A new season, a new baby and a new book

Shelby Watson-Hampton 1919 farmhouse
A NEW HOME: Along with a new baby and a new book, Shelby Watson-Hampton and her husband are fixing up a 1919 farmhouse that will eventually be their new home.
Fields of Home: Fall is a season for rebirth and to get things done, especially on the farm.

If you’re anything like me, fall brings its own feeling of a type of “new year,” a remnant of our childhood when it was time to go back to school.  

As adults, we still have our own seasons of change that come along from time to time. 

I’m in one right now. If you caught my previous column, then you know about the baby I’m about to have. I am now three weeks from being due, and I can’t wait to see my little man.

I’m full of big plans now with visions of him in tiny little overalls and boots, riding his first pony, showing 4-H and enjoying FFA! I know, I know, he needs to learn to do things like sit up and walk first, but I’m throwing myself into this farm mom thing with both feet now, and these visions bring me joy. 

Since my life is super busy, my hubby and I have also taken on another new project: Renovating a farmhouse that was originally built in 1919. It’s on a family property that we’ve acquired, and it comes with 5 acres cut out from the adjoining hay farm, a nice large barn, a shed and a sweet little pond out front. The potential is huge! 

As houses go, though, the old girl is a bit unconventional, and she has more weird and unexplained additions than a night out at a high school improv show. I’m talking doors that lead to nowhere, windows in unexplained places, and joints and joists that don’t always meet where they should.

I should have filmed the first time we walked through it. My normally staid, handyman farmer-husband, who also grew up working in his father’s construction business, actually chuckled a bit under his breath a few times as we walked from room to room. 

This is exciting to me, though, as I’ve never gotten to design anything of my own before! I may have gone a little wild on Pinterest when looking up house decor, landscaping ideas and more.

When I was pondering out loud the other night about what color I wanted to paint the front porch door, my husband walked by and sarcastically muttered, “Yeah, that’s the big important question,” as he fielded yet another email from the architect on his cellphone about the quagmire of our county permitting process. 

Speaking of houses, the one we currently occupy is what real estate agents like to refer to as “cozy,” and what I call “our wee cottage.” Due to lack of closet space, our extra bedroom is actually a storage room, so the baby will be rocking this Little House on the Prairie style; he’ll be in the bedroom with us.

Baby boy gets one wall of our bedroom dedicated to him that just fits the changing table, the cradle and the rocking chair, all of which the cats now claim as their own.

I did hang an adorably cute barn banner over the cradle, though, and the sweet farm animal mobile is up, too, so we’ll call that “decorating the nursery.”

The timeline for finishing the farmhouse renovation and being fully moved in is by the baby’s first birthday.

Then there’s another little project I have going on: I’m writing a book! 

Yes, I’ve taken on the goal of writing a real book, while also working a full-time job, partnering in the farm business, having a baby, renovating a house and freelancing from time to time. I’m overambitious, I know. It’s both a blessing and a burden. I might as well embrace it, though, because it seems genetically hardwired. 

This book is something that’s been on my mind for a long time, and I actually started it a while back. I’m recommitting to it now because it’s been pulling at me, and I’ve learned that when the universe keeps nudging you, you should listen. 

Gentlemen, you are welcome to read it when it comes out. But my fellow farmgirls, this one is for us. If you were born and raised on a farm with red dirt roads running through your veins, or if you’re a newbie fresh from the city who’s recently landed in farm country, this one's for you.

Nationally, women make up 30% of all farmers in the U.S., putting us at about 1 million strong. One million. And yet I really feel like there’s not enough books out there just for us. Books that speak to our unique joys and challenges, and fears and dreams, and the “OMG, can you believe that” moments we have. Books that unite us as sisters of the soil. 

We need that because farming can be hard, messy and stressful, but it’s also beautiful, glorious and worth it. We don’t have enough books just for us farm women. So, I decided to write one. Lord help us. 

I will say that writing this column, and connecting with you folks, is one of the reasons I’ve been compelled to begin the book project. Talking with readers and other farmers is one of my greatest joys.

So, if you would like to follow along on our farm journey as we navigate this new season and all the projects it brings, please come find me on Instagram under @the_farmed_life and follow or drop me a direct message. I’d love to chat in real time. 

Watson-Hampton farms with her family on their fourth-generation family farm in Brandywine, Md.

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