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Silver)O(Moon 11-15-2012 09:09 PM

Help me love this!
We sacrificed so much to get here, our dream, a home on a little farm deep in the woods of Oregon. We dreamed and planned for years, and we got here in September. We want to live a self-sufficient lifestyle, teach our children practical life-sustaining skills, tread gently on the earth, and spend time together as a family, raising crops and animals. Get away from factory farmed food, meat, milk, etc. We want to live the simple life....but I am going crazy!!!!

I have a 14 and 11 year old I am trying to homeschool. Both are mildly on the autistic spectrum and test gifted. Neither have been homeschooled before. I did let them just de-school and unwind for a while, but two months later they are still not really into anything and roll their eyes waaaay too much for my liking! They fight all. day. long. and whine at the simplest of chores. We've been at it 6 weeks and they still can't do a load of dishes without melting much for teaching practical life skills!

The house itself is a fixer-upper. It has lots of potential, but it needs lots of TLC and finish work. Its my FIL property and he wanted to give it to us and fix himself an apartment in the back but he's so uptight about any changes we make he just has me on edge. He won't get rid of ANYTHING. We are talking borderline hoarder! I was just trying to help him the first few weeks get a handle on the house which was totally out of control, and instead of being grateful, it upset him. All his stuff is in his room or the barn and shed now (and in various piles in the yard), so my living spaces are clean but it took a lot of energy to get it there, and the yard is still a mess. I don't exactly enjoy starting at a pile of PVC pipe out the window while I do dishes 3 times a day! The whole conflict took the wind out of my sails, yk?

And maybe I am just lazy but I am hating all the work! Cooking from scratch, doing dishes by hand, canning apples, washing diapers....I am exhausted and grouchy. DH's new job has him away from home 50-70 hours a week and though we are getting great money so we can remodel the house - when are we ever going to be able to do it? There is no time. He's exhausted after work and I am exhausted from being home all day alone with all the kids. Its just too much. We've started to fight sometimes, and we never fight.

We WANTED this! We wanted to raise our kids in the country. DH grew up here, he has the skills! I am a former teacher and spent lots of time studying to be a homeschooler (learning styles, different approaches, etc). We were urban homesteaders two years ago, we had rabbits and hens and a large garden. I know how to cook and can and dehydrate. We have nearly 5 acres of cleared land for crops and animals. FIL has a tractor and lots of equipment. The house has soo much potential. But I am just about ready to give up and run away and its only been two months.

I know this life isn't for everyone, many people warned me, but I don't want to give up without a good fight. I wanted it so bad for so long, so why am I not happy here? What am I doing wrong?

sarahannecloud9 11-16-2012 06:06 AM

Re: Help me love this!
First :hugs: ! Take a breath. It does take some getting used to.

I transitioned to the cooking from scratch thing last year when we bought this house. It's hard to manage so much at once, I can tell ya that! We found Cayden's many diagnoses after we started to move in, clear the over grown wooded property, rebuild the main outbuilding, a coop/run, leaking water lines, and you get the gist. :( Cayden then had major surgery, now on to hs. He sounds a lot like your kiddos. He just doesn't take me that serious as his "teacher". What has started to help is to tell him he can go back to ps anytime. He does NOT like that because they were descusing special ed. They were treating him like a pre-k student because he has trouble paying attention and the teacher this year let him compleatly fall behind, never informing us. Ray FINALLY found work and now there is no time for him to help here. It's a blessing to have even his small check because I only get a small disability check. So I can't do much, even though I try. The important thing to remember is to work as a team and be best friends. Either break up some of the responsibilities or do them together. Have you guys considered getting a place close by? You could still be near his childhood home, be near fil, and use equiptment. When we first moved here, we were in a camper on Ray's parents property, in the back. It was the worst years of my life because fil. His extreamly strict rules and always starting arguments. I never did anything right. It started causing Ray and I to fight daily and we just don't fight. They offered to give, yea right, half the land for a hous. Ray had his heart set on it and I put my foot down. I got us into goverment houseing. Then a yr later we were able to buy this place. I'm finally free. We have our problems, many. We found out our little homestead had land restriction with livestock, and there turned out to not be enough land. We just don't know what to do. Cayden really does need this lifestyle. He's on a strict diet. So we just do the best we can for now. Have you thought about just saving up to buy something close. I know your fil even being borderline hoarder will continue to and is not something that can just be gotten over. You might find it causes repeated issues. If you could sit down with him and come up with a strict plan and compromise, it may just work. It's a hard enough transition without having to deal with that, kwim? Take the pile of pvc, would he tollerate you puting it neatly behinh the barn? Say you want the yeard as clean as possible for the kids to play safely. Something like that could draw in snakes. Just one goal at a time. And the sit down with him too.

