About 15 or so years ago I took a course with an activity to draw your dream life. I drew a cottage in the country, with chickens and dogs, flowers, a big garden where we grow our own food and lots of space for children to run around. There were big blowsy flowers, a rainbow and wild birds in the sky. I drew part of it at night, with clear bright stars shining through. It was a far cry from our flat in Windsor's busy city centre and our 4 mile commutes that could take 2 hours on a bad day and a sky with so much noise, light and air pollution I am pretty sure I only saw pigeons and seagulls.
This dream stayed with me and pushed us on - from Windsor, to a small flat in Stirling, to a house in Alloa, to where we are now - in the middle of nowhere with a full menagerie of chickens, dogs, turkeys, geese, guinea fowl, peacocks, sheep, a cat and some goats. The children have miles to run around and our garden, cupboards and freezer are full of things we grow ourselves.
There is a moment every single day where I am so unbelievably grateful to have found this place and to have the opportunity to live this life. And then, usually about 5 minutes later, I am overwhelmed just how hard it is. So much of this journey reminds me of parenthood - the unbelievable work involved, the heartache, the expense, the raw emotion and then the unfathomable joy. And the poo. So much poo.
Take this morning. A dog got into the car and managed to lock it with the keys helpfully sitting on the dash, so I am waiting for the AA to come and break into my car. The sheep broke down a fence yesterday, letting all of the meat birds out and now the path between the house and the garden is covered in bird poo. Milking took an extra person and 35 minutes because the goats have figured out how to tip their feed bucket to get into it. The grass is knee high. I had to retrieve a dead turkey poult from under its mama so the dogs would leave her alone. While checking on another mama, I found the coop swarming with mites. We have been eating only things I can cook in an electric frying pan, as the oil is about to run out and I am not sure when it will be delivered. Less than dreamy.
And just like when my children were little and a well meaning lady would come up while my children were screaming and tell me to "enjoy minute because they grow up so fast", I've come to understand that not every moment, maybe not even most of the moments of this dream are good. Some are pretty crappy, but just like the pink-tinted cheeks of a sleeping baby who spent the whole day crying - it is the perfect moments that make the rest of it worth while. Its the perfect meals that only travelled down that poopy path from the garden to the kitchen. It is watching Georgia tell everyone about her Turkey, Jerky, as they walk past its cage at the local country show. It comes from standing at my window watching the sun go down as the local osprey flies past.
Its worth it, I think. The expense and the work and the heartache for the dream. I wouldn't mind less poo though.