Here I am, finishing up my coffee on a beautiful morning, just about to dive into my ever-growing list of chores when it occurs to me that I have established a different meaning of “clean” since moving to the farm. I am the product of a former military drill sergeant father (with OCD) and a licensed nurse mother. Between the military rules and hospital standards of cleanliness, I have grown up in impeccable households. My father (remember – OCD) would wash our Italian tile floors with a tooth brush, hang clothing hangers two fingertips apart from each other, and comb the fringe on the area rugs daily. Whenever I wanted to be a rebellious teen, I only had to merely drizzle a few drops of soda in the hallway or rotate the alphabetized soup cans around. Heavens forbid if I moved the towels out of the correct spacing! My mother has an affinity of ripping apart fridges, dishwashers, and bathrooms to bleach everything out – generally as we were getting ready to walk out the door for something. She is the only woman I know that follows the family puppy around the living room with a spray bottle of enzymes so that the carpet stays clean and deodorized. Of course, we were always healthy, clean, and extremely presentable children growing up and I’m so thankful for that.
This, however, has proved to make life a bit stressful now that I am living on a farm. We have been in this home for exactly a year now and it has been a series of learning experiences on the meaning of the word “Clean.” With my transcription job, helping with homework, breeding Flemish Giant Rabbits and Silkies, running a website, several Facebook pages and a blog, and caring for a 7-month-old baby, my hands are FULL. I barely have time to do the laundry, let alone keep up on our large home. We went from a 1400 square foot home to a 2900 square foot home with hardwood floors on a muddy farm. We have between 45-65 animals at any given time – in which coop cleaning, bathing, feeding, penning up at night, and socializing takes a lot of our time. I have seriously begun to feel as if I have LESS free time than when I was working 50-60 hours a week in retail!
As if those weren’t enough reasons why I couldn’t keep up with my housework, let’s discuss the floor. I have two large breed dogs who love to have a good romp in the muddy duck pond or roll in the field where the horses and donkey are. They are constantly bringing in mud, poop, hay, sand, and God only knows what else. Half the time, the kids let them back inside and they’re across the living room, laying down before anyone notices they had been swimming and are literally sopping wet. My older children (Little Missy Farmer: 7 and Little Man Farmer: 9) seem to abhor shoes and spend a majority of their time in the barn area, barefoot. If this alone wasn’t enough to drive a neat freak insane, there is an adorable little pathway through the muddy Duck Pond Island that allows them to get next door to the neighbor children’s house without going out the gate and following the dirt road. Obviously, this involves wading through the pond, crossing over Duck Island and wading again – both ways. Then we have Daddy Farmer. After several months of lectures about why he must wear shoes when outside because Baby Farmer plays on the floor now, he has finally learned to put on shoes. Unfortunately, his shoe of choice is a nasty pair of rubber Crocs. You know, the kind with the holes in them. I’m so pleased that he has decided to wear shoes, however the result is the same. He still comes in with muddy, dirty feet. Needless to say, my battle with the floor is an ongoing ordeal. Every few hours I have to sweep, spot mop, and disinfect and wipe down the baby’s play mat.
After months and months of stress, breakdowns, and lack of sleep I have come to realize that there is a big difference between “Clean Clean” and “Farm Clean.” It took a near breakdown to finally understand that a Farm house can only truly be a certain level of clean. My laundry is always done, but seems to stay in the laundry room on the rolling rack or folded on the ironing board. There’s always some sort of dishes in the sink. The baby- well, she’s always dirty. I have given up. She’s usually just in a diaper that has gone gray on the outside from sitting on the dirty wood floor, sitting on the dogs, or riding on the back of the horse. Her hands, feet, and sweet little face are constantly having to be wiped down because she is always hugging the horse, the donkey, the dogs, or cuddling with the rabbits. That level of cuteness is worth a little dirt, I’ve learned.
My older children are mud covered and have to be scrubbed nightly before they are school-appropriate. My husband does not own a single shirt that does not have some sort of oil, poop, or chewed horse feed drool on it. The cobwebs on the chandeliers that would have been immediately swept up at my other house? Here, they get to stay. In fact, my children have named the spider and enjoy counting the amount of flies in the web in the evening. We welcome the friendly house spider in this farm home because between the doors being left open and the horse or goats knocking out the window screens to say hello, we always have a constant stream of flies, horseflies, gnats, and Mosquitos in the house. After all, this is Florida – the state where just about everything with wings will sting or bite you.