As for the chores, we gave Cayden the chance at $20 a week. We remove a checkmark when he does his whineing, fighting, repeating myself, and so on. So far he has only been earning around $4 a week. It will go towards supplies/expenses for Ray to put in a mini-pond, coyfish, and a duck or two. The coop was his first save up for, but with the surgery, we surprised him and used our saveings for most of it. Could you think of a reward system with something they would like to save for? William wants rabbits, so that will be soon.

MrsCrafty 11-16-2012 08:12 AM

Re: Help me love this!
First of all :hugs: I moved from a major city out to DFs farm and the adjustment was HARD. Luckily not so hard for DS because he's only 5 and loves all the space to play.
I definitely think the first several months were the hardest, getting a routine. I don't homeschool, and I work outside of my home. I've been on the farm since June so I didn't do much canning or gardening this summer since it was so late and I think it was a good thing, by the spring I'll be more settled and ready to add that to my load.
Could you prioritize and decide whats most important to finish first? Like first not worry SO much about making *everything* from scratch and instead get the homeschool routine down, then that would give you more time to think about trying to fix things up? Maybe if FIL starts seeing how nice things look cleaned up it will help him want to let you do more?
Our farm was my IL's who built their dream house up north when they retired from the farm. I have slowly changed things because I know it's hard for DF. First took down wall paper in the hallways. Hopefully by the summer I can get the kitchen wall paper down. Even choosing a place for a fire pit was hard for him since he'd grown up here and liked it the way it was. I told him we'd 'just try it here' and that if in a few weeks he didn't like it we could change it, and ofcourse he hasn't said anything about it since :goodvibes:
I hope things get easier for you, we are always here if you need to vent :hugs:

raisingcropsandbabies 11-16-2012 08:16 AM

Re: Help me love this!
((hugs)). I typed out a whole response and it erased!!! arg.

It takes time for a place to feel like home. It took me 5 years to feel like this place was my own.

For the boys, the hours your dh has to work is not helping! I remember my Dad needing to take a much more active role in their disciplining and time around that age. I hear the same from many other families. DH and I discussed how he will take a much more active role in hs and taking them to work with him in the fields more when they hit 11 yrs old and up. And I will take a more supportive role with them then. As they hit puberty, their hormones take over and they need to be under a male authority to learn how to become a man and to be under a woman a little less so they can blossom and the Dad can teach how to treat women (respectfully, helping, etc). A father's role is just so important during this time!

I totally understand about the house! We live in the house that dh grew up in and fil/mil were hoarders. They got upset about the things I threw out or had DH put into extra barns when I married and moved here (they live in the Grandparent house now). DH and I did fight a lot about all the crap. After MUCH prayer and patience, DH is now starting to work up the courage to get rid of stuff from the extra barns too. FIL, after 6 years, barks a little less about it, but still does bark. I learned to quit nagging and just be patient. I would LOVE for some more things to get gone, but know it will take more time. (a broken down 3wheeler from our yard part would be a great eye sore gone!). After 5 YEARS, we finished our room remodeling (had to do every room). And this past year, we were finally able to tackle more yard stuff (we have hundreds of acres, but have a yard area that is fenced in that was sooo ugly and such an eye sore). During that wait, I just tried to focus on the things that I could do while in the midst of having so many babies and inside work. So hang in there... it may take years, but you'll get there!!!

A woman's work is never done, huh? haha. Utilize the crockpot 3-4 times a week, always double/triple batches of food so you can freeze it and use it for other meals. You have a lot of new things on your plate and so maybe figure out a way to offer incentives and rewards for your boys helping out, until they learn it's a part of life to work. Money, trips, extra screen time. Prioritize what is important for dh and you and let some other stuff slide while you are adjusting. That way his and your needs are met and then build on that as a routine takes shape. I learned this when I had my 4th baby in 4 years. Every year I do a little more and a little more in the role of farmer's wife. And I try to give myself grace when I fail.

