Tiffani and I both grew up as city kids. We’ve lived most of our lives doing things the way city folks do, and living blissfully unaware of many things… things like:

1. How to raise chickens
2. How to raise pigs
3. How to take care of a barn
4. How to protect the animals from other animals
5. How good, healthy food gets from the farm to our table

What a difference a few years makes! Since we made the move to our little slice of Virginia farmland in early 2011, we’ve learned each and every one of these things – and much more! Tiffani likes to say that if you’d asked us 10 years ago if we’d be “tilling God’s land” in our lifetime, we’d have laughed hysterically. I think she’s probably right.

I also think it’s just really funny how God brought all this (and our family) together. I’ve read stories for years about how farming families are often much closer than city families. Since we’ve made these lifestyle changes, I’ve come to believe this is true from my firsthand experience.

As city folks, our family time used to consist mostly of watching a movie together. Well, you’re probably aware that everyone sitting slack-jawed and staring at a screen isn’t exactly promoting family love & togetherness. Conversely, we’ve discovered that around the farm, we need most everyone’s help. While there are many tasks to be performed as needed (such as moving firewood from the back field to the front of the house), there are also several daily things that need to be done, rain or shine, no matter what – even if WE are sick. For example, the daily care & feeding of the animals. They cannot take care of themselves, and rely on us for everything. This provides us with some fantastic teaching opportunities for the kids. Each one of our children, right down to the 5 year old, has learned how to fill the food and water containers for the chickens. They know how to collect the eggs safely. They know how to herd chickens into the barn in the evening and make sure the stall doors are locked.

We learned (as a family) how to care for our pigs. The electric fences need to be turned off before we can enter the field. Each kid knows this and also how to call it out – “Fence is ON!” or “Fence is OFF!!” The smaller children are never allowed to enter the pig field by themselves because the potential for injury is always there. But with Tiffani and/or I there, the kids know that they don’t have to be tentative around the pigs. They can be there with confidence.

We’ve also learned how to deal with predators of all types. I have an air rifle for small threats like rats, squirrels and foxes. We also have larger caliber weapons for bigger things that threaten our animals, or even one of us. Shortly after taking out a snake that had attacked our chickens, I went to Home Depot for some farm tools. Along with other things, I brought home a treebranch lopper to deal with some low hanging branches. It’s sort of like a gigantic pair of scissors with a very long handle. Tiffani took one look at it and said “Nope, that’s a snake dispatching tool!” I hadn’t thought of that, but it sure has come in handy to deal with a couple of 6 foot snakes we’ve found in the barn! Snip snip!

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Recently, we allowed 3 pigs to live in the area of our land where we plan to put the garden. The idea here was that they would tear it up, root around in it, FERTILIZE it, and prepare it for gardening. It could not have worked out better. Tomorrow, I plan to rototill the entire area to turn all the ground over and level it out. (Those pigs left some serious hills and valleys!) Next, we’ll be planting – as a FAMILY! Tiffani runs the homeschool year-round during the day while I’m at my office doing SharePoint work. We’re about to include gardening in the curriculum, as the kids start learning about planting, weeding, watering and harvesting food. I expect that through the growing season, we’ll be spending lots of time together out there in the field learning how God provides for us. We plant, and God makes it grow. Lots of great lessons to be had there!

The Wii game console has helped to bring us closer during our playtimes, since we can all play together… and the Wii technology means we all have to get up and DO something! Physical actions – whether it be sword fighting, boxing, bowling, snowboarding, or whatever… we all have to get ACTIVE. And we’re doing it TOGETHER!

I’ve pretty much always been the kind of guy who appreciates the family eating dinner together. But as a farming family, this has come to mean so much more to us. Tiffani is really getting into making more wholesome, healthy and home-cooked meals. But not “from a box”. I’m talking the kind of meals where she gets the raw produce and other ingredients and really makes it from scratch. Not only does this taste tremendously better, but it’s also much more healthy for us as well! She’s really gotten the process down for making a roast chicken dinner from our stock of freezer chicken (birds we raised ourselves in our own barn!) Tender, juicy, and VERY flavorful! The best part is… I know exactly where those chickens lived and what they ate. And it didn’t include any of that chemical or GMO crap that the corporations are pushing on us! But anyway, dinnertime itself has become more like an “event” than just another task in our home. Each child helps with setting the table, pouring the drinks, delivering plates to the table, and so on. We all try to do our part to make it a FAMILY event.

