Idaho Fiber Mill Life Parenting

Fiber mill: A reality check

October 7, 2014
coltrane the kid

Today I had the first of what I can only assume will be many reality checks when it comes to building a fiber mill. Actually, it probably was not the first, but merely the only one I can remember. Repression, it’s a good thing for the bold and the ambitious. In my first post about our new journey to build a fiber mill in Idaho, I talked about my desire to be transparent through all the steps. Well, those steps aren’t just physical steps such as purchasing equipment or building structures. Sometimes they’re very rudimentary. Like recognizing limits and re-evaluating expectations. These are good things in their own right, helping refine process and encourage growth.

We spent this very warm weekend at Full Belly Farm for their annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival. It was our first time and we were super excited about all the incredible workshops like Soil Building, Seed Saving, Medicinal Herb walks and the one I was looking forward to the most, a fiber workshop with incredibly knowledgeable women like Rebecca Burgess and Sally Fox. Saturday was full of great food and energy, however spending the day in 100 degree weather was enlightening for us native Pacific Northwesterners. At least I had the foresight to get a hotel room instead of camp, knowing that the weekend would present enough of it’s own challenges with the heat and a toddler.

So fast forward to Sunday morning. I had signed David and I up for separate workshops, thinking “I’ve got this. Let David go do his thing and I’ll bring Coltrane in the pack to the fiber talk and tour and he’ll nap.” Yeah, right. We got to the farm just in time for David to take off for his workshop and us to find coffee. Coltrane and I took our time at the car, slathering on sunscreen, packing the back pack, and doing all those tiny little things that somehow take an obscene amount of time. We were ten steps from the car, walking on the dusty dirt road that led to the food area and he biffed it. I mean full on knees to ground, bottomed out, face plant. He looked far more like David after that spill, with his much darker, dirt covered completion. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sometimes his chubby little feet get in the way. I scooped him up, doing my best to comfort him as he let the entire farm know of his battle with the dirt. We washed him down at the car, changed and headed back in search of coffee. After successfully scoring some brew, we took off to the car to get to the fiber workshop in time. As we walked back down that dusty dirt once more, Coltrane spotted a large telephone pole log lying on the road. He ran up to it, and folded his body over it. As I got a little closer I noticed it was covered in some sort of black dirt. As he unwrapped from the log and turned towards me, covered chin to shin in dark, black dust I knew this day was destined for greatness. So back to the car, third outfit of the day and we were off.

We got to the fiber workshop only 10min late which is a small victory any parent can appreciate. All strapped into the pack and armed with snacks, sticks and small screwdriver I found in the car (Coltrane is obsessed with tools) we walked into the small county grange hall of about 15 people. Rebecca was talking and I was hoping I hadn’t missed too much of it. I stood in the back and listened intently for about 15min. Then Coltrane started chattering. I looked longingly as another mother with her young babe quietly nursed. Boob magic just doesn’t work with a toddler. It became apparent that Coltrane planned on continuing his commentary so we ventured outside to eat some lunch (leftover pizza = parenting win #12325234) in the car. After he was done I got the pack back out and looked over. He lifted one little finger and began wagging it at me. Then he shook his head no with a big grin on his face, very clearly indicating his intentions. It was too hot outside with very little shade so we played in the car for the next 45min. I’m ashamed to say that most of that time I was bummed out. Bummed that I was missing the one thing I had really come to this festival for. Then it hit me as I watched him empty my makeup bag for the umpteenth time (because who likes kid toys?). Building a fiber mill as parents is going to be a very different journey than that of others. All the learning and workshops and festivals and expos and mill visits and building trips were going to be preceded by my number one calling, motherhood.

A few weeks back I was told a story about a woman who started a mill with two young children and then soon realized her limitations and sold off all her equipment. When I heard this I began to doubt what we were doing. I was a mother of a toddler and we have plans of having more kids…was I crazy for thinking we could build a mill too? Sure. What successful venture wasn’t done involving some crazy? Whatever the circumstances of that woman in that story, I don’t know, but what I do know is this. I am a mother and a wife. I am a woman. I have strength and I have power. I am a maker, and I am a believer. Here’s believing that’s enough.

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  • Reply beth j October 7, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    First of all I felt your day unraveling as I read your post. Any honest parent can relate.
    I am raising my 2 1/2 yr old grandson and I feel these things daily. Then I like you look into these eyes of this precious child and realise what I am here for.
    When your first yarn from your mill is ready to sell the lines of fiber addicted mothers will be endless. I’m cheering for you!

    • Reply Ashley October 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Your comment just hit my raw heart in a very good way. Thank you so much for your encouragement, really! xoxo!

  • Reply Annali October 8, 2014 at 6:06 am

    Don’t be discouraged! Your bonds with you husband and kids will only be stronger when you’re all working together towards what you want! No one said anything about perfect days, or the process going smoothly, but in the end, you’re going to be so glad you pushed through. And I live in Spokane, Washington, pretty darn close to northern Idaho, so count me in when your own tours and workshops starts. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Reply Ashley October 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you so much for your encouragement Annali! Overall I am excited beyond belief, but as with anything there are times of doubt. ๐Ÿ™‚ Your words could never be truer and I do hope you’ll come visit someday!

  • Reply Jennifer King October 9, 2014 at 6:27 am

    You’re right to believe you’re enoughโ€ฆyou are! I was a single mother with a 3 yr. old and an infant when I decided to start my farm. There were many, many days that I thought I must be crazy. If you continue with your dream of more children, a mill, and homesteading, you’ll have no choice but to involve your family in every stepโ€ฆ.this is the best thing! It’ll be a challenge with small children and there will be days that you and your husband will doubt you’ve made any progress. Before you know it the coolest thing happens, you end up with kids that have useful skills that will take them far in life. This will shock you and you’ll have no idea how they learned what they know because you won’t remember teaching them, you’ll be too tired ๐Ÿ˜‰
    My boys are now 18,16, & 10 and there’s little they can’t do. To say they’re helpful is an understatement. It more than makes up for all those days when I felt I was spinning my wheels. People who visit our farm always comment that my boys are so willingly helpful. I hear time and time again that they can’t get there teenagers to help. I’d love to say my kids are exceptional but I suspect it has a lot to do with tractors and the joy of getting dirty ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Ashley October 9, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      Jennifer, this morning I woke up, read your comment and felt so blessed you shared. You are an incredible woman for raising those boys and taking on such an adventure with them! My husband and I feel the same way, about our children being an integrated part of what we’re doing and I appreciate your encouragement and sharing part of your story! I also visited your website and I think we may need to come visit and stay at your B&B…research of course ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your flock is gorgeous!

      • Reply Jennifer King October 10, 2014 at 11:52 am

        Yes do visitโ€ฆwe’d love to have you ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Mika October 15, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    It’s enough ๐Ÿ™‚
    Just keep doing, one thing after the other. It may take longer that you could ever have imagined, but as long as you keep doing something towards the goal it’ll happen. My little ones are almost 7 and 9. We had so many goals on the list when we bought our property, and we thought we’d get it all done right away! Ha! 3 years in, and we are feeling like we’re finally making progress. Having common goals as a family is so precious. I loved your post, any mom can relate to your day. We all have those days that just unravel. The fact that you are questioning and doubting and still taking the time to play in the car all looks to me like you’re an intelligent and patient person who will definitely make it happen ๐Ÿ™‚

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