We started homeschooling my oldest (5 yrs. old) this year and it is hard to fit it in. Is there a homeschool coop in your area? it'd be great for your boys and for you... maybe ask the homeschooling board about ways to encourage your boys and yourself on this new adventure. Do you think it's the curriculum they don't love or just the thought of homeschooling? Being around like minded kids at that age would be great.

Give yourself a break and be patient. 2 months is not enough time... hang in there, Mama!

Silver)O(Moon 11-16-2012 11:19 AM

Re: Help me love this!
Thanks so much mamas! A lot of you have gone through similar and come out the other side and its helps to know that! It really does!

I know we need to prioritize. I just don't know what to take off my plate! Everything seems to need my attention. Cosmetic stuff can take a back seat, but dark old cabinets and yellowing walls depress me...Cooking from scratch is harder, but also cheaper, and I hate spending money that DH is making being gone all week on food instead of saving for flooring or paint, yk? We desperately need to doing sealing and finish work. The eaves of the house are open and the interior walls are just sheet rock. Bugs get in the seams and we have an infestation of Box Elder bugs right now. One dropped on my head last night and another in my coffee this morning. :yuck: We got the leaky roof fixed but there are still areas that smell musty to me. We have cleaned and sealed and primed. I have asthma and allergies and cannot deal with mold. We tried to explain to FIL that the stuff in those rooms is ruined but he doesn't understand allergies.

I tried to sit down with FIL so we could get on the same page the second week we were here but it didn't work. He doesn't see it the way I see it and he just got it in his head that I was "throwing out" his stuff. Which was not true at all! How could I throw anything away - we have no garbage service! But something had to be done. There were piles and piles of stuff everywhere. There was no place to sit! No place to eat, no place to cook. He was living in his "room" with a lazy boy, a bed, a TV and a microwave and admitted he hadn't really used the rest of the house at all. So I started at the bottom. If it was usable, I cleaned it, if we didn't need it, I donated it, and the rest I recycled, and some of it was burned. I never expected he'd get upset. If anyone deserved to be upset, it was me! He asked us here, knew we were coming, and yet didn't didn't do a thing to prepare for us, and when we get here and try to make it livable, he gets upset. :banghead:

The homeschool "curriculum" we are trying is child-led studies of things that interest them, and practical life skills (working with Dad on home and farm, caring for animals come spring). We wanted to get them out of their heads and into their bodies, if that makes sense. I have let them know I am here to support them in anything they want to learn about. I have bought books and games and art supplies. But they just sit around. Its hard in the winter as its cold and rainy and we don't have animals yet and Dad is gone all the time. But when I offer suggestions or try to provide more structure, they balk. I sort of had a theory that out in the country with a slower pace of life their quirks would go away...that maybe their ASD diagnosis was, in part, a symptom of modern life stress. But so far, my theory is not working out and they seem worse than ever. I wonder if it would be better for them to have the structure of school.

I agree that my boys need motivation! Many great ideas there, thanks! They love screen time (oh did I mention we tried to be TV-free the first month too? Heaven help me!). They desperately want a dog. I was gung-ho for that at first, but after the first weeks off being so overwhelmed I didn't want to add one more thing that I had to deal with. It might be something to have them earn though...And money? Nothing motivates them more LOL. I love the $20/week idea! Although it might break our budget if they start behaving LOL!

I am trying to see the positives and just hold on. Two months isn't long enough to make a decision, I know. And there is much to be grateful for here. The land around us is so beautiful and wild. I saw a bobcat on the way home the other day! (Note to self - build STRONG chicken coop!) We have deer that come and eat the fallen apples daily. There is no sound of traffic. Just squirrels chattering and jays screeching and at night, we hear owls and crickets and frogs. FIL may be a hoarder, but part of why he wants to keep everything is so he has whatever he needs to help others. He is a pillar of the community and has more connections that you can imagine. He can barter for about any service we'd need. Roofing, masonry, welding. I don't want to discount that, it will be of great help to us to have those connections.

