The Dream (Part 2)
Fresh air blows through the windows making the curtains dance throughout the room. I hear the chickens chatting away and the sheep singing their song from the rolling hills. The kids are running around outside laughing, exploring and learning, all from the comfort of their own backyard. The smell of fresh food billows in from the kitchen as I prepare the table for us to gather around, just as we do every night. Dinner is followed by evening animal chores as the Colorado sunset paints the sky. We are together, working, laughing, playing.
My dream of Runaway Ranch feels like this. Simple, slow and together. I am not naive enough to think that the life of country living and homesteading is all rainbows and sunshine. In fact, I keep myself awake at night wondering if I have it in me to work hard and if I can face the loneliness that will rear its head at some point, I am sure. But I still can’t shake the dream.
I am one of those people who desires to live a slow life but needs to be forced to actually do it. My heart longs for home-cooked meals around a table with the ones I love, and time spent exploring the outdoors together. I want to laugh with my kids and work with my hands without feeling rushed, without the pressure of our busy world squishing every last drop of life out of me. This is what I want. But what I do is another story.
I have trouble being slow. I find myself planning more than I can handle and doing everything I can to escape the monotony of the every day. Living further away from stores and restaurants will force me to stay home and embrace a lifestyle where we actually have time to do the things we love, not just think about them. I love crocheting, reading, cooking, and making things with my hands and I want to share these things with my kids, giving them the time and space to find things that they love too. We are only given one life, and I long to fill my minutes with things that I love and things that are life-giving – not spending evenings in the car, running the race to produce and check all of my boxes.
Anyone who knows me knows that I think (and talk) a lot. My brain never stops. In fact, sometimes I am totally overwhelmed and feel claustrophobic from my own thoughts (ridiculous, I know). And when this happens, I look around and feel like there is stuff everywhere, both inside my house and out, and I start to seek out space. Physical space. This girl desperately needs less in her life. I don’t want to see cars and 30 houses on one street, I don’t want stores and signs in my vision at all times. I want space and nature and things that will calm me down – both physically and mentally.
While our kids will still be gone each day at school, I want their time outside of school to be spent being kids. I don’t want them to have their nights full of extra curricular activities, but instead to have time to explore and learn from their home, surrounded by the people who love them most. I want my kids to have time to be bored, because out of boredom comes creativity and passions. They have their whole life to work and be busy, so while they are in my care I want to do my best to protect their childhood. And I think a slower, country life is one way of achieving this.
Over the last 8 years, we have learned so much about food and the importance of eating good-quality food. Not only do I love the idea of knowing exactly the kind of life my roasted chicken has lived, but I want to know what it is like to have worked for it. I think Mark and I and the kids will have a very different relationship with the food we eat if we have raised that food with our own hands. I want to give our animals a happy life, and in return feel good about what that animal provides us when it becomes our dinner.
I also think there is so much for our kids to learn in taking care of animals. They will learn both responsibility and respect for God’s creation. Because of these things, the Runaway Ranch dream will definitely include a garden and animals and hopefully lots of them. We want chickens, sheep, bunnies, dogs and anything else our little hearts desire. But I should note that we are starting small, just chickens at first, just in case I decide that I’m not cut out for the early-morning, hard-working farming life. And in that case, we will eat our chickens and call it a wrap!
So now you know a lot of the reasons I (Jenny) dream about Runaway Ranch. All of these things consume my thoughts and give me motivation to work hard where we are now so that we can see these dreams come to life. But more than any of the things mentioned above, I want to love people. I want a slow life because I want time to sit on our porch with a friend and listen to her share her heart. I want to invite the hungry (both physically and spiritually) to dinner at our table and to fill their bellies while we all fill our hearts, because relationships are where it’s at. I want space to have guests long-term and short-term, and for them to enjoy God’s beauty while they also have a pillow to lay their head on. I want my kids to grow up around it so they can learn to love people the way Jesus does. I want to raise our own food so we can have food to give others, and so we can be a little more self sufficient. That way, Mark can work a little less at his desk job and a little more on the vision God has given us.
Runaway Ranch started as a dream to have a large backyard and chickens. God has molded and changed it over the years and he continues to do so, each and every day. This is our starting point and I can’t wait to see what is next.