Wandering Wednesday - Finding Happy - Farming in Shirley Indiana

From City Girl to Country Girl

This week's Wandering Wednesday post is a guest post from a dear friend, Mrs. Nicole Hanna. We've been quite intrigued by her story. Ashley a farm girl moved to the sort of city (from very rural Reelsville to town of Fortville) and myself a wanna be farm girl, always been a city girl. Nicole's story of Fishers Indiana mama to Shirley Indiana mama was itching to be told, and we are super happy to get to be the mamas to do it! Moreover, we can't wait to visit her this summer and catch fireflies in the fields with all the little Hannas. Without further adieu - here's Nicole.

My husband is a farmer. Not a pig-cattle-chicken farmer. Not a veggie farmer. He is a typical Indiana farmer. He grows soybeans, corn and wheat. I use the word “typical” lightly because, he’s not really “typical” at all in my eyes. Our story is not “typical”, nor our journey to farming or the life we have chosen to live.

The Farmer and our 2nd oldest
Let me take you back to the summer of 2013 when my husband and I made the huge decision to move back to his family farm in Shirley, Indiana, and begin the process of taking over the the farm currently owned by his father. 

Our decision was not made lightly. We spent a year discerning about the decision. To go from a fairly easy life in Fishers, Indiana, to a very rural community and a life of farming was not something that I wanted to do. My husband was an engineer and had been for 12 years. I was a former teacher turned stay-at-home-mom caring for our three boys. We had great neighbors, a great neighborhood, a wonderful community and an outstanding church community where we were deeply rooted. 
When my husband presented the idea of taking over the family farm, which meant changing our lives completely, I was anything but excited or eager to entertain the idea. We were happy. And, it is difficult to leave happy. Why fix it if it ain’t broken, eh? After talking quite a bit, we began to figure out that God was calling us to this new life, this new adventure. Though my husband grew up on this family farm, farm life was completely foreign to me. I grew up in Michigan, a city girl who loved living three minutes from Starbucks, Super Target and the the local library. I loved being within walking distance from parks and the YMCA. We were pretty spoiled. We had it easy. Through a lot of prayer and talking with friends and another farmer who was in a similar situation years before, we decided to take the leap. We were moving to a small rural community 40 minutes from Fishers, with no idea of what lay ahead.

I had a lot to be excited about. We decided to renovate my husband’s grandfather’s house, which had been vacant for around 15 years. So began the business of hiring a contractor and detangling ourselves from our lives in Fishers. My husband quit his engineering job in October of 2013 and began commuting to the farm every day. He was doing some of the work on our new home himself, so he would often farm all day and put some hours in at the house before driving back to Fishers. Though it was fun at first with picking out flooring, lighting, paint colors and such, but over time much of the process became overwhelming. We had a home in Fishers that we had to get ready to sell and in the early winter of 2014, I found myself in a tailspin. Taking care of my family, working on selling our home in Fishers, working on the new home, and barely seeing my husband was difficult. And all the while I had doubt... Was this the right thing for us? Could we make this work? What if it didn’t? What then? Would we be failures? What about the boys? Were they going to be okay? I prayed often.

After three days of being on the market, our home sold. A fast and sure sign that, perhaps, we knew what we were doing. A reassurance I needed to push us through the transition. On June 1st, 2014, we moved to the farm. We said goodbye to Fishers. I spent moving day in tears.

Me and The Farmer on moving day from Fishers, Indiana to Shirley, Indiana
We were off and running. The first three weeks we lived in our “new” home, we had no countertops in our kitchen. We had plywood countertops while our new countertops were being made. “Here kids. How about some wood filings mixed in with your PBandJ’s?” The unpacking was left up to me, since The Farmer was in full-on farming mode. We may or may not STILL have unpacked boxes in our garage. (Ahem, no judgements.) A few short weeks after we moved in, I got introduced to my first “real” country experience: kittens! I am not a cat person. In fact, I’m pretty allergic to them. But these kittens...oh my the cuteness!