MrsCrafty 11-16-2012 12:47 PM

Re: Help me love this!
Maybe a dog would be a good motivation for them too, and if your thinking of getting chickens in the spring, a dog is nice to help keep away predators. We got 2 puppies this summer for a cattle farm for $20/each, they are border collie catahola(or something lol, they look like border collies) and already we haven't seen a raccoon since. :goodvibes:
And :giggle: on no garbage service, it surprised me too. And my extra barns are full of things I have no clue why they saved. Like old lawn mowers, and a mattress? Old bikes, old farm equipment that I have no idea what it is. In old runs there are old fences and metal things lined up neat and orderly, but TONS. I keep mentioning to DF to scrap it all, definitely an eye sore and probably worth quite a bit if we brought it to a scrap metal place, but it's a process.
My DS has ADHD and definitely the structure at school helps him. Maybe worth just looking at the school? If you hate it then at least you'll know? I've been really impressed with the school, obviously a much smaller ECSE group, but really willing and eager to help and learn. My DS is also hard of hearing and so they had no idea of what they should be doing to support him, but are great with any suggestions I give them.
I learn a lot from the ladies on this board, I really am learning as I go and I don't post much because like I said, I'm flying by the seat of my pant, but I've learned a lot here.

raisingcropsandbabies 11-16-2012 01:56 PM

Re: Help me love this!

Originally Posted by mommy2wyatt (Post 15940569)
And :giggle: on no garbage service, it surprised me too. And my extra barns are full of things I have no clue why they saved. Like old lawn mowers, and a mattress? Old bikes, old farm equipment that I have no idea what it is. In old runs there are old fences and metal things lined up neat and orderly, but TONS. I keep mentioning to DF to scrap it all, definitely an eye sore and probably worth quite a bit if we brought it to a scrap metal place, but it's a process.

This made me laugh... I don't know what it is with farmers either! They can not throw anything out!!! Dh is better than his dad, but he still keeps way more than I would... we have mattresses and broken chairs and whatnot in our barns too. :headscratch: When I first moved into this house, there was an extra oven in one of the rooms (not working) that had dishes in it... I told DH to throw it out and he got madddd... I said, "Does it work?" He said, "no". :banghead: That was our first married fight. He said, "You are throwing everything I grew up with away!" haha. He now appreciates the lack of clutter, but that was a rough first month until I learned how to be sensitive to the fact that I'm changing his childhood home and to procede gently and also to respect when he needed to put stuff in a barn so he didn't have to deal with the aftermath of his dad (he got enough flack about me changing the house). Anyway, I try not to pay too much attention anymore to when DH wants to keep a zillion wires off of broken appliances and broken parts. He gets on my good side if he keeps it in his shed (and he's learning!). A few times junk has come in handy so I shouldn't complain tooooo much.

Silver)O(Moon 11-17-2012 03:32 AM

Re: Help me love this!
LOL, mattresses in barns, we have it here too. I don't get it either. There is the most random stuff in there!

I don't think its just that FIL won't throw stuff away, I honestly think he doesn't know how. The only thing he knows how to do is gather scrap metal or to throw things on a bon fire or in a burn barrel. Burning stuff is new to me too. A few weeks ago DH helped him clear out some stuff and they had old carpet and pad and an old mattress and a broken couch all burning on top of brush and yard trimmings. I shudder to think of the VOC's being released! The kids came in and wanted marshmallows for the fire! Excuse me, no. I made them stay inside. DH said that is what he grew up with as "yard work". Crazy!

mg5g 11-21-2012 01:27 AM

Re: Help me love this!
I can relate to your post in many ways. We moved to our farm last winter. I also homeschool and have a kiddo with ASD. First let me say ... ASD kids NEED schedules and regular routines. (Well at least that is what I am told on a VERY regular basis by my son's team members.) They just do, even high functioning ones. I have no doubt it is super hard to motivate your kiddos to do any school work. IME my auzie kiddo has a very hard time self regulating for learning. My kiddo just can't - he either over focuses on one area or more likely won't focus on anything academic. Your kiddos have had lots of HUGE changes very suddenly. I think a "class" meeting and a easing into a stricter learning schedule will end up really helping. Even an "average" teen would be spinning from all the changes.

