Upon arriving at my house after school every afternoon, the first things to meet my eyes are the tall evergreen and deciduous trees that consume the five acre property. Greeted by the battered, gray mailbox with its mouth agape, I make my way up my long driveway lined with pine trees that my mother planted when my parents first moved to our house. Looming from behind the many green, bushy leaves, I see our flamingo pink, two-story Victorian house and the matching pink three car garage, above which my bedroom is located. There are rose bushes in the front gardens, which often snatch at my backpack as I pass, and wooden stepping stones lead the way to the sage green front porch. The door is replaced after having been cracked and loose for many years. This is my greeting card when I arrive home.
There are very distinct differences between a home and a house. A house is the physical structure in which a person lives, the street address, and the bodily characteristics of that house. A home is much more. My home is where I received my sense of humor and play; my home is where I learned from every one of my family members; my home is where I find peace.
Upon entering, our parlor is welcoming with a fireplace, mantle, and green wallpaper, and through the adjoining dining room I can see our kitchen, and subsequently, directly into our back garden and barn lot, due to the enormous glass window spanning the entirety of one wall. The kitchen is young compared to the rest of the aged Victorian. A cooking island is placed in the center of the room with a refrigerator and professional stove on one side and a butler’s pantry on the opposite. Hardwood floors span the whole house because of the many animals who also make this place home. Walking out of the parlor, I pass my parents’ bedroom to kiss my mother in the living room. This is my favorite room in the house because of the burgundy trim and curtains and the large armoire where the television is hidden. There is a coziness about this room that is matched by none other in the house nor any other residence I have visited. Adjacent to the living room is the toy room where the excess videos and play things are put, and connected here is the school porch, which is enclosed on all sides by large windows. Desks and cats fill this room. Upstairs are the bedrooms.
However, where I have found the most solace in my life is with the larger animal population of our farm, which is so named “Samuel Croft,” meaning “God given little farm.” Passing through the expansive back garden and gate, trees become nonexistent because the horses that freely graze would consume any vegetation. Five barns span the property. The Yearlings’ Barn on the far left; the Big Barn adjacent; the Wood Barn in the center; the Little Barn on the far right, and the Buck Barn behind the Little Barn. As I exit the portal into my world, my best friend Nish, a great white Pyrenees dog, says hello. His obnoxious trait of walking diagonally across my path of motion drives me slightly berserk because it throws me off balance with the buckets and feeding equipment I carry with me.
I check in with my sister Sydney in the Big Barn where the horses feed and sleep to see if she needs assistance hauling water for her horses. Last year the hayloft committed suicide, and now hay falls through the many holes in the ceiling. Afterward I make my way across the lot to my favorite place. The Little Barn is where my rabbits, goats, chickens, ducks, and cats live. I firstly feed Oddie and Gidgit, the striped felines, then proceed to walk the barn isle and check the watering troughs in the rabbit, chicken, goat, and duck rooms. Then I retrace my steps for the feeding.
I do most of my thinking here while I commence with my chores. Mulling over the day never helps me relax, but examining my choices throughout the day and how I could have reacted to each does a small amount for my personal satisfaction. After a swift review of my daily decisions, I quickly turn my attentions to the baby goats who have recently joined this world. The soft hair and ebullient attitudes brighten my spirits after a long day at school. Every year we choose a theme to follow for the naming of our goats. This system allows us to remember family lineage, ages of certain goats, and breeding patterns that can or cannot be repeated. This year’s theme was Harry Potter. Of the six kids who were born, five are girls. I check their small, round bellies to see if they have eaten or been denied that privilege by a pushy sibling, then I strip the moms’ teats for excess milk. These are all habits that have been imbedded in my brain since before I can remember. This is my culture. I learned to milk a goat when I was three; I have rough-housed with all of my siblings throughout our entire property; I have said many hellos and goodbyes over the years to dear friends.
Many times I find peace and solace on the barn roofs. Sitting at the apogee of the Little Barn, I can see the entirety of the property and the bordering fields. The wind often acts as a transportation device for any worries, fears, or regrets that I carry. The shingles are old and worn; they are rough through my jeans, and they still have texture. Our ostentatious peacocks drop feces across the roof, and finding a clean seat is normally difficult. I have sat for hours upon the apex of that barn and wiled away countless days pondering and often crying. This is my home. No worries can find me up here, and I care for my home as much as it cares for me.
My brother Micah has also taught me innumerable lessons behind these barns. These lessons typically included him leading me far out behind the barns into the pastures –to avoid prying eyes and ears—and a very large stick. When he would see me partaking in behavior toward my family that was not beneficial, Micah would escort me behind the barns, and after an anecdote and a harsh castigation, Micah and I would spar. He taught me how to use a stick in defense and attack, and he showed me self-control. These are all stepping stones that I have followed, stumbled over, and corrected myself back onto in my lifetime.
Lastly, my home is just as much my place to sleep as it is my sweat, blood, and tears. With the amount of strain and pain I have put into this ground, it practically breaths along with me. A running joke at Samuel Croft is that if anyone were ever to purchase our farm and plow the ground, they would think us some sort of sadistic cult that delighted in necromancy due to the amount of dead animal remains they would find. I daily walk over my very dear friends who have breathed their last and departed this world. I can easily point out almost every grave of a past animal companion that we have placed in the ground. But their departure is another’s arrival. We live in peace and homeostasis. Nothing can touch me when I am home, because this is where I belong.