Farming and Pregnant
I was very lucky during my pregnancy, as it was a rather uneventful experience and I was able to continue to work up until the very end - milking the cow the very morning I went into labor! This is NOT the case with everyone - every pregnancy, every birth, every baby is different. Still, I think if you are feeling good and able to work through your pregnancy - you should! Labor is a lot of work, and being strong and active throughout your pregnancy is good practice! I was also lucky that my pregnancy was timed well. Our son, Further, was born in late December, so I didn’t have to suffer the busiest, hottest parts of the summer as a very-pregnant-person. Plus, once he was born, we were in our “off” season, and able to spend lots of time resting indoors without feeling guilty or pressed to rush back to work. Obviously, pregnancies aren’t always planned - but if you can time it right, I definitely recommend a winter (or whatever your off-season is) baby!
Farming with a Baby
Anyone who has ever been around an infant knows that the months before they start to crawl are magical—being able to set the baby somewhere and know they won’t move makes for a wonderful farming experience. When Further was an infant we could simply wheel him out to a shady place in the garden and he would watch us or sleep or play with something while we worked. Of the years we’ve had a kid, the infant years were the easiest, although the long trips to market could be difficult. At the time, I was driving an hour plus to market, often solo. When I had a screaming baby in the car, my choices were either stopping every 3 seconds to nurse, or just letting him cry, which often led to me crying as well as wanting to smash my head through the windshield. But we mostly look back on these baby days fondly. Of course, everything changes when they start to move!
Farming with a 1 Year Old
Our son learned to crawl and walk more or less when the growing season was over. But the next year was by far the most challenging. Before children grasp “dangerous” or “sharp” they require constant monitoring. And though you can keep them out of dangerous and sharp things relatively easily in the house... the garden is a bit more challenging. We could wear him when he was young but he only tolerated that for so long. And once it got hot, he had to be in the shade or house. Essentially, on the warmest summer days, one of us was completely out of the picture as far as working in the field went, and that was definitely hard on our two person farm.
Farming with a Two Year Old
The difference between a baby and a toddler is that they actually start behaving a little—they can understand you and you can tell them to or not to do something. They are slightly more independent. Though still in need of regular attention, the season where Further was two was a good season for independence as we were more able to work together again in the garden for extended periods. He had his own interests and could play for sometimes hours on his own—climbing the compost or chasing the dog, et cetera—without needing our attention. Being able to watch our son play in the dirt or create little worlds at the edge of the garden while we work is a joy. It reminds us why we started farming in the first place - to spend as much time as possible in nature, surrounded by healthy soil and food, and to be able to live and work at home, alongside our children.
Farming with a Three Year Old
So far, three has been easier but slightly riskier than two. Further is definitely more independent and has his own projects, but sometimes that comes at a cost... like 24 holes punched in the side of the high tunnel with a pair of scissors he found! Like all three year olds, he is a bit sneakier, but he’s also occasionally very helpful. He can pull row cover or drip tape out across the garden. He can fetch tools. He can even pull weeds when he’s in the mood! It gives us glimpses of how the next few years will go—how he will become increasingly more helpful and more independent (which, honestly, is the most helpful thing). We look forward to having more of his help but also to be able to teach him more about gardening. Every day, farming with a kid becomes a little easier...so we figured to reward ourselves this year, we would start the whole cycle over again and have another one! He or she is due in late September, so very soon we will know what it’s like to farm with two kids.
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