My Dh also works a LOT away from home so things are left to me. I can offer nothing but hugs for you there! It sucks finding yourself suddenly in the position of being the only one who parents on a regular basis. We try to just make sure that dad spends time with the kids one on one as often as he can. Our marriage is taking a hit but we are used to not seeing each other since we worked opposite shifts for several years until I became a SAHM.

Your FIL sounds just like my MIL. I don't live with her ... yet. She is moving in as soon as her house sells and as of now comes to visit for several months a year. It is hard to suddenly be spending 24/7 with another adult who you didn't "choose". I adore my MIL but she drives me NUTS too after a few days. I think it would be best to try and handle things as we try (but are not always able to do) I defer all MIL decisions and tough talks to my DH. His mom, his responsibility. I bet your FIL is also spinning from all the changes in his life. Maybe a break until after the holidays on some of the purging and get DH and him to formulate a FIRM plan on what stays and what goes???

As for the cooking from scratch. I think with everything else going on right now something is going to have to go. I personally would eat canned spaghetti sauce and make sure my kids were actually doing school work, and I got a break once in a while, to cooking from scratch and everything else suffering. I am NOT staying stop everything, or never go back but it sounds like you have bitten off more then ANYONE could chew!

I felt much like you did for the first several months. I missed our old house. I missed being able to walk to the store. I missed having access to everything within 5 minutes. Here I have to drive 20 minutes down the freeway to get to any shopping. I KNOW that isn't far to some but for me being totally urban I might has well have moved to mars! I missed DH being home since he has to work so much now to feed the mortgage. Honestly what helped was meeting people, buying some farm animals, getting focused on our school work and trying to let go of the things I just can't do. After a few months my new home, became our REAL home and I do love it here now - even if I don't have a clue what I am doing most of the time on the farm.

Oh and ETA - next time please consider letting the kids eat the toxic marsh-mellows :) How many more years are they going to have with granpa on the farm? Aim the sticks to were the wood is not the mattress :) and enjoy!

Silver)O(Moon 12-09-2012 04:11 PM

Re: Help me love this!
We are going to bail out. :(

We had a big talk with FIL last week to try to get on the same page. He wants us to give him a set "rent" each month. I asked him if he intends then to fix the house up so it is more livable for us. He said, no, he feels its fair based on the condition of the house as is. Any home-improvement projects need to come out of our own pocket.

Ladies, we are in ONE bedroom right now. Yep, all six of us. Its the only one with decent flooring and (partially) finished walls (box elders still getting in!). Many rooms are missing light fixtures and need sheet rock, only one has heat (we are using portable electric heaters right now). Its COLD. I told I wasn't comfortable with paying "rent" for a home without adequate heat and at least finished walls! He replied, "Well if its finished I could get two or three times that much per month." Believe me, I have researched housing in the area, and there is no way he could get that. He'd have to put tens of thousands into this house to get anything near what he thinks it would be worth. Its totally unrentable in its current condition. I told him this (as politely as possible!) and he still insists it is. I think he's crazy - but simply said, "Well we'll just have to agree to disagree on this point."

DH then told him that we may look into moving closer to the city because with us having to pay him rent and the long commute it won't really be worth it for us to stay here. We'll never get ahead. His response, "Well, do what you have to do, but while you are here I still need my ______ per month."


I now believe he just wanted us here to bail him out of his financial problems. SIL said that FIL is horrible at managing money. I didn't know that. I feel really misled as to what we thought his intentions were (based on what he said then!) and what they actually are. He just said, "Well I guess we should have talked about it a little more."

So yeah, with money pressures, bugs, mold, cold, clutter...its soooo NOT worth it. I'm outta here. We've been looking at other rentals with property but they would really stretch our budget and if I have learned anything this last three months its that family time takes the highest priority. I can't raise these kids by myself, I need my DH more than I need chickens or a milk cow or a garden, and so do the kids. I admit, that may not be true for everyone - its just true for me and my kids. So I think we will try to find an affordable place very close to DH's work, get the kids enrolled in school and try to find our own simple life. This one is definitely NOT what I am looking for.

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