. It’s finally here. That fabled “farmer downtime” that the experienced folk have been telling us about. Andy and I have been blessed with an incredibly busy last year and now … we have the time to sit down, sip some green tea and think about it all.

Of course, everyone gets a little reminiscent near the end of the year and this being the end of the year today, I figured I would share a little from my heart.

Except, I’d like to look back two years; starting at November of 2006. (Don’t worry, this won’t take all day!)

Two years ago, Andy and I had just unpacked our moving van in time for Thanksgiving and were beginning anew in Wisconsin. We had just left jobs, our lovely home (above), friends and family in Colorado Springs for this vague dream of revamping the family farm. I was 4 months pregnant with our first baby and planning a new career as a stay-at-home freelance designer. Andy had taken a sales job in a city 40 minutes north and rejoined the corporate race.

We lived comfortably off my random income and his small wages, passively reading about farming and beginning to take an interest in locally grown foods. Our interest grew and expanded into other areas of our lives. We looked into sustainability, certifying organic and the Slow Food movement. We also joined a birthing class that taught us to have our first child without the aid of pain medication. That philosophy, called the Bradley Method, woke us up to the importance of nutrient-dense, healthy, raw foods in a woman’s diet (and everyone else’s)!

In May of 2007, we gave birth to little Eleanor, free from drugs and with a new determination to eat healthier for her sake, and ours.

Farm plans were really still a distance away, as my parents still lived and worked the farm themselves, and we were a 25 minute drive from them. We were beginning to feel like … why did we move back in such a rush?

Then in August, my folks announced that they had found a house in the small town near the farm and were moving there by October. And, they wanted us to rent the farmhouse and start participating in working the farm. So, on the same day in late September, we moved them out and moved us in. Suddenly, we were right there!

But Andy was still working 50 hours a week now nearly an hour away and there were only the weekends for him to learn the ropes. I had a very young baby to watch and was still freelancing, so the farm wasn’t at the forefront of my priorities either.

In February of 2008, after many prayers, promptings and signs from God, Andy resigned from his sales job. He began working part time with FedEx in the very early mornings (think: 3am to 8am) for a residual income, and we began plans for our first family garden. At the same time, we decided to try and resurrect an old income source for the farm: Pumpkins! (You know that story.)

Andy began learning the ins and outs of late winter farming with my father. I enjoyed the much increased family time, and Elly was finally responding to Andy because she saw him for more than two hours a day.

As spring came to us, the work days were longer and more intense. Andy found that working at FedEx was draining him to the point that he couldn’t put in the time needed on the farm. In June of this last year, he unofficially resigned from FedEx. This meant he was welcome to come back whenever he wanted (he was their best worker) and was “on call” for times when they got shorthanded.

Suddenly, we were all about the farm. On faith and prayers, God provided enough income to pay our bills each month. Sometimes, the money would come in the day before a bill was due, for the exact amount needed. We were literally living on “daily bread,” and our faith was increased ten-fold in having to rely solely on God to get us through. My freelancing increased directly proportional to Andy’s resignation and continued to keep me busy well into the fall.

About this time, we began blogging about our lives and detailing our intense learning curve. And that’s when we invited you all to share in our experience.

I am sitting here typing all of this out and still can’t believe how far we’ve come in two years. It has happened so fast! We went from the typical young couple to the typical young family, then shook off the stereotypes and dove into sustainable, agrarian life. We dove in, alright: head first with no arm floaties into an uncharted lake.

It has been scary. It has been frustrating. It has felt like we were stuck on a treadmill.

And it’s been intense, uplifting, and beyond our wildest dreams. As 2008 ticks away on the clock before me, I can’t help but tear up at the road we’ve traveled. We have so much to be thankful for! And then I think…

2009, BRING IT ON!! We are so ready to begin this brand new year!

Blessings on you all and have a wonderful celebration of this past year.


Rebekah Sell lives on a small plot of land with her husband, Andy, on which they are hoping to build a sustainable homestead. With a small business and four kids, life is always interesting as Becky and Andy live fully the idea that the journey is the reward. Find her on .

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