Lately, I have been researching composting and everything involved with starting one as well as discussing ways to improve our future garden site’s soil. As I look at the clay mess that’ll one day hopefully bear fruit; literally, I’m amazed at how much our life revolves around dirt. My house is dirty. The kids are often covered in dirt. The dogs need a bath because of the dried mud that’s now shedding on my floor. My boots are dirty and covered in who knows what. My car is dirty, inside and out. Dirt gets everywhere! And yet, without it, we simply couldn’t live.
As I look about our culture in general and see kids suffering from so many illnesses that didn’t exist with such prevalence even 50 years ago, namely obesity and everything associated with childhood obesity, I can’t help but wonder if a little dirt might not be part of the solution. We have taken away most electronic devices for our children with the exception of a Kindle that is strictly monitored and the few family movie night together. We do not have wii’s or Nintendo’s or X-boxes. No cell phones for the kids to play on. We do have an iPad that is collecting dust and was last used during a 23 hour road trip to Colorado which was really more to help preserve the sanity of us parents vs the kids really needing it. Thankfully, our kids are considered fairly healthy and definitely within normal weight range for kids their age/height. But even a case study on them makes me wonder just how much healthier they are now that we live on a ranch.
For example, two years ago, we lived in a subdivision with houses practically on top of each other, the tv was on a fair portion of the time, the iPad had regular but monitored usage, the kids ate school lunches and rode the school bus daily. They missed an average amount of school due to the common cold and our daughter missed almost two weeks because of the flu. This past year, they stopped riding the bus, eat healthy most days, take homemade lunches (much to their chagrin I daresay) to school and there are virtually no electronics around and certainly not for everyday use. The main kicker? They play outside now almost every single day. They have farm chores consisting of collecting eggs and keeping the wood crypt full during the winter. They run and play, often shrieking in delight. They play with the dogs and roll around on the ground (much to my chagrin). Coincidence or not, they have not had a single cold or flu since they’ve started playing in the dirt!
Now, dirt is not the end all miracle cure for the common cold but I do somehow wonder if there isn’t something powerful at work when we are closer to it. Is it an excuse not to clean and keep order? No, unfortunately not. But even I myself have seen drastic health improvements by being in the dirt more and mine are documented through regular checkups. Whatever I’m doing, my doctor instructed me to keep doing, because it’s working. I have an autoimmune disorder that has taken it’s toll on my body and at the age of 39, am now healthier than I was 2 years ago and even 15 years ago. A lot of answered prayers, I have no doubt. Cleaner cooking by Mackay and a lot less stress. But also a simpler lifestyle revolving around dirt. The four letter word that good clean southern ladies don’t say or allow in their immaculate houses.
We have been planting blueberry bushes, peach trees and various trees along the border of driveway. We are digging in the dirt making a shooting range, clearing land and trees for pasture. Using our tractor to till the land for our garden. I sift through seed catalogue pages and books about gardens in hopes of discovering some of the magic hidden in the soil, dreaming of tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, onions and hot watermelons fresh from the vine and ground. I can almost smell the dirt as I sit by the fire looking at the wind tearing through the Pines on the hill swirling the dirt that I hope and pray will help heal our bodies as the work heals our minds and souls. Dirt around here is no longer a four letter dirty word but one one we laugh over as we wash off in the sink, we play over as we run the fields with the chickens and dogs and the occasional tumble upon all the while playing swords or throwing pinecones. Dirt. The good stuff of life. Yes, the vacuum comes out tonight along with a bath for the dogs and kids (although not together) and I’m a stickler for hand-washing, but now, I look fondly upon the dirty faces full of smudges and kiss their noses while giving them a few more minutes to go outside and play. Maybe, just maybe, a little dirt don’t hurt.
I'm a wife, mom of 3 wonderful children, homeschool teacher and loving ranching. After Mackay and I married, we've been steadily pursing our goals of having a self sufficient life and teaching others along the way.