Always Been a Farmer but Have Not Always Farmed

I have always been a farmer but I have not always farmed. From the time I was a child I don't think I ever even gave a second thought to the fact that I wanted to live a sustainable life close to the land growing and preserving my own garden and raising animals. My earliest memories are of chickens laying eggs, pigs being fattened for slaughter, rabbits being raised for meat, gardens being grown for vegetables and fruit being picked for long term preservation. Then when I was seven, my family moved to a farm. We didn't own the farm, but rather were caretakers on that farm and worked side by side with the farmer and his family. We lived there for seven years. I can't say that I have wonderful memories of every thing that transpired on that farm because living there turned me off completely to commercial poultry houses. At eleven years of age I worked two shifts (my own choice) in the poultry house making 1/2 penny per chicken for everyone I caught. My dad tried (insisted) that I quit because the pay was not enough, but I begged to be allowed to continue. I hated the stench, the filth and the living conditions of those poor birds, but I loved the paycheck that came in when the job was finished. I also loved being able to do something physical rather than being stuck in the house or behind a desk studying! I learned that hard work is rewarded (although maybe not as much as it should have been) and I learned that I would rather be "farming" than anything else.

During the seven years we lived on the farm, I was able to roam the woods and hills and learn about nature on a personal level. I spent many hours alone in the woods and meadows or wading in the creek. Sometimes my little brother joined me and sometimes the farmer's kids. I have always been one of those people that needs equal time of solitude and social interaction.

I also learned to drive an old Farmall tractor while living on that farm, feed orphaned calves, help with hog butchering and lard rendering, butcher the roosters to fill the freezer, gather the eggs and learn the basics of a small family farm. When the rains came and the creeks rose, we couldn't get out and had to stay home from school. The secretary at school did not believe me when I told her that I couldn't get to school because the creek was too high and called my parents to verify that I had not been skipping!

I was sad to leave the farm as a 14 year old but my dad bought property in a rural setting and we still had a huge garden and access to the neighbor's woods to gather firewood for the winter. I remember my dad taking me out and teaching me the names of the trees as we indentified them by their bark and leaves.

As an adult I tried living a sustainable life in Alaska, at times living more sustainably than others. Then I spent some years in some places that I would not have chosen for myself including a stint in Chicago and San Jose.

After a tumultuous 15 years with my ex husband, finding myself divorced and ready to date again, there was no doubt in my mind what kind of man I was looking for. Fortunately for me, God allowed me to find my soul mate and farmer husband at a time when I needed him and the farming life the most. I am finally centered and able to focus on the things that are so important to me. For this, I am very thankful.

1 comment:

Jo said...

Congratulations on finally finding your dream life. When I was in the 4th grade I decided I wanted to be a farmer's wife when I grew up. Not a farmer, but a farmer's wife. Ha! So much for women's lib in the 70's! Although I think the women's lib movement was not exactly encouraging us to go into the field of agriculture. But it should have been!