We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
I’ve had many friends and family ask me what my daily life was like. Until recently I didn’t understand the question. So I’d been meditating on it for awhile. I started to compare my life to the average Americans, and realized there were quite a few glaring differences.
Foremost has nothing to do with where we live, but our unique lifestyle. For the most part Gus and Caroline have had both their parents home with them. Shawn and I both work, with Shawn doing the lion share of the work pertaining to our business, he’s the “creator” of our products, and does the accounting, but I do a majority of the administrative work, taking orders, sending out weekly emails, and organizing deliveries. Caroline stays with me almost 100% of the time, but Gus spends an hour or so hanging out with his Dad in the morning, sees him for lunch, and awhile in the afternoons too. But if I ever need a hand all I have to do is open the front door, give a holler, and most of the time I’m lucky enough that Shawn can stop what he’s doing and help me out. We have also had, at any given time, between 2 and 6 volunteers staying with us. So there are lots of “playmates.”
We’ve been fortunate enough to have Sam and Amy staying with us for the last 7 months while they prepped their Volkswagen Van, or Kombi, as they are called here, for a cross continent adventure. And while there are great volunteers that come and go (Gus loves to show off for the new people) no one compares to Amy for Gus.
Another aspect is cultural. In the land of eternal spring, preserved items are hard to find, and so is planning for the future. Tomorrow will come and you’ll know what you need when you get there. Same is to be said for things like work and retirement. I think it’s a beautiful thing that in this culture taking care of your family is your future. Children live with their parents much longer, and take care of their aging parents, in return most help take care of their grandkids. Although the cost of living is low, so are the wages, and there isn’t much room left for savings.
Finding something to pop in the microwave, or even buying canned soup is really hard to do, and for us not financially smart. There are “grocery stores” here, but why buy canned fruit for more than I would pay for fresh fruit at the market.
There is also no such thing as a one stop shop. We generally hit up at least four different places to stock our kitchen for the week. Fruits and veggies come from the market, eggs from the butcher across the street from the market. Pasta, cheese, chocolate, coffee, and milk from a place called Tia. The closest thing to a grocery store here. Bread from the panaderia (bread store). We could possibly buy all these things from one place but we would be paying more, sacrifice quality, and have to travel 40mins North to the city of Ibarra. On top of all these places we go to just for our weekly supplies there’s an infinite amount more small tiendas, or stores. I buy wine from one, and butter from a different one. As convenient as a Walmart or Target might be, it would kill part of the population in a place like this where many people don’t drive, and no one buys in bulk (we buy the largest packs of diapers we can find and they are individually wrapped for resale, because only shop owners would buy that many diapers at a time, and they still contain less than the packs you find in the U.S.) These little tiendas support their neighborhoods full of little old men and ladies who walk to get food and household supplies everyday. Living in the moment.
My weekly grocery haul. I spent $50, but the the 60 eggs, milk, or yogurt I also bought that day aren’t on the table. The box back right side is full of tomatoes.
A local walking her cows home, Mt. Imbabura is in the background. a common sight for us.
Another way to put our lives into perspective in comparison to what our life would be like in the U.S. Is the language barrier we deal with everyday. It’s been three years since I’ve lived in a country where I didn’t get a little bit nervous just going to buy groceries, or felt independent enough to go to the doctor by myself. I’m feeling a ton more confidant now a days, a relief because having to have your husband come to doctor appointments with you to translate is no picnic for either of us.
I took Spanish classes from a volunteer who stayed with us, did Rosetta Stone before I started traveling (which was pretty useless) and have been using the duo lingo app, but I’ve learned the most about the Spanish language from my doctors visits and hospital stays giving birth to my children, talking with my ladies at the market, and correct letter pronunciation from my kids diapers. I can talk more about body parts, pain, medications, food, babies, and animals than I can small talk or feelings. Like most people who are learning a second language, I can understand much more that I can say, but I’m beginning to think a lot of this has to do with feeling self conscious. There are a few friends I can communicate pretty easily with, yet with some people I completely clam up and can’t get a sentence out.
So what does this all mean for us? It means my children will be bilingual and I will have the opportunity to learn a second language. That even though we sacrifice certain things (we will never be rich) our children will have a fantastic environment to grow up in. A meal will never be quick or simple but we will have an abundance of inexpensive, fresh, preservative free food. That there are a lot of our favorite things we miss from the U.S. but a trip to a big grocery store will always be exciting.
Time to update you on the farm! Here’s what’s been happening in our lives.
One of our Poroton trees is in flower for the first time and the blooms are gorgeous.
Our egg laying chickens have actually started laying eggs!
“Short tail” one of our mama pigs is expecting a litter at the end of August.
A couple of our new ladies
I made my first successful batch of Ginger Beer, it was sooooo tasty.
Gus has upped his talking game. So far we can only understand about a quarter of the things he says, but he babbles a lot. My favorites are “ciao” “where’s dada?” And “what’s that?” He can put his rubber boots on himself, still working on getting them on the correct foot. I love that his favorite movie is Dumbo, and he’s started at least trying veggies.
This kid has some fashion sense. (note the boots are on the wrong feet)
Caroline has rolled over once or twice. Babbles, smiles and laughs, blows bubbles, and is starting to really like baths. She’s not a fan of napping alone, and it looks like she’ll be an early riser like her brother and father.
A lil hammock relaxation
We feel extremely blessed that we have so many caring people in our life who have helped our family in so many ways over the last few months.
One that stands out is our gofundme campaign. With the money raised we were able to purchase pigs to fill in part of the gap that was left by the loss of the two litters of piglets, this ensures the farms future until the end of the year. It helped us get through the birth of Caroline so Shawn could take a week off, and I had time to recover from my c section. We built a new shelter and moved the smoke house closer to the butcher house, the space was also used to make a more comfortable common area for the volunteers. We are now working to buy a walk in cooler, and will need a few more pigs to get back on track to start out the new year. If you are able to help us out in anyway here is the link to our gofundme me page http://www.gofundme.com/nf1w6g
We feel so lucky to have our beautiful friends Dave & Patrice, they are our family away from family. They’ve given advice and encouraged us every step of the way, and we love them. Patrice built us this gorgeous website for the business as well. Check it out http://lnsartisanmeats.com
The farm has its own instagram account at lnsfarms. My hope is that the volunteers who stay here will tag us in the photos they post and we can see farm life from all perspectives.
Here are a few things I’ve been reading:
I need to read this every morning
Good to remember
One of the most incredible moving things I have ever seen