Our garage kitties.
They lived in our garage for a bit and after some back and forth, we made it clear to our kiddos that the cats would not be coming in the house. For one, we have a very territorial Miniature Schnauzer. And, for two, Mommy’s allergies would not allow for that. For me, a city girl, I was worried about their well-being hanging out and being garage kitties. The Farmer assured me that they would be just fine. Even now, months later, there is still one from the litter that hangs around and will often sit on our front porch or in our garage. He even managed to get INTO THE HOUSE due to a faulty back door that won’t close very easily. Our Miniature Schnauzer was very displeased with that turn of events, but the cat proved to be pretty tough when he hissed and swatted at said schnauzer. Farm cats are tough, man.

Two little farmers in training.
The first summer on the farm was busy with unpacking and working and just, figuring it all out. I have to drive 20 minutes to a grocery store. And Starbucks? Not so much. I’ve learned to appreciate the flavor and cost-saving effectiveness of a good, fresh cup of home-brewed coffee. And my boys? How are they adjusting? They are doing fairly well. Hey, what young boy wouldn’t love countless rides on a tractor and combine. Living on the farm has allowed us to teach our boys a very strong work ethic, something that is not so easy while living in the suburbs. For example, the boys spent many hours picking up rocks in some of our fields last summer. And you know what? They loved it. 

This winter’s chores for the boys include helping The Farmer split and load wood for our wood burning stove that is being used to heat our home; another “new” thing for me. “Oh, it’s cold in here! Better go add more wood!”

I will be truthful. I’m still adjusting to this life. There are many, many times that I miss our life in Fishers. I miss neighbors. I miss our church community. I miss the conveniences that we once had, like being able to walk to the park, and the endless number of family activities that Fishers offered. There are times, too, that I feel isolated. 

As a stay-at-home-Mom, it’s easy to have that feeling of isolation anyway. I feel as though I don’t have anything that’s just “mine”, like a job outside of the home, or a class I’m taking, or something along those lines. And, being in this rural community makes me have those feelings of isolation even more. I don’t get to chat with my neighbors over the back-yard fence. But, I do get to wander around outside and wave at my husband on the tractor. I get to see him a lot more than I used to because I see him throughout the day. When he is busy, I make him lunch and take it to him in the fields. When he has time, he comes in and hangs out with me and our youngest boy for an hour. 

My boys learned to ride their bikes here last summer in our circle driveway. We've played baseball in our front yard, we launched fireworks in our driveway, and we stand in awe of the amazing sunrises and sunsets that have very limited views in the suburbs and city. We can also watch the turtles hang out in our pond, and I often listen to the bullfrogs at dusk in the warmer months while I’m out with the dog. One of the most amazing wonders of the farm are the fireflies. Hundreds hover around our fields every night in the summer. And the winters? Well, you can’t remove snow in your driveway with a backhoe when you live in the suburbs. 

Snow removal farm style.
Another adjustment that we are preparing to make is that we are having a baby on March 12th! Our fourth child, our first child that will only know the farm life. Who knows what is in store for this child here on the farm. We have plans to raise chickens, which will possibly happen this spring, but maybe not happen until next. We have plans for a very large garden, and when (not if, but when) we have great success with that, we just might bring veggies to the forefront of our operation. These ideas make me excited. Being a steward of God’s land gives us a sense of accomplishment and a love that The Farmer and I would not have known otherwise. 

Is it hard work? 
You bet. 

Is it a sacrifice? 
Without a doubt. 

Is it scary? 

But, we know that we are on a journey that is one thing: OUR JOURNEY. I don’t know where it will all lead, but I do know this... My family is happy. We left happy in Fishers, but we are finding it again. Who knew that our “happy” could also be at a farm in Shirley, Indiana?

Our HAPPY family.

February-May 2015 Wandering Wednesdays brought to you by Indy Zoom Groom. Thank-you for your support of Fortville Mama and local family fun in and around Hancock County, Indiana. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Thank-you to the businesses that help support Fortville Mama. Your support is allowing us to make 2015 even cooler than 2014!

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