Kids’ bedtime is also a family event nowadays. I take very seriously my charge from the Lord to bring up our children in a way that pleases Him. After the kids have gotten on their jammies, and taken care of all the bathroom stuff, we gather in either the girls’ or the boys’ room for prayer. We rotate prayer leader duty around from child to child each night, and sometimes dad will pray instead. We usually have a time of goofiness either before or after prayer… time where parents tickle kids, and we all enjoy that closeness of a loving family for a few minutes before kids go to bed.

Family time for us has gone from a series of short-lived sporadic events, to an almost full-time situation every day. Do we do it perfectly? No way. But it sure is better than it used to be. And I want to get better about it, I really do.

No matter how big or small your family is, your family is YOUR FAMILY. If God were to call you home today, what memories would your children have of you? Would they remember someone who took time to come down to their level? Would they remember a parent who enthusiastically participated in their tea parties, lightsaber battles, and Lego architecting sessions? Or would they remember a parent who was always too busy?

Lord, please help me to set aside my overwhelming urge for “me time” when I get home from work, and instead to remember that I only have a short time with these children You’ve given us before they are grown and gone. Help me to create memories in our children of the daddy who they know loves them, without any room for doubt. Help me to love them as You love me. Amen.

AMERICAN DREAM
-Casting Crowns-

All work no play may have made Jack a dull boy
But all work no God has left Jack with a lost soul
But he’s moving on full steam
He’s chasing the American dream
And he’s gonna give his family, the finer things

“Not this time son, I’ve no time to waste
Maybe tomorrow, we’ll have time to play”
And then he slips into his new BMW
And drives farther and farther and farther away

‘Cause he works all day and tries to sleep at night
He says things will get better
Better in time

So he works and he builds with his own two hands
And he pours all he has in a castle made with sand
But the wind and the rain are comin’ crashing in
Time will tell just how long his kingdom stands
His kingdom stands

Well this American Dream is beginning to seem
More and more like a nightmare with every passing day
“Daddy, can you come to my game?”
“Oh Baby, please don’t work late”
Another wasted weekend and they are slipping away

‘Cause he works all day and lies awake at night
He tells them things are getting better
Just take a little more time

So he works and he builds with his own two hands
And he pours all he has in a castle made with sand
But the wind and the rain are comin’ crashing in
Time will tell just how long his kingdom stands
His kingdom stands

He used to say, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins”
But if he loses his soul
What has he gained in the end
I’ll take a shack on a rock
Over a castle in the sand

Now he works all day and cries alone at night
It’s not getting any better
Looks like he’s running out of time

‘Cause he worked and he built with his own two hands
And he poured all he had in a castle made with sand
But the wind and the rain are coming crashing in
Time will tell just how long his kingdom stands
His kingdom stands

All they really wanted was you
All they really wanted was you
All they really wanted was you

Happy Wives Club

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4 thoughts on “Family Time

  1. Alecia says:

    Love that song! And it’s so true. We only get so much time as a family and then it is gone. If we don’t prioritize it while we have the chance we really miss out. Great reminder!

    1. Jason says:

      We are on round two of our children, and we know exactly what you mean. Our first two are 26 & 24, then the next are 11, 7, 6, and 5. We had a big break between kids and a lot of time to think about mistakes we’d made. We’re trying to do things better this time around!

  2. Fawn Weaver says:

    That’s a great song! By the way, I tried to click through from the link you posted on our Marriage Mondays link up but for some reason it’s a broken link.
    Fawn Weaver recently posted…Chicken with Butter Cream SauceMy Profile

    1. Jason says:

      Thanks for letting me know, Fawn. I recreated the link, and I think it’s working as it should now.

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