Stress is my biggest downfall. On the farm, at my job, and in my personal life. I am a worrier, and I always have been.
I can honestly tell you that having a farm has been hard on all of us, there is so much work that goes into it. And planning. And work. But it has been incredibly empowering, and therapeutic. There is nothing I love more than sitting in the lean-to at the milk stanchion, talking to Molly (I absolutely have bonded with that goat to the point that I have conversations with her, I know, it’s kinda weird) as I watch the sun come up over the Rocky Mountains. I can’t help but feel so incredibly blessed.
I can also say that I have bonded with my animals… which might sound weird. We have had chickens since we moved back home, which was nearly 5 years ago. I love them, genuinely. And I believe that Happy Hens lay better eggs so I baby them a little bit. Scott thinks it’s kinda weird, but having given birth twice myself I think that they should be comfortable. I have found myself out in the run, cleaning the pen or watering them, and I end up standing around talking to them when I have finished. I love to spend time with them. I’m telling ya, Chickens are a gateway animal. If you get them, eventually you will end up with everything else. Even if it takes a while.
We built the Chicken coop and the attached run back in the spring of 2012, while we were raising our chicks in the brooder. (We buy all of our chickens from Cackle Hatchery, always have. I will never get them anywhere else because we have had such an amazing experience with them and their customer service is outstanding. I’m not paid to advertise for them, I just love them that much.) Here are some photos of the coop building process.
You can see that we left a gap at the top for ventilation, we covered it with chicken wire so that nothing will get in. The food and water is under the floor so it’s covered during the weather, and still accessible. We decided on the raised coop so that the chickens would have some shade during the worst part of the hot summer days.
The chicken run extends out about 10 feet to the right of the photos, to the fence. It’s big enough with the underside of the coop, but we are planning on extending it even further this spring. We want to add some birds to our flock. And if we do that they will need more space.
Another thing I have found to be therapeutic is pulling weeds. I have heard and read that the cure for stress is Salt Water: Sweat, Tears or the Ocean. I think dirt on your hands should also be in there. There is something magic about caring for a garden, and getting your hands into the soil.
I guess for myself, stress relief all has to do with caring for some sort of life. Improving the life of other people through service is a great way to do this in a big way, but sometimes when you are stressed there isn’t enough of you to put into a big project to serve another human. Spending time taking care of my garden and my animals is a way to do that on a smaller scale. It doesn’t require such an investment of my self, and helps me find my center again. Maybe it sounds silly or crazy, but I hope that sharing my view on this will help someone else.
Take care of your selves, don’t let the stress get the best of you – which is hard sometimes.