It was a pleasure to continue my discussion with Robert Mixa in a second post for the blog of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. We talked about conversion, family, farming, imagination, and learning to entrust it all to God.
After years of laboring to realize the vision of Christian life that my husband and I sought for our family, I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on what we have created, and to share it with others. Here’s a snippet of our conversation; you can find the full interview here.
Transitioning to farming has not been easy. But our children are growing up knowing where the trillium blooms, and how to nurse a newborn calf. They understand where their food comes from, and the part they play in sustainable agriculture. They have witnessed the cycle of life and death, and learned to respect it. Some of them are old enough to help now, and they know what hard work is. They may or may not choose to follow in our footsteps, but I trust they will have learned what we set out to teach them.
The conscious decision to become Catholic and full-time farmers has certainly formed my work as a mother and home educator, but also as a writer and book reviewer. I well remember sitting on the floor in our student apartment with my firstborn on my lap and our beloved Border Collie Jack by my side, wistfully reading Floss and The Year at Maple Hill Farm. I would take the two of them for long walks around the campus, picking up leaves and acorns and hoping that wherever God led us, there would be lots of trees and enough room to keep a few chickens.
He did no such thing; but He did take us to a place where we were forced to confront our qualms and reach deep into the core of our faith. When you reach back far enough, you encounter the Catholic Church.
This discovery couldn’t have been less convenient for a Protestant minister’s family. With two children now and a third on the way, we packed up all of our books again and started a new life. If the date of our hurried reception into the Church was the happiest day of my life, the day our first little flock of sheep arrived was probably the happiest of old Jack’s life.
Now we milk fifty grass-fed organic cows, and most of our five children cannot remember life before the farm. Every December 21 we celebrate the date of our conversion. As I shared with Word on Fire in a previous interview, we follow the cycles of the liturgical year, and also the rhythms of the seasons and the farming year. We have a long-term goal to plant more trees, but we do have plenty of chickens.
Challenges abound on our first-generation farmstead, but so do blessings. Fresh milk from the bulk tank nourishes the children’s bodies, the Sacraments enrich their souls, and great books fill their minds. They have room to play, grow, and discover both the world and the One Who made it. Every day is an opportunity to prepare them for the work for which God